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14 December, 2001

Note: Today is an official "snow day". It snowed last night and left a blanket of white on everything. Absolutely beautiful! But not a great "working" day--meteorites will be covered with snow, too. The day is spent in camp catching up with this journal entry and some much needed rest!

"A Day in the Life of a Meteorite Hunter", Part II

10:40am We've wrapped up both meteorite #3 and our conversation of "animal" sightings. We are once more on our way systematically traversing the ice field.

10:50am Ten minutes later, I sight a meteorite midway between my search path and another team member's path. Uh-oh? What's the etiquette involved here? Surely he will see it soon? Who tags it? Is it the first person who sees it? The first person who gets to it? The first person who calls it? Is this what they call "poaching"?

I turn to the other team member and point out the meteorite. He gallantly waves me to complete the tagging and bagging. Chivalry is not dead! I consider this meteorite "our" find, and on a wider scope it truly is the "team's" find. I've learned that without teamwork and support from each other, there would be no "finds". At the end of the day everyone will know that the ANSMET "team" has discovered a total of 19 meteorites today!

11:00am For the next hour (and almost every 200 yards or so) the team discovers one meteorite after another--6 in all. We are constantly stopping to tag and bag. For those team members who are not actively assisting, it becomes very very cold while waiting to move on. Fingers and toes are the first to go numb. Each member has their own way of staying warm: our leader skids around doing what appears to be seal dives. He iinsists it's actually called "stealing second base" and promptly goes into his impression of a seal--wiggling and flippering across the ice.

But dances seem to prevail. One team member dances an Irish jig, another (with ice chipper in hand) invents the "chipper dance". Still another demonstrates her "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" dance routine--nine years of dance lessons have come in handy!

Adrenalin is flowing, though, and the group is excited about our "finds". Even though it is well past noon, we vote to put off lunch until after the next meteorite is found.

12:40pm Another meteorite is found, bagged, and tagged. It's time for lunch! The wind has picked up so we must use our skidoos as wind breaks to sit and eat our "Duck" sandwiches (luncheon meat and cheese wrapped up in a tortilla and named after its creator).

1:00pm We're off again, and only minutes later two very large meteorites (7x6x5cm) are sighted by most of the team. They seem to be matching halves.

2:00pm We've been out in the field for 5 hours, and in the last hour we have collected five more meteorites. It's now very cold and fairly windy. Most of us no longer can feel our fingers. It's time to make one more sweep, and head for home.

3:00pm Our last sweep faild to uncover more meteorites, but on our route home, two more are discovered.

4:30pm We return to camp, and the line-up begins at the "refueling station" and the "poop" tent. Both of these have been "upgraded" from last year. Those who cherish the old ways grumble about these new "luxuries" and complain that "Starbucks should be opening next week".

5:00pm Our skidoos are refueled and covered for the night. We stumble into our tents, (there is no such thing as a graceful entry) and light our stoves. It's probably below 0 degrees.

5:30pm The tent has warmed up, and we begin to peel off our layers of clothing. We count our new bruises, and check to see that our fingers and toes are really


5:45pm It's time to refill our water bottles and thermoses for tomorrow's work day, and start dinner. A cup of hot soup or cider is exceptionally good right now.

(Some of us daydream about what great commercials we could come up with for hot soup or cider.)

6:00pm Dinner time. It's pasta and shrimp tonight. Of course, its's a one-pan meal. Delicious!

7:00pm Time to complete journals, e-mail entries, and odds & ends. It's been a great search day. 19 meteorites collected in one day!

So . . . . meteorite hunters. Indiana Jones or Laura Croft? Maybe . . . a little. Exciting? Very much so, and although many of us will never get to see these rocks from space again, who knows what mysteries of the universe they may unlock one day?

10:30pm Bedtime. Good-night!

10:30pm Bedtime. Good-night!

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