Toto - I don't think we're in Antarctica anymore

I woke up around 0730 and felt my stomach rumble. I walked to my kitchen and quickly realized that Mike, Ralph and Andy were not in my kitchen cooking bacon and eggs for me while I slept. Reality check #1. There is no food in the fridge, so I dressed to go to the supermarket. I put on pants and a long-sleeved shirt and walked out the door. I started sweating before I reached the garage. It was 75F and I was dressed for a day working in the RVIB Palmer. Reality check #2. I got to my car and tried to turn the key, but was met with silence. The battery was dead. I can't call the engineering department to fix the situation. Reality check #3. "Normal" life is trying to throw me as many punches as possible. I say - bring it - I wouldn't give up one second of my time on the RVIB Palmer for whatever punches life wants to throw.

It is hard to believe that just 10 days ago, I was surrounded by Antarctic mountains and lots of ice. Today, I am surrounded by the beautiful colors of fall in New England. The sights are different, the sounds are different and the smells are different.

Ice for miles
The view from the 01 deck on October 6, 2016. The RVIB Palmer spent about 6 days moving slowly through the pack ice in Bismark Strait.

Fall in New England
The fall colors are everywhere in New England. These colors are a drastic change from the white scenery in Antarctica

There's No Place Like Home

If you asked me to return to Antarctica, the Southern Ocean and/or the RVIB Palmer today, I would drop whatever I was doing and run to the airport. That doesn't mean that I don't appreciate being back home in Massachusetts. My experience as a PolarTREC teacher was a life-changing event in so many ways. As mentioned, this journey is not over. Life doesn't go back to "normal" after such an experience. Antarctica will forever be a part of my life, my teaching and my heart. I look forward to sharing this experience with folks through presentations, conferences and my upcoming lesson plans development. Stay tuned to see what else is in store on this PolarTREC adventure!!!

Thank you PolarTREC
Cara Pekarcik poses with some snow and ice covered mountains in the background. These mountains are located on Anvers Island, Antarctica.

Author
Date
Weather Summary
Bright, sunny and warm
Temperature
27C/80F

Comments

Cara Pekarcik

I do not have permits to bring the samples back and all of the samples must be shipped to specific research labs.  Perhaps I will be able to use some samples from the research team in the future.

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/21/2016 9:21 AM
Subject: Re: Aisha Khiyaty commented on 19 October 2016 Home

(

Cara Pekarcik

It is certainly nice to be back home, but I would love to still be in Antarctica!

Cara Pekarcik

Sure will!  I expect there will be many questions about the trip.

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/21/2016 8:54 AM
Subject: Re: Kyle Cohen Block G commented on 19 October 2016 Home

(

Cara Pekarcik

Antarctica is not for everyone, so it would depend on whether you would want to do this particular trip.  What I would recommend is that everyone does what they desire in life!  Make is happen and do the things that you really want to do!  

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/21/2016 8:51 AM
Subject: Re: rebecca podgurski commented on 19 October 2016 Home

(((

Cindy Zheng

Is this a life-changing experience?

Cara Pekarcik

As I mentioned in this very journal - definitely!  I learned a great deal during my time in Antarctica!  

Aidan Mordas B…

Hi Mrs. Pekarcik,Welcome back to MA. My question is was it hard to transition back from land to sea. Espically being on board a boat for the past 2 months. See you tomorrow
Aidan M

Aidan Mordas B…

Hi Mrs. Pekarcik,Welcome back to MA. My question is was it hard to transition back from land to sea. Espically being on board a boat for the past 2 months. See you tomorrow
Aidan M

Cara Pekarcik

Hi Aidan - it was actually pretty easy.  I certainly miss having breakfast made for me every morning.

Judy Fahnestock

I'm a little late in responding but I love your journal! Welcome back and I'm so glad that you had such an amazing experience!

Janet

HI Cara and welcome home!I bet your eyes are having a hard time adjusting to that color change. Great journal about the realities of coming home and I'm sure there are more checks coming your way. It is amazing that we can actually live so simply and be just fine in a community setting and even a long ways from the rest of the world -- at least for a good chunk of time. Here's hoping the rest of your week goes well. I'm sure your students and family are glad to have you home.

Janet

Cara Pekarcik

Thanks so much Janet!  It was an amazing experience that will influence the rest of my life!!

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/19/2016 2:19 PM
Subject: Re: Janet commented on 19 October 2016 Home

(

Aaleeah

Are you excited not to see ice and be freezing all the time and sleep in your own bed?

Raymond Chin

Welcome back Ms. Pekarcik!
From your time with the expedition, what is your proudest or most memorable moment on board?

sean G block E

how was the weather for the most part during the entirety of the trip?

sean G block E

how many different types of animals did you see?

sean G block E

what new things did you learn about diatoms?

Derek Bille

Hello Ms. Pekarcik and welcome home!
What was the first thing you did when you got back home? Also do you think you will keep in touch with the people you met on board?

sean G block E

did the ship take any damage during your trip?

sean G block E

how thick was the ice in the ocean near where you were?

mark p block e

how big do you think the ice was in Antarctica

mark p block e

what did you find the most interesting about your trip?

mark p block e

would you go back if you got the chance to

mark p block e

did the ship get damaged at all during the trip?

mark p block e

are you ready to come back to school

mark p block e

how cold was it

Cara Pekarcik

Mark - every journal has the daily temperature at the top of the page.  We had days below freezing and others above freezing.  The wind definitely made it much colder.

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 7:11 AM
Subject: Re: mark p block e commented on 19 October 2016 Home

((

Cara Pekarcik

I hope it is obvious from all of my journals that I would go back in a heartbeat :)

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 7:08 AM
Subject: Re: mark p block e commented on 19 October 2016 Home

Cara Pekarcik

There is no way to pinpoint just one thing - everything was interesting - it was a new place, new animals, new science, etc.

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 7:04 AM
Subject: Re: mark p block e commented on 19 October 2016 Home

Cara Pekarcik

Mark - I don't know whether you are talking about the fast ice or just the thickness in general.  In a number of my previous journals, I talk about the thickness of the ice and the coverage area.  When we did the small boat ops, the fast ice was a few feet thick.

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 7:03 AM
Subject: Re: mark p block e commented on 19 October 2016 Home

((

Cara Pekarcik

Arleeah - even if I am not ready, I am home and that is my reality.  It is nice to be back in MA and it will be great to see all of my friends and family!

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 7:01 AM
Subject: Re: Aaleeah commented on 19 October 2016 Home

(

Cara Pekarcik

Sean - take a look back at some of the journals from the beginning of October.  I talk a lot about the ice thickness in the journal about small boat ops as well as the journal during the first week in October when we were moving slowly through the ice.

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 7:00 AM
Subject: Re: sean G block E commented on 19 October 2016 Home

(

Cara Pekarcik

Not that I am aware.

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 6:58 AM
Subject: Re: sean G block E commented on 19 October 2016 Home

Cara Pekarcik

I will absolutely keep in touch with many of the folks I met!  I also hope to continue working with some in the future.  

The first thing that I did was shower and eat Thai food :)

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 6:58 AM
Subject: Re: Derek Bille commented on 19 October 2016 Home

((

Cara Pekarcik

Sean - check out all of the journals about diatoms - that is all new information to me!  I'll be sharing a lot more information in class when I return

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 6:56 AM
Subject: Re: sean G block E commented on 19 October 2016 Home

(

Cara Pekarcik

Shawn - take a look at the TGIWF #5 journal from 10-14-16.  There is a list of all of the animals sighted on this trip.

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 6:54 AM
Subject: Re: sean G block E commented on 19 October 2016 Home

(

Cara Pekarcik

Of course!

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 6:55 AM
Subject: Re: Aaleeah commented on 19 October 2016 Home

Cara Pekarcik

I was never really freezing - I had great cold-weather gear to keep me warm.  I love seeing the ice, but it is nice to sleep in my own bed (although, I do sleep really well at sea)

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 6:51 AM
Subject: Re: Aaleeah commented on 19 October 2016 Home

(

Cara Pekarcik

It will certainly be a transition for me, but yes

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 7:10 AM
Subject: Re: mark p block e commented on 19 October 2016 Home

Cara Pekarcik

We had sunny days and cloudy, windy days.  I would equate it to winter in New England, but colder.

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 6:52 AM
Subject: Re: sean G block E commented on 19 October 2016 Home

(

Cara Pekarcik

We were down into the teens (degrees F) in some areas and definitely had windchill below zero.

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 6:53 AM
Subject: Re: Aaleeah commented on 19 October 2016 Home

Cara Pekarcik

I am happy that I was able to learn a great deal of information and make it available to students and the public through my journals.  I hope that I did justice to the work that was accomplished (and will be accomplished) through this research and sampling.

From: PolarTREC
To:
Sent: 10/20/2016 6:52 AM
Subject: Re: Raymond Chin commented on 19 October 2016 Home

(

Michael Comerf…

Welcome back from your trip, it will be nice to meet you in class on Monday.

rebecca podgurski

hello, i was wondering would you recommend this trip to your friends, family, teachers and even your students?

Kyle Cohen Block G

Will you talk about your trip when you come back to school?

Aidan G Block G

welcome back!! Are you excited to be back or did you want to stay in Antarctica longer?

Aisha Khiyaty

Welcome back. I cant wait to see you back in school. Did you get to keep any of the packaged samples ? if you did will you bring any to class?