Chasing the Sun

southpole .....

Later: Bardo
Earlier: Downhole

Happy New Year to everyone from the skies somewhere over the western USA, en route to LAX. This is my ninth and probably final trip to the Geographic South Pole, and if you’re reading this you probably know me and know I’ve been preparing for this trip off and on for a number of months (and, in some ways, for decades — more on that later). Now I am finally under way, and I’m relieved to be launched and finally headed towards whatever this journey will bring.

I have done some writing and some photography on every trip, and published writing or photos in some form during most of them — in some cases just emails to friends and family; more recently, in blogs. There are a few reasons for doing this, not the least of which is to let loved ones know where I am and that I’m safe. I also find that the writing process helps me to capture, absorb and explore the experience of going somewhere few people get to go. But it is also an opportunity to give some of that experience back to all the people who have contributed (at least in the form of tax dollars) to support me and my colleagues in the US Antarctic Program.

This Year’s Blog

My intention is to post photos and text here every day for the next 28 days or so. My entries may therefore be briefer than they have been in past years. I will try to cover some of the the basics of the trip (why go; logistics; etc.). I also may indulge in personal musings on the whole process and about the overall experience over the past fourteen years. Finally, I want to invite you to contact me and let me know if there is anything you would like me to explain, describe, etc.

Special Goals

In previous years I have tried to enumerate certain personal goals or projects in advance (in addition to objectives for work, obviously). These goals have been things like workouts, regular mindfulness meditation practice, art projects, places to see, books to read, etc. I have supplies along for all those things, but for this year I would like to set one goal, which is to be as awake as possible to the entire experience as I can. This may mean fewer activities than in past years, (or shorter blog posts, except for this one!); but this is probably my last trip down here and I’d rather enjoy the things that come along of their own accord than to try to chase around to see or do everything I missed on previous trips (or re-do things I’ve already done).

Why Is This The Last Trip?

Many people have asked why this is the last trip (and have pointed out that I’ve said that every trip would be the last). This year truly is different in that this is the last construction season for the IceCube project — we have deployed the final of 86 strings just a few weeks ago, and when these seven latest strings are brought online, the detector (already operational in limited forms since 2005) will be complete, so there will be very little need to send people like myself in future years (of course who knows about future projects, etc. — but really, folks, this probably is the last time for me).

How to Get Updates

Some people have asked how they can get notified when the blog is updated. I would prefer not to spam people’s inboxes with notifications, since I don’t know who really wants to get a daily update and who would rather not. So, there are a few ways which should all work well:

  1. Just visit and look at the Recently Updated links;
  2. Subscribe to the RSS feed for this site (use Google Reader or other blog reading software);
  3. Follow me as “eigenhombre” on Twitter
  4. If we are Facebook friends, follow my status updates;
  5. If you want just the photos, they will be posted on Flickr, possibly a day or so before a subset of the pictures make it to the blog. There is an RSS feed for just the photos, as well.
  6. If you really want an email notification, there are free services on the Web that will notify you when an RSS feed is updated, so please use one of those.

If you think of someone who would be interested in the blog and who I am not in contact with on Facebook or Twitter, please do forward them the link to the blog.

Many thanks, and a fruitful, peaceful and prosperous 2011 to all.

Later: Bardo
Earlier: Downhole