3 March, 2001
It had been over a month since we stood on solid ground. All of us were looking forward to having some time off the ship. For a time we thought our shore leave might not happen because, during our shift that night, we hit pack ice. For hours we slowly made our way through, not knowing if the ice would clear enough so we could launch the zodiac boats to take us ashore. We tried not to get our hopes up just in case we couldn't land. Shortly after dawn Pat, our watch chief, showed me a blue haze in the distance. She said that blue haze was from water evaporating over the open water in contrast to the dry air over the pack ice. Hope! Around eight o'clock we broke clear and were in a polynya. From there we had clear sailing all the way to Davis station. Several times we talked to the station via short-wave radio to work out details of our visit. By morning the plans were set: we were going to make it ashore after breakfast. Everyone scurried about packing snacks, film, cameras and warm clothes in their day packs. Everyone gathered on the back deck to wait for the zodiacs to be lowered by crane into the water. I was in the first group of ten. Down I went over the side of the boat on a rope ladder then zoom!!!! The ship became part of the distant scenery as we crossed the water to step for the first time on the continent of Antarctica. A greeting committee made of scientists who were going to over winter came to the shore to meet us as well as go back with the zodiac for lunch on the ship. We went up to the main building, passing a group of elephant seals on the way up the hill. Shipping containers converted into summer sleeping quarters spelled out Davis. There was also a sign showing the distances to various places (find a map and see how many you can find). We entered the main building taking off our shoes and jackets. With stockinged feet we entered the main living area. There was a quick meeting to go over Antarctic protocol for viewing the wildlife as well as hiking around. While waiting for lunch some of us went back down to visit the elephant seals and penguins . I could have stayed at the shore all day but soon it was lunchtime then off for a hike. We made our way back up the hill stopping to look inside the summer quarters, not bad ! Lunch was incredible, one of the best lunches I have ever had. The best part was warm oven-fresh brown bread.
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