Monday, December 28, 2009

Waiting for Christmas dinner

Paper mache. I ask myself, "Why haven't I created animal heads to wear to Christmas dinner in years' past?" Better late than never I suppose. Here I am waiting for the guys before going to dinner in the galley. Sigh, never keep a lady waiting.

After dinner I went to our department party for a few hours, and ended the night at MAAG (McMurdo Alternative Art Gallery). The carp shop was transformed into a psychedelic art groove displaying work from some of McMurdo's finest artists. It seemed appropriate that I wear my own paper mache creation, and in fact wore it all night long proving that I can still dance as good as the rest of them without being able to see a bloody thing!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Sitting down to enjoy the best Christmas morning breakfast. Panettone sent from Mamma, and coffee from Daniel. Thanks so much guys for making this Christmas feel like home.

After the morning mass I introduce Mini Mia, last year's pez companion to this year's. Everyone... meet The Pezquin.

The Holiday Party

They cut no corners and went all out for the Holiday Party. Living rooms were set up with fake fireplaces and Christmas trees. Even Santa made an appearance.

Carolers sang, and there was food and drinks for everyone, but who can resist having their head in the butt of a reindeer.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Memories on Christmas Eve

In the cargo loading area there is a soft and fuzzy fish that can no longer sing. This is for 2 of my favorite people in the WORLD, Amelia and Annelise. For all of the silly afternoons in Annelise's room singing the 2 songs on rotation over and over again. I had a favorite song which escapes me now, and that is probably a good thing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Pressure Ridges

A pressure ridge is formed when an ice sheet breaks and layers itself over the other half. The top half is further pushed up and outwards by winds and ocean currents.

They stretch out along the Ross Ice Shelf for 2 miles. 2 miles of bliss.

However, water pools are forming as warmer temperatures approach making for a messy hike at times.

My favorite hike to date.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Antarctic Frostbite Softball Tournament

In keeping with tradition at Softball tournaments hot dogs and hamburgers are cooked on the grill. Except generally they aren't free, and generally these games aren't played when the outside temperatures are 9F/-13C. But again, there is nothing general about this place.

ATO (my department) vs. the Fire House. We were up 14/2, but lost 14/15 in the last inning. OUCH!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

The bright side is...

ARGH!!!.. The good thing about switching to the day shift is that I'll be working the same time everyone else is. Including Lauren who cleans our bathroom.

The Night Crew no more

In 2 days we will hand over our night shift and continue the rest of our time here working days. I've got 2 days to transition my sleeping pattern to work 0600 to 1800 beginning Monday morning. Still 12 hours, 6 to 6, but no longer on the "dark" side. Pretty much the same, same sun circles us above day and night, except I'll be fighting for a seat at meal times....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The beloved bowling alley

Condemned last season as an unsafe structure, the bowling alley is now being demolished. A very solemn week, as many are sad to see it go. Only a few will remember the joke, but bowling was expected to be one of my highlights here. But at least part of the joke remains. :)

On a Ride

A sun dog, we see a lot of these here.

A crack in the sea ice, yep, it's getting warmer.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The 14th Annual Women's Soiree

Pirate week at McMurdo ended with a bang, the 14th Annual Women's Soiree.

The Annual Women's Soiree is a melody of talented acts one after another performed only by women ranging in belly dancing, ukulele jamming, clever poetry, singing, and dance numbers including one involving a hula hoop. The theme this year was Bollywood which made some of the dance numbers pretty interesting. I am at awe, and inspired of the talent that surrounds me.

The overall reason for putting this together is to raise money by raffling off prizes donated by the people of McMurdo Station and from the small businesses of Christchurch to benefit a local charity in New Zealand. New Zealand provides the US Antarctic program with many resources and this is how we say thanks.

This year's charity is Cholmondeley, a residential facility in Canterbury that cares for children aged 3 - 12 who come from homes and families that are unable to care for them due to various reasons. Having just celebrated Thanksgiving and now getting ready for Christmas the timing couldn't be better.

