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19 March, 2001

Mawson March 19 2001

We had finished up processing our core just as we were nearing the Australian base of Mawson. I barely had time for a nap and shower before we arrived off the shore of Horseshoe Harbor. This harbor is one of the best natural harbors for 1000's of miles. This was one of the reasons they chose this site for the station. Another reason is that the high-latitude location makes it a good place for studying cosmic rays such as the Aurora Australis. The station was built on the only piece of open ground around, and to either side were huge glaciers. We were in the harbor for over an hour, while waiting to get the zodiacs ready and also for a wedding! Matt, a photographer brought to film the recovery of the mooring, and Cindy, one of our scientists, were going to get married. They had met here several years ago and both felt that Antarctica would be where they should start their life together. So with red carpet laid out on the back deck and the captain in his finest we held a ceremony. It was a clear sunny day. Please don't confuse sunny with warm, the picture I took of the newly married couple doesn't show the rest of us bundled against the freezing wind!

As soon as the wedding was over we headed to shore for the celebration. We walked up to the main building and signed our names on the board. By doing this they could keep track of how many visitors there were in the event of a fire or other emergency. Some of our group chose to stay warm inside. There was plenty to do with music, pool table, bar, and an excellent library. It was fun meeting fellow scientists from Australia. A few of us bundled up against the cold and made our way over to a penguin colony. Amongst the Adelies was a lone emperor penguin, I have chosen this picture to replace the one I had of me holding a penguin at Sea World so none of you get the wrong impression. There is strict enforcement of how close you can get to any wildlife. Even though I look close to the emperor I am well over 20 meters away. From here I could just watch and observe the penguins without them being disturbed by my presence. After the penguins we headed out as far as we could to the point at the end of the harbor. It was bitterly cold; I felt sure that my camera was going to freeze. Going out was not bad but fighting against the winds coming back was an ordeal. When I arrived back at the main building my face and hands were painfully cold. In short order I warmed up thanks to a delicious leg of lamb cooked up for our company by the Australians. They were so generous sharing the last of their fresh food. Cindy and Matt shared their wedding cake and then we all just relaxed and talked. It was interesting to learn what kind of research was going on in the winter season. All to soon it was time to go. We loaded into the zodiacs and fought the wind and waves back to the ship. As we climbed the rope ladder chunks of frozen water fell off our float coats. It was a cold ride but a good fun way to end our stay in Antarctica.

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