Addictions, Icebergs, and Escape Plans

Jan 10, 2009

It’s been 40 days since I’ve had any soda but today I caved and bought one. (It’s a bit of a frequent habit for me at home but I figured this was a good opportunity to stave off for a while.) There’s a tab system on the ship where things like candy and soda cost money but the regular food is free, so I thought it’d be a good opportunity to be away from it for a while, like an Antarctic soda-Lent or something. Well, it lasted 40 days anyway. Until today. I know I’m ‘addicted’ not because of the frequency but because it makes me entirely too happy to fall back into the habit. (Of all the vices to have I’m not really all that concerned about it though; craving diet coke isn’t the worst thing in the world.)

I think the problem with this trip coming to an end soon is that I dread the empty feeling that I know will come. Whenever I leave for a big trip I end up surrounded by people and excitement and a sense of community, so it’s strange when that experience ends and you’re back in your apartment to face the quiet for the first time in months. The feeling of getting off the plane, heading back home, sitting on your bed and then thinking ‘Now what? What’s the next adventure?’

My black jacket disappeared a few days ago, which is probably one of the worst things to lose in Antarctica. (The others being your shoes, your bearings, or your sanity.) I would say I lost it but I know exactly where it SHOULD be, yet it’s not there, so I have no idea where to look. (Although I’ve tried looking almost everywhere.) The main problem is that in an unheated lab such as the rad van, it makes working in there in just my windbreaker FREEZING. Hopefully I’ll be done with the rad van tomorrow, but still, I’m driving myself crazy wondering how my favorite jacket grew legs and walked away from me.

The rumor mill in such a small environment like an Antarctic ship is an interesting thing. We don’t have any internet or tv channels, of course, (although there is a fantastic movie library on this ship to watch movies if we have some spare time), so as a source of entertainment people end up hearing dramatic stories about what we all do. I fell through the ice last week, and really I’m fine, but people have been approaching me with more and more dramatic versions of the story, asking if it’s true that I nearly drowned or that I swam underneath the ice sheet. I always assure people that I’m completely fine, although as the stories become more and more inaccurate I’m a little tempted to tell them that in the ice-cold swim of survival I apparently attempted, I might as well embellish with wild tales of how I fought polar bears on my way back, too. Just to see if anyone notices the inaccuracy. (Polar bears only live in the Arctic North, not the Antarctic South.)

We’re currently crossing the Ross polynya towards McMurdo Sound, and I’m not sure if we’ll have any more ice stations or not. (Different rumors seem to form depending on who you talk to.) At the moment, though, that means we’re crossing open water again instead of the calm waters near ice, so every time I go up the outside stairs to my lab I try to time it so I don’t get drenched with the spray of crashing waves. After a few attempts at running, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that no, this plan is not working. I’m on a crazy thing called a ‘ship’, which, low and behold, travels through an ocean full of (gasp!) water, so there’s a good possibility I’m going to get wet.

Today I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite photos of the icebergs we’ve seen so far on this trip (a few of which were taken by Per; the ship’s doctor). Click on them for larger images!







OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sky is white quite a lot in Antarctica, like this. It can be hard to see in a photograph with white ice and snow, but in this picture, with the light-blue glow of extremely dense sea ice, it shows up much more clearly.


Posted on 2008, in 2009 (01/10) Addictions, Icebergs, and Escape Plans, Season 1: Life on an Antarctic Icebreaker. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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