Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Farewell Lake Hoare--back in MacTown...

I flew back yesterday, arrived after one day of ice fog delay--no helicopters were coming the Dry Valley way on Monday. It does feel quite urban here at McMurdo Station after three weeks in a field camp. Sleeping inside felt far too warm---I had gotten used to tent life. Running water definitely has its advantages however, as do clean changes of clothes.

I had a fabulous time at Lake Hoare. It is a glorious spot with its backdrop of the Canada Glacier to the east and Mt. 1882 and other peaks behind and to the west--with the Seuss Glacier in the distance and of course the camp sitting on Lake Hoare itself. The ambiance of the camp itself-people working hard by day and enjoying each others' company in the hut after a day's collecting of samples or climbing on glaciers or filtering water or for me, sitting out somewhere watercoloring until toes and paint began to freeze. The atmosphere was all due to the generosity of spirit generated by the helpful knowledgeable and camp manager Rae Spain and her lovely assistant Becky Peace. Cold (but not really, really cold--hovering around freezing) were met with cups of hot tea, fresh baked cookies and delicious dinners along with encouragement for the work done by scientists and artist alike.

I did a great deal of work there--once again travel brings out the landscape painter in me. The watercolors and drawings seemed to get better the longer I was here—I started large and gradually they did get smaller and smaller. Not sure what I will do with all these landscapes—but something….

We had a late start flying back. Whales and penguins were visible along the ice edge. The icebreakers had come in to open the ice for the arriving tanker. Open water brings penguins and whales closer to McMurdo, happily so for the residents here.

It doesn't seem like I will be in my room for too many night again as tomorrow the plan is to go to Cape Crozier where there is a penguin rookery much larger than the one at Cape Royds. David Ainley will be there too—if as always weather allows—and right now it is getting very cloudy and the winds at Crozier often stop travel.

The great working team of scientist and artist Michaud and Engler will end as Luigi heads back to Sicily –once again weather depending, on Friday.

And now I do the cloud go away incantation---and hope to get to Cape Crozier tomorrow.

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