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From South Pole:


Monday, Nov. 28 2011 UTC

Nov. 28, 2011 15:51 NZDT B2 Science, Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Walking home

Last full day here, insh’Allah. We had flights today, so whatever weather problems were plaguing McMurdo seem to have sorted themselves out. I’m ready to leave, despite the short and comfortable trip (relatively speaking). So far on this trip, unlike some previous trips, I have not had to:

  • Go to Medical for assistance with altitude/sinus/cold/flu issues (roughly 1/3 of trips)
  • Work outside for 16-20 hrs straight (AMANDA deployments, ’97, ’98, ’00)
  • Give an impromptu presentation or tour to Distinguished Visitors or 'tourists’ ('08 at least)
  • Implement software without which IceCube would not be able to take data ('05, ’06, ’07)
  • Prototype a brand-new Experiment Control system in situ ('08)
  • Sleep in Summer Camp ('97, ’98, ’00, ’05)
  • Try and sleep during daytime through fire alarm testing ('07 at least)
  • Wait due to flight cancellations in McMurdo or Christchurch (knock on wood)
  • “Boomerang” (have flight turn around, a relatively common occurrence which I have so far avoided) (” “)

This is going to be short because I have to go pack. No satellite connection to the real world anyways at the moment.

21:54 NZDT Greenhouse

Now it’s a few hours later. Having cleaned out my room and packed, eaten paella and bread pudding in the galley, dropped in on Pole Mart (the Station store), chatted for awhile in B2 and watched two episodes of Firefly in the video lounge, I’m headed now to bed but am first making a slow farewell circuit of the Station — possibly the last one “for awhile” (let’s leave it at that). After hitting the sauna for a few minutes (yes, there is a real cedar sauna in the Station), I’m sitting on a couch in our tiny greenhouse, to write and read a bit for a few minutes before bed.

Leaving is always bittersweet, but differently so now. As I was sitting in the sauna I realized that, having said my goodbyes so thoroughly in January, I feel a bit ghost-like here, like someone who needs to move on but hasn’t yet for some reason or another. It’s a feeling I think I need to take seriously, regardless of what happens in the future.

I think that’s all I have to say for tonight. We shall see what the trip North brings tomorrow.

Update Nov. 29, 08:24 NZDT B2: Plane from/to McMurdo is en route, so my next post will be from there or Christchurch….

Today’s flight schedule