Wednesday, March 01, 2006

first night

When we finally headed back to Ice Park, it was getting late at night. The sign at UAF said it was -28°, much colder than we had hoped. By the time we were on our way back to Belfair a few hours later, the temperature had dropped further to -38°F! Don't you hate it when your eyelashes freeze together every time you blink?

We arrived at the site to find that our neighbors had made amazing progress. This is what their sculpture looked like when we were just getting started cutting our block.

While I worked on making gears, Lars was able to cut some slabs with the chainsaw, using the hoist to move the bigger pieces. While setting up the hoist, we needed a small weight to take up slack in the cable, so we grabbed the bowling ball with its convenient hook. As Lars was testing the range of the hoist to see if it would reach the ice block, he barely tapped the ball against the block. The gentle bump caused a huge crack to zip through the block! We knew that ice gets brittle at extremely cold temperatures, but, wow, we were surprised by just how fragile it is. I guess my wrecking ball idea was prophetic. Not only does the ice break easily, but it can't be glued back together with water like it can at warmer temperatures. Lars had the good sense to try dripping a little water on a discarded piece of ice, and it shattered instantly.

By the time we left to get a little sleep, our sculpture consisted of a single slab (actually three separate pieces set like flagstones) on the ground. It isn't pretty, but it is strong, smooth, and level. This will be the pedestal upon which the ice clock will be constructed.

Due to the cold, we decided not to cut any more of the block for fear of making even more horrifying cracks. Hopefully it will be warm enough in the daylight to proceed safely.

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