Aaron's 'Happy Camper' Adventure

Trip Start Aug 16, 2007
Trip End Apr 07, 2008

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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Aaron says:
I was finally able to receive my morale trip this week and went to Happy Camper Snow School!  From reading Michelle's entry about her time at Happy Camper you already know all of the basic details about the trip. It is two very long days of working outside in the cold weather learning the basics of Antarctic survival skills. I was fortunate to have Zak, a friend of mine who is a cook on the PM shift, come along with me. The rest of our group was made up of scientists who had just arrived in town and were heading out to the dry valleys in a few days. 
Unlike Michelle I chose to sleep in the Quinzee; which is basically a snow cave hollowed out of a large pile of snow. We built the cave by making a pile of 12 sleeping kits and then covering them with snow...A LOT of snow! We then left the pile to harden while we worked on other tasks. 
About an hour later we came back and dug a hole in the side wall and removed the sleeping kits. With the kits removed we had the basic chamber that would act as the main sleeping area. Not too difficult...but then came the hard part of building the entrance. At the front of the pile we dug a whole about 6 feet deep. After that it was all hands and knees digging and scratching out a tunnel that would come out in the corner of the cave.
When all the work was done Zak and I finally moved in! It was surprising how comfortable and warm it became once we laid out the ground mats and sleeping bags. It was made more enjoyable with the addition of Zack's I-pod and speakers for some entertainment. We crawled into our sleeping bags and went to sleep watching the Transformers movie. Now that's what I call roughing it!
The only down side to the whole trip was that we were out in the cold with a dozen new people.  McMurdo Station is a small community so if one person has a cold everyone eventually gets it!  Therefore every time new people arrive they bring a new set of germs with them. Upon returning to town I got sick...but that's a small price to pay for such a wonderful time seeing what Antarctica is really like!
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