Packing seems to have become a major component of our lifestyle. Our house is mostly one big room which seems to spend most of its time full with piles of gear in some stage of being packed or unpacked. Right now we’re packing for three trips – we leave for Colorado tonight for a week, we leave for a backpacking trip into the glacier a few days after we return, and we have 5 weeks on the glacier after that. The glacier portion is the most work to prepare for, as we’re packing this with the plan of dropping it down to the glacier from the plane, in case the plane is unable to land on the ice. So everything has to be packaged to survive a drop of 100 feet and a crash landing at 50 mph. I have no prior experience at air drops, so this is sure to be a learning experience. Fortunately its all just food, no expensive electronics or gear.
The house in its normal state of packing chaos.
Kristin, inspecting the vacuum seal of food in preparation for air dropping.
Another thing that has been consuming a lot of my time are phone calls and meetings to keep the project moving forward. I had planned to do a bunch of repairs on the house while here, but I haven’t really come close to having this make it to the top of the list. My experience with field work has led me to believe that success in the field is really all about chasing the details and having contingency plans, and this simply requires a lot of time. I tend to take the Colin Powell approach in general – have a clear goal, go in with overwhelming power, and have a clear exit strategy. The real challenge comes in deciding which details are most important to chase first, because there’s simply not enough time to do everything and the logistical landscape shifts so much that you can waste a lot of time working one angle only to find that one of the elements not in your control has changed significantly. So flexibility is a key.
Phone calls and meetings don’t lend themselves well to photography, but I can paint a quick picture of the issues with words:
- Jason and Joey need to get picked up and taken back to Kaktovik in about a week
- Jason needs to meet up with the US Fish and Wildlife on the lower Hula Hula river after this
- The FWS team needs some help in Fairbanks with planning their stream monitoring to tie in with ours
- We need to get our GPS data from the McCall base station back to civilization
- We need to get 4 people from Kentucky and Mississippi to the glacier in late July
- We need to get a lot of food onto the glacier about the same time as the people without landing on the glacier, but without dropping the food when no one is there, and hopefully without having to pay for two ferry flights
- We need to remove about a ton of stuff from the glacier and get it back to civilization in late August, without landing a plane there.
- We need to do all this at the lowest possible cost so we don’t blow our budget further.
- My budget is currently $50k in the hole, because in spring I reallocated my entire science budget to pay for the lidar and NSF was supposed to pay me back for this, which they haven’t yet, and my business office would prefer I not spend any money until the deficit is cleared up.
So in between vacuum sealing rice, wrapping Tang in bubble wrap, and playing dinosaur with Turner, we’re trying to sort out these logistics. But in a few hours we’re headed to Colorado for a week-long family reunion on Kristin’s mother’s side, and its time to begin thinking about packing for that…
What is IPY
Friday, 18 July 2008 22:13
Day 87-88: Same song, different stationWritten by Matt Nolan
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