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Fantastic Rainyland

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wrote by Laura on Saturday, March 1st, 2008 @ 9:01 pm

Yet another check-in…we’re in Invercargill at the moment, but we spent last night at a crazy cool campground out in the middle of nowhere, right on the beach, with high cliffs on either side of the coast. We even saw a sea lion eating a fish out on the beach, right before we went to bed! There were tide pools and other cool things to look at there too. Only problem was that it started to rain like crazy last night so we had a wet camp this morning!

We drove on through to Invercargill, which is the southernmost city in NZ. We’re staying at a nice campground where we could run some laundry and take showers. We’re getting ready to go to the third largest island in NZ, which is Stewart Island. We hope to do some hiking and camping there.

New Zealand is an amazingly beautiful country, and it’s been fantastic to see everything. There really are a lot of sheep! There are also lots of Subways everywhere, and they are always mobbed!!

Dunedin

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wrote by Laura on Friday, February 29th, 2008 @ 1:41 pm

Hi! Here’s a superquick post from Dunedin before my minutes run out…we saw yellow eyed penguins today and camped last night at a really nice little campsite. Going to visit waterfalls tomorrow. We ate a beautiful lunch today.

 Hope everyone is well - I’m having a great time and Lou is doing a fantastic job as driver!!

Christchurch at last!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wrote by Laura on Tuesday, February 26th, 2008 @ 12:00 pm

So I am off the Ice and safely arrived in Christchurch after five great months! 

After a night of restless sleep (waking every hour paranoid that I’m going to miss our flight) I got up to see that our transport time was at 9:45. Got a last McMurdo breakfast of freaky eggs and greasy sausage, packed up my carryon, put on my sassy windpants and bunny boots, and went on up to where the Deltas and the Terra Bus awaited. As we got on the transports, all our winter-over friends were waiting to say goodbye and give us hugs. It was pretty nice weather in McMurdo, but when we got out to Pegasus Field, it was gale-force winds, and it was hard to believe the plane could even land!

It was a pretty scary beginning to the flight, but once we got in the air, things settled down and the rest was uneventful.

When we got to CHC, it was so warm! We dropped off all our Cold Weather gear, I packed a box of warm clothes to send home (the weather here is fantastic!), and my travel buddy Lou and I went to our hotel, which is super trendy, with a tiny room, but is really fun!

 So today we’re making our plans, and we’ll make some decisions and have our plan by tomorrow.

 I’m here safe and sound, having a great time, and am looking forward to a fantastic time in NZ!! Those hobbits had better watch out! 

Last Post from the ICE (hopefully!)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wrote by Laura on Sunday, February 24th, 2008 @ 9:18 pm

So after a few weather delays, it looks like we’ll be getting out of here tomorrow morning. Hooray! I’ve had a great season, but I’m ready to get back to trees, grass and furry animals that aren’t seals.

The one caveat is that while loading the plane today, someone poked the plane with a forklift. Ooops. Hopefully that won’t mean we have to stay another night, but we shall see. They did let the plane fly back to Christchurch, so it bodes fairly well.

Thanks for reading my blog and for everyone’s great support this season! When I get back from my vacation in New Zealand, I’ll hopefully put up some pictures from that trip.

Maritime Delights (aka Seals and Ships)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wrote by Laura on Sunday, February 3rd, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

Hi All!

We’ve been really busy down here AGAIN! Imagine, they’re making us work! What’s up with that? I’ve still had some time to have some fun, though.

Now that the icebreaker has opened the channel, we’ve gotten to see a few more creatures near the base. I’m stuck inside a lot so I haven’t yet seen any whales (though I do go out to look when I can), but I did get to see some seals when I was out on a walk.


I think this little dude is a Weddell Seal. He’s a young one - VERY CUTE! There was also a mom with some other babies nearby.

Also, the research vessel Nathaniel B Palmer was in town, changing out crews. Some of you may know that I did the travel stuff for the Palmer and Vessel folks when I worked in Denver, so it was fun to finally get to see one of the ships.


Here’s the NBP from the ice pier.

We also had the fuel tanker come and give us a fill-up. They got stuck in some weather and bad ice conditions and had to have the Oden come get them, but they finally made it here. We’re now waiting on the cargo vessel to come and bring us more stuff, and take away all our trash.


Here’s the Tanker Gianella with the NBP parked alongside. Notice the large “No Smoking” sign on the tanker. Probably a good idea.

The Way I Like to Spend a Marathon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wrote by Laura on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 @ 9:28 pm

This weekend, we had a marathon in McMurdo. The full 26 miles 385 yards, people! Did I run it? HELL NO. But I did my part and read the times. And it did mean I got to spend a beautiful day out on the ice.

Here’s a view of the finish line. That’s Samina, who is sitting out so she can read numbers as people come in. Mount Erebus is in the background.

This is Kim, Samina and myself, the finish line crew! We’re sitting by the apple, where people could go take shelter, but it was so beautiful I don’t think many people went in. It was about 40 degrees F, with hardly any wind.

Daniel, our stalwart race organizer, passed out at the end. Today he had to file a bunch of spill reports, since people didn’t pee where they were supposed to, and instead peed all over the place. He had to get GPS coordinates of each patch of yellow snow.

And remember, don’t eat the yellow snow.

Welcome Samina, the CRUD and Coffee House Trauma

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wrote by Laura on Thursday, January 17th, 2008 @ 11:09 pm

So I’ve been threatened with dire punishments if I don’t update my blog more often, so here’s a little entry for you!

