Thank You for Being a Friend

    As I begin this journal entry, I first would like to point out that the location for this entry is Richardson, Texas (my home). Yep, I just made it home yesterday evening. Although I am not in Antarctica any more, I still have three remaining journal entries that I plan to post through the weekend.

    Today’s post is an extension of the previous post which described my Thanksgiving holiday in Antarctica. Thanksgiving is a time for reflection for all of the blessings in our life that we typically take for granted 364 days out of the year. This year, in addition to my family, pets, school administration and colleagues, and physics students, I am particularly thankful for the opportunity to participate as a PolarTREC teacher and to engage in current, hands-on polar research. These types of educational experiences are truly rare and I feel extremely fortunate to have been selected as one of the 11 teachers of the 2017 – 2018 PolarTREC Teacher cohort. Being selected for PolarTREC is one thing but making this a transformative event for me and my students could not have happened were it not for the assistance and efforts of a host of people and it is to them that I have something to say.

    To Janet and Judy from PolarTREC offices who guided me every step of the way through this tortuous path and provided invaluable suggestions and advice along the way;

    To Elaine from Antarctic Support Contract, who oversaw my travel and accommodations upon my arrival in McMurdo Station and constantly checked on me to make sure everything was going smoothly;

    To Gary, Maree, Claire, Geoff, employees at the Clothing Distribution Center in Christchurch, New Zealand, who made sure that I had all of the proper Extreme Cold Weather gear I would need for Antarctica;

    To Mark and Andy, two summer contract workers and amazing individuals who shared the flight with me from Christchurch to McMurdo Station;

    To Liz, in the National Science Foundation Chalet, who worked with me on my redeployment process and made sure I was transported home as soon as a flight became available;

    To Joni and Mandy, IT specialists, for going out of your way to schedule me for Skype sessions with classes back in the states and providing a shoulder to cry on when things didn’t work out quite right;

    To Tony, Supervisor, MEC (Mechanical Equipment Center) for taking time to speak to me about the vehicles used in Antarctica for a journal entry (to be described in the next journal entry);

    To Paul, my roommate and Ken, geological researchers on the volcanoes of Antarctica, for explaining to me your fascinating research and for the pleasant conversation;

    To Brittney from Georgia Tech University, who took time to speak to me about her research on an unmanned robotic vehicle (ICEFIN) designed to explore life below ice shelves of Antarctica and hopefully prepare for a mission to Europa (one of Jupiter’s moons);

    To Kathy in Shuttle Services, for being my partner in the Turkey Trot race;

    To Joolee, who allowed me the opportunity to relive a fond memory of my childhood by training to be a radio announcer at ICE 104.5;

    To Doug, who trained me for the seat behind the microphone at ICE 104.5;

    To Mark and Scott, Antarctic meteorology researchers from Colorado, for allowing me to help you with the installation of AWS sites at Phoenix Field and Willie Field and tolerating my questions along the way;

    To the other Scott, across the hall office mate who was always there for great conversation as well as a laugh or two before he left for Siple Dome;

    To Lindsey in Helicopter Operations for making sure Carol and I were briefed on safety considerations for upcoming helicopter flights;

    To Bryan and Rich, helicopter pilots who transported Carol and I to AWS field sites;

    To Nico from UNAVCO for allowing me to observe and learn as you worked at the AWS sites at Phoenix Field and Willie Field (and by the way, yes, I am ticklish);

    To Narendra, Pnina, Kevin from IRIS PASSCAL for your friendly conversation as office mates and to Kevin especially for your ingenious solution to transporting a battery box with two batteries sans one handle;

    To Bija, for helping Carol and I check out banana sleds to haul cargo to an AWS site;

    To Shuttle Bob, for making my day with a shuttle ride on Ivan the Terra Bus to begin my flights home and for your years of service at McMurdo Station;

    To Jennifer, my PolarTREC teacher colleague, for always providing a smile, exchanging experiences of our time in the field and words of encouragement;

    To Hongjie and Yongli, faculty sponsors of my PolarTREC teacher colleague, Jennifer, who Carol and I occasionally dined with and enjoyed meals when all were not out in the field;

    To Todd and Olivia, members of Leidos IT team, for the great conversation and being my travel buddies for the long trek home from McMurdo Station;

    To Matthew, Dave, Lee, and George of the Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin at Madison for making me an honorary member of their research group and providing me with a wealth of information and hands-on experiences in Antarctic meteorology and AWS; and,

    To Carol, my polar researcher who selected me as a PolarTREC teacher and went above and beyond to make sure that I actively participated in every aspect of the development and maintenance of AWS in Antarctica,

    I would like to take this opportunity to simply say, “Thank you for being a friend.”

    Coming Up Next: McMurdo Station is a close community with anything in need within walking distance. But there is a need to travel distances and reach places that require a more reliable and efficient means of transportation like motor vehicles. In fact, in my first week in Antarctica, I found myself behind the wheel, needing to learn to drive the icy road conditions around McMurdo Station.

    Me Driving
    Me behind the wheel, needing to drive the roads of McMurdo Station.

    So, in the next entry I discuss the types of vehicles that are available and when they are used. Also, Kiwi returns for the final two journal posts to ask questions about life in Antarctica.

    My residence
    Weather Summary
    Clear and calm
    52 degrees Fahrenheit
    Wind Speed
    2 miles per hour NW
    Wind Chill
    52 degrees Fahrenheit