We all have something to give, a random smile from across a room can brighten just about anyone's day, or, um..... creep you out. So all of you with creepy smiles maybe instead you are a good listener??

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's no wonder why I don't sleep

Working 12 hour shifts can be difficult, but not impossible to find the time to participate in many of the activities around here. I make sure that I attend the science lectures every week, go to yoga, movies, meet up with friends, and before my ankle did its own thing on the race, lots of hiking. However, the real reason sleep eludes me is an activity that I do not participate in... the construction out my window. Luckily in 2 weeks time I'll alternate my 12 hour shifts from nights to days and at that point I'll welcome sleep back into my life with open arms.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We're the Young Ones.... (singing)

For those of you who know me from the "old" days I KNOW that you are laughing out loud right now, and can feel my EXCITMENT!!! Can you believe that such an event should be held here?! Can you believe that there is another soul out in the world (and here)who also has the DVD set?! I believe!

For all others who were not in my life 20 plus years ago The Young Ones was a British comedy sitcom from 1982/1983. A British comedy from which I can, even today recite each and every word..... BOMBS.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A not so traditional Thanksgiving celebration

Around 4am, 6 hours before my debut in any 5K race I take a walk on the Annual Turkey Trot race course. It was so windy that the wind blew me off my feet while I was taking this shot. It turns out due to the high winds race officials changed the route from the ice roadway, and instead we would run to Scott base, New Zealand's Antarctic station.

At this point in the race I had tripped on a rock while fumbling with my i-pod. You see, it freezes up and doesn't actually work in these cold temperatures. I was adjusting the heat pad that was wrapped around it in my pocket. I limped back to the finish line from here, refusing a ride 3 times from the ambulance.

With a wind chill of 9F/-12C in 33 knot winds I am not sure if I would recommend someone do this as a first time runner. Or for that matter to any sane person.

Limping to the finish line I kept friends and officials waiting outside in a mad cold morning showing up last, BUT on my own and not in an ambulance! Turns out I sprained my ankle which is now hostage to a large brace that I will have to wear for the next few weeks.

Lesson here... ALWAYS pay attention when running on volcanic rocks and ice. AND night workers should adjust their schedule accordingly when running a morning race.

After sleeping off my defeat I wake in time for midnight Thanksgiving dinner with friends. The names and faces are hidden to protect the lives of the innocent. To find where I was sitting, just look for the bottles of wine on the table. If you were wondering, yes those are king crab legs, of course though, not mine.

Pain relief comes in many forms, laughter will always be your guiding light.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for everything that I have,
and for everything that I don't.

I spent my morning (after work) volunteering in the kitchen with the bakers. This mixer is HUGE!

The baked goods here are a killer. I am thinking that it could be a good thing to spend more time with these guys in the future.

..and WOOLA.. whole wheat loaves of bread.

According to the calendar today is in fact Thanksgiving, however in reality it is just another working day. For reasons that I won't get into the station will be "celebrating" Thanksgiving on Saturday. Unable to resist the package Mom sent we devoured the chocolate goodies for a 2am snack while honoring my team whose game I won't be able to watch this weekend.

Watching the Macys Thanksgiving Day parade on TV!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Art of Hand Washing

Various forms of "colds" circulate around town and it travels between people pretty fast. This is known as the McMurdo Crud. Given the harsh environment the body has to work double to fight off any virus, so once you are "tagged", that head cold never seems to go away.

Luckily I've proven to be stronger than the crud, and so there is no slowing down for me.

We are reminded by posters hanging in the bathrooms that hand washing is serious business and not to be taken lightly.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Calling out for Assistance

Flight operations are now in full swing and we are running 7 lines out to the field camps, the South Pole, or up into New Zealand. In addition, the wind has died down, and temperatures returned to the plus side of the thermometer, making for a smooth operation. This can only mean that my working hours are getting busier. Our 12 hour overnight shifts come and go so quickly that the days just roll into one another.