 Samina got in a few days ago and it’s been great to see her and catch up. She’s off to Happy Camper to sleep in the snow tomorrow. I am certain it’ll be great - everyone seems to have a wonderful experience. Except my pal Mikey who was out in Condition 1. I look forward to timekeeping at the Marathon on Sunday with her! I am personally of the opinion that you are utterly mad to run a marathon in Antarctica, but then again I’m also sort of impressed.

Somehow we’ve got two strains of flu and a ton of different viruses going around here. Many of our part-time workers (bartenders, burger bar cooks, bowling pinsetters and so on) are out of commission. It’s something - when Burger Bar shuts down half the town wants to commit suicide. It’s just that time of the season. Thus far (knock wood) I’ve managed to avoid the worst of it.

Also, we had a scare with one of our bars - The Coffee House, which is one of the older buildings on station, has a weak roof and there was a chance it was going to get shut down. That’s the place where they serve wine and, not surprisingly, coffee. It’s popularity with the beaker set has currently saved it from closure, but we had a day there where we thought it was a goner. But we’ll have a bit more Coffee House good times to enjoy before the season comes to a close.

 That’s all for tonight - off to bed, hugs to all.

Visit to the Oden

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wrote by Laura on Sunday, January 13th, 2008 @ 6:46 pm

Today we had a visit to the Swedish icebreaker Oden. The crew was kind enough to give us tours of the ship, which is a lovely vessel and very nicely appointed.

Here she is, with a view of the reinforced front, which breaks the ice. We learned a lot about icebreaking during our visit. Instead of pushing the ice like I thought it would, generally what they do is drive the bow of the ship on top of the ice, then use water jets to move the weight of the ship to one side, which causes the ice to break because of the weight. She is also very manouverable - she can go from full ahead to full astern in about 12 seconds. She’s not very fast, though. But she is really cool and seems like a nice place to live and work.

Here we are walking on the deck to go inside.

This is Tomas, the second mate, who showed us around the bridge. It’s amazing all the instrumentation they have on the ship - which turns out to be incredibly necessary since some of the places they go through are pretty much uncharted. He was saying that at one point in their journey here, they were in an area that was supposed to be 800 meters deep, and in reality it was only about 200 meters deep, because most of the depths they have are based on speculation.

They have very comfortable living areas as well: lounges with nice sofas, a little bar, a nice galley, and generally everyone gets their own room, which is something I envy. They also have two saunas! All in all, the Oden seems very nice, and I was fortunate to get to visit.

A great explorer passes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wrote by Laura on Friday, January 11th, 2008 @ 6:58 pm

Sad news today for the Ice community - Sir Edmund Hillary passed away at age 88. Besides his historic conquest of Everest (along with Tenzing Norgay, of course), Sir Ed was also a great Antarctic adventurer as well. He was so incredibly awesome, he drove to the Pole in a modified farm tractor. Read all about the trip here.

Also, the icebreaker is here! Can’t wait to meet all the Swedes. Will hopefully post some pics this weekend. Now, off to Burger Bar!

Distinguished Visitors and Polishing the Floor with Kiwis

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wrote by Laura on Wednesday, January 9th, 2008 @ 9:33 pm

We seem to get “Distinguished Visitors” (or DV’s) down here quite a bit, but for the most part I don’t get to meet them. Sure, they pretty much eat the galley food, and though the DV hut is nicer than my place (read, no roommate), it ain’t no crystal palace. Usually the DV’s are high-ranking military dudes or that type of thing, but every year there are some congressmen or senators who come down. (And occasionally freak out because there isn’t a French maid to turn down their covers in the evenings.)

We were kickin’ it at breakfast today, and a member of the House of Representatives came over to our table. It was Rodney Frelinghuysen, from New Jersey. Yeah, he’s a Republican, but I have to say, I appreciated that he came over to chat. So many times DVs get here and don’t interact at all with participants, and some (including John McCain a few years ago, I heard) are really nasty. Hopefully Rep. Frelinghuysen has gotten an appreciation for the program, is having a great adventure, and will go home and tell the members of the Science Subcommittee to please, please, please give us more funding.

In other Antarctic news, the finals of the Dodgeball tournament are going on right now. The fires have been fueled by a controversial article in a New Zealand paper, touting the Kiwi team’s abilities in this, America’s National Sport (no lie, that’s what it said.) Yep, the Kiwis are in the finals. In fact, every team who managed to show up for most of the games got into the finals….and I just got word, Kiwis got knocked out in the first playoff round. AWWWW! So much for their Dodgeball Dreams.

It’s been cooling off here (summer lasted about one day) and today it snowed a lot, was windy, and about 30 degrees. If you think about it, that’s something considering there’s never night to cool us off. My friends tell me this is the most snow they’ve seen here in several seasons. The snow never lasts long though, because the wind blows hard! But the other day I was down by the water and could actually smell the sea.

I’m starting to think about places to go afterward…some people are going sailing in the New Zealand archipelago, and I’d consider that, and also some people have talked about going to the Cook Islands (New Zealand’s Hawai’i). It’s just a question of timing, really. I might want to go out and do something on my own, too - you can swim with dolphins, or go horseback riding, or lots of other things. I can’t wait to eat some non-galley food and see some green that’s not olivine! (Dave, I got you some olivine, don’t worry. I have peridot bits all over my desk right now because of it.)