Dear friends, once more...
(For someone who really doesn't like Shakespeare, I seem to quote him quite frequently)
Today finds me poised to re-enter the frozen world that I left behind six months ago; I type this from my hotel in Denver, where I've just been through day one of corporate orientation and training. Getting back here was a very strange roller coaster ride of potential unemployment and uncertainty, and it's with no small amount of surprise and joy that I head back to Palmer Station for the 2013-2014 summer season. I fly tomorrow for Chile, and then board the LMG for a ride back down to the western Antarctic Peninsula.
It will be almost all the same crew from last season; out of all the support staff, only a few (2, by current count) are new to Palmer and none are new to the USAP. As we all met at the various traveling choke-points, first bumping into each other on the shuttles from the airport and then at the hotel, I'm always astounded by how natural and instantly the friendships re-ignite. It's like returning to summer camp after a long spell back in the real world; you're seeing all your old friends again, swapping stories about what you did in the off season, re-forming the bonds forged by many months crammed together in strange situations.
We head back to a world free of many distractions and worries; there are no bills to pay, no traffic jams to fight with, no grocery shopping or cooking or daily commutes or the thousand other annoyances created by modern society. A world where you're free to let most of the things that don't matter, truly not matter.
So I apologize if my writing is overly flowery and verbose; I'm sure to many people on the ice, it's just a job with some interesting benefits. But for myself, and likely many of my work-mates, Palmer Station and the USAP is much more than that. I'm eternally grateful for the friendships I've made down there, the lifestyle that it's given me, and the things I've seen and done. I've bounced around the planet a fair bit, and been on every continent except Africa, but it's with a group of ~40 other misfits on a spit of land at the base of a glacier, 700 miles of treacherous seas away from the nearest civilization, that I've ever felt the most at home.
So back south we go. Back to the penguins, the seals, the whales and the routine of station life. Back to the Ice.