Another busy week here at Siple Dome. We got a couple of tanker flights to fill up our fuel bladder. What a difference! I had to cut one of them off because we exceeded the safe fill limit of the bladder. Neither the plane or the camp have an accurate method for measuring the fuel level so we have to compare estimates to figure out how much we have. We have found the best way is actually to stick a yardstick down the vent cap and estimate that way. Why fuel doesnít go spilling out all over the place when you open the vent cap is beyond me. Something to do with the density of the fuel probably.
Another science group came through mid-week, I-345. They already had most of their equipment staged out here so they arrived, had dinner and were out the next day. They are a group of 6 and they are doing a light traverse on snow mobiles studying the movement of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. We also have two Twin Otter crews working out of Siple. It was fun having them around. They have been shuttling personnel and equipment out to the I-205 study sites. I-205 have been using explosives to image the ice stratification and the terrestrial surface under the ice. Because their flights have had extra room Luci and I both got to take a flight on a Twin Otter. Really not much different out there than it is here in the camp at Siple Dome.
The weather has not been too great here this week. Frequent windstorms keep filling everything in with snow and we keep digging it back out again. One storm laid down some pretty hard snowdrifts. We had to spend a day grooming the runway to get rid of them. I have devised a set of snow fences to prevent drifting around the Jamesway. Seems to work alright but just as I set it up the worst of the storm passed. Go figure.
This week we have surpassed our halfway point of the season. We have started thinking more seriously about what to do with ourselves this spring. It is starting to shape up a bit like last spring. This is the very rough program. We hope to spend at least two weeks in NZ. Mostly sailing. Then fly to Denver to see friends, look for a job for next season, snowboard and hopefully take a Wilderness First Responder refresher course. On the flight back to Maine we might stop in Chicago to see our friend Ash (we havenít told him yet: Surprise!). In Maine, Iím going to take a Motorcycle Safety course and apply for my Motorcycle license, finally. Up to now I have been able to circumvent the law in Italy by virtue of playing the ignorant foreigner. I have a feeling my days are numbered in this game though. Next: Italy sometime around our birthdays in May. Then motorcycle trips. We have a couple of different ideas. One involves the large Mediterranean islands and the other involves visiting my cousin in Eastern Europe. To early to commit to either at this point. I am currently working on getting my brother Jesse to come to Italy to be our ďinternĒ at Boccalatte for at least part of the summer. He insists he has a love-life to get back to in the States. I keep insisting that the love-life can wait.