And by the way, this is an ACTUAL bat phone with a direct connection to the Central Nervous System at McMurdo, the Chalet.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cape Evans

Scott's hut (Robert Falcon Scott) at Cape Evans from the Terra Nova Expedition of 1910 - 1913 in a race to be the first person to reach the South Pole. It was from here where they set out for the Pole arriving only 34 days after Roald Amundsen.. and even worse all men died from starvation on the return only 11 miles from supplies! (Cape Evans is about a 45 minute drive from McMurdo station.) I have only been able to retain bits of the historic elements of Antarctica. I am currently reading 2 books brought from home, so at some point I'll get up to speed on the past events that took place here.

They sewed seaweed into a quilt and placed it in between planks for insulation.

The hut was divided in sections: of supplies, sleeping quarters, study, and kitchen.

Although the hut has been abandoned since 1917 (it was occupied by Shackleton's party from 1915 to 1917) it is so well preserved because of the consistently sub freezing temperatures. You know... my skin seems to be looking better these days..?

The photo of the dogs was posted on the wall above one of the beds. This place was amazing.. I've got too many photos to share.. I could of spent an entire week just sitting inside reaping up the energy from these men, and actually the group had to pry me out of there.

wind wind and more wind

Weather has been downgraded to Condtion 2... or is it now Condition 1... WHAT?? I can't hear you..... and where are you anyway?!?!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Road Trip along the Ross Ice Shelf

Living and working in such close proximity most of us jump on any opportunity of a road trip. And so Monday night I am accompanied by 19 others for a drive along the Ross Ice Shelf in the mean looking Delta alongside islands jutting out frozen in the sea ice as we pass Mt Erebus and the Barnes Glacier.

First stop is climbing down into a crevasse which opens up into an ice cave. It was simply breathtaking inside this magical cocoon.

Taking a rest after a climb up the snow dunes in the wheel well of the Delta. It is the first time that I didn't have a hat on outside since my arrival a month ago. It was 19F/-7C... I might as well be in Bermuda!

On the ride back across the barren sea ice a half dozen Emperor penguins cross our path after a stand off with a Weddell seal!!

There are many different species of penguins down here, and although there are thousands of Emperor penguins it is rare to see them on the south side of the island, (that's were I am stationed). Apparently most people who come here have never seen an Emperor, and so not only am I honored I am beyond words!

2 of the penguins came right up to us and were talking up a storm. Their squeal was similar that that of an Namibian elephant but with less gusto, I suppose I'll give them a little slack given their comparative size. We had a stare down with them for about 10 minutes, as they seemed to be just as interested in us as we them. A kinetic energy wave was radiating between us and them..... freezing in fascination.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back to the 70's

To keep things interesting most weeks here have a theme. Last week was Facial Hair Week. I'll spare you most of the details. However, I ended the week at Gallagher's bar for Mustache and Turtleneck night and a strange game of shuffleboard. I forgot the turtleneck but made up for it by sporting a mustache.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Out by Myself but Never Alone

I am not in the real world, there is no normalcy here... After Mid-Rats, midnight lunch hour for night workers, at 0200 (2am) the cold clean air beckons and I suit up to tackle the mountain ridge trail up to Arrival Heights. It is literally a narrow ridge on a mountain of volcanic rock. The only sound are of my footsteps and they become music to my ears because otherwise the cold silence was a little eerie. I am so far away from everything that I know, but I am also brought closer to what I am in search of.

The sun doesn't rise, nor does it set but instead it circles us in the sky above as if a halo. It too speaks to me in wondrous colors from the energy and aura of my protectors. It was in the single digits, 5F/-15C, but oddly enough it was the perfect morning.... evening, umm or midday, for me it is all the same. Below is McMurdo Station, and behind, Ob (Observation) Hill, with the Ross Sea Ice Shelf.. and our Annual Sea Ice runway.

Back in town inside the Chapel of the Snows the stained glass window of the Antarctic continent glows from the 5am sun. Notice the penguin.