7 December, 1998

Monday, December 7th, 1998

Hi! Today was a day of packing and a LONG day it was. We really made a dent in packing up the paleomag lab today. Everything needs to be either stored in the Crary Lab for next season's work, or shipped back to Italy and the United States. We had to take an inventory of our supplies, package the delicate and expensive machines VERY carefully, and package up all of our samples. We had a ton of stuff to account for and pack up!

I took some time to do "housekeeping" of sorts. I had digital photos to copy for friends, my own gear to start packing up in the lab, and lots of computer work as usual. It's hard in a way, to think of leaving Antarctic and McMurdo. I've made so many wonderful new friends, and I've learned so much in the time I've been down here. It doesn't seem like it's supposed to be over yet. Many of my good friends will be leaving on Wednesday, and it will start to seem empty around Crary Lab and McMurdo. Quite a few of us are on "hold" with our flight…which was supposed to be the 10th, then got moved to the 11th or 12th, and may get cancelled or moved again. That's the way it is around here….hurry up and wait.

McMurdo is starting to be "McMuddo"….meaning that as ice and snow melts, the dirt streets of the town are getting to be a muddy mess. They have brought in bulldozers to push dirt around and level things off, and they've also dug trenches to divert streams of water flowing through town. It's quite an operation really. Our temperatures are in the 20's with some highs during the day above freezing. With the sun out 24 hours a day, and the summer season in full swing…it seems like it's a lot warmer than when I arrived almost 6 weeks ago.

They are planning to move the ice runway this weekend. They will move all operations from the sea ice to the permanent ice of the Ross Ice Shelf. The air field, which is over close to Scott Base, is called Williams (or "Willy") Field. It will be a much longer ride out to Willy Field…and the Hercs taking off from this runway will use skis instead of wheels. I almost hope that I'm delayed long enough to be on one of these Hercs. Friends were talking at lunch today about the rocket-boosters they put on these planes, that help shoot them into the air faster. It sounds quite interesting.

I was invited to Scott Base for dinner, and caught a ride over to the Kiwi base with members of the Cape Roberts Project at about 5:00 PM. The dinner was excellent! They even use real plates instead of trays! Gosh, I almost felt at home. Since the Kiwi base only has about 75 people living at it, everyone pitches in to help in the kitchen. They help serve the food, everyone cleans off their own plate and loads it in the dishwasher, and there is a rotating schedule of who does pots and pans, etc….that felt a little bit like home, too! Plus, the view of the sea ice from their dining room sure beats no windows in the McMurdo galley. I stayed around afterwards to talk with friends, and got a ride back to McMurdo around 9:30 PM.

I helped Gary, Fabio, and Andy in the lab….packing up equipment. Each piece was wrapped in bubble wrap first, then taped together and placed in huge wooden crates. We worked for awhile and then took a short break….to the dorms to play foosball and watch part of a movie. At midnight we went to the galley for mid-rats (midnight rations), and then it was back to Crary Lab!

We worked until after 3:00 AM, at which time Michele and I walked back to the dorm. I found out later that Gary stayed until 4 AM and Andy and Fabio stayed until 7 AM, to finish the initial report. It was a good feeling to get so much done though. It will make tomorrow even easier. Everyone in the paleomag lab is leaving Wednesday (but me) so we wanted time to hang out and relax together before saying good-bye. I was REALLY tired when I got back to the dorm…things are winding down here, but it's hard for our bodies to wind down. I had trouble getting to sleep, believe it or not….you'd think I'd be so tired I'd be asleep in an instant. Oh well, I can sleep in. Talk to you tomorrow!

Betty :)

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