Sunday, January 31, 2010


I think I forgot to mention that the NAVCHAPS (the U.S. Navy CargoHandling and Port Group) arrived a few days ago. Basically, they are Navy guys that fly around the world loading and unloading cargo from large supply ships.

From Antarctica

Anyways, the reason they are here has arrived today. The Tern brings in all the stuff that is heavy and/or not time-sensitive. Much of our computer equipment arrives on vessels like the Tern. The containers on the deck are called milvans. They conform to specific military standards in terms of size and function/design. The Tern usually marks the ending of the season, and redeployment flights vamp up next week (I'm on one of them on Monday).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Countdown to Redeployment

The Paul Buck, the fuel tanker, has left. The Tern, the resupply vessel, will come in around the 1st of February. My season is over in ten days and a wake up. My Hawaii plans are pretty much set, and I believe that will probably be the cheapest leg of my journey. Sydney seems very, very expensive. I'm trying to stay spontaneous for my New Zealand trip, but I'm probably going to be on hiking trails and huts for most of it. Hostels are a good way to save money, but I really am pretty tired of dorm-style living and no privacy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

On the Paul Buck

From Antarctica

On Saturday, we installed a computer on the Paul Buck. I got to take a look around and snap some pictures. The Buck has a crew complement of around 36 people, and is operated by civillian contractors employed by the Navy.

I received my redeployment itinerary today, so I now have hard dates on when I will travel. I'm actually kind of anxious about it, as I step into the unknown again.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Now We're Cooking with Gas

From Antarctica

The Paul Buck made port today. Fuel offload operations should begin tomorrow. I think they said something like 328 gallons per minute flow through the hoses from the ship into the tanks on station. It is an awesome process that I can't quite get my head around. MacTown will always use diesel and gas, but hopefully, the wind generators will alleviate some of the load soon. Hilary Clinton's visit to New Zealand to christen the generators was diverted due to the Haiti quake, but I believe that they should be "officially" running soon.

Cato, Noooo!

From Antarctica

I got the jump on the Minke whales. Unfortunately, my weak photography skills really didn't document the encounter well. Someone mentioned that they were much larger than expected, but I didn't really have any preconceived notion about the whales. I haven't seen a whale outside of captivity before, so I was really excited to see them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Much Less Shaggy

Oh, thanks goodness! I got a haircut today, so I am not all crazy mountain man looking now. I still have this crazy soup catcher on my face, but that will go just as soon as I get off continent, maybe even sooner. Went out again last night to try and catch the Minke's, but no go. I'm heading over to Scott Base tonight for American Night, so maybe they are lurking in the water over there.

Also, the Adele vagrants are back out by Hut Point. The Oden came in and scared away the whales, so I guess the penguins figured it was safe to come back out again.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tricky Whales

People have been spotting Minke and Killer whales off the coast of MacTown, but they are never there when I go look. Sneaky ninja whales!

Monday, January 18, 2010


I saw a skua totally own someone for their sandwich today. To my shame, I had a brief moment of schadenfreude. I hadn't seen a skua attack before, and I find that they are really hysterical! There's always this one skua that hangs outside of the dorm, and he is bold. He stares at you and gives you the "I can take you" look. I don't see how people forget that he's there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Coolest Thing!

On Monday, we were "picking daisies". It's an activity where everyone goes out around the station and picks up little bits of wire, plastic, and other things. Basically, we clean up the station. It's not half bad, as the weather was beautiful, and the scenery was compliant. The Oden has been back and forth around the Ross Sea breaking up ice. I need to go out today again and take a look. It docked for a quick re-fuel, but I missed it.

From Antarctica

Today, I did the coolest thing in my life up to this point. I rode a skidoo up to 1,400 feet on Mount Erebus. It was really relaxing getting to get out of town and pilot the skidoo. I rode as a passenger on the way there and drove on the way back. I didn't see much as visibility today was not very agreeable, but it was still a great trip. I am really grateful that I was able to do that, and I look forward to more cool stuff when I hit New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More Penguins!

I went out on Sunday morning to go and check out the icebreaker, The Oden. On the way, I ran into some penguins off the shore of Hut Point. Everyone says they are adelie, but I couldn't see them closely enough to tell. Also, my camera still doesn't have enough lens to see that far away. I believe that the Oden should be in today or tomorrow. There was a call for linehandlers, but it sounded like heavy work that I wasn't well-suited for. I'd like to volunteer, but I don't want to end up in the drink or be unable to lift the ship's lines over the pylons that anchor it at dock.

The sea ice has melted near Hut Point, so the sound of the sea is here. I believe that all sorts of wildlife will show up in town. I hear that there are now penguin vagrants hanging around Pegasus. Tim, one of the guys from ATO, said there was a penguin sleeping on one of his pallets. He walked up to the pallet, and it looked up at him and squawked. It must have been something like, "don't bother me now, I'm sleeping!"

From Antarctica

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pulling Cable

Man, I'm so glad I'm down here! I could be freezing my butt off in Houston right now, where it is supposed to get down to 25F. Our days have only barely dipped below freezing for the last few weeks.

I volunteered to help Telco pull cable today and yesterday. It's been fun and interesting, as I haven't seen this type of work being done before.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Arrival Heights and Cos-Ray

From Antarctica

I took a tour of the Arrival Heights Science building and the Cos-Ray buildings last night. It was a very interesting tour. Arrival Heights is an ASMA that has no historical or biological features in it. It does contain a large number of physics, meteorology, geology, astronomy, etc. instruments that are collecting data for short and long-term experiments.

Cos-Ray is the Cosmic Ray building that houses the station's oldest running experiment. It's collecting data about Neutron particles with lead tubes. It actually has a bunch of sites not contained in the Cos-Ray building; I think a bunch of them are set up around Antarctica and the world. A similar project is the IceCUBE project, but I think that one involves burying glass tubes into the ice.

Anyways, very interesting stuff.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Icestock 2009-2010

I had a great weekend. Icestock is the music festival held at McMurdo during the Summer season. Freezing Man runs this weekend, but I think Icestock is a little bit cooler. Icestock was held this Saturday (1-2-2010), and the bands ran from noon until 1800 hours. I had a pretty good time, and the weather was very nice.

From Antarctica

In this picture, I can't figure out where that door leads to. It's a door that doesn't seem to exist on my floor of the building, yet it is visible from outside. Maybe it is in a jano's closet somewhere. It might also be where they are keeping the aliens.

Oh, BTW, I saw Whiteout yesterday. It was playing on one of the movie channels. It was pretty bad, and is not honest about anything here. That said, it isn't the worst movie that I've ever seen. I had the unfortunate displeasure of viewing that the other day; it's name was Camille. If you can avoid watching it in this life or the next, you would be doing yourself a HUGE favor.