Back on the Ice. I’m now a (maybe not-so) seasoned veteran and returning here on October 1st, less than 5 weeks ago, to my surprise felt like coming home. I quickly got settled into my dorm room that I would be sharing with Dylan when he arrived in what turned out to be a week, as his flight from Christchurch, New Zealand got delayed day after day due to bad weather. Building 201, room 213: home for the next five months. I got to work rearranging and dismantling furniture, putting up old posters we found in my parents’ basement, unpacking my box of things that I stashed here over the winter and scrounging SKUA, the free stuff exchange, for anything that might make our little room more comfortable. Top find: a big ziploc bag of about 40 crawfish magnets. Our doors, desk and sides of our little fridge are metal – shrimp for days!!!
The friends and acquaintances which made last year amazing are still multiplying in numbers with each new flight that arrives on the continent. I stayed in touch with very few people in between seasons, so each familiar face I see is like an unexpected gift. I’ve hugged so many people in delighted surprise, and excitement for the season to come in the past few weeks. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by these vibrant people and back in this cold, bizarre industrial compound at the end of the earth.
I am working as a “communications operator” this year in MacOps. That stands for McMurdo Operations. We communicate via HF radio, VHF radio, Iridium satellite phone and radio phones with the field camps, other international research stations and parties traveling anywhere off the established road system around McMurdo. It’s a great job, I work with amazing people and I am learning SO much about communications and about all of the field work and science that are going on all over the continent! Fascinating!
McMurdo itself hasn’t changed a bit. There was more snow than last year when I arrived and that’s about it. We had weeks of storms, wind, poor visibility and limited travel on and off the continent and even regionally. I started working out in the gym, something I normally loathe, as outdoor recreation was more combative than recreational during those few weeks. Happily, the sun started shining again last week and every time I look out of the window or look up from the volcanic fine-sprinkled icy road I’m walking on, I am blasted with the beauty of where I am. The spring equinox was September 23rd and the sun won’t set again until February 20th, 2015 in McMurdo.
Here are some pictures of the first five weeks of the 2014 – 2015 summer season…
Plane ride from Christchurch, New Zealand to McMurdo. My first time on a C-17!
My first day on the job!
Scenes around and above McMurdo
Last year’s waste, waiting to be loaded on the resupply vessel in February.
Ice pier being rebuilt after a storm destroyed last year’s. In February, after the ice breaker comes, all that flat white will be open water
McMurdo and Ob Hill. Scott Base (New Zealand) is on the other side of the pass
Building 165 where I work in MacOps!
I love this building
Green buildings at Scott Base – New Zealand’s research station a couple miles down the road
View from our room
View from my office
The Coffee House
Dylan and I have been playing scrabble
Scrabble buffs – notice anything that doesn’t belong?
Biking on the ice road to the ice runway
At the ice shelf transition early last week at the tail-end of our bad weather
My head out and about