December 27, 2007 Most Likely the Last Journal from the Ice . . .
As my time wraps up here in Antarctica, I’d like to take a moment to reflect back on all the things that have happened. While not much data was collected during my time, if you have been reading the journals, you’ll know that there has been more than enough stuff to write about. The people, the research project, the team, the food, the facilities and of course the weather. All too much about the weather.
The people have been amazing, with so many stories from the ice and from home. The research projects they are working on promise to enlighten the way we look at the world around us, yes, all the way back in the states. If Antarctica weren’t here, things were be much different in many regards. Working with the team from Penn State was a true surprise. I was quite lucky with the way the team worked together and how easily it was to be a part of the team having met them for the first time in New Zealand. The food had its ups and downs though there are not complaints. The facilities, well, for the remoteness of this continent, what can I say, I’m impressed. I was even impressed at WAIS. Yes we were sleeping in tents with 90% of the other residents, but the heated structures provided a place for safety, community and the like. And the weather, well, I think its’ told stories to last a lifetime! This is a harsh continent!
The last few days in McMurdo have been very relaxing with just a few housekeeping things to take care of. I had some field equipment to be returned to some storage places here in town and make some rounds saying goodbye to a few folks down here, wishing them all the best with the rest of their seasons’ research. I even took some time to take some walks around town. The last two days I’ve taken a walk out to Hut Point in the hopes of seeing some animals. Well, it worked! The last two days I’ve been a number of seals! The first night on the walk there were three of them just passing the time laying on the ice and taking in a little sun. Last night they decided it was play time. I was the only one on the hill when I first arrived and I saw two seals swimming circles around each other. Occasionally one would surface for a quick breath and then go right back to playing under the ice. A few minutes later I noticed that two other seals were coming to join the party. By this time three other people had arrived on the hill to witness this amazing site! It was truly spectacular watching these 800 pounds seals seem to be having fun in water colder than freezing! I probably stood there and watch for almost an hour just enjoying the quiet surroundings of this place one last time. Sadly, still no penguins. I may take one more talk out to the point this morning just to make sure.
Our flight is scheduled to leave McMurdo early this afternoon to return to Christchurch (CHC) for a day or two, and then it’s back to the states. I will write more and post more pictures upon my arrival in CHC (called Cheech).