Sunday, November 29, 2009

Snow School!

I just found out this morning that I'm going to snow school tomorrow. Two days out on the ice. They take us a couple of miles outside of town and teach us how to survive in case we get stuck outside for some reason. It will be neat.

Turkey Day

We observed Thanksgiving on Saturday. Meals had to be scheduled out, and I had mine at 3pm. I then volunteered in the galley to wash dishes for an hour, but I got so involved that it turned into two and a half. I guess I'm an obsessively goal-oriented person, so I really got into the progress of it all.

The galley crew went all out for Thanksgiving dinner, and they affirmed the fact that this season is probably the best dining season of the program's history. I think I heard that they prep'ed this meal for two days prior to delivery. Needless to say, it was outstanding. You could basically eat whatever you want, but I stuck to the beef tenderloin. The sides were great, the stuffing had sausage in it, and the grean beans had crimini or portabello mushrooms. As usual, the desserts were great. They had candied apples and a bunch a pretty cool parfait. I tried to keep things in check, so I didn't have any.

Having two days off was really nice, and I have my energy back. Christmas seems really close, and I suspect that the season will seem like it is over in no time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Worth the Wait

Wow, I am dragging today. I finally made it out to Cape Evans and the ice caves. The funny thing is that the Rec Directory suggested that I sign up as Last Name, First Name instead of First Name Last Name to try and trick Mother Nature. I guess that kind of crafty thinking is how you get the job done. Anyways, I have to say that the trip was definitely worth the wait. There was a lot of digging and backing up and going forward, but we ran into a curious pack of penguins. There are a bunch of videos and pictures of them in my Picasa album. I had to upgrade my Google storage in order to do that, but Google reduced the cost of 20GB to $5/year. I can deal with that.

Anyhoo, those penguins came up to about a foot from us. My camera doesn't seem to preserve the scale of things, so you can't really tell from the videos. There were originally a group of seven penguins that buzzed by us. They stopped for a moment and then deemed us uninteresting and started on. Two of the original seven broke ranks and came back to check us out. They even spoke to us for a bit.

The ice caves were also very interesting. Of course, at first, I dropped down into the cave and was not very impressed. Someone was standing in front of the opening, and my photochromic lenses were still clearing up from being outside. I couldn't see all that much. On my way out, I got some sunlight through my lenses, and I caught sight of some formations just above the cave entrance. They were rather fantastic. We were short on time in the caves, since we spent so much time hanging out with the penguins; so I didn't take any pictures in the caves. It was also 1:45am, so I was pretty beat.

Oh, I almost forgot about Scott's Hut. No undigestive biscuits there, either. A few nights ago, a historian gave a presentation on the race to the pole and some history of the area. Unfortunately, I missed it, but I lucked out. He was in the Delta with us and chatted along the ride. When we made it to the Hut, we saw the Kiwis that were staying out at Cape Evans (they tend Scott's Hut). They were flying a kite, which was a little surreal to me. It was kinda neat, though. The kite is not very easy to see, but you can see the orange and black ECW issue-gear of the Kiwis in the picture, at least.

We observe Turkey Day on Saturday, so I'll have two days off. I'm looking forward to that. I hope that it is a low-key kinda quiet weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Such a Tourist!

I was out at Helo Ops again for another service call, and I took some pictures. The mechanics and pilots were just shaking their heads at me, but hey, it's rare for me to get so close to a helicopter! It is neat how light they are. The mechanics were wheeling one in and out of the hangar with a small tractor and then by hand. When I left, I saw a C-17 taking off, so I took a little video of it. My camera definitely doesn't do this stuff justice. Also, things look a lot smaller in these photos than they do from my perspective.

Here are some quick shots of Helo Ops.

From Antarctica

From Antarctica

From Antarctica

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ob Hill, Try Two

With the improved Weather, I was able to make it up Ob Hill the day before yesterday. I'm not all that sore today because I had a pretty physical day yesterday. I went out to the ice runway yesterday, and I brought my camera! Unfortunately, Shuttles called us up and wanted their van back, so I didn't have any time to take pictures. I think they are already preparing the Pegasus runway to receive flights, so I don't think I have much more time. I'll have to find some excuse to make it out there again.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What Blew In?

Overnight, the winds calmed, but the snow arrived. I'm trying to work out how I stop this sort of thing from happening:
From Antarctica

When I sink into a snow drift, the snow settles on the top of my shoes. Then, I track it into my office, and little pools form under my desk. It is pretty embarassing. I also can't stomp it off, and we don't have one of those shoe brushes outside our office. I can't Dorothy click them off or smack one foot with the other, either.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

30 knots, 50 gusting

Whoa! A pressure system rolled in today and caused some strong winds. 30 knots with 50 knot gusts is a very windy day, indeed!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

USAP Photo Library

The USAP hosts up pictures at:

They will probably be much better than mine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Ok, I had some time to place captions on my pictures to help them make a little bit more sense. Also, I added some pictures of my workplace and living space for my family. They wanted to know what conditions were like, so I obliged. My room here is a little smaller than my master bedroom at home; however, four dudes live in it. If you know me at all, you know I like to sleep, so I'm pretty much unconscious when I am in there. Sorry for the mess, but I'm a dude. I lucked out, as my room-mates are pretty chill and easy to get along with. I guess it's not really much of a surprise, as most people here are good people and considerate to boot. Of course, if you are not, I'm sure you get voted off the island pretty quick. :)

Oh, I've also been pretty lucky, as my ceiling tiles are in pretty good shape. With the warm weather, many other people have had to make use of the drip cans. The roof of 155 (my dorm) has huge deposits of snow on it. As the weather warms up, there is quite a bit of water that accumulates up there, and it has to go somewhere.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back to Work!

I attended Trail Daze on Sunday to help groom the Hut Point Ridge trail. The wind was craaazy! I didn't really help all that much, but it was much fun. I went back out yesterday to take a tour of Shackleton's Hut with some friends. I also took some pictures while I was out there and also grabbed some of my workplace. They are available on my Picasa album:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Perfect Day!

Whoa! The weather is perfect today. If it doesn't turn before I get out of work, I'll be outside most of the evening and night. Visibility is unrestricted, so I can see for miles outside. The temperature and wind are also cooperating (+10F/-4F with wind chill).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How you doin?

Someone snapped this photo of me in my Big Red as we were climbing Observation Hill. It isn't all of my ECW; there are coveralls that go under it, which I'm not wearing in this picture.

From Antarctica

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No new pics

Ah, no pics of Cape Evans, yet. The trip was cancelled, so I am hoping that this Sunday is a go. I'll post whatever I take, though.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pressure ridges

I walked over to Scott Base to try and fight off the weight gain from the inactivity and over-eating. It was a quick 1.75 miles, so not much of a workout. While I was there, I got a better look at the pressure ridges that form as a result of the ice starting to break up. Here is one of the photos that I uploaded to my albums:
From Antarctica

I should have gone down there with the guys I was walking with, but I really had to hit the men's room. I'll have to make another trip out there soon. I'm probably going to do it when I do the Armitage Loop hike.