Wednesday, November 10, 2010

7 Boomerangs and bloody Hercs.............

Last entry I left you where i was about to walk onto the plane in Hobart. So I'm going to start by telling you what the original plan was. Thursday 1am i was at the airport waiting to catch our little plane from Hobart to Mcmurdo 4hours.........


Australian Antarctic Divisions Airbus A319........

From there after landing on the Mcmurdo Sea Ice runway we waited for about and hour or so at the Runway Mess (kitchen) . When our luggage had been transferred from the Airbus to the Herc and loaded into it where we would fly from Mcmurdo to Casey Ski way, another 4 hours.................

BUT

Like last year we caught a boomerang!!!!



This is where you take off with the best intentions of getting to your destination but end up having to head back to where you came. In other words in 2 years i have done 4 trips in a Herc totaling close to 20 hours and believe me i remember them and not in the warm and fuzzy way. But as i told someone today there would only be one of three reasons that i get onto a Herc
                                                      
                                                          1   I'm about to jump out of it with a parachute.............
                                                          2   I'm going to hell in it...........
                                                                                 and my personal favourite
                                                         3   I'm going to Casey Station in it.........


Last year some of you might remember we ended up staying at Mcmurdo for a total of 7 days where we were able to spend a rather memorable Halloween. This year along with being able to do the normal Polar tourist things like drinking, shopping at both Scott Base (New Zealand) and Mcmurdo Base (American), a nice little walk down to Discovery Hut http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_Hut and a tour of the Science building not to mention two rides on the Herc. Was nice to see some familiar faces from last season  along with George the Mcmurdo Station Leader. We again were greeted with soo much hospitality that comes with working in this part of the world.



Discover hut is located on the peninsular above the map of Antarctica...........


Our room this year was the station basket ball court which caused a few problems with the organized activities that were meant to be done while we were there and coincidental was also the scene of last years Halloween party. Upon walking into the building i remember thinking and saying out loud" wow i thought it was bigger than this" but when there is about 400-500 people there i guess anything would feel big!!

Then there is the biggest attraction around Mcmurdo..................



Mt Erebus 3,794 metres and more interesting facts http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Erebus and even more interesting for some might be the video footage and research done up there...........
Research....... http://erebus.nmt.edu/

We walked over to Scott Base.............




As i had already done the walk to Scott Base last year and not really feeling like the walk back i timed my shopping in line with the Mcmurdo Station Taxi service and caught a lift back. I was keen to get back to Station as that afternoon one of the only buildings i didn't get to spend any time in last season was the science building.

This year at Mcmurdo they will be completing the largest science programs they have ever attempted with some 120 programs. Digressing a little here but 1100 is capacity at Mcmurdo and with the programs they need about 10 support staff like plumbers, electricians, chefs, cool plant operators like me and pilots due to the harsh environment we experience here. Currently there is 147 people in the field including South Pole Station

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ethv_eLk0Tc 

A little video on the South Pole station.............

BACK TO SCIENCE................as this is why I'm here

So walk into the building and its been split over several different levels and on the entry level there is some display cases where there is


Nice little lava bomb from Mt Erebus............

Every floor we talked to scientists which was very interesting don't get me wrong but you know the old saying "they save the best for last" well the whole reason i wanted to do this tour was for the bottom floor..................................where









Not even going to try and explain them but they were very interesting to look at. All that life living under the ice out the front of the station quite incredible..................

After the tour our fearless leader Stu was able to organize with some help from Billy our FTO (Field Training Officer) we were able to get to tour the pressure ridges off Scott Base...............BUT the only way there was by walking. UNBELIEVABLE...............Pressure cracks are caused by looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressure_ridge_(ice)


While walking through there we were being watched too............
A healthy looking Weddell Seal.....................
Actually while we are on the subject of wildlife i need to clear one thing up, its the second most common question i get asked when people find out where i have been working..........................................First is ohhhhh too cold down there for me. FALSE last season it only got down to -25 at the absolute most and a couple weeks of close to and + temps..................Last time i was in Canada i experienced -49c which is so cold it cant even snow.
Secondly well see if this T-shirt helps................

NO, NONE, WRONG PLACE-CONTINENT-REGION-COUNTRY, THEY ARE NOT HERE...........

So after a exciting weekend of being a polar tourist we found out that we were going to make another attempt on Monday and the weather was looking good.


Here we are at the Sea Ice Runway at Mcmurdo...........................very scenic place!!


From where i was standing to the foot of the hills was 80 miles i know it looks it there but with the naked eye you would think ahhhhhhh yea a couple hours walking......................I DON'T THINK SO!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NQWFC5RZPk

This is a short video from last season when we landed at Casey to give you an idea..........

Well i think i have gone on enough tonight and i have to leave some for the next one but needless to say I'm here and very happy to be here too!!!!

Take care,

Michael


P.S....................."The difficulties of life are intended to make us better...not bitter."
                            Mandie Ellingson