26 November, 2000
It's hard to believe I've been here for an entire week. The time seems to be going very quickly. Today was a day off at station. There are still many people working. I spent part of my morning working on a pump with Sarah Searson. While out collecting data with our electronics package the pump failed. It turned out to be a bad cable connector, but we still cleaned the pumps. I also learned how to make sterile stoppers for large pieces of glassware. This taught me that children's scissors can be sharp.
The weather started changing from a bright sunny morning to a cloudy colder afternoon. I did have an opportunity to get out and explore the area using a zodiac. Me, Ray Smith and Palmer Station's physician Molly Hutsinpiler, made our first stop to old Palmer Station. I didn't even know there was an old Palmer Station, but before 1961 the station was located about a mile north of its present location. It used to be a British station, but when rebuilt in the early 1960's it became an American station. The main reason for the move was that the old station did not have a deep enough port for incoming ships. It was a small station and by the Antarctic treaty had to be completely dismantled and removed.
Ray was our pilot as we headed out over the water. There was a lot of ice again surrounding station, but Ray masterfully steered us out to sea. We passed Torgersen Island, an island swarming with Adelie penguins, Elephant Rocks, a rocky outcropping of rocks from the bay that had several large Elephant seals and finally to Old Palmer Station. We tied up our boat and made our way to what remained of the Old Station. Other than a couple of pieces of concrete there is very little remaining, but my excitement came from what lied nearby. Ice Cave! There were many Brown Skua's flying around, but I had to get to the cave. I guess it's the spelunker in me.
We rounded a corner trudging through the snow. If Molly had not been with us we would have passed by and never seen the cave. It was a small hole in the side of the hill, a very small hole. I peered down the opening to see that it was almost straight down about six feet. I didn't wait to long before I disappeared through the opening with my backpack. I fell on my backside but wasn't hurt. The other two handed down their backpacks and fell through the hole about the same way I did. We were treated to a glorious sight. The ice cave was about 50 meters long, 3 meters high and 3 meters across. In places there were icicles hanging from the ceiling. The ice cave that was formed inside of this glacier was incredible. It made me wonder how many more ice caves were nearby that haven't been discovered yet.
We spent nearly an hour inside the cave taking pictures and admiring its beauty. When we finally were ready to leave we had to climb out the hole and with the help of a few well placed foot holds in the snow and ice we were out. Now that I am out of the ice cave I wanted to tell my mom, Faye Swanson, that no, I didn't take any unnecessary risks, and yes mother, there were tons of ice all around me, and no I didn't have to be first down the hole, and yes I was dressed warmly. Thanks mom for worrying about me but I'm being careful and having fun and besides Ray and Molly came with me. So make sure you tune in tomorrow, I know my mom will. It's nice to have a mother that loves you and can scold you at a distance.
The trip back to station included a stop at Torgersen Island. Stop by for the smell-o-vision description.
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