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UAB in Antarctica
The day I prepared to leave Palmer Station, I took a final glimpse from my dorm window at the splendid architecture of the glacier. I finally had an opportunity to climb the glacier and walk to its far side, days before I left. Crossing the field of boulders in the back yard, separating Palmer Station from the glacier, was a long walk. I eventually reached the glacier and began my ascent, aided by the spikes I affixed to my boots for stability on the ice. I climbed higher and higher; soon, Palmer Station was barely visible.

The view of the glacier, from a distance, was shamed by the view from atop. I felt on top of the world, rather than on the bottom of it. The mountains in the distance drew an embrace from the clouds in the sky. Waves crashed into the calving face of the glacier. Thunderous sounds emanated from the ice. Crevasse fields stretched far and wide, molding the uniform surface atop the glacier into an alien landscape of blue spires of ice. Never was someplace so barren so beautiful, then in those few hours I sat atop the glacier alone.

I will miss waking to fantastic views of ice and stone, the smell of cold crisp salt air, and the joy of exploration and science. I will forever cherish my time there, in the Antarctic, at Palmer Station. I had been anticipating going to Antarctica since June, 2012. I was surprised and elated to know my Dr.s McClintock and Amsler had that much faith in me, having been there student for just under a year.

Not many scientists ever work in Antarctica, let alone graduate students. I went through much. I wanted and waited, so long, to go there; now I'm leaving. The entire experience seems over too quickly, and the time spent preparing for it seemed so long.

As I recall the days at Palmer, I am bombarded with images; memories of people I've met and places I've seen stream across the screen in my mind. I take solace in the idea that I can take these, my memories, with me. I am happy to share these gifts with others. Sharing seems an inherent responsibility, considering the gravity and magnitude of where I've been.

I have learned much, about science, about people, and about life. Knowledge accrued is not just facts and figures. Rather, it is true understanding. Our world is changing, faster than you think. The severity, scale, and speed of that change is evident. One sees and hears the repeated calving of a mammoth glacier there day and night. The experience and reality of witnessing such drama, day after day, greatly changed my level of concern. Seeing is believing.

I thought I knew the state of my world. I thought that there's ample time to turn things around. Now I see the truth, instead of a indistinguishable silhouette of the future. All cannot see the truth of things, concerning our natural world, because most are disconnected from their nature. See the world as it should be, untouched and unbridled, instead of what has been made of its resources. We have become dependent on everyday luxuries, but abuse the necessities. A life sustaining world is a necessity.

Now, having left Palmer, I journey back to Birmingham, Alabama. I am saddened, leaving the Antarctic behind. The L.M. Gould carries us all forward, eventually into the dark-blue depths of the Drake. Antarctica slips past us with every lunge of the ship, as if the sea resists our departure.
Albert Einstein said once, "reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one". I like this quote. It embodies the lackadaisical indifferent opinion of many that there is nothing wrong with the world, especially if I turn the channel. How will your reality be reconciled with the truth? So, how's this for truth. We inhabit a rocky planet, orbiting a star, with an atmosphere that protects us from the ravages of space; we know none like it, and we're killing it. Change your reality; subscribe to another channel. Change the truth of our circumstances. So that we do not find ourselves wanting, wishing for and dreaming of yesterday's opportunity.