Thursday, March 29, 2012

still kicking

Oh look, I have a blog! I keep thinking that I should only post here when something interesting happens to me, but I'm not sure how to quantify "interesting", so I just don't post unless I'm doing something especially amazing (like living in Antarctica).

I've been living in Palo Alto, CA, just south of San Francisco, for almost a month now. Since leaving McMurdo, I've had a lot of time to think, and it's made me realize that I made the right decision, and that there are other adventures ahead of me until the day when I can finally return to my home at the bottom of the world.

Next week I'll embark on the first of these adventures, a two week trip to New York City (where I've been many times and love very much) and Washington D.C. (which will be a brand new place for me to explore!).

port of san francisco

oakland bridge


at the san francisco ballet

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

christchurch, briefly

As I previously posted, I decided not to stay the winter at McMurdo after a lot of difficult contemplating. Our flight was supposed to depart Monday afternoon, but bad weather forced the flight to turn around (we call it a "boomerang", for obvious reasons), and we didn't fly then. Today we awoke to a three hour weather delay right off the bat... which had all of us assuming that we weren't going to fly today, either. But the weather turned beautiful this evening, and the last plane of the summer season landed shortly after 5 PM to take myself and about 45 other non-winterovers away.

I'm currently in Christchurch, and will depart tomorrow morning (or, rather, this morning, as it's already 1 AM) for Auckland, and then I'll be on to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

I wish everyone in McMurdo the best this winter, and know that I'm missing you and love you all so much. If all goes according to plans, I'll be back on the Ice in August!

But for now, off on other adventures! San Francisco, maybe NYC, and perhaps a job in Alaska waiting for me on the flip side!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

saying goodbye to antarctica

I love Antarctica in a way that most people will never be able to understand. To love a place like this is hard; it fights you every step of the way, it's cold, and it's almost entirely uninhabitable. But there's something about this continent that really catches you and latches on, and you wake up one morning and realize that despite the blizzard outside and the third day in a row of bad food in the galley, you really, truly love Antarctica. You love the people, and the scenery, and the amazing wildlife. You love the sunsets and the nacreous clouds and the auroras. You love the mountains and the ice shelf and the pressure ridges. You even love that ridiculous giant blue building in the middle of town. Few people on earth, I think, get to experience a love of a place like this one.

But all of this makes it almost impossible to say goodbye to it.

I flew down to Antarctica from New Zealand on January 23, with the intention of staying 9 months and spending a winter season in McMurdo Station. I did a Winter in 2011, and had an amazing experience. I was looking forward to repeating the experience, and adding new things to it; meeting new people and having new adventures. I packed for nine months, said goodbye to friends and family, and flew down.

But winter in Antarctica is not something many people can handle. This is literally the harshest, highest, driest, and coldest continent on earth. It's physically isolated from the world from March to August every year (February to November if you're at the South Pole!). And that made me realize that despite the love I have for this place, and for the amazing, extraordinary people here... I cannot stay this winter.

I won't go into detail on a public blog, but personal reasons mean that I can't stay this winter down here without the ability to leave for six months. It was the hardest decision of my life to make, and I'm so thankful that I have the support of my friends here and off the Ice, to help give me strength to do what I need to do.

I don't think you can ever truly "leave" Antarctica. Once you've come here, a piece of it stays in your soul, lurks in the back of your consciousness, for the rest of your life. Even if you can never physically return, you know that part of your heart always belongs to the Ice. I do hope to return someday; maybe later this year, maybe next, maybe years down the road. I love Antarctica too much to let it go completely.

My adventures will continue once I leave here. I'll be back in the States next week, and from there... who knows? There are a million new places in this world to explore, and a million new places that I can fall in love with. After all, you never forget your first love, but maybe there's something out there to fill the hole in your heart.

Goodbye, Antarctica.