Tourist Activities

When I’m not working as a Communications Operator down here in McMurdo, I like to pretend like I’m a tourist, seeing the sights and doing tourist things…

WILDLIFE!

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On the way to Cape Evans a couple weeks ago we spied 6 little emperor penguins in the distance by Big Razorback Island…

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The curious little dudes waddled their way over to us over the course of about 15 minutes…

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Stopping less than 10 feet away to check us out

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While we did the same back
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Two performed a magical and mesmerizing dance as we watched on.  That’s me in the red coat in front of them.

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The sea ice is getting warmer, cracks are getting bigger, and seals are lounging about in greater and greater numbers

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And having babies!  Mama and a few day old pup by the pressure ridges in front of Scott Base.

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And the placenta remnants from the event!  Skuas have eaten most of it at this point…

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Dog skeleton inside the Cape Evans hut.  The opposite of wildlife – domesticated death.

HISTORICAL MONUMENTS

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Iconic Cape Evans Hut shot

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Even the explorers of the Heroic Age liked to be tour about in their free time!

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And only the best for those boys – Brooks Saddles, since 1866

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Authentic hundred+ year old toothbrush

SCENIC FLIGHT & GLACIER LANDING!

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Always wondered what it’s like to work in Antarctica?  Come fly on an original 1940’s Basler to the Transantarctic Mountains.  Here, we’ll land on the Lennox King glacier at the “historic” CTAM USAP science support camp.  You’ll assist in digging out 55 gallon fuel drums from a year’s worth of blowing snow with real-life fuelies in smelly Carhartts!  

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Skidoo tracks

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Fuelie in Carhartts taking a walk

ACTIVE AGENDA

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Running the Turkey Trot – a Thanksgiving tradition in McMurdo

 

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The more color and ruffles the faster you run, say the locals!

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Action selfie!  Riding one of our new Surly Pugsleys to Willy Field one early morning

POSING IN “CREATIVE” WAYS IN BEAUTIFUL PLACES

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Senior photo on the sea ice, Mt. Erebus in the background

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Jumping shot at CTAM

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Steezin’ on the sea ice by Cape Evans

Being a tourist is great.

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Ice to Ice

In addition to making a lot of fried egg sandwiches…

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This is what I did for the better part of last summer:

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The Matanuska Glacier is incredible.  When I wasn’t busy working for MICA Guides, I got a chance to explore and climb on my own as much as my tired self would allow, though it was never enough to satiate.  I don’t think it ever could be.  Prior to this summer I had only visited this 26 mile-long beauty once, more than a decade ago – a standard story for us Anchorageites who live only two hours away.  I had, however, driven by many a time and admired the glacier and her valley almost as one would art – a drive-through scene that was incredible to look at, but I had other places to go.  To get to “know” a tiny part of this dynamic and ever-changing white beast was humbling.  The changes from morning to afternoon and month to month were magical to see and are impossible to capture in photographs.  Here are some views that hopefully do some justice…

View up valley from Lion’s Head.  All of the following photos were taken down valley, to the right this frame. 

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Rocks are an integral part of all glaciers and the amount of them on the terminal part of the Matanuska is huge.  To see the interplay between the ice and rock on a day to day basis is so cool. 

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Ice climbing is rad…

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Exploring up glacier on a sunny day was dreamy.  

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I heart Matanuska Glacier!!!

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I’m now back at McMurdo Station, Antarctica now for my third austral summer season.  More ice!  In between here and there Tex and I went on a post-work AK road trip that included McCarthy/ Kennicott.  The Root and Kennicott glaciers are similar in many ways to the Matanuska, but hugely different at the same time.  WOW!

The terminal moraine of the Kennicott and Root glaciers is crazy.  That is all rock-covered ice.

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The rocks on the way to the glacier were so spectacular we had to force ourselves not to stop every couple minutes to pick one up and show and tell it!

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Evening hike along the Kennicott moraine

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A gorgeous day on the Root

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And that brings me to the other end of the world where I write this now in the middle of the starless night.

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The sun has set for the last time until February 21st, 2016.  Before that happened we had some spectacular mid-night skies and I was lucky enough to be working night shift and awake to see them, though sometimes only from my office window…

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Back home in crazy McMurdo!  Scenes from town, sea ice and ice shelf…

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Doin’ it

Biking, eating and repeating!  Left Homer this morning for a 5 day adventure back to Anchorage!    Vamping in my new Astro van with Aleks last night on the Spit Driftwood fire getting ready for sauerkraut and curry mustard laden campfire polish dogs    Moments before departing this morning!   My first stop in Anchor Point.  The epitomy of the clear-cut and pave all flat land mentality that seems to pervade this area.  Lunch stop.  Gorgeous.  Fare: rice, beans, avocado & salsa mixed up in a plastic bag.  Delish. What a treat to stay with friends and being able To travel light sans tent, etc!   Arrived at Josh an Katie’s in Sterling a few hours ago.  I promptly indulged in a Sierra Nevada pale ale and BBQ Kettle chips (I had been dreaming of chips and beer for the last  couple hours of my ride) before we baked off Katie’s homemade pita bread for amazing flank steak gyros.  Yesssss!  Eating WELL on the bluff.  View from my room. So thankful for an awesome day of riding and amazing friends at the end of it!

Castle Rock

A two-mile hike from McMurdo, Castle Rock is a beautiful rock outcropping and lovely escape from the hustle bustle of industrial McMurdo.  A seemingly short walk, I’ve always managed to make this into a longer trip with multiple warm-up snack stops at the two warming huts, a.k.a. apples, along the way.

