Tour of Scott's Discovery Hut

I'm a bit behind on my adventure posting....Thanksgiving resulted in both celebrations and long days at work so I have been trying to catch up after the holiday. More about Antarctic Thanksgiving in another post. I will also be making the change to working days early next week which will be a big deal for me. I've never actually slept at night and been awake in the day since I arrived, as the moment I got off the plane I started transitioning to working nights. I hope it will expand my world as much as it sounds. It will be nice to be able to take part in town life more, and even enjoy simple joys like eating breakfast after I wake up.

A few of us galley folks got to tour Scott's hut that was constructed by his 1902 Discovery Expedition. The Discover Expedition was Robert Falcon Scott's first trip to Antarctica, and was the first British expedition in 60 years. Scott's second expedition, the Terra Nova Expedition, was an attempt to be the first person to reach th…

Pressure Ridge Tour

I was lucky to get on a Pressure Ridge Tour last week. It was a great experience getting to see some unique views that you can only see in places like Antarctica.

First of all, what's a pressure ridge? Pressure ridges are huge ice formations that appear between floes of sea ice. Currents and winds create stress that causes chunks of ice to form and be forced up above the surface. The result are dramatic, huge "sculptures" of ice. Another bonus of touring pressure ridges is that seals are all over the place. Thin ice exists near pressure ridges, making it easier for seals to surface. Right now is pupping season for seals, so they spend considerable time hanging out on the ice, giving birth to and nursing pups.

Here are some pictures from our time. The biggest pressure ridges near McMurdo are on the sea ice near Scott Base, the Kiwi science base that is a mile away from us. There is a road that connects the two bases, and lots of positive cooperation exists between the t…

Down the Tube

One cool little feature of living at McMurdo in the summer is the "Ob Tube" which is basically a tiny observation tube inserted into the sea ice so you can climb down and view the life under the frozen sea. You can go basically any time you want, and once you climb down, there is a 360 degree, up close view of icy marine life, complete with the serenade of Weddell Seals. Here are some pics of the tube!

Here is what the tube looks like. It's just what it sounds like, a metal tube drilled down into the ice. You have to have the cover on while viewing so the surface light doesn't interfere with your viewing under the ice.

Here's what it's like to crawl down the hole. It wasn't all that scary, it's an easy climb down. But it would be hard for a really big person or someone who is nervous about small spaces. 
View from the bottom of the tube, looking up towards the top. This is about how far down you are. The tube opens up a little at the bottom with 36…

A Tour of Crary Lab

A few days ago, someone kindly organized a special tour of the Crary Lab here in town for those of us who work in the kitchen that might not be able to make it to the weekly tours of the heartbeat of McMurdo. We had a great time getting a better picture of what our work supports. The scientists that shared their knowledge with us were eager to talk about their work and we learned some interesting things from them. Sometimes in the day to day it's easy to forget why we are here; to support the science that goes on in the continent. Here are some pictures of our time.

 This poster is a listing of all the current scientific projects that are ongoing for this summer season. Included on this list are research projects on geospace, ecosystems, tech development, earth science, glaciology (study of glaciers), oceans, and atmospheric science. We were told that sometimes people come to study volcanology (study of volcanos) but this year there aren't any projects going on right now.

Q and A take 1

I have officially been in Antarctica for one week. This week has gone by fast yet has been full of my new job and meeting new people so it feels like a lot has happened. I have imagined some questions some people might have so here is my first hypothetical Q and A! If you have other questions about life at McMurdo, ask away in the comments and I promise to address all relevant ones in future posts!

Again, sorry for lack of pictures. I'm still working on this issue!

Q: What's the food like?

A: I work in the galley, so I can answer that question well! We serve a rotating menu that repeats every five weeks, with multiple options for both meat eaters and vegetarians. Things we have served this week include gyros, beef burgundy, meatball subs, and bbq beef brisket. We serve most food cafeteria style, but there are stations to get fresh burgers, burritos, or eggs to order depending on the day and the meal. There is usually some sort of  "salad" which could mean real gree…

Hello from the Ice!

I'm writing this from the computer lab at McMurdo Station, Antarctica!  I wish this post had some pictures to prove it, but I'm working on that - hopefully pictures to come!
In my last post, I talked about being delayed because of storms-and those storms ended up resulting in me being delayed about 2 1/2 weeks! It was not a historic delay, but the longest delay for the program in decades, according to the news articles I read. It was great to get to explore Christchurch but I was ready to start my job and get down to the ice.
I rode a C-17 down to the ice, operated by the U.S. Air Force. This was a new experience for me, and a new type of aircraft - after all the small planes in Alaska and the various passenger jets, it was a completely different experience to be in a large plane with no windows. It was a remarkably smooth flight down to the ice and the crew did a great job handling us.
I can't really describe the moment I stepped out of the plane. The white ice world w…

Holding Pattern in Christchurch

Greetings from Christchurch!

I am writing from a very nice business hotel in downtown Christchurch. I am a sucker for hotels, as I rarely get to stay in them, and all the hotels I stayed at as a kid were those sketchy motel 6- types. So a nice hotel with comfy beds and room service is the way I pretend to be rich.

Why am I not in Antarctica? I underwent training and tried on all my cold weather clothes that the program issued me, and was supposed to fly out today. However I'm sipping tea in a hotel and procrastinating packing my suitcases so I can be moved later today to a new hotel. What's going on?

The answer is a Condition 1 storm on the continent. Flights have been cancelled and we are getting backed up. Once the storm is cleared and the runway is re-cleared of snow, flights will begin again, but that means I have to wait to fly until the delayed folks ahead of me have been safely delivered to Antarctica. I might be able to leave tomorrow or I might end up in New Zealand …