Leaving today. LC-130 flight to McM. Switch planes to the C17, straight to New Zealand. Sleep a few hours, catch the flight to Auckland, flight to LAX, flight to San Jose. I should be home by Friday, whatever day that is. I want to leave, but I leave with conditions as if from a slowing marriage. My regret is that there's one thing I may never see.

Everything worked well down here, experimentally. I met some new people. All winterovers, all amazing. What does it take to uproot yourself and spend the better part of a year in a place where you die in ten minutes if you go outside without a jacket? They seem like such average folks. Yet every time we part after a meal or a brief meeting, I feel like I'm talking to a Robinson family member. Like I'm on the Jupiter 2 and they're telling us visitors it's time to disembark. Onward to worlds we'll only see through video capture and read through the pen of the explorer.

It's a strange feeling, on one adventure, leaving others to theirs.
They have a mission to go on that would scare you to death, that you wouldn't qualify for if you tried. Something forbidden and terrible, at the same time as wonderful as an experience one can use heartbeats to have.

One thing I may never see,
I dreamed of this morning.

"What do you do in the cold dark?"

Build things
Surf the web
Monitor our instruments

Eight neutrino detector strings are running. Coupled with AMANDA, IceCube is coming to life. They'll be sitting in their Aeron chairs, watching the numbers come from the two-kilometer deep holes in the ice, detecting particles which are almost nothing because the equations say so.

Our instrument is going to be cooling down. Slowly, over the year, it will go from the temperature of a warm bath to that of the surface of Mars. They'll monitor the descent. They'll drive pistin bullies five miles out to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty seismometer to level it.

While I'm barbequing, they'll be measuring the polarization of the radiation from the moment of creation. Playing bingo. Shaving their heads and dying their scalps purple.

"Besides, it's never really dark."

We walk under auroras bright enough to read by
We take measurements under a moon as bright as the sun but not as harsh
Follow the flags by starlight

I'm going to be biking.
I'm going to be hiking through pine forests places full of sunlight and green.
I'm going to be reading the newspaper by open windows and listening to the birds going about bird life in tweets and flutters.
And they're going to be down here watching auroras like fireworks,
hiking ice trails by starlight bright enough to show faces.

South Pole Station - Feb 9, 2006