Friday, April 22, 2011

35 - The journey home and the end of the 2010-2011 season...........PART 2..............

Hello friends,

welcome to the last entry to my 2010-2011 blog, i know its a little late but better late than never. I hope you have all enjoyed my blog