20 October, 1996

Its 12:05 am and I really don't want to write a journal. I know if I don't do it, I'll not get the opportunity tomorrow. All the days seem to run together. Today was Sunday, the day when we're supposed to start work at noon. That's contrary to Bill's philosophy; I think he feels if the sun is up, you should still be working. As you know, it's always light down here. Today the divers were planning to collect samples at Little Razorback, about an hour's drive by spryte. Yesterday a support team had made three holes at the site, one for the divers and two safety holes. They also marked the route to the hut with flags every fifty feet. That was a days work for them because all the holes for the flags had to be drilled by hand and the ice at the dive station was over five feet thick.

We left for the site in two vehicles, Jim Mastro drove the lead vehicle and I followed with the second. Jim is a real master, he's been working here since 1982 and seems to have a photographic memory. He knows what organisms are at each location, the depths at each dive site, and generally how to get things done efficiently and safely. He is a comfort to have around. When we started driving, I could see for a distance of about five flags. After a short time the wind began to blow ice and the visibility dropped to three flags, then one, and soon I couldn't see from one flag to the next. I was more concerned about not seeing cracks then I was about not seeing the flags. I wanted to be able to cross them perpendicular to direction of travel and still keep Jim's spryte in sight. Because of the blowing ice, I was having difficulty with depth perception. I suddenly realized that the vehicle was about to become airborne. I hadn't seen a mound of snow that had piled over a crack and we were going over the edge. Once we were in the air there wasn't much I could do. My head banged the top of the sprite and when it came down, it whip lashed my neck and back. Chuck was in the seat next to me and he had the wind knocked out of him, the third passenger, Jim McClintock, was in the back and seemed to survive the best. I thought that would be the end of my spryte driving for the day but every one seemed too shaken to make a change. It was another good lesson about the need to be continuously vigilant on the ice. A small mistake can become very costly. Tonight we had lobster tail for supper, that sounds great but it was cooked so it tasted a little like rubber. I like the food here, there is a good variety and all you can eat, however, if you don't finish something today, it will show up tomorrow with a different name. When we're with the dive team, we often miss meals and end up eating gorp and candy bars, I'm sure I'll add a few pounds before I get back.

We saw four Waddell seals at the dive site. They get through cracks and just hang out on the ice. These guys are big and fat and don't move very well on land. The divers say it's a different story under water and they don't look quite as docile.

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