Thursday, February 7, 2008
So it has come to this.... my last day at the South Pole. I'm getting out early. Myself and two other members of our siding crew are going to McMurdo for vessel offload operations. It just so happens that they are two good buddies of mine. There is a very off and remote chance to see some wildlife. I have seen nothing except people in the last 3 1/2 months. But if nothing else it is going to be about 60 or so degrees warmer. In the last two weeks here at the South Pole we have gone from -30 to -44. At -40 all cranes and most tractors shut down for the winter. Our work has practically come to a halt. We are hitting the transition period of winter-overs coming in and summer workers going out. Last flight to the South Pole is Feb. 15. I've had a lot of adventures while being here although I haven't left an area bigger than one square mile in over 3 months. It seems that I got more responses to my one liner super bowl email than I do from my regular emails. I’ve heard it’s a great game and I still don’t know. The game is flown in from McMurdo, and we will be watching tonight with our pig roast. It’s all fun, except I fly to MuMurdo today and they have probably already watched the game. But I’m holding out. If I don’t see it, I sure hope someone back home taped it! I surely didn’t expect it, but I am somewhat depress because I’m leaving the South Pole. I expected to be very ready to go. I’ve been helping out the fuelies often. The best part of the job is parking the LC-130 and pulling the fuel lines under the wing of the plane. I’m even enquiring on coming back next year as a fuelie. Of course I don’t know the future and it can only really give it up to God. They are talking of offering me a contract before I leave the ice. Time will tell though. The community at the South Pole reminds me so much of living on a farm. They are always pushing around and grading snow, to me they look like corn rows. We drive around it the pick-up with no seat belts like we were doing chores. The crew visited the clean air lab operated by NOAA last week, and we got stuck in the snow. It took 12 guys and two cargo straps to get the truck out. The reason I have enjoyed myself here at the Pole so much is because of the people. No matter who you talk to, you already have something in common, being here. Some of the stories I have heard make me feel like I have been nowhere in this world. I can’t wait to get out and see more. God has blessed me with a sense of adventure that no one can take away. One of my good friends has spent a lot of time in Brazil and really loved it. Said it such a beautiful country. Another is wanting to get involved in Aids relief and may be going to the Solomon Islands to check it out. I can’t remember everything, but I know I like it. I was able to be apart of the new station dedication on January 12. It was a very delightful experience. A couple of days before I was able to climb the dome of the South Pole. The dome has been a symbol of the South Pole since the early 70’s, and is now at the end of an era. Very few people have been to the South Pole and very few have been atop the dome. I feel as if I have been apart of history.
Our plane was delayed and I ran out of internet time, so I am going to continue writing this from McMurdo. We had a three-hour flight from South Pole (NPX) to McMurdo (MCM) with only 12 people. About an hour into the flight the clouds cleared and we were able to view the majestic Transantarctic Mountains. It was just so pure and beautiful it reminded me of this awesome creation of God’s that we live in called Earth. Since Antarctica is covered with an ice sheet up to two miles thick in some spots only the peaks of the mountain range stick out. The rest of the landscape is just pure snow, very beautiful! After arriving in McMurdo and being so secluded at the South Pole for so long, I feel like I’m on a college campus again. There about 5x as many people here than South Pole, so about 1,200. Besides the temps being much warmer, there are hills, power lines, roads, dirt and rocks here. Very weird. I am off to take a “Hollywood shower”, or so we at Pole call MacTown showers. There aren’t any water usage limits like there are at the south pole. So I will be showering for longer than 2 mins and more than twice a week. I will only be here for one week, but I will probably get a months worth of South Pole showers. What it is like to be clean again….. I will leave you with some pictures, as I feel that I express myself better though photographs rather than words. So here are more photographs and please feel free to write me!
pic1 - chamfer and siding crew
pic2 - south pole from today's flight
pic3 - transantarctic mountains from today's flight
pic4 - two LC-130 parked at pole airstrip. Very rare for LC-130 to shut down at pole and stay for night
pic5 - Andrew working on chamfers on edge of station building
pic6 - using the cut torch
pic7 - corn rows of snow
pic8 - on the dome, I am the middle one
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
A ski-equipped United States Air Force Hercules had to make an unscheduled flight from McMurdo Station, near New Zealand's Scott Base, to the South Pole to collect a man who was believed to have suffered a broken jaw.He was flown back to the ice runway near McMurdo, and taken by helicopter to the nearby medical centre, where it was decided his injuries were too serious to be treated in Antarctica. The man was flown back to the runway, and boarded the Hercules -- accompanied by a flight nurse and a paramedic -- for the flight to Christchurch. McMurdo staff were expecting a day off for Christmas, but dozens of support workers had to return to work to help the medevac.One staff member estimated the flight cost about $325,000.A Christchurch Hospital spokeswoman said a man was admitted on Christmas Day, and was discharged yesterday.The South Pole station is one of the most expensive places to visit on the planet, with winter medevacs from the pole costing up to $2 million.
Friday, December 14, 2007
December 14, 2007
It’s getting warmer at the South Pole! I’ve been up to a lot in the last few weeks. Last Saturday night I went camping, yes camping out in the Antarctic. We took two LMC snow machines about a 30 min out into absolute nothingness. Probably only about two km from the station. We learned various things as setting up tents, wall building, keeping warm and how to build a quinsy hut. A quinsy hut is basically the shape of an igloo. Three of us spent five or more hours building this quinsy hut. We eventually dug a hole underground that came up through the floor to keep the heat in. After two of us got stuck in the hole we decided to use the side door. That was a very bad mistake. It was cold! I think I went to bed about 3am and got maybe 2 hours of sleep, which is pretty normal on this trip. Next time I’m using a bigger underground hole…. Next time. It was only a one night adventure and took up my whole weekend day. I did get some frost nip on the end of my nose, hopefully it doesn’t scar. The other cool thing is you now know a U.S. Postal Service clerk at the furthest South postal station in the world. I started working at the USPS a few weeks ago. Nothing is different from back home, long lines and blank faces during the Christmas season. They actually pay me a few beans for this gig. It’s fun though to learn something new and we are only open Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon. Days are starting to run together. Time seems to be going by a lot faster than it was, except this week. The weather was getting “nice”, until this week. The temps have warmed up to -11 or so all week, but the wind has been blowing about 20 knots all week. I’m not getting cold, but the wind is taking a beating on my body. It’s not too big a deal, just a pain. But it is a good reminder to where I am at. The sandy beaches of Australia sound pretty inviting right now. This week I took picture of my friend Brennen who had a Flat Stanly sent to him by a friend of a friends daughter in Michigan. It’s a little character that kids make and send around the world to people they know. Then at the end of the school year you present about where your Flat Stanly has been. Many of you may know about this little guy, but I think it’s a pretty neat thing to do. This particular Flat Stanly will be going to Finland, England and Spain after his trip to the South Pole. I want to send a Flat Stanly! Last night I got a tour of the fuel arches from a friend Rose. Under one arch there are nine tanks at 10,000 gallons a piece. They have to fill all of them before winter is over and last flight. They mostly fill all the tanks by offloading extra fuel from the aircraft. We have started our Bible study, and we’ve just started in to the book of James really slow. There are about five of us who meet, feel free to pray for us! Next week we have a seven day work week so we can have Christmas Eve and Christmas off. We have a large dinner with very good food on Christmas Eve.If you have any questions, just email me! Love hearing from you guys.