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Tourists

Wednesday, Jan. 28 2009 UTC

In the next few days, the last few 'Cubers are arriving on Station to help us with end-of-season commissioning of the new strings. Many more IceCube people are leaving, however… most of them drillers. It will be nice to be here when things are a bit quieter. The winter-overs are already talking about how great it will be when we summer folk are gone.

Some people pay a fair chunk of change to fly here for an hour or two, look around, and leave. Tourists, we call them. Others fly in for McMurdo ('sleigh rides’) to see the place, or to work for a day. Still others ski here from various points remote, and camp a few hundred yards from the Station (I’ve already given a few impromptu tours to various frost-bitten groups). Those of us here for the Summer are called 'tourists’ by the winter crew.

Of course, everyone is a tourist in Antarctica. Despite what repeat winter-overs may sometimes feel, there are no true Antarcticans. We are as much visitors here as we would be to Mars. Take away the airplanes, and we all perish.

I have posted a video of the last string deployment.

Meanwhile, a group of five or so of us are up all night, every night, fussing with software to read out the newly-deployed strings as they freeze in. We still have two weeks but it will go very quickly, and we tourists will redeploy to various points North.