2 January, 2003
Greetings from the females of the Beardmore ANSMET team! There have been a few requests for the female perspective of what it's like to be on the ANSMET team. We've been thinking about this for a few days now, and really, we're having a hard time figuring our how we're suppose to answer that question. So, we've decided to just give a bit of our own personal perspectives on what it's been like for us for the last 4 weeks.
Living in the extreme environment of Antarctica is same for us as with the rest of the team- everyone pulls same weight - literally - from lashing sleds, lifting boxes, putting up our own tent, fixing snowmobiles and much more--and none of it's beyond what we're capable of.
Do we work hard - yes! Are we tired at the end of the day? Absolutely. But so are the guys. Being out here is hard physical work at times, and even just dealing with the cold will tire you out.
We both like being outdoors and have lots of outdoor experience - so we are really enjoying the challenge of this gorgeous, if a bit cold, environment. In fact, the other day, it was just the two of us, gathering GPS data (location data for meteorites we collected) that had been lost the other day, close to camp. It was a calm and beautiful night to be out in Antarctica, just us two girls.
So with all the similarities between us and the guys, what are the differences? Our tent, for one. The tent is more than just the place where we keep warm. It is our home away from home. It is filled with reminders of our family, friends, home (Linda brought a huge wad of photos which she changes out every few days), holiday decorations (Nancy's Mom sent her some great Christmas socks and hair ornaments), and just about anything else that makes the space seem more ours (Nancy is the true decorator genius, I just reap the benefits of her talents). If you look at the image of us below, you can make out some of the decorations that make our tent so warm and inviting.
As you may have read from previous entries, daily chores are what keep us healthy and warm. As soon as we get out of the field, we fill stoves and chip ice. Nancy and I take turns without every really keeping track. We don't spend alot of time deciding what we want to eat each night, nor do we follow any type of schedule. All of it gets done sometime before bed, which happens to be the latest in our neighborhood, generally close to midnight. It's hard to believe, but Nancy has a fair number of scientific responsibilities that can take upwards of two hours--downloading the GPS data for the day is the main one. We usually end the evening with filling our stoves and water bottles for the next day. A little reading until the tent gets too cold and then cocooning under the sleeping bags. We also get up the latest of all the guys, about 7:30. Neither of us are big breakfast eaters, so those few extra minutes are nice. Speaking of food, we would like to point out that we eat pretty differently out here than at home. Lots of meat and butter and fat go into our meals, while those foods that can't be frozen (soda, pizza, sourcream, lettuce, fruits) are not available. Amazingly, we crave all that fat in order to keep up our energy (gotta lug almost 10 extra pounds of bunny boots all day) and stay warm. Linda is not a big chocolate eater and has found herself eating a bar a day and has still lost a few pounds.
Other differences between life in a tent versus life back in homes are generally related to indoor plumbing and large quantities of hot water. We get pretty dirty out here after weeks of no showers, and we are willing to accept that, especially since everyone else is in the same boat. We leave all the usual toiletries behind. We care very little how we look (we do however keep an eye out for frost nip and other cold weather conditions that might appear on exposed skin), because keeping warm is more important (although Linda hates how much like a blimp she looks in all that gear). Linda doesn't even like to look in the mirror unless Nancy is laughing at her hat head. Of course, we are looking forward to tomorrow evening, which will be our second "bath" night in the field. Linda has even gone so far as to run around outside without a hat just everyone will see her clean hair, if only for that day. We also suspect that we use many, many more babywipes than the men do. Linda would like to thank Nancy's Mom for all those wonderful smelling lotions, too.
So how do the guys treat us? Just like anyone else, which is great, ideal, perfect really. It's a good hard working team. In fact, today we clobbered the 400 mark by a tough day of moraine searching. Moraine searching is hard work, having to distinguish meteorites from terrestrial rocks. Our current meteorite total is now 421, and we still have a number of days to go!
It is worth noting that the other ANSMET team in the field right now, the reconnaissance team, is equal men and women, with 2 of each. Last year, at one point in the ANSMET season, there were 5 women and 3 men in camp. There have been a lot of women who have been involved with ANSMET teams over the years, and we're sure each of them has her own unique perspective on this very unique and fantastic experience.
On a personal note, Linda wants to send a big Happy Birthday wish to Bryan, who she loves and misses. And even more birthday wishes to her dear nephew Ian. Nancy sends more greetings to her mom and dad and sister and hopes Notre Dame won.
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