The Comforts of Yesterday Camp
We arrived an hour later at the sea ice airfield and hopped into the shuttle that passed by Scott Base (operated by New Zealand’s version of the NSF) and crossed over Ross Island to McMurdo Station. I was still clad in all the necessary layers of protective clothing called Extreme Cold Weather (ECW). I was also carrying four bags of gear. I hadn’t showered in several days and radiated the odor to prove it. I cracked open the door to the main dorm/galley, hooked it with my foot, and while I was dutifully off balance and smelling like a Weddell seal, the Secretary of State John Kerry and his team bounded through the door in front of me. I came very close to crashing into him. They say the first impressions are everything. It’s a good thing that I won’t be applying for a job in the State Department any time soon.
I quickly peeled off the layers of ECW and jumped into a hot shower. I watched a little bit of national news and went to the galley for dinner. It was good to reconnect with some of my new friends at McMurdo. It was good to feel warm and clean. It was good to have choices for dinner, but I now miss the comforts of Yesterday Camp.
Happiness at Yesterday Camp had little to do with physical comfort. I miss Yesterday Camp for other reasons. I miss the sensation of lying down in my tent after a day of shoveling snow in bright sunlight. The sleeping bag and the hard snow underneath the tent felt like a cushy king-sized bed to my sore muscles. I miss passing Robin’s stew down the shoulder-to-shoulder line of the dinner table. I miss the crunch of the snow and the silence of the sun-filled night. I miss the single-mindedness of my thought and my work. I was there to shovel snow and record the sounds of the ice shelf-nothing more. I miss the freedom that comes with a sense of common purpose, physical labor, and few distractions. I miss the cloud. Most of all, I miss the people that I helped care for and those who took good care of me.