This year, Antarctica seems to be on its best behavior! After our team had been boomeranged (when a flight turns around in mid-air and goes home) due to fog, which you might spot at the far horizon, the weather in the filed has been marvelous.
Or as quotes say from the field:
Hans (every day): "Another perfect day in paradise"
Lisa: "Can we stay here for ever?"
Chris: "Antarctica is treating you well, usually we have constant wind of about 10 knots and blowing snow."
The tents are so nice and warm (no wind and sun) that Hans apparently refuses to sleep in his sleeping bag as it is too warm. He rather then went out and built an igloo for himself. This is a fact that I have received photographic evidence of. I have not received proof of the following quote and story, but I will take Lisa's word for it, that he claimed: "I have three pee bottles now," after some confusion at while sleeping in his tent. According to our field experts, this is one of the more common failure modes, but hey, why do you have bleach?
The most exciting story of course is still to come. The penguin! The people who read last year's blog should remember that I claimed that there is about zero chance of seeing a penguin at a hidden corner on the Ross ice-shelf, at least 120 km form the nearest ocean. But:
this little Adelie penguin waddled into camp. And here is the team's reported reaction:
Lisa saw a black dot in the near distance. Coming closer the dot moved: it was a penguin. Everyone stopped working grabbed their camera and started to take pictures. The penguin was lost so far out here at the ARIANNA site ... Jenny (a short-term visitor from McMurdo, learning about ARIANNA logistics and helping to dig, always appreciated) has written her PhD on birds, and she told everyone that something is probably wrong with its navigation system. Consequently, Lisa had all kinds of ideas how to save the penguin: stealing fish from Hans and Chris, smuggling it on to Jenny's Helicopter, keeping it as a pet and taking it home to Southern California... however, none of this was actually carried out. After all the Antarctic treaty is pretty clear: Stay away from wildlife.
In any case, work needed to be done, so the team went to station 17 to dig out the station box. When they came back the penguin was hiding next to the snow pile near camp. They started to take pictures of it,but it decided to take a look at the camp instead. On the way there it ran basically almost into Hans who was filming. That was a nice greeting. It walked around the camp for a while before it decided to take off. Lisa allegedly cried her soul out, because she was afraid that the penguin was going to be lost and would not find its way back to the others or at least to the ocean. A very painful experience, as it seems.
However, the next day the penguin came back and was laying around in the sun. Hans was at Station 31 shoveling, and in the afternoon Lisa was sent after him to help. The penguin decided to follow her, so she waited until it arrived. It was sliding on its belly right next to her, passed her and continued to slide next to the flag line to station 31. She told him to find the ocean, some fish and the others. Both were traveling for a while next to each other until it stopped and waited. In the evening it was watching from Station 17 and on the next day it was gone. Chris was the last seeing it traveling North, in direction of the ocean. Now Lisa is convinced, it will survive and it will make it to the ocean, therefore she named it Surviver.
We will end on this optimistic note, before going back to digging and shoveling in the next blog.