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2 July, 2000

The More Things Change....

The saying goes "the more things change, the more they stay the same". So is true here at Summit. I have described this area as looking like a beach (minus the ocean of course) only instead of sand we have snow. Snow is very movable. In fact, this is blessing in disguise. We can shovel it, we can push it and we can move it anywhere we want. So that is exactly what we spend many a day doing, moving snow. The camp has changed dramatically in appearance since I arrived 3 weeks ago. Nick has the great idea of mapping the area but by time we map it, it will change again.

Tim is part of the VECO staff. He wears many hats in his job. For one, he is a medic and therefore fixes all our medical ailments that occur. Because of my medical training, being an EMT-IV, he consults with me on many medical developments at camp. Thank goodness we have been very healthy and safe, thus far, but you just never know. Tim's other job is to drive the big machines. These big machines are a 931 Track loader, a snow cat (Tucker) that is similar to one used to groom ski slopes and a D6 Bulldozer. These machines are big and loud. Time drives them like they are toys. Today, his job was to move all the snow around the Main House. Why I asked? When we leave on July 11th, a crew of people will be coming to Summit to prepare the camp for the winter over. This consists of raising the Main House, moving the Green House (which is a sleeping trailer for the VECO staff and is buried under 20 feet of snow), moving the machine shop(buried as well) and level the snow around the camp. The Main House is on stilts and it will take a lot of machinery to raise it. The Green Hous and machine shop are buried so deep that it will take a fleet of machinery to drag them out of their holes. During the winter, the winds blow at Summit causing massive snow drifts. This is how everything gets buried.

Tim spends his day moving snow around, unless there is a medical problem. In today's duty, he must have driven the Bulldozer around the Main House 50 times moving snow. Hans commented that he lost the brakes on the bulldozer and needs to drive it until the gas runs out (that's a joke). On one of my treks to the Main House, Tim stopped me and asked if I wanted to drive it. Of course I wanted to drive the bulldozer. What a treat! Tim makes it look so easy. No problem-yeah right. I got into the cab (with Tim present of course) and Tim instructed me on all the levers and pedals to maneuver the machine. With plow stick in hand, I began to move the beast. First I had to raise the plow. Easy. Now let off the de-accelerator. This is when things went down hill. I forgot to release the brake too and the bulldozer began to buck. Help Tim, what do I do? Raise the shovel higher-no not that high. Jerk, stop. Now I'm starting to shake. This is not as easy as it looks. Ok, Cathi, lets start again. I got the shovel thing down but we were moving fast toward a big 30 foot snow pile. I need to stop this thing-slam on the break. What are you doing, Cathi? Shovel down, keep it level, now drive. Next thing I know I've created a huge pile of snow that I proceed to drive over. Now I'm sweating. Stop this thing Tim, I want out. Oh no, you have to back it up. No, Tim, you back it up. Its not that hard, Cathi. Actually, it was a little easier because you didn't need to put the plow down. After backing up the bulldozer, sweating beads and shaking like a leaf, Tim let me out of the machine. That was really hard. The saying goes, "try to do something that scares you daily". Well, I fulfilled that request. What's left for tomorrow? Climb the Swiss Tower.

Ciao, Cathi

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