Sunday, January 25, 2009

New distractions!!!

Temperature: 28.9C
Wind Chill: 42.2C
Wind Speed: 9.9 kts

Well, I thought I had procrastinated enough to where I wasn't going to get a camera down here that would take decent pictures. Wouldn't you know I was wrong!! While Cully and I were on vacation, Evan filled in for us, and on his way out of Christchurch stopped by a couple camera stores and purchased a camera that he, Cully and I had talked about over the weeks he was here. He found a really nice camera, got two stores in a price war with each other, and handed the camera off to my last hope of getting anything down here before station closing! I just got the camera from Geoff, who is down here to work on the instrument measuring CFCs down here.

So, as promised, I have a few pictures from Snowhenge that you might have seen on Cully's blog already, but I had to try out my camera!

The Easter Island tribute was pretty good, as were the animals, and the RV next to the gas tank (the nozzle already has been put back indoors)...

my favorite, though, is Calvin & Hobbes!!

I got out to ARO, and I still didn't want to put the camera down, so I fired off a couple shots of a group of scientists from Boulder that are taking water vapor measurements while they are here for two weeks.

We have a good portion of tourists that like to come down to the South Pole and camp out, literally...I like to call them squatters!

but some of them do come in style!

We had another (smaller) movie night out at ARO tonight. I had missed the first half of ALIENS on Friday, so I made a few other Polies suffer through what I thought to be the best movie in the series! I went out a little early to set up, do a couple other chores around ARO before people got there, and the tower called to me. I figured...why not!

(I like the zoom on this camera!)

Here's a shot of ARO from the tower, with the water vapor buildings in the background. Man, I can't wait for the sun to come out. It should have about another month before it starts to noticeably get darker, so I should have some time!

There was absolutely nothing worthwhile in this blog entry, save for the fact that I understand now why Cully wouldn't let his camera out of his sight!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2009 Antics

Temperature: -32.3C
Wind Chill: -45.7C
Wind Speed: 10.3 kts

I know, I know, it's been a while, but I think I have everything in one place to add to the blog this time. I want to start with New Year's Eve because, sure, a lot of people get to go outside, run around in a park somewhere in the sunlight, maybe fly a kite...but who gets to do that at the South Pole??? The PA down here, Wayne, was out one day while I was walking back from ARO, and asked if I wanted to try flying a kite down at the bottom of the world....

That was pretty cool, it had been a long time since I had flown, and then it was a single line kite! Wayne got a really cool shot of me and the old Dome, too! Fast forward a few days to Evan's arrival, mine and Cully's replacement while we go on R&R! Evan came in on the Herc that I was leaving on to go to sunny McMurdo. Yours truly got to bring the Herc in to park! There's something new I don't get to do every day!

We got to McMurdo, and there was a lot of relaxing to do. A few of us went out to Castle Rock, which is a hike a few miles away from station. We stopped by the firehouse, got a radio, checked out with those guys, let them know what time we were thinking we would be back, and then we set off.
The trip was great, found a couple "apples" to stop at, get out of the wind for a few minutes, recharge and then we were off again!

The weather would come and go, some minutes, it would be nice...

and others it would look like this!

We finally reached Castle Rock,

and took to it like monkies to a banana! The hike up was pretty interesting, and a couple places needed some climbing aid, but we reached the top...and had a great view of....nothing!

Once we reached the top, there was nothing to do, but head back down, and back to town, which was on the other side of the peak on the left.

When we got back to our room, we found that little had changed since we had left...

but our R&R was coming to a close, four of us were going back to South Pole the next day, so packing consumed us for about ten minutes, and we looked forward to our last more-than-2min-shower! My first day in McMurdo, I had a shower that lasted about 20 minutes, got out, toweled off, hung the towel back up and got back in the shower for another ten minutes...why stop at twenty minutes?!?!

The ride back to Pole was unique, as I got invited to ride up in the cockpit with the crew! They gave me a headset, so I could talk to them, listen to air traffic...really made the three hours go by quickly! When we got back home, Cully wouldn't let me come back to ARO until Monday, so I had some time to myself. After a couple days in the station, I realized I needed something to do, and went to talk to the siding crew. Over the weekend, on Saturday, I got to hang out with those guys, help them out for a day!

Granted, I wasn't trained to get up in the scaffolding, but I did get to help them when they moved it, and got to spend the whole day outside, shuffling gear around, cutting siding. It was a great day, and made me appreciate warm meals so much more!

Our winter over manager went on his R&R the following week, and had me fill in for him in the event of an emergency. Normally, I am closer to the scene of an incident, relaying information up to him. While he was gone, someone else was on scene, relaying information to me....hypothetically of course. Wouldn't you know we would have a spill three days before Logan came back from vacation! Everybody responded well, the leak was contained, and after a while all that was left was clean up. We had a couple people that needed to get out of wet clothes, shower up and report to medical, but no further followup was necessary. I felt a little detached since I was well away from the spill, and the teams on the ground had things well in hand. About the only thing I did was make sure that the folks involved initially were trading out with fresh individuals, so nobody got overly tired. Logan got back from R&R and when I told him I felt like the fifth wheel on a bicycle, he said, "Now you know how I feel!" He and I were both pleased, as the actual event went smoother than the last drill we did!

I will try to get pictures of Snowhenge before they tear everything down, smooth it over, but the henges got turned into sculptures, and Cully's came in second! A pretty good rendition of Calvin and Hobbes, I think!

Hope all is well with everyone back in the real world! There is only about another month left here before station closing...then it's about 45 of us with no airplanes again until late October, early November! It's going to be a great year, too, lot of cool people are staying for the winter!

Capt. Splash