Week 17, November 22-29, 2011 I am appropriately beginning the final field report of the season within a zodiac cruising across station E. This time there will be no sampling, no operating the winch, no plankton collection. This zodiac is sitting atop the Laurence M Gould- Deneb, Austin, Iva, and I are journeying back home.
Cruising past crabeater seals and penguins on ice floes with decent visibility of the continent, we are still in familiar territory (within the boating limits). We are due to arrive in Punta Arenas on December 1st. Our samples and luggage are all aboard, packed carefully and safely away (thanks to Bamma and Judy)- the field season is officially over.
Our final week on station was understandably busy. Between a visiting tour ship (the National Geographic Explorer), the conclusion of our light adaptation culture experiment, packing away the labs and our personal belongings, Thanksgiving dinner, and trying desperately to soak up and enjoy our very last moments of Antarctic life, we all had our hands full.
Enjoying Thanksgiving dinner on station was an appropriate ending to our time in Antarctica considering all that I- and the rest of Palmer- have to be thankful for. I am thankful for the opportunity to have lived and worked as part of a gracious, kind, giving, and accommodating community on a land of unparalleled beauty. I am thankful to have met and been cared for by a selfless and hardworking station staff. I am thankful to have been selected to join a team of dedicated and passionate scientists to carry out important and challenging research.
Lastly, I am thankful for the classrooms and individuals -family, friends, and strangers alike- who have followed along with us over the last four months. I- and of course the rest of the team- sincerely enjoyed working with all of you and I imagine and hope that someday, you may find yourselves engaged in similar wonderful situations and that you too, will have the opportunity to share those experiences with others.