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.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ghostly tales that I'll Never Tell

McMurdo Station Antarctica is known for many things, for instance, the in depth science research but also for the great parties that it hosts. Halloween was no exception and is quite the big event as the first official organized party. I was amazed at the high level of creativity that graced the big gym. I spent the entire night on the dance floor working off all of the delicious pastries that are served at meal times.

Again, we always seem to end up at Cesar's place, but by 4am I escaped and headed to the computer lab to get some work done and to send some emails. After a quick breakfast at 0530 we were rewarded with a light and lovely snow fall. Rewarding because not only does the clean white snow blanket the ground covering all of the impurities and quiets the air, but finally it is warm enough for it to snow! As some of you may not know, I only learned this from living in Alaska, but it can be too cold to snow!