Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I was lame and went to bed at 10:30pm on New Year's Eve. I went on a brief stroll yesterday around Hut Point Ridge to see if the sea had come in, and I was fairly tuckered out. The two beers that I had closed the deal on my energy level. Anyways, the New Year is here for me, and I believe this year and decade will be better than the last.

From Antarctica

Oh, while I was on the Hut Point Ridge trail, I ran into a couple of curious skua that followed me around the trail. I told them that I didn't have any food, but they wouldn't leave me alone. Maybe they were upset that I interrupted their conversation by Roll Cage Mary.

From Antarctica

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wet Snow

A weather system brought in a lot of wet snow that has persisted for the last few days. It is pretty neat, but I see the water pools forming under my desk again...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bucket List

I watched "The Bucket List" on one of the movie channels the other day. It was not as bad as I thought it would be, but it wasn't exactly good. I don't really have a bucket list, as I think I just have a running list of things that I want to do. Does anyone know how a civillian with little to no money can fast-rope out of a helicopter?

I managed to sew a patch on to the hole in my jeans that recently developed. I was so proud that I didn't sew my pants-leg shut!

A popular past-time here is craft work with paracord (aka p cord). Some people are making survival belts and bracelets out of boredom. If you google survival bracelet, you'll probably find a bunch of sites.

Sorry about the stream-of-consciousness nature of this post. That said, I'm surprised it took me this long to get one of these out, considering the nature of blogs...


One thing that I am looking forward to about re-deployment is privacy. As soon as I make it to Hawaii, I think I am going to spend an entire day sleeping and lounging around alone. Woot!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Starting the Last Leg

Christmas was good even though I missed my family and friends back home. Dinner was outstanding. Freshly mashed potatoes are always nice, but the duck breast and the asparagus in a balsamic vinegar reduction was what made the meal. Desserts, as always, were great. Despite the Christmas holiday, I believe the baker is still trying to kill me by way of overfeeding me things that I shouldn't be eating.

So many people are talking about redeployment (their exit strategy from the Ice). My tentative date of departure is February 8th, so it is not that far away. I'm still not sure how I want to spend my travel time. I'm thinking I'm going to try to live on the cheap while in New Zealand. The kiwi term for hiking is "tramping", and the trail system is pretty well-developed. I figure I should try to do at least one or more of the Great Walks. I really want to do the Whanganui Journey, which is a kayak trip on the North Island. However, I think that may be a bit on the expensive-side, so I might save it for another time. I think I need to start the paperwork for my Australian travel pass and also pay for my hut/tramp passes for New Zealand. I'm pretty excited about the prospects, but a little sad that my first season is ending so quickly. I have resolved to return to the Ice, but much of that depends on factors beyond my control.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas Eve here, so today is our last working day before our two-day vacation. It's a big change from having a week or more off for the holidays, but it's not so bad. Tonight, we have a big Christmas party. I think it will be nice.

The weather is a little colder again; it's back to 25F. I'm still not reverting to my big red, though. Oh, "It's a Wonderful Life" shows tonight, so I'll need to make it a point to watch. For those of you in the cold and snow back at home, be safe! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No Humidity

From Antarctica

You probably can't tell from my bad photo, but it is so dry here that any moisture that ends up on the ground almost immediately evaporates and shows up as a mist rolling around town. I caught "A Charlie Brown Christmas" last night, but I am still wondering when "It's a Wonderful Life" will show.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

No Commercial Press

While stateside, I got a bit sick of the constant commercial press prior to the holidays. However, now that I have no Christmas music or the deluge of "holiday cheer", I find that I'm missing it. I guess as long as they air "It's a Wonderful Life" here, I'll be good.

White Christmas?

From Antarctica

We are getting an unusual amount of snow today. We might actually have a White Christmas this year at McMurdo. Happy Holidays, all! I hope this post finds everyone safe and happy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Tis the Season

From Antarctica

Christmas decorations are going up around town. It's not exactly a white Christmas in town, as most of the snow has melted around us. There is always the permanent ice shelf, which is like 100 feet thick, but that isn't quite snow... It's pretty dusty around here now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

cold in-ear plugs

Brrr! I won't miss putting in cold headphones into my ears to listen to music. I will miss getting access to a lot of really cool scientific instruments. I got a closer look at the protected satellite dish yesterday.

From Antarctica

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where'd It Go?

From Antarctica

A neat weather system brought some fog into Mactown today. I took a couple of quick snapshots. The fog is currently covering the newly installed wind turbines.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pegasus Runway

From Antarctica

I didn't actually make it to Pegasus last Sunday, but I did yesterday. I also rode Ivan up to the runway, which made for some slow going, but I was excited about the ride. The view out from Pegasus is pretty amazing, but my point and shoot and amature photography skills don't do the vista justice. I've got more pictures of vehicles and a Jamesway. WAIS Divide, Byrd Camp, and a bunch of field camps in the Dry Valleys have Jamesway tents. Hopefully, I'll be able to end up in a Scott tent, mountaineering tent, or a Jamesway this season, but I think I might have to be back in order to get in one for real (i.e. not in snow school).

Monday, December 7, 2009


Man, I never thought I would say this, but it is hot out! The currently observed weather is 39F with no wind/wind chill. I went to the Waste Barn to check things out there, and I kept getting over-heated whenever they closed the main door. The machines in Waste were neat to watch, and the people are really nice.

Oh, I forgot to mention how much McMurdo is into recycling. Everything that you throw away has to be sorted. You are responsible for separating all of your waste into different categories of recycled items. Then, it goes to the Waste Barn where it gets packaged for off-site disposal. I was loading cardboard into a baler, which takes loose cardboard and squashes it into cubes that are wrapped in wire the thickness of coat hanger wire. I think they are quite a deal heavier than bales of hay of equivalent size. Nick mentioned that we are allowed a margin of error of 2% in the containers that we send on, and we haven't ever gotten a container back due to going over. Neat stuff.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ice Runway No More!

From Antarctica

Ah, so sad. The ice runway is getting taken down now. I just got back from securing computers in the huts/shacks with the rest of the team. I think we are confirming functionality of all computers when they get things over to the Pegasus runway. That happens this Sunday, so I might be "coming in to work" on my day off. The ice runway drive is like ten minutes. The Pegasus runway drive is an hour and a half. Pegasus Field was named after a plane that crashed into the area; parts of it are still out by the runway.

Back to Work!

From Antarctica

I was a little busy at work yesterday, so I didn't get a chance to post about how Snow School (Happy Camper) went. I had a great time, and the instructors were great. They were very patient and knowledgeable. I think I learned a lot. It was my first experience camping in any cold environment. The basic principles are surprisingly similar to hot weather camping. Staying hydrated is important, and not getting injured is critical. Finding or making shelter is the next most important concern. Obviously, the snow trench and quinzy are for emergency uses. I regret that I didn't sleep outside; I slept in one of the mountaineering tents. The weather was extremely mild (~34F), so I should have. However, I kept overheating when digging, and I didn't want to be wet when I went to bed. I should have just shed layers and kept with it. Oh well...