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8 August, 2000

life without the veneer of civilization to protect us

Today the orientation process continues... what will life be like with the veneer of civilization to protect us? Although I am a former Olympian in Cross Country Skiing and have spent many years in winter conditions, I am beginning to grasp the seriousness of an expedition into the Arctic.

"Got your bunny boots? Mustang suit? Balaclava? Sunscreen "

"oh, and don't forget to bring your laptop, digital camera and CD player." "don't worry you'll only be six weeks between showers, but so will everyone else."

" if you go to Alaska, remember to pack your mosquito net hat"

"and it would be a good idea to get ready for the trip by learning how to fix a truck snowmobile and ATV engine"

"pack plenty of snickers and a compass in case of a whiteout"

"and be prepared to write some great lessons and web journal reports"

Check, check, oh sure, got time for that too.

What was I thinking? It all looked so simple when I signed up.

It is hard to believe that there could be so much to learn in preparation for such an experience, but indeed this week has been stuffed with information and insider tips. Thanks to the advent of high-tech clothing, satellite phones, air travel, the Internet, and other such luxuries, many of us now take the travel to distant and remote locations much more granted than we would have 50 or even 5 years ago. Additionally, adventure magazines glamorize the experience of being in exotic and difficult (read, dangerous) conditions. I guess I also had thought, "oh sure, I'll go to the Arctic, just give me a few minutes while I pack my mittens and hat".

" Not so fast, young lady " is how I am feeling today after hearing these experienced Arctic travelers. Their tales and cautions have served to return me to a better reality, this is not a casual undertaking we are embarking upon.

The lectures this week have included topics such as: living and working in polar conditions, arctic and antarctic logistics and preventing search and rescue situations. As was so well stated by John Wrenn, a research scientist with us this week to help us understand the task we have undertaken... " life without the veneer of civilization to protect us" is entirely different. Good thing I have a year to get ready.

group photo of arctic adventurers taken at CRREL

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