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10 November, 2003

Sling Low Sweet Chariot

Temperature: 18*F

Location: McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Today was a loading and preparation day. All the supplies that had previously been weighed were transferred to the helicopter pad so the crew could set up the "sling" for the gear. The total weight of our gear going into the field is over 1000 pounds! Peter, Phil, and Roman will depart for the field tomorrow, while I complete "happy camper school".

I completed training today on operating generators, jiffy drills (augers are attached to these drills so holes of various sizes can be drilled), and ATV's. We all also completed training on using the radio communications while in the field. We reviewed which mountains to aim our signals towards so they could be relayed back to McMurdo. We established a "check in" time with the station for us to radio in and let people in McMurdo know we are accounted for and safe.

I was reminded again today of how many people are involved with supporting our trip out to the field. There are scientists, students, mechanics, pilots, communications specialists, camping gear coordinators, clothing issue personnel, and all the people to help support everyone such as chefs, doctors, and housing coordinators. This is complicated enough for just one team, but there are about 300 scientists down here, all requesting time from the support personnel. Everything runs quite smoothly!

Things are just about ready to go now; if the weather holds, the first flight to the Dry Valleys will head out in the morning! Everyone is anxious to get going. As the early Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen said "The worst part of a polar expedition is over when the preparation has ended and the journey begun."

Now would be a good time to introduce everyone to two polar explorers which have joined me on this venture. One is named Red. Red is a "geobear" from Mrs. Metzger's fifth grade class at Monroe Center Grade School in Illinois. Mrs. Metzger's class has geo bears going (or already been) to as many places as possible around the world as part of a geography lesson. I agreed to bring "Red" to Antarctica! Red has accompanied me to every location I have been so far, and will continue to stay at my side for the duration of the trip. Red sends a great big "hello" to all his friends back at Monroe Center School.

The second polar explorer I have brought with me is named Lucy. Lucy is a stuffed canada goose. My school in New Hampshire often discusses the "Lessons From Geese" metaphor. It is about supporting each other and teamwork. Lucy is with me at all times as a reminder of all the support I continue to receive from all my friends back home - Thanks!

1) Peter reviewing some data.

2) Vinny going over the ATV basics.

3) Tony and the top of a "jiffy" drill.

4) Transferring gear at the helicopter pad.

5) Shelly overseeing radio communications at Mac Ops (McMurdo Operations).

6) Transmission being received at Mac Ops.

7) Seal in very different conditions than yesterday!

8) Lucy and red sitting on the shoulder of Admiral Byrd's statue.

9) Sling low!

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