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First Cape Evans Trip

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

Barne Glacier.jpg

The Cape Evans Delta trips began today. Last Wednesday, all the other Delta drivers and I went out on the 1 ½+ hr drive out as a training trip to the hut that Scott built as his support base for his South Pole bid. The inside of the hut is preserved almost exactly as Scott’s men left it c.90 years ago with the shelves still stocked with supplies. It was beautiful weather and the road was in the best condition it has been in years and there were great views of smoking Erebus and the Barne Glacier. The road conditions are bound to change as the season progresses. The first trip I lead is on the 18th of November. There

Today is Sunday which means a day off, brunch and the second issue of the Antarctic Sun. Despite the fact that it is my day off I spent some time n the shop. I had to rebuild our humidifier; an essential apparatus for Antarctic life. I am still enjoying work though last week there were some ups and downs, mostly involving paperwork. The paperwork involved in our job is unbearable. Every moment of our day has to be documented with a number. We have a handful of papers listing the numbers for various activities that one may encounter during the day. S109zz for example is the number for all hands meetings. Yesterday I only got in about 4 hours of actual work because of safety meetings trainings and other such business. In order to attract people to all-hands-meetings they have started having trivia and other such games with prizes. Yesterday they had this musical chairs type game involving yoga balls. The idea was to bounce this ball around the Galley until the music stopped and the last person holding the ball won a prize. They were about two minutes into the game when the Safety Guy came over and whispered into the Station Manager’s ear and the game promptly stopped. But that is just life here at McMurdo and no one really expected the game to go on very long.

My biggest disappointment of the week though was when I was told that I couldn’t try-out for the Search and Rescue team because I was not wintering over. It was a real bummer because I had already been chosen to try out and had a date set. But things got better yesterday at our morning safety meeting when our foreman declared that a “new directive has come down from Denver”, which is a phrase that usually strikes fear into the hearts of most USAP workers. Usually directives from Denver mean a new policy that makes perfect sense to office workers at the Denver HQ but are quite often not suited to the Antarctic environment. But this directive was welcomed my me because it said that all those wishing to try out for the SAR team should be allowed to do so. The day got better when I received written commendations from both my foreman and his boss for my part in saving base operations by fixing the Gasboy. The Gasboy is a fuel pump used to fill up all out vehicles. The one I fixed was the only one we have to pump gasoline and without it many operations cease.

Not Enough Time to Think

Friday, October 22nd, 2004

Luci Coffeehouse.jpg

Here is luci at her new part time job. She is the bartender at the “Coffeehouse”, our local wine cafe’. It is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) building on base. I know now, on account of the fact that I now work for maintenance, that it is also the most costly building in the program to maintain. It has one of the best ambiences on the base: dim lighting (nice when there is 24hr sunlight), wooden walls, a movie room, and LAN ports so you can connect your laptop and update your blog like I am doing at this very moment.

We both really like our new jobs. I have been able to see much more of the base than I have ever seen before since my department usually works behind the scenes to keep the base operational. Over the past couple of days I have been working on juice machines, primarily. With over 900 people currently on base and four meals a day served they see a lot of action. They are very compact and hard to work on but I have had two of them completely apart. Since the fresh water here is produced using reverse osmosis, it is very lacking in minerals and therefore, “very aggressive” and will corrode pipes. So, to help alleviate this problem they add calcium carbonate (I think) which, over time, accumulates in the line eventually breaking loose to clog up the screens and filters of juice machines and other appliances that either cool or heat water. The calcium deposits also help to coat the lead welds in some of the plumbing, reducing our heavy metal exposure. Luci is also enjoying her full time job, the greenhouse tech. She works on her own and gets to spend more time with plant life than anyone else on base.

We have both been busy with extra-vocational activities. Luci has been going to Yoga three times a week and has been training as bar tender. I spent the beginning of the week training as a Delta-Driver. Deltas a very large wheeled Naval land transport vehicles. The recreation department takes trips out to the historic monument of “Scott’s Cape Evans Hut”. They train volunteer drivers to make the two hour Delta drive there. We do our first trip on Wednesday. I also went to soccer yesterday. I don’t know if I am going to stick with it though; too tiring after a 10 hr workday. This weekend my friend Rob, who we met at the Boccalatte this summer, and I hiked the Castle Rock loop. It is a 7 mile loop that can be skied or hiked. He used cross country skis and I had a pair of snowblades that I was able to use in a couple of places. There is a lot less snow than there was last year. I thought about bringing my own snowboard but I am glad I didn’t as there is not much to be had nearby. When we arrived it was quite warm by Antarctic standards but the temperatures have become a bit more seasonable lately. Here are the current conditions at Mcmurdo from the weather underground. Pay particular attention to the sunrise and sunset times.

Mactown keeps getting busier and busier. On Monday, the South Pole workers arrived on their way south. The first two flights of the season left for the pole this morning and the relief for the people who wintered there will continue over the next couple of weeks. Tomorrow, I am sure we’ll start to see the pale Polies who wintered on their way back to the lands of warmth.

Return to MacTown

Wednesday, October 13th, 2004
Flight South 2004.jpg Wednesday, October 13, 2004 …and the tide washes us back on the shores of Antarctica. It has been a hectic week but, once again, the trip was smooth. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Asa & Errin’s Wedding

Monday, October 4th, 2004
Isaac_Joel_Asa_Tim_Jesse_Luke.jpg Hot off the press... a couple of photos of Asa and Errin’s wedding and our neice Abby. many clowns does it take to fix ... [Continue reading this entry]

Tour of New England

Monday, October 4th, 2004
Horn Pond Maine.jpg Almost a month since my last entry. It has been a transition month for us as we begin our move from one hemisphere to another. Before leaving Italy I ... [Continue reading this entry]