The day before Thanksgiving yet another vehicle wheeled out of sight. This one driven by my long-legged daughter on her way to McMurdo Research Base on Ross Island, Antarctica.
Farewell yet again. I have been saying good bye to this person since the age of twelve when dad left the U.S. to do good deeds in Bolivia, and the kid elected to spend alternating school years between Santa Cruz and Lexington. That evoked a three-day cry, but ultimately resulted in an amazingly resilient, completely bi-lingual individual who has successfully navigated much more difficult waters since.
As a parting activity we watched Anthony Bourdain’s Antarctica segment (Season 9) on Netflix. Inflatable “bunny” boots designed to keep feet warm in minus 50 degrees, and the C130 that drops off a cargo of “freshies” every week as weather permits provided context—and admiration for an operation in place since 1955. We watched engineers maintain tunnels below the ice and heard staff and scientists alike describe love for their work and reasons they return season after summer season. A few even brave the five months of complete darkness and over-winter as well. My kid plans to leave by the first of March and take the opportunity to do some hiking in what will be an early New Zealand autumn on her way out. Then home. Who will she be when she gets back?
Deploying on a trip like this means you plan for every contingency. Insurance. Wills. Finances. Wills. I am not a Spartan mom (“come home carrying your shield, or on it…”) but you have to accept the reality that anyone can go at anytime—one reason my child made sure to drive 20 hours all the way to Kentucky for just a couple of days so she could visit her elderly grandparents. Yesterday, three generations of us delivered meals on wheels together.
The nomad gene runs strong in us. Today my daughter drove off in the van she customized into a self-contained gypsy-mobile complete with fold-away bed, kitchen in the back, black out curtains and insulated window shades. Everything multi-purpose, and crafted from recycled and cast-off items. Mom is proud, dad is envious.
Geared for adventure, she is survival savvy. But—adventures don’t often happen close to home. So like Bilbo Baggins swept up into a larger story, she is on her way—to the extreme South. Mount Erebus. I pray for kindly guides and surrounding angels. Should they take the form of elf, dwarf or Gandalf, I don’t care. The good Lord knows just what she needs.
Next: 'til Again We Meet
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