May 31, 2009
Sunday is the day off for the station employees and the fish team decided to take a break as well, as they had been going day and night for many days on end. Jeff, Harry, Lisa, Kristin, Pat, Irina and I met up at Skua (recreational equipment storage) to try on ski boots and skis. I was so excited because I have been severely overdue for my annual skiing excursions and have been really looking forward to getting up on the glacier. It had snowed some in the past week, so we hoped the conditions would be good for making some runs. We got our gear and trekked up the glacier over to the Bonaparte side, which does not get as much wind and usually retains more of the snow. Jeff, Lisa, Kristin and I strapped on our Telemark skis while Irina hopped on her sled (piece of hard plastic with a rope for a strap). The sun was in the distant horizon and the temperature was really quite warm (for here - it is truly all relative as I keep getting horrific reports of the heat in Alabama!). I even took my coat off after hiking up the glacier toting the skis. Kristin and Lisa zipped down the hill with perfect turns and pretty lines in the snow, while I struggled with the boots that were about two sizes too big; not to mention this being my first attempt to ski Telemark skis! As I made my way not so gracefully down the hill I looked back up and watched as Jeff turned into a cloud of snow and skis flying; the proverbial garage sale. Jeff's first ever attempt at skiing - he was starting big for sure - on a glacier in Antarctica on Telemark skis. He immediately remarked he wished he had chosen the snowboard. As I watched Irina giggle all the way down the hill flying by like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation on the verge of out of control on the sled, I was beginning to wish I had chosen the sled as well! She was definitely having the most fun with the least amount of equipment required! Harry, Pat and Kris caught up with us and we all had a ball making runs up and down the glacier. At one point, Jeff lost one ski and it continued all the way down the hill without him, so he chased after it balancing on one ski. Kristin and I were cracking up only imagining how disastrous this may turn out. As Jeff zipped past Lisa making her way back up, she yelled out, "Don't hurt yourself! I need you!" referring to the massive amount of work left in the lab, which sent us into another round of laughter. Fortunately, somehow he made it safely to his lone ski and hiked back up. Lisa got out the banner that she made for her video that she was going to send back to the ski resort, White Grass, that she and her family visit often to ski in Virginia. It read, "I miss White Grass." After she captured the video she wanted, she wrapped it around her waist as a skirt, at which time we noted only part of the word "grass" was visible right across her backside. This caused another eruption of laughter as her new nickname was coined from the sign, "Miss White ___". I love the comedy of real life - you just can't make this stuff up!
Inevitably, we had to get back to the lab and process tissue samples. I helped Jeff with more heart, brain and pectoral tissues. My job was to retrieve the samples from the freezer, calculate the amount of buffer needed for the sample after Jeff weighed the sample, pipette the buffer to the sample tube and then pipette the sample into the storage tubes and put them back into the freezer. We got through about 36 samples in a few hours. Each time Lisa would start to complain about the arduous lab work, we just reminded her of the fun we had on the glacier. You really cannot complain if you balance it all out!
This evening we had three different presentations. One was the continuation of Mark Furnish's movies - 10 Years on the Ice. He has worked in Antarctica since 1994 at all three U.S. Stations - McMurdo or "MacTown," South Pole Station and Palmer. He has some great video footage of each place and made them into 40-minute movies each. In this one of Palmer Station, it even had snips of Bruce and Kristin from several years ago, so that was fun to see! Then Craig shared a 10-minute video that he had from South Pole Station from the 2005 season. It is really interesting to see the work that has been done at South Pole and to think about the harsh conditions that exist there. Next Lisa shared with everyone her story about her famous father that was part of the Byrd Expedition (1928-1930) that I featured in a previous journal entry. Everyone was super enthralled with her stories and the pictures that she shared of her dad and his dogs that were the sled dogs. Great Antarctic stories on all levels!