8 November, 2001
After breakfast this morning, I gave my computer over to the "computer lab" to finish making last minute adjustments for use at the field camp. Although I was originally scheduled to leave for New Harbor at 3:15 p.m., I was told this morning to be prepared to leave within 15-minutes notice. All helo flights had been cancelled due to bad weather conditions. The area was shrouded in clouds. It didn't look like we would make it to the field camp in Explorers Cove today. Around lunchtime, I was notified that I had five minutes to get an apple >from the galley. I was scheduled to be at the helo pad for weigh-in within 15 minutes. Everything had to be weighed, including me in full Extreme Cold Weather gear and helmet. It was interesting to watch preparations for departure as the helicopters were taken from the hangar by tractor. After our clothing bags were loaded into the helicopter, we were given last minute instructions before strapping ourselves in. Rob Robbins, the science dive coordinator from McMurdo, and Tim Brox, an Eagle Scout from California will be going to Explorers Cove with me. The view from the seat next to the pilot gave me an opportunity to see McMurdo from the air. We flew over the ice runway and across McMurdo Sound. The clouds covered Mt. Discovery, which usually indicates bad weather ahead, but since Barry, our pilot, could see the land, we headed on to New Harbor. It only took about 25 minutes to reach field camp. The camp is so pretty from the air. I loved seeing the two flags flying over the Jamesway huts. Three classrooms from near Albany, New York made them to fly over camp. The helicopter pilots like them because it helps them determine the direction and speed of the wind. I met the three teachers whose classes made the flags this summer when I visited Dr. Bowser's lab.
I arrived at the field camp about 2:00 p.m. From the helicopter, I could see grounded icebergs, glaciers, tidal cracks, and the Taylor Dry Valley as we came toward the coastline. Dr. Bowser and Dr. Korsun greeted us upon arrival.
That afternoon, Tim and I remained in camp to unpack while the others went off to finish work before dinner. When Dr. Pawlowski came in, I helped him fix dinner: oven-baked salmon steaks, canned potatoes, frozen corn, and fruit cocktail. There are many canned goods, candy bars, and granola bars on the shelves. (A "feature story" of the Jamesway hut will be an upcoming journal entry soon.) After dinner, Dr. Pollock led Tim and me on a tour around Explorers Cove. We visited the dive hut, and walked to the nearby frozen Wales Stream. On our walk, we saw a mummified Weddell seal and the skull of another ancient seal. We also saw the emergency cache for Explorers Cove. It had fuel, food, and a shovel stored inside. I was surprised by the variety of rocks as we walked on land without ice. We could see a light dusting of snow everywhere, as it covered some of the exposed sediment of the Taylor Dry Valley. When I looked out the window at 1:00 a.m., I saw an Adelie penguin, which visited the camp earlier this week. It had adopted Explorers Cove as a place to settle for the night. What a nice way to end my first day at the field camp!
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