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Home Alone
Journal by Charles Amsler, Ph.D.
Posted on 1/02/2002 at 2:00 p.m.

 UAB Biologist Charles D. Amsler, Ph.D. Amsler is the mission co-investigator and an assistant professor of biology at UAB.  The National Science Foundation (NSF) has appointed Amsler station science leader (SSL) throughout his stay at Palmer Station.
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It is New Years Eve and I'm home from Antarctica, sitting in my office at UAB trying to make sense of the piles of mail and other things that have accumulated over the past 10 weeks. Another great season on the ice has ended. Kind of.

Most of us are home but two team members, Maggie and Chris, are on station through the end of January and won't be home until early February. So I'm still coordinating bioassay and other priorities with Maggie and analyzing new data that she sends every couple days.

Katrin Iken (right), Maggie Amsler (middle), and Chuck Amsler (left) on the deck of the RV Laurence M. Gould as she prepares to sail from Punta Arenas, Chile to Antarctica. Photo by Bill Baker.
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This is Maggie's thirteenth season in Antarctica. It was my seventh. It was only the second time that we were there together. The first time she was there for a month before I got there for my three-month stay, and of course this time she's there a month after I've left. So this is my thirteenth stint as a "ice widower" and I've made Maggie an "ice widow" five times. Thankfully, this stint is pretty short.

 A banana sled is normally used to haul heavy diving gear over the sea ice to a dive hole. Chuck Amsler (left) is wearing his dry suit for diving and Maggie Amsler (right), who will be a tender during the upcoming dive, is wearing a floatation coat. Photo by Kevin Peters.
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I got a ride home from the Birmingham airport the other day with Jim and his family. Jim's wife, Ferne, mentioned that she was just finished with her tenth experience as an "ice widow." One thing that Maggie and I both agree on is that these separations are MUCH harder on the spouse left at home. The person on the ice is doing new and exciting things. He or she is working long hours that can leave little time some days for thoughts of home. Conversely, the person at home is constantly reminded of his or her companion and is carrying the normal domestic load for both.

So this short, last journal entry is dedicated to lots of folks like Ferne and Bill's wife, Jill, who carry the load for two while we are away. It isn't nearly as fun or exciting, no one logs onto the World Wide Web to follow his or her adventures, and for the most part it is pretty thankless. But their personal sacrifices are just as important to the success of our expeditions as what we do in Antarctica. So to all the ice widows and widowers, THANKS!

Maggie's Journal: To Everything Its Place
Maggie's Journal: Wrapping Up at Palmer Station
Maggie's Journal: Happy Belated New Year
Jim's Journal: Antarctic Science Snowballs
Maggie's Journal: Christmas in Antarctica
Chuck's Journal: Home Alone
Student Journal: A Different Christmas

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"Our ship cut through the twelve-foot waves and fifty-knot winds of the midnight Drake Passage, bucking hard, first to the right and then the left, coupling these sideways motions with wave-generated surges of movement up and down."
- James McClintock, Ph.D.

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