Final Thoughts

After a year on Ice I am still scared of driving in snow and I still get cold in positive temperatures. This makes me wonder if the whole thing was a long dream.

The photos on this post were taken during our two days in McMurdo on our way home.

But really, after over a month off the Ice, I am finally ready to tell you how great isolation is. Maybe that is not what you expected and honestly towards the end of my Pole experience I cannot describe to you how ready Max and I, plus most of our friends, were to finally get back to the real world. Now that I am here, there are some things I really miss. For instance, I never realized how many words people say, and how little meaning some of those words hold. I don’t mean this to offend anyone, but after so long with so much silence and meaningful conversation, it is weird to come back to small talk and introductions.

The options! Max really enjoyed walking through grocery stores. I think that was his favorite thing. I like it, but sometimes I am still a little overwhelmed with how many options there are for very simple things (ex. shampoo). I don’t think it is necessary. Although I extremely enjoy being able to pick the food I eat and drink real organic milk.

The little things that stuck out to me within a week of returning (I kept a list):

Long showers- Different than I expected. After being so used to two minute showers, I now continue to take short showers. I dreamed of a long shower or bath, but now I get in and I get bored! Kind of funny that I still feel rushed without having a time limit.

My window is not my freezer- I noticed this when Max and I got a box of ice cream bars in NZ. Super silly, but in our minds we bought the ice cream bars and were going to put them in our hostel window in Nelson! So then we tried to each eat two bars and ended up throwing some away. Frozen windows really come in handy.

Stop and smell the roses- It was not until I got back to NZ that I realized the thing I missed most was being able to walk to destinations (more than just a few hundred yards). I was raised in a town where you can walk or bike everywhere and I was used to that. It was so great to walk and move my legs again. Plus, it was the spring and there were so many beautiful flower gardens all over town.

The real world is still cold- People keep commenting how cold it is in Oregon and then adding a comment like, “well I bet it is not cold for you” and “Are you hot in this weather?”. Nope, it is still cold. We just dressed much warmer down there. Plus, it is a very dry cold at Pole and so it is completely different than this.

Dark to light in one day?- I expected the normal daylight schedule to feel really weird after the five months of darkness and five months of light plus the month of sunset and month of sunrise. I hardly even noticed because the daily sunsets seemed so normal. The thing I did miss was not knowing the stars like I did at Pole. The stars moved during the winter, but you could almost always see them and I knew many of the clusters and bright stars. Thanks you, Robert for our astronomy lessons. 🙂

Fashion- The fashion has changed, which always happens, but to not see any of it for a year it feels really different. Not in a good way or bad way, just different. Think about it, no T.V. no commercials, nothing like that. Media really does have huge impact on what we think of as “in style” and we noticed that upon arriving in Hawaii.

Stuff- Why did we spend so much money on a storage unit to keep our stuff??? I had plenty of clothes for a whole year away, and now I am overwhelmed by how many clothes I have in storage. We could have gotten rid of our couch, beds, dressers and clothes and would have saved $1,500. It is so easy to keep collecting things and never get rid of them. My advise is to really think about what you “need” before a trip and only keep those things. Makes things a lot easier and cheaper upon returning.

MY BIGGEST RANT OF ALL!- Technology. It is constant. I told myself I would not give in and get a smart phone since I enjoyed not having one for a year, but there is no way around it! I don’t know how people lived without google maps on their phone! I am sure I could get maps of every location, but it seems unnecessary and unavoidable to go without technology in our generation. I do appreciate the year I had without a single cellphone being on the table during meals. That was one of the best parts.

All in All. . . I spent way longer avoiding this post than I thought I would, but it was hard to think about coming back without complaining too much. There are pluses to both life styles and now that I have been home for a while I feel like I can truly appreciate both ways. I do feel more likely to do another winter than I did at the end of the season. Max and I are both trying to figure out what we want to do next, looking for a place to live and trying to find jobs. We have some figuring out to do!

*** If you are in the Corvallis, Oregon area, Max and I are doing a talk about our Antarctica experience at the Corvallis Public Library. It is on February 22nd, at 6:30. Please check the library website for details.***

This cute Adelie penguin walked with us to the plane and will forever be my last memory in Antarctica… Until I return!


  1. You have given the pros and cons a lot of serious consideration. Long showers would be the best bonus for me, when coming home again, but traffic noise, pollution, all doom and gloom on TV every night, would be the cons, but quiet, peacefulness, isolation and , as long as I had a purpose, felt useful, had internet access once a day, crosswords at relaxation time, and good health, if I were a whole lot younger, the South Pole would be a true dream. Thanks again for all the news and views, and yes, your final farewell from one of the permanent residents seems to be so apt. I hope if you go back, he is there with a rapturous welcome.


  2. Hello! I am just curious, do you know the names of the loadmasters on the C-17 who brought you back into Christchurch? Or the names of anyone on the crew? I am a AF member who has participated in the Deep Freeze mission and some of my friends may have flown with you!


  3. What a fun evening this was! My name is Ethan and I attended your seminar because I’m very serious about striving towards a very similar adventure to the one you two were fortunate enough to experience. I will definitely be starting from the beginning of this blog and working my way through as you documented your stay very well, but I was wondering if I could ask you for an email of yours or equivalent as an outlet for questions that I might have (I could also just post comments if you would prefer).

    Regardless, thank you so much for your insight tonight! The talk you delivered was exceptionally interesting and equally informative in such a captivating way. You guys rocked it and I hope to me talking to you in the future if you’re willing to be a contact of mine.

    Many thanks,
    Ethan C


    • Hello, glad you enjoyed the talk! We love being able to share our photos and experience with an interested audience. All comments from the blog go to my email, so this would be a great place to post any comments or questions you might have. Hope you enjoy the blog!


  4. Hi
    I am planning to go to the South Pole in this summer and i wonder you can give me some information about the lowest temperature that you faced and clothing that you wore during that day.


    • Hi Selen,
      My biggest advice would be not to overpack. I took a lot of shirts and shorts for around the station and barely wore them. I think the coldest days at the beginning and end of summer were about -50F. The cold is less of a problem than wind. If it is windy you need to have a fully covered face and hands. But, the summer with the sun shining is rarely too cold. I post in one of the first posts about the issued gear. In the summer many people wear the issued carhartt jacket and insulated overalls. I sometimes just wore thermal pants and a carhartt pant I got in Skua (free clothes left behind). Skua is a great way to get a lot of clothes if you do not want to travel with a bunch of stuff. I would check out the McMurdo building on your way in, they usually have a lot. Ask someone where it is. Is your job outside? That also makes a difference. The more you are doing physical activity outside for long periods, the more layers you want to wear that you can shed as you warm up. In the summer I worked outside pretty much all day. The gloves they provide are not great so I would recommend buying some warm ones. The boots they provide are just fine. I wore the Baffin boots all year and liked them. You have an option between three kinds. I didn’t like the other two kinds. You also might want your own hat and balaclava. The ones they provide are not that great. They no longer issue long underwear or socks so you will want to bring that also. Laundry is only allowed once a week so you will want enough for the week. If you do not bring enough, you can always ask Materials department (that was my job and they had a bunch of extra at the time). I am happy to answer more questions as you have them. I was lucky to know experienced Polies, but I would have had no idea what to pack otherwise.


      • Thank you Hannah,
        But i am going to stay at the Pole for a year so can you talk a bit more about those months winter days when the sun completely disappears.What was the lowest temperature that you experienced with the windchill?And what kind of layers did you wear to be able to stay warm during those coldest and windiest days when you went out for long periods?Especially can you give me some information about your lower layers,socks and boots?
        And if you have can you send me some images and videos about your clothing?
        If you want you can send me e-mail it might be easier to communicate.
        Thanks, have a nice day


  5. The winter low was -107F. I do not remember about windchill, maybe 135F. The issued big red jacket works for the cold days with lots of layers. On those days you just do not go out for long periods. I would only go out for 45 min or until my fingers or toes went numb. You will never be stuck outside and not able to warm up in a building. I wore the same Baffin boots all year, which worked fine. I just ordered thick wool socks online. I do not have any video of layering, but I know many winterovers have blogs that might have more info. Good luck!


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