Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years, AGAP & the Pole

New Years Eve Here last night. A group of us walked to Scott Base (the New Zealand base) last night and took a shuutle back. It's about two miles away, but a nice walk. The green buildings are Scott Base.

Tomorrow is Icestock. Icestock is a big outdoor concert with about fourteen bands that goes all afternoon. The Carp Shop has a fish hut where we dispense free coffee with Baileys. Our coffe is very popular. Last year was a bit chilly, but this year will be quite a bit warmer.

Flying out to AGAP on monday on a Twin Otter. It is one of the most remote camps we have. It is the highest except for some Russian camp. AGAP sits at 11,700 feet. But because of the air pressure anamolies that we have down here, it is the same as being at 16,000 feet. The best part is that because you need to acclimatize before going there, we have to hang out for three days at the South Pole Station which sits at 10,000 feet. Yeaaaaaaaaaa! So I get to go the South Pole. A lot of people don't get the chance to go so it's a great opportunity.

The research being done at AGAP involves mapping a mountain range sitting way below the ice sheet. They fly around in airplanes bouncing waves through the ice off the mountains below. supposedly these mountains are as big as the Alps. I will be gone for at least two weeks. More Antarctic camping. It will be sweet.

These are the new wind generators up on T-Site that are visible from the road to Scott Base. They are a US-New Zealand joint venture.

Women of the Carp Shop

Last year I had taken an impromptu picture of the women of the carp shop when they just happened too sit all in a row one morning for tasking. This morning Sheri asked if I would take one this year. Missing a couple. Meghan left in December to start Nursing School in Idaho. Jenny Brower from Clayton, Idaho is out at WAIS Divide getting ready to go on a traverse with the CreSIS researchers. Not sure exactly what they are researching.

From left to right: Erica Bribiesca, GA (general assistent) from Austin Texas. She was lured down here by her boyfriend Eric who is the carpenter foreman at WAIS Divide. This is her first year. Lauren Rocco, GA from Michigan in her first year. Sheri Fabre, carpenter from Maine. Eighth or tenth year. I don't think she even knows. She's here with her carpenter boyfriend Galen. They are leaving on monday to go surfing in New Zealand. Nichole Lasich, a carpenter assistent in her third year, worked as an emergency room nurse before she came down here. Her third year. Thaona Sinclair, second year, carpenter apprentice from MaCall, Idaho. Monica Adam, carpenter helper from Moose Pass, Alaska. Third year. Monica came down last year with her husband, but he stayed home this year.

Painless Dentistry

Only the best in modern Dentistry down here. Cath, our resident dentist from Austraila, is up on all the current trends in the business.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lauren Blue Hands

Lauren came up to me the other day in the Carp Shop and said, "Hey, what do use to clean up oil base paint?" Seems she thought that she was using latex paint, but when she went to clean the brushes, discovered otherwise. Poor Lauren.


Disco Dance Bar

MAAG, McMurdo Alternative Art Gallery, is an annual party that has been held in the Carp Shop for the last two years. We totally transform the shop into an art space for all different kinds of art. People are encouraged to let their creative side come out and do whatever they want, however they want. There is some wild and crazy stuff.

Tim Nicotera's plywood suit jacket

Little Meat Cabin on the Prarie

Abstract #2, actually the top of the paint room work table

Galen's Bacon Santa

The Disco Dance Bar extravaganza.

Galen and I built an entire room onto the exterior deck of the shop. We filled it with a bar, a mirror ball, black lights, colored lights, fans, a strobe light, day-glo colors. We served a concoction of champagne, vodka and tonic water. Tonic water contains quinine which glows under black light. It was a fun, fun, fun time. I left at 11:30., the Disco Dance Bar was hopping till four in the morning with disco and funk music blasting away.
Jim Rupple, Shop Foreman, in the Disco Dance Bar

Day-Glo bar

The exterior space in the light of day that was turned into the Disco Dance Bar. It was completely taken apart in two hours.

What's a Disco Dance Bar without a pair of zebra skin platform shoes?

Anna, Cricket and Jade's opening act of living puppets

Mel painting people Kelly, and other people, blue.
Jeremy and Woody on the giant seesaw made out of Jamesway parts

Sean's giant Newton's balls

The bowling alley building is almost completely torn down, but these bowling balls will live on in Sean's work

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Long Christmas Week

Upper Case Dorms: 209, 208, 207

210 and 211 (My Dorm with snow). It snowed some this past week which really made it feel like Christmas time. As Ive said before, it doesn't snow as much down here as you'd think, so when it does, it's pretty nice.
It has been a long week and a half. Last tuesday I came down with a cold which meant that I missed most of the Christmas festivities - and there were a lot. I missed the Waste Barn party, the VMF CHristmas party, Christmas dinner, etc. Not the best way to spend Christmas. There are about 1200 people here. We all eat in the same galley, and we come into contact with a lot of people through work, etc. Colds and flus tend to get picked up fairly easily no matter how hard you try to stay well.
But the one thing that I wanted to go to was MAAG on Dec.25. MAAG stands for McMurdo Alternative Art Gallery. I was well enough to attend. Wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Some other dorms

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ice People part 7

This is Molly. The fulies had a Mexican themed birthday party for Nate (Molly's boyfriend). People love to dress up down here.

