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23 December, 2000

With all the work around the new SPARCLE Palace I almost missed the departure of our two Norwegian skiers. They had been camped at the Geographic Pole and after lunch I noticed that there tent was no longer there and that there were two black parasails on the horizon moving toward McMurdo. I have really enjoyed my experience here at the Pole and I think that Antarctica is a very beautiful place. But I have no desire to spend months skiing across this vast, cold land. I like adventure, just not that much.

Today has gone in bursts of work and then short periods of waiting. Since moving the new building yesterday we have been waiting for the electricians to do some final touches to the electrical system, like hook up our 208V line for the Blimp winch. We have also had the carpenters in and out through out the day, working on vents, the telescope hole, and odds and ends to make the building more snug and to meet the needs of the winter overs and the SPT. Since Penny has only a couple of days left she has been in a rush to get things done. With the move of her instrument in the last couple of days of her deployment, we have been working pretty hard to get her back up and running. One of the projects has been to move the near retro reflector closer to the new building. The only problem was that there was a five foot deep snow drift right where we wanted the reflector.

Here you can see Penny working on the SPT in its new home. Our new building is about two and a half feet above the snow surface so we had to lower the SPT fairly close to the floor so that it would still be in alignment with the retro reflectors. It will be nice to be finally in to the new building for all of us. Actually Steve, Von, and now Mike Town will be the actual residents of the SPARCLE Palace since I will be leaving for McMurdo on the day that the internet and radio get installed in the building, next Wednesday. Penny leaves on Tuesday, so she really only gets to be the first resident for two and a half days. Mike is one of our winter overs and he just arrived today.

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