1 January, 1997

January 1

6:45 PM   
Happy New Year.  We arrived last night after 10 PM, thinking we might 
have a little time for some New Years celebrating.  No such luck.  
Everyone from the plane was immediately shuttled to the the Chalet (an 
ugly little hut) for an orientation. 

Afterwards we went to dinner.  As we trudged up to the cafeteria, Jon 
turned and said, "Hey, it's 12 midnight.  Happy new year."  Although I 
just smiled, I was thinking it was the best New Years I've ever had  

Despite discomforts, the flight here was the most wonderful plane ride 
of my life.  A few hours before McMurdo we spotted table-top icebergs, 
these are distinctly different from the icebergs found at the North 
Pole.  Later, came the pack ice, which is just what it sounds like---a 
lot of ice packed closely together on the edge of the continent.  The 
pack ice slows any ship trying to reach the continent.  In fact it is 
because of this formation that no one landed on Antarctica until 1895.
All of us were excited as we approached and flew over Antarctica.  Jon 
seem to know before anyone else when to jump up and start searching out 
the tiny port hole windows.  Once over the continent I could not sit 
down.  I roamed from port hole to port hole, sometimes just staring at 
the mountains below for up to 25 minutes.  The pilot allowed us to spend 
a good deal of time in the cockpit.

It is very difficult to describe the incredible beauty of this continent 
of whites, grays, and blacks, so maybe I'll leave that for another 
time.  Emotionally I can say that I've been moved to tears by its 
appearance.  I am awed by its vastness and emptiness.  I am grateful to 
have seen it at all.  Earlier this evening Jon, Mike, and I were 
discussing our impressions.  It turns out that each of us was thinking 
the very same thing: how amazing it is that no human being had ever 
tread in most of the valleys and on the tops of most of the mountains.  
Early this morning, after spending a couple of hours working on the 
computer, I left Crary Lab and looked across the ice shelf toward the 
mountains of the Dry Valleys.  Tears welled up into my eyes.  It was one 
of those moments that hit us every now and then.

10:36   The last sentence was completed after an absence of a few 
hours.  There is so much work to be done and things to see that I cannot 
count on any extended period of time at the laptop.  

The reason for the interruption was that Jon and Mike came in to see if 
I wanted to climb to the top of Observation Hill with them.  Of course I 
did.  Ob Hill offers one of the best views of the surrounding area.  
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