Let me start by saying that not only has Saximus made a full recovery, but he has since been trained to assume most of my regular duties. There’s even talk of adding his picture to the Masthead of our expedition website. I suggested that perhaps he could best serve our team by submitting to dissection, and I further offered to prep him myself. This observation cost me my evening meal ration; I was hungry, but proudly unrepentant. There is a bright side, however. With my former responsibilities now reassigned, Esteban promoted me to Chief Executive Director of Running Errands. Good thing, too. It is amazing how frequently these eggheads run out of this or that right on the brink of major discovery. Case in point:
On Thursday we set out to traverse the Transantarctic Mountains (that's the TAM to us naturalists) in search of landlocked penguins deep within the continent’s interior. We encountered very harsh weather along the way and were nearly repelled. At one point I suggested,
"If we cannot go over the mountain, let us go under it! Does anyone here have a cousin with a mine underneath these mountains? Someone to give us a royal welcome? Roaring fires, Mountain Dew, and ripe meat off the bone?"
Apparently this fell on deaf ears, and we trudged on the in the teeth 70 mph gusts. They still aren’t sure if my left earlobe can be saved. But eventually the deed was done, and we again reached level ice stretching to infinity.
About 12 clicks further on, we came across a group of birds that darn near sent this brood of dorks into grand mal convulsions. I guess they believed they had discovered a new species, but I’ve got to tell you: You’ve seen one black and white bird that can’t even fly, you’ve seen them all. Yevgeny immediately got out his calipers and started chasing one all over the glacier—both of them squawking as if Death were at the door. Reminded me of Rocky trying to catch that chicken. Anyway, after they had rounded up a good number of individuals for tagging, only then did they realize they had left all of their Sharpies™ back on the Del Monte container ship. Esteban informed me that penguins are very allergic to marker ink, and only Sharpies™ are penguin-allergy sensitive. It was up to me to get them these instruments or the whole expedition would be lost. While they set up a base camp, I began the journey back to McMurdo alone.
When I finally reached the McMurdo Dollar Tree, I found their entire stock of Sharpies™ had been recently bought out, and none remained on the continent. However, and I haven’t put this all together yet, there was an order already on hold for me at a CVS in Santiago. Maybe Esteban radioed ahead. In any case, my errand had just gotten much, much longer—but if I didn’t come through for our party, who would? I eventually got to the CVS (not without considerable hardships and dangers) and was more than ready to return with the Sharpies™. Instead, however, I was given this note from the cashier:
Truthfully, I was much relieved. I was pretty well over the whole mess by this point. They were all good people, but they kind of got on my nerves after a while. I’m going to enjoy this drive and take my time. After all, how often do you get to drive from Chile to Lamar in a rented Yugo? Antarctica was about what I expected, for the most part. I require more challenging frontiers, to be perfectly honest. Maybe NASA has an opening on their next lunar mission? Threadkiller in Space?
Meh..I’ll think about it.