2009-12-16 10:05:37.000 – Sue and Mike Zlogar,  Summit Volunteers

Today is our final morning on the summit. I could never do justice to the excitement around here. First and most important, Marty is mousing again. Apparently he took a hiatus from this very critical activity up here while he was mending from his skin ailment. We were all somewhat concerned as the mice were getting somewhat brazen, but NO! Marty was just toying with them…he had the last laugh. Saturday night as I was heading to the kitchen for my late night tea I noticed Marty was only half exposed (the back half) under our “new” gas oven and the hunt was on…

Now that we are up to date with the important news, let’s start at the beginning. Our ride up was the first indication that our choice for our 4th trip up to volunteer was a good one. It was the first snow tractor ride of the season and Mary Ellen, our awesome intern, was finally going to get her wish on her last week on the summit. As we piled into the snow tractor transferring our gear and supplies from the van, I was volunteered to be co-pilot with Wayne in the cockpit. Wayne, always understated and totally confident in what he does, looked at me and said, “Welcome back.” I knew then he had something special for the ride up and I was not to be disappointed. Zero visibility with high winds, how exciting is that? He looked at me and said, “Hmmmm, it’s time to bring on the Kevan.”

Kevan Carpenter a seasoned mountaineer was in the back with the crew and of course had his gear with him. Wayne picked up the phone in the cab and told him to gear up and get ready to drag the snow tractor up the mountain. Kevan of course was delighted, jumped out and with the aid of two trusty extension cords (bright orange and wonderfully visible), attached them to the plow. Kevan (I kid you not) ran up ahead and gave Wayne the critical road guidance to get us up safely to the Summit. What a team!

Note to future co-pilots do not open the door on your side of the cab until Wayne says you can open the door, even if you are curious to figure out where you are when it is stopped on the home stretch. Something about not wanting to have the side of the cab ripped off in the wind. Pilots can be very serious about their equipment.

Stacey and Mary Ellen full of Christmas spirit decorated the Obs to the delight of you-know-who, who now has plenty of interesting objects to bat around the quarters. I have to say it lifted my spirits to see their handy work!

Mike produced multiple delicious meals much appreciated by the crew but his greatest achievement when cleaning off all the pantry shelves washing them down with a bleach solution, (part of the monthly inventory and clean up of the pantry,) was the discovery of a Klingon cookbook! Rumor has it that Ken Rancourt might know something about this extraordinary find?! We are now working to find someone to translate it into English for our next volunteer experience.

I busied myself with elevating the serotonin level of the crew, baking with as much chocolate as I could find with the exception of last night when we enjoyed strawberry shortcake made with Mike’s warm home made biscuits!

Windswept is the name of the booklet we send out but the truth is it could easily be called Windthrown, Windblown, Windchucked. Yes, high winds of 105 plus mph challenged the mobility skills of all and wind chills of 52 below; kind of sucks the moisture out of ones skin, we are all looking and feeling like dehydrated vegetables at the moment.

Finally, our one dream coming up here this time was to see the summit fox. We were not to be sent away wanting. Monday, Mary Ellen called us on the intercom and said, “Hey, guess who’s here?” The fox was up watching them shovel and I was forced to take pictures for posterity, Mike was shoveling. She is a beauty, with a handsome coat and tail as bushy and wide as her body. We were truly blessed!

Well, until next time Mike and I would like to thank the crew of the Observatory…Steve, Stacey, Mike and Mary Ellen for their kindness, laughter, stories, appetites and hard work to make the Obs hum and the entire MWOBS staff for this wonderful volunteer opportunity. Our special best wishes to Mary Ellen as she begins a new phase in her life and may you all have a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.


Sue and Mike Zlogar,  Summit Volunteers

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