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Cara Pekarcik's picture

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 milesThe 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 EnglandThe 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 PolarTRECCara Pekarcik poses with some snow and ice covered mountains in the background. These mountains are located on Anvers Island, Antarctica.

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Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

I hope it is obvious from all of my journals that I would go back in a heartbeat :) From: PolarTREC <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 7:08 AM Subject: Re: mark p block e commented on 19 October 2016 Home
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

There is no way to pinpoint just one thing - everything was interesting - it was a new place, new animals, new science, etc. From: PolarTREC <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 7:04 AM Subject: Re: mark p block e commented on 19 October 2016 Home
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

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 <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 7:01 AM Subject: Re: Aaleeah commented on 19 October 2016 Home (
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

Arleeah - polar bears do not live in Antarctica.  Check out this journal for information: https://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/southern-ocean-diatoms/journals/2016-09-01 From: PolarTREC <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 6:56 AM Subject: Re: Aaleeah commented on 19 October 2016 Home ((
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

Of course! From: PolarTREC <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 6:55 AM Subject: Re: Aaleeah commented on 19 October 2016 Home
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

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 <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 6:51 AM Subject: Re: Aaleeah commented on 19 October 2016 Home (
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

We were down into the teens (degrees F) in some areas and definitely had windchill below zero. From: PolarTREC <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 6:53 AM Subject: Re: Aaleeah commented on 19 October 2016 Home
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

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 <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/21/2016 9:21 AM Subject: Re: Aisha Khiyaty commented on 19 October 2016 Home (
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

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 <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/21/2016 8:51 AM Subject: Re: rebecca podgurski commented on 19 October 2016 Home (((
Janet's picture

Janet said:

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's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

Thanks so much Janet!  It was an amazing experience that will influence the rest of my life!! From: PolarTREC <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/19/2016 2:19 PM Subject: Re: Janet commented on 19 October 2016 Home (
Aaleeah's picture

Aaleeah said:

Are you excited not to see ice and be freezing all the time and sleep in your own bed?
Raymond Chin 's picture

Raymond Chin said:

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

Cara Pekarcik replied:

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 <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 6:52 AM Subject: Re: Raymond Chin commented on 19 October 2016 Home (
sean G block E's picture

sean G block E said:

how was the weather for the most part during the entirety of the trip?
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

We had sunny days and cloudy, windy days.  I would equate it to winter in New England, but colder. From: PolarTREC <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 6:52 AM Subject: Re: sean G block E commented on 19 October 2016 Home (
sean G block E's picture

sean G block E said:

how many different types of animals did you see?
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

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 <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 6:54 AM Subject: Re: sean G block E commented on 19 October 2016 Home (
sean G block E's picture

sean G block E said:

what new things did you learn about diatoms?
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

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 <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 6:56 AM Subject: Re: sean G block E commented on 19 October 2016 Home (
Derek Bille's picture

Derek Bille said:

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?
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

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 <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 6:58 AM Subject: Re: Derek Bille commented on 19 October 2016 Home ((
sean G block E's picture

sean G block E said:

did the ship take any damage during your trip?
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

Not that I am aware. From: PolarTREC <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 6:58 AM Subject: Re: sean G block E commented on 19 October 2016 Home
sean G block E's picture

sean G block E said:

how thick was the ice in the ocean near where you were?
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

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 <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 7:00 AM Subject: Re: sean G block E commented on 19 October 2016 Home (
mark p block e's picture

mark p block e said:

how big do you think the ice was in Antarctica
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

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 <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 7:03 AM Subject: Re: mark p block e commented on 19 October 2016 Home ((
mark p block e's picture

mark p block e said:

what did you find the most interesting about your trip?
mark p block e's picture

mark p block e said:

would you go back if you got the chance to
mark p block e's picture

mark p block e said:

did the ship get damaged at all during the trip?
mark p block e's picture

mark p block e said:

are you ready to come back to school
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

It will certainly be a transition for me, but yes From: PolarTREC <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 7:10 AM Subject: Re: mark p block e commented on 19 October 2016 Home
mark p block e's picture

mark p block e said:

how cold was it
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

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 <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/20/2016 7:11 AM Subject: Re: mark p block e commented on 19 October 2016 Home ((
Michael Comerford G-block's picture

Michael Comerfo... said:

Welcome back from your trip, it will be nice to meet you in class on Monday.
rebecca podgurski's picture

rebecca podgurski said:

hello, i was wondering would you recommend this trip to your friends, family, teachers and even your students?
Kyle Cohen Block G's picture

Kyle Cohen Block G said:

Will you talk about your trip when you come back to school?
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

Sure will!  I expect there will be many questions about the trip. From: PolarTREC <webmaster@polartrec.com> To: <cpekarcik@polartrec.com> Sent: 10/21/2016 8:54 AM Subject: Re: Kyle Cohen Block G commented on 19 October 2016 Home (
Aidan G Block G's picture

Aidan G Block G said:

welcome back!! Are you excited to be back or did you want to stay in Antarctica longer?
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

It is certainly nice to be back home, but I would love to still be in Antarctica!
Aisha Khiyaty's picture

Aisha Khiyaty said:

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?
Cindy Zheng's picture

Cindy Zheng said:

Is this a life-changing experience?
Cara Pekarcik's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

As I mentioned in this very journal - definitely!  I learned a great deal during my time in Antarctica!  
Aidan Mordas Block: B's picture

Aidan Mordas Bl... said:

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's picture

Cara Pekarcik replied:

Hi Aidan - it was actually pretty easy.  I certainly miss having breakfast made for me every morning.
Aidan Mordas Block: B's picture

Aidan Mordas Bl... said:

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
Judy Fahnestock's picture

Judy Fahnestock said:

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!