Friday, May 14, 2010

Excerpt from an email to a friend...

Hello again -

Life here at the Pole is difficult to describe. I'm often very busy and at other times bored. But the strangeness of the environment is the one thing that never gets boring. It is a blend of barren, stark, beautiful, frightening and magnificent. Sometimes when I am outside I just have to stop and look around me and at the night sky to realize how lucky I am to be one of the few people to have ever seen what I am seeing. There are only 1,200 people who have ever even seen the Polar night sky. We have just had our first truly dark night and the stars are simply magnificent, and the aurora are building up as well. Of course it is cold and getting colder, and walking outside is getting more difficult every week due to the sastrugi. The sastrugi, wind-blown furrows of snow, are getting larger and have to be climbed over to get anywhere. The best I can describe it would be to ask you to imagine a solid disturbed ocean where to get anywhere you have to walk up 1-3 foot waves and then down the other side, over and over again - while blindfolded.  Because the barometric pressure varies so much here our effective altitude varies between 10,000 and 12,000 feet, so climbing those frozen waves can be exhausting. We have seen 11,750 feet, and at that altitude even sleeping can be difficult. Today it is 10,700 feet. Even though I have been here almost four months and have acclimated well, when things get difficult I still sometimes have to stop and do nothing but concentrate on breathing. Well, that's my current life.  I've included a picture of two of our small loaders hanging out in the warm Heavy Shop getting serviced. They can't take the cold so they are only operated in the summer, but they are so cute. Their names are Emma and Wall-E.  They are very fast and compared to the big dozers they zoom around the ice like little bugs all summer.


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