A Texas voice
Yes, dear reader, I have been withholding information. Nothing of a malicious nature, I assure you, but we've been so open and frank in these exchanges over so many years that I feel bad about holding out on you. Well, kind of.
By the time the majority of you read this, I will be setting off on an adventure, one that you are destined to join. We will spend the next few months in Antarctica.
If you're like most people, your first reaction is one of the following: (1) "But isn't it incredibly cold there?" or (2) "Cool!"
Yes and yes.
I have confided in you many times in the past that I am no fan of cold weather. By cold, I mean anything below 60 degrees. "I can deal with hot weather," I have said for decades, "but I do not function well when it is cold."
We all know better than to take such a firm position on things, but we do it anyway. And it's amazing how often we end up eating those words. On ice.
Honestly, though, the cold (at this moment, it is -16 degrees Fahrenheit at the station where I will be living, but it is forecast to be 27 below later today) did not weigh heavily in considering whether or not to apply for the job or to ultimately accept it.
Why? Two reasons. One, it is a rare opportunity to go somewhere and do something that only a few people get the chance for. Two, I have always said that we can put up with just about anything for a definite period.
Let me try to answer a few more questions.
No, my wife will not be going with me. Leah and I have only been separated for a week or so on a few occasions over the past 30 years, and this will be the toughest part. She, by the way, has been the biggest supporter of the idea, ruling that there is no way I can pass up such an opportunity. There are telephones and Internet connections, so we will be able to talk and stay in close virtual contact.
Yes, I will continue to send out columns, though the next couple may be "canned" articles filed before I leave. It will take a little while to get there and get things set up. I do not plan for it to become a travelogue, but I hope to share the more interesting parts of the experience.
En route, both ways, I will spend a little time in New Zealand, a special opportunity in itself.
I will be living at McMurdo Station while in Antarctica. You can find it on a globe by looking due south from New Zealand on the Ross Sea. It is not the South Pole, but it looks promising that I will get a chance to travel there. You'll hear about it if I do.
McMurdo is the largest station on the Ice (that's what they ... excuse me, we ... call the seventh continent) with a summer population that swells to 1,100, sometimes as much as 1,300, people. The population is in a constant state of flux because most researchers come down for short lengths of time.
Oh, what will I be doing? Writing for the Antarctic Sun newspaper. It is more like public relations, in some aspects, but like a community newspaper in others. We will write quite a bit about the broad range of scientific research going on there, as well as about life on the Ice. Some of you know Peter Rejcek, former reporter at The Denison Herald. He was my link to this job, and we will form two-thirds of the staff.
How long? The schedule calls for me to set boots on the ice on Oct. 6, barring any weather delays, and leave by mid-February. Remember that is summer in the southern hemisphere. With the exception of a few hours the first couple of weeks, the sun will not set while I am there.
That's it for now, but you might want to pack your long johns for the trip.
Steve Martaindale is a self-syndicated columnist. Write him at penmanmail-steve@yahoo. com.