Saturday April 30, 2010 – Last sampling day of the trip

With our new ice camp all set-up yesterday, this morning we were ready to go back out on the ice to collect our last set of samples for the trip. When we left building #36 it was foggy with a few snow flurries and it was a relatively warm -8.9°C (16°F).  By the time we got out on the ice and waited around, (Brower, one of the members of our logistics crew, went back to pick-up the electric generator that we forgot and that runs our sampling pump.) the sun came out; the wind picked up; and the temperature dropped. Again it was breath takingly beautiful, but it felt considerably colder. We passed the time waiting by hanging out in the tent, eating pretzel m&m’s that Steven had brought but that we ate all up before he could get any, and telling stupid jokes.

Did you hear the one about the baby polar bear that didn’t think he was a polar bear?  Why don’t you think you’re a polar bear the polar bear daddy asked?  Because I’m fricking freezing said the baby polar bear!

Yeah, not so funny but it passed the time. Soon Brower had returned and we were back in business.

We quickly collected our water and loaded it on the sleds. All week we’ve been having trouble trying to keep our heavy coolers filled with water from falling off the sleds. Today was no different. No more than 2 minutes after leaving, we noticed that our coolers were about to slide off. We stopped and re-tied them properly. The trick is not to pile them up on each other but to spread them out on the sled. Of course we figured this out on our last trip of the expedition. After re-tying our sled we made it back to our lab without incident and quickly began processing the water.

The right way to load a sled.

After working out all the little filtration problems with the previous two samples, everything went smoothly. It kind of reminds me of making pancakes. Have you ever noticed that no matter how many times you’ve made pancakes before, the first batch always turns out funny?  It seems like the same is true for filtering water. We finished in record time and were able to sample Zac’s experiment a little early. This made Tara and Karie happy since they are helping us measure the activity (productivity) of the bacteria, and this involves a 4 hour incubation step. The sooner we get them samples the sooner they can go to sleep!

Still, I missed lunch and working on the ice and in a cold room just a touch over freezing all day sure does build-up an appetite. At the cafeteria they were serving Beef Burgundy one of my all time favorite meals. Boeuf bourguignon it was not, but it sure was tasty, warm and completely satisfying.

Beef Burgundy dinner at the Ilisagvic college cafeteria.

After such a huge meal and long day I went back to my room planning to catch-up on computer work and to go to bed early. But at around 10:30 Zac and Steve called me to tell me that they were heading into town to hear a local band that was playing at the roller rink and did I want to join them? The band is called “The Barrow Tones.”  Now how could I pass that up? So we picked-up Adriane who also wanted to go and off we went to find the roller rink. When we arrived, we learned that the band wouldn’t start playing for another hour and that was just a little too much for us. However, we didn’t leave before hearing the band rehearse and soaking in the scene. Think heavy metal in a 1970’s disco. Instead of enduring that, we retired to Steven and Zac’s hut for Mint Milano cookies and quiet conversation. Still, it was well past 1am by the time I got to bed.


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