An Über ride from my house in Goleta to the Santa Barbara Airport, a short hop from there to the confusing, labyrinthine mess they call LAX, a trans-Pacific flight spent watching movies and appreciating the effects of Unisom tablets, a short hop between Australia and what’s left of Zealandia, and we deployed, with the help of the United States Airforce, to the driest, windiest, coldest, most remote, and most desolate continent, spending a few days in the relative comfort of McMurdo Station before the helicopters took us out into the field and essentially out of reach of civilization. A short car ride, booked via Demian’s cell phone, ended with me being in, arguably, the most remote and untraveled place on Earth.
Five weeks of sampling later, there was a second journey: another helicopter trip, four more flights, and one last Über ride and I’d wandered back into my house with a lot of equipment in need of repair, quite a few pictures of dike exposures and seal mummies on my computer, and the strange thought that my memories of fieldwork in the Dry Valleys had indeed become “memories” and that I was back in the “real world.” After a bit of time spent at my parents’ house relaxing and having some lovey time with a certain dog, it’s time to get to work on the several tons of rocks we now have. On we go.
As a parting note: the pictures I’ve taken that are any good (I hope) and that I’d think would be of interest to non-geologists are now on Rob’s Facebook page, where he’s set up an album that showcases our attempts at photography. Now that bandwidth is no longer in such short supply, and now that it no longer costs John $2 a minute to use the internet, it’s much, much, much easier to put these pictures out, I have to say! I’ve also put my pictures into a Photobucket album, for those who don’t have Facebook, since, as my dad will tell you, Mark Zuckerburg’s invention isn’t entirely ubiquitous just yet.
I’d like to make some acknowledgements. Firstly, I’d like to thank the NSF for funding this project and giving me the privilege of visiting Antarctica in the first place. Thanks to as many of the USAP personnel and McMurdo Staff as I can remember, and if I’ve forgotten anybody (I sincerely hope not) then consider this thanks to you, as well. In no particular order: Bija Sass and the other Berg Field Center Staff for keeping us fed and well-equipped; Jen Blum, our point of contact at McMurdo, for keeping us up to date; The Crary Science Center Staff for processing and storing the rocks we sent back; the Science Cargo workers for helping us palletize our samples; Lindsay Steinbauer and all of the USAP and Antarctica New Zealand helicopter pilots and technicians for keeping us mobile and making our day trips possible; the US Airforce pilots and staff who brought us to and from Antarctica; Genevieve Bachman and the other communications staff for helping us stay in contact with each other, MacOps, and the outside world; MacOps, for keeping an eye on us when we had, basically, vanished off the face of the earth; the Center for Polar Medical Operations doctors; the McMurdo kitchen staff for keeping us fed and content during our pre- and post-season days; last but not least, anybody and everybody who made surprise deliveries of pizza during helicopter visits, since the mere fact that it happened is something of a small miracle. I’d also like to thank Anna Cottle for keeping this blog up-and-running, my mom for outdoing herself by sending care packages to Antarctica, and to everybody who sent me mail; it was appreciated. Rob and Demian for being great field partners and for helping me out with both geology and mountaineering-related advice throughout the season. And lastly, I’d like to thank John Cottle for the experience, guidance, and know-how, for being patient with my endless questions, and for making this field season possible in the first place.
And…I suppose that’s it. Here’s to a good end to 2015 and a good 2016 for you all. Thanks for reading.
~Nick for the Antarctica360 team
Me at Rucker Ridge during our penultimate day trip (photo courtesy of Demian).
A final shot of Hidden Lake, our last campsite.
Demian has a patriotic moment during a post-season 5K race (I was content being the photographer)
One last picture…I swear I know how to smile, I promise.