Felicity Aston is attempting to be the first woman in the world to cross Antarctica. She has been plugging across that continent for nearly a month now. In the days leading up to Christmas, Aston had finally arrived at the South Pole, where she replenished supplies and rested before the second leg of her journey.
Now, with one month and 1,000 miles under her belt and two months and 2,000 to go, this modern-day adventurer's tenacity, determination, perseverance and personal courage makes me wonder what it would be like. As I picture her traversing the continent of Antarctica all on her lonesome, pulling two large sleds loaded with supplies, I try walking a mile or two in her ski boots.
I'd like to think I'd be brave facing the same dangers with courage and conviction, such as negotiating crevasses, battling frostbite and winter storms. Without even setting foot out the door, I'm already in a panic and homesick for my thermostat, a roof over my head, my pillow-top mattress and whistling teapot. Frostbite! Don't tell me about frostbite. I used to get that defrosting my old Frigidaire.
I'll need a train of supplies with at least three tent heaters, a camping potty, a separate camping potty tent, a Coleman Even-temp Insta-Start Three-Burner propane stove and, of course, enough winter apparel, color coordinated to change my clothes several times each day. Oh, and hand warmers, better bring a boatload.
Communicating daily with a command station somewhere on the other side of the planet, carrying two satellite phones, being wired with a GPS and having an on-call rescue plane available at all hours just wouldn't do. I'll need my own entourage within arms-reach at all times.
Thirty-four-year-old Aston says she's doing this to test her personal limits. Wouldn't traversing the shopping mall at Christmas or being forced to watch NFL football for 16 weeks straight produce the same results?
Believe me, there are plenty of places one can explore alone without icicles protruding from your nose, like reviewing the text messages on your teenager's cell phone or rummaging through the junk drawer in your house.
I guess misery loves company, since I found great comfort learning her biggest challenge so far is the solitude. On a trip like that, I'd go so far as to welcome my fourth grade teacher, Miss Crawford. Even her permanent frown and mean disposition would be a welcome sight. Now that's desperate!
I'll take my teensy weensy problems any day in lieu of crossing Antarctica in minus 25 Fahrenheit. I wonder, does 25 degrees below zero feel warmer if there is no wind?
The more I think about trying to cook freeze-dried food on a camp stove, the better liver pate sounds to me.
Plus, I'm really picky, I mean really picky as to which little girls' room to use, let alone not having one at all. Even before setting foot on that ice-covered continent down under, I'm suffering from incurable worry over where and how to go potty. Do I leave it or stow and go?
When I think about going on expedition across a frozen wasteland thousands of miles from anywhere, I am overcome with questions: What if I'm too scared to leave my tent? Who will hear me when I scream for help? What if I get lost? How will I sleep when the sun never sets in Antarctica this time of year? What if I keep slipping on the ice and can't get up? What if I start hearing little voices saying, "What are you doing? You could be at home nice and warm right now."
This whole trip is way too much for me. Besides Aston's already down there showing off and she doesn't need me as extra baggage. Good luck, Aston. And you go, girl.
SOURCES: Associated Press;
2011 © Copyright Paula Damon.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at email@example.com and find her on FaceBook.