Birthday boy Nate. His 34th


Kelly and Emily

Castle Rock Ski Loop

Becky and Meghan. Meghan just left the Ice early because she got accepted into nursing school in Boise, Idaho starting January.
The Kiwis have a small ski area with a rope tow. Most southern ski area in the world. I did three runs. The Castle Rock Ski Loop goes right by it.

Robert, Flip, Don, Deany and Jules. A lot of people ski or hike the loop on Sundays. Beautiful scenery. A good place to go to get away from people - but you wouldn't know it from this picture. There is a bit of hiking before you can ski. The trail up to Castle Rock is pretty hard packed, so you might as well walk.

Me on the road from the trail end at Scott Base back to McMurdo

Castle Rock. You can climb it. The little red hut in the distance is called an "apple" or a "tomato". There are two of them on the Castle Rock Loop. They are emergency shelters with food, sleeping bags and a phone for if weather turns bad or if someone gets hurt. We are allowed to use them as a rest stop. It's nice to stop and have some water, a snack or a beer. Jules, the skier on the left in the foreground, skis the loop every Sunday and has been coming down here to McMurdo for thirty years. Shes a heavy equipment operator and was one of the first women to work at McMurdo. As you can imagine, she has some great stories.


Penquins, all dresses up and no place to go. I have not seen any penquins this year, and I only saw two far away last year. These pictures are by other people. The fuelies were working on the Pegusus Road fuel hose when six penquins strolled up. Pretty damn cute those penquins. You are not allowed to interact with them, but sometimes they come up on their own. They don't usually come into town, but if the ice edge comes all the way to McMurdo, we will see lots of penquins and whales, too. We've had a pretty warm season this year, and the ice edge has gotten close. We' see what happens.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Dry Valleys

Flew out by helocopter to Taylor Valley in the Dry Valleys for some Polar Haven maintenance on the lake ice. This consisted of leveling the tent platforms and replacing the deadman by drilling new holes in the ice for the ropes. Deadman are the tie-downs to keep the Polar Havens from blowing away. We had to get in and out of the helos about five different times. Great scenery pus it was a warm day without any wind. I was working most of the day in a t-shirt and a thermal. There were three carpenters. Galen, Sheri and myself pus Dawn. Dawn is the head of Housing and had never been on a helocopter before. Great place for your first time. Some weather was coming in and we thought that we might have to spend the night, which is not necissarily a bad thing. Beautiful place to get stuck. We were able to fly home afterall, and it was a great day.
Flying over the Ferrar Glacier with the Overflow Glacier in the distance. There are a ridiculous amount of glaciers down here.

Taylor Glacier and Blood Falls. The falls are colored by iron in the glacier. Appropriately named since glaciers are actually rivers of ice and snow. They just flow really, really slow.

Polar Haven

Becky and Rae, Lake Hoare camp managers. Good people.

Sheri at Lake Hoare with the Canada Glacier in the background. The structure on the right is the main building/kitchen/galley/etc. The smaller buildings are for research. I am not really sure what kind of research goes on here, but I do know that you are paying for it

Canada Glacier at Lake Hoare. The edge of the glacier is about 200' high

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Typical Day

Two Hercules C-17s sitting on the Ice Runway

Most days I don't ride in airplanes. My usual day (six days a week Mon.-Sat.) starts when I get up between 5 and 5:30 AM. I try to get to the Galley for breakfast between 6:30 and 6:45. Then it's up to the Carp Shop by 7:30. All the carps assemble in the shop so that the supervisors can tell us any pertinent information/stories/jokes etc. They then give us our tasking for the day which could be anything from building crates, building endwalls for RAC tents, fixing things around the station, flying to the Dry Valleys by helocopter for the day, staging for the field camps, etc. We then have stretching and maybe a safety training. We usually finish with all that by 8:45 and start working. Lately it has been really warm outside so it has been really nice to work outside. Unfortunately I have been working in the shop which is still nice and you can listen to music while you work. I have been building two additional stage components. We have a 15 min. break at 10. It's nice to have a break to relax after working with equipment that has the potential to maim you or worse. Breaks are especially welcome when you have been working outside when it is very cold and windy. Lunch is from 12-1:00. Afternoon break is at 3. Cleanup at 5. Do time cards and finish at 5:30. There is usually some work done in there, too. I usually go to dinner right after work and maybe get on a computer. I might get home by 7:30. I am usually pretty tired by then and try to get to sleep by 10, but sometimes it's more like 11. Get up the next morning and do it all over again. But tonight I'm feeling pretty good, and I'm going to go for a hike. There are a couple of hikes that you can do without signing out. Good views and it's just nice to be a little ways away from the town. Even though it is Antarctica, we still live and work in close proximity to 1200 other people. Some people say that McMurdo is a cross between a northern mining town and a college campus, which is probably not too far from the truth.

Arriving back from WAIS and waiting for the sahuttle back into town