December 6th with Shannon

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YAY!!!

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Mt. Erebus smoking in the background – the southern most active volcano on earth!

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Too much snow still to climb to the top, we were very content to enjoy the amazing views from the side of the rock.

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Wind-scoured ski tracks on the trail looking back towards McMurdo

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Melting snow and ice formations…

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…in dirt

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After-hike beers in the sun on the 201 dorm back porch

January 30th with Hasmin

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On top of the rock!

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Sunny, super windy and chilly!

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Hasmin playing cold

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View to the southeast around 3:00 am. I’m working nights right now so this was the middle of my day off!

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Apple

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Ceiling of an apple

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Hasmin kicking back and enjoying a Black Russian in a plastic penguin cup in an apple.

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Still life in an apple

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Ice Weather

Roof of building 165 where I work.  Weather instruments, antennae, satellites and great viewsP1080117 P1080113 P1080109 P1080107 P1080100 P1080097

Austen, an awesome weather observer, let me tag along and launch one of the twice-daily weather balloons – so cool!

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One day…

This was such a good day: got off of work, rounded up a couple bikes and headed to the Happy Camper site to check out the scene for future fun camping trips through the recreation department.  This igloo provided a great respite from the cold winds blowing from the northwest.  Rode back to town and made it back with just enough time to grab a quick bite and load into a van to drive the 15 miles out to the crash site of “Pegasus” The Flying Horse.  Story here: http://www.radiocom.net/vx6/connie.htm.  Puffy pin-up pics the theme of the day…

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Inside an igloo looking out

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Warming up

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Closing the door when we left

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When anyone departs from established road they have to check out with MacOps – that’s where I work – to give a travel plan and an estimated return time so that they are being tracked just in case something happens! This is me extending our return time back to the main road.

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Igloo

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Outhouses by the igloo/ campsite

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Puffy pin-up #1 – Dylan

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Walking

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Back

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from

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Igloo

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Bikes and flat white

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Pegasus plane. The winds would have buried this long ago if it weren’t for people digging it out annually. There had just been a crew out the day before digging and the body of the plane was barely visible from less than 24 hours of wind.

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Great photo ops

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Tail grafittie #1

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Tail grafitti #2

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Tail

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Icicles

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Side view – Mt. Erebus peeking out behind the buried fuselage

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We were like a bunch of kids at recess running all over the plane, sliding down the sides, crawling underneath it and, staying to tradition, scratching our names into the plane along with the hundreds of others who have visited this site over the years.

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Puffy pin-up #2 – Lucas

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Puffy pin-up #3

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Puffy pin-up #4 – me!

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Puffy pin-up # 5

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Puffy pin-up #6

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The Pressure Ridges

Pressure Ridge:
A comparatively rectilinear conglomeration of ice fragments formed by pressure at the contact line between icefloes, usually along earlier existing cracks and leads or at the boundary between ice floes of different age. In this case, isostatically unbalanced hummocks usually form on the older ice surface. Ice ridges can also form as a result of direct fracturing of ice fields of thick and even first-year and multiyear ice at very strong pressures. The underwater portion of a ridge is termed an ice keel.

For the last two seasons down here I’ve volunteered to take groups out on the sea ice pressure ridges in front of the New Zealand research station, Scott Base.  I went out about once a week for month and it is incredible to see the slow, yet rapid, changes that occur as the days get longer and the temperatures higher.

November 12th

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November 24th

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December 4th

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December 8th

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Cape Evans

One evening, about a month ago, I rode out in a Delta to the historic hut at Cape Evans.  We drove north from McMurdo on the sea ice for a slow hour, parked this side of a large crack and continued on by foot.  The half-hour walk from the truck to the hut on the blue sea ice with giant frozen icebergs looming on all sides was impressive; one of the more beautiful spots I’ve ever been on earth.

The history of the hut is here: http://www.nzaht.org/content/library/History_of_Scotts_Cape_Evans_Expedition.pdf.  It looks as if one day the explorers woke up, walked out of the door and just never came back.  Seal blubber stacked to burn, a dead penguin on a table (science experiment??) still fat, looking like it could have been alive only weeks ago, huge stores of food in fading wooden crates and rusting cans, animal skin bedding, woolen clothing, a darkroom, postcards tacked to the walls… frozen in time.

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Willy Field, LDB and the Road Between Here and There

Here are some pics from bike rides the past couple days

Saturday morning I rode out to the ice runway, Willy Field. It’s about a 6.5 mile ride from town to the runway. Dylan is working at the runway galley so I got to go for an amazing bike ride and go see an amazing guy. Awwwwww…

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My new cheek-protecting system. Now that I’m 35 I have to start thinking about keeping my skin young and fresh!

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Dylan is really good at mopping

This must be one of the prettiest sites for trash bins in the world
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A 15 minute ride beyond Willy Field is the Long Duration Balloon (LDB) Facility https://scienceroadshow.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/the-long-duration-balloon-project-mcmurdo-station/.
My friend Lisa is the chef here and we had a great chat while she chopped fresh veggies and prepared lunch for the 70 scientists and support staff that work at the site.
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P1070425The road back to McMurdo

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Yesterday evening, before heading into my night shift at 10pm Dylan and I rode out on the ice shelf a little ways. In McMurdo the dirt roads were wet with melting snow and ice and the in the existing snow the tire tracks mushy and deep. Only a mile and a half away on the ice shelf it was really cold – and really beautiful.

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Top of the pass between McMurdo and Scott Base. Our return trip from those little black squares in the distance

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