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2 February, 2001

Our helo pilot is Cady Johnson. It seems fitting to be able to share my last time out in the field with my new friend. Cady is one of those people who is quick with a hand shake and smile. When I first met Cady, during snow school, his eyes seemed to sparkle with energy under the Patagonia tuk (for my canadian audience, eh) covering his blonde hair. Cady and I hit it off instantly.

Today we are off to Bull Pass, located in Wright Valley, to collect soil samples. Bull Pass is one of the windiest places on Earth. Recorded wind speeds of 200+ mph have blasted the pass for 4 straight days. The top wind speed of this place is still unknown since the instrument used to measure the speed is only calibrated to 200 mph. Soils carried by these powerful winds sandblast the rocks and boulders into individually carved objects that scientists call ventifacts. Scientists have a fondness for naming everything, this is why I won't play Scrabble with them.

I once read that a sculptor does not approach stone and chip away with chisel and hammer until what is left is the intended design, instead a sculptor releases what is already inside the rock. The same thing could be said about the sand blasting effect the winds have on the objects in this valley. The result being all of the rocks and boulders of Bull Pass have their own design and shape released by mother nature.

If, when this valley was forming, you left this valley for an artists to use as their canvas, this place would be the canvas of Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalii Domenech. Better known to the world as Salvador Dali. Dali's art is of a man who could realize and implement deep-dream imagery on canvas. Persistence of Memory (1931) is still one of his best known surrealist works. Like all art, the objects and judgment need to be left up to the viewer. You decide if the name of this valley should be changed.

Persistence of Memory (1931) by Salvador Dali.

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