Name: Anaïs Orsi
Date: December 16th, 2008
Location: WAIS divide galley
Wind speed: 20+ knots
Visibility: less than 30 ft.
Clouds: low clouds covering the sky, but I can’t see them because of the blowing snow
Precipitation: light snow
Animals: a few bearded humanoids
Breakfast: biscuits and gravy
Lunch: tuna casserole and cheese and strawberries blintz
Supper: Meat loaf and Oreo cheesecake extravaganza
This is Anaïs. It’s my first time writing on the blog, although you may remember me from last year: I was here, at WAIS, as a core handler a year ago. It is actually pretty amusing to come back, and see what stays the same and what is different. The camp looks very similar. They Galley is still this warm and inviting yellow tent, and John, our wonderful head cook still prepares for us amazing delixiavouricious food... There are 3 cooks at WAIS divide, one for each shift of 8 hours, and John is the only one to be back. The other 2 cooks are back to Antarctica, but in other camps. Our 2 new cooks are first timers, although they have a lot of experience in cooking for field camps in other remote places in the US. The rest of the staff is the same way: some of the same faces, some newcomers, and some that have a lot of experience, although they have not been here. All around, I would say that no matter their path, they are a collection of very interesting and inspiring people. I am very impressed with our core handling crew: so much experience, stories and wisdom packed in so little years! One of my favorites times of the day is when I get to sit down at a Galley table and meet a new person. Each one has a story to tell, more than one story actually. Antarctica is the white continent. The people that you find there bring colors to it. They’re the ones that make my Antarctic experience go far beyond the awe one can feel when staring at the vast horizon.
Speaking about awe, my day started with diamond dust. Diamond dust is the name of the sparkling fine snow powder that you can see twinkling in the air on a very cold and sunny day. As I was walking toward breakfast, I recognized the shining snow and looked for the sun, as it is usually a good predictor for halos. This morning, I saw the most complete halo I had ever seen. It had a full ring around the sun, with rainbows on the side called sundogs, and an upward arc running through them. On the top of the halo, there was yet another wide downward rainbow arc. It was far too big to fit in my camera, and I had to stop and savor that moment. Upon entering the galley, I couldn’t help but tell everybody to rush outside to watch it. A morning like this was the sign of a wonderful day.
Today, we drilled the first core. Finally, almost a month after leaving home, we saw our first piece of ice. It is always a very important moment, one that everybody will remember. For some reason, we all take more pictures of the drill during the retrieval of the first core than any time after that, although we have many more drilling days ahead of us. The engineers have been working all year at improving the drill, and it is very satisfying to them to finally see everything come together. The ice was beautiful: perfectly cut, perfect break. Just the way we wish it to be for the next 3000 times… I do not seem to find a better way to describe the satisfaction of seeing everything work on the first try.
Tonight, the wind peaked up, and the visibility went down. We were supposed to get a plane, but Ben, the camp manager just announced that it “boomeranged”: it was on the way, but decided not to continue its journey, as the visibility here is degrading, and already too low for the plane to land; so it boomeranged back to McMurdo station. We were waiting for some really important pieces to repair out big forklift, as well as fresh fruit for Christmas meal, but this will have to wait. Maybe tomorrow?
At least, now, we have cores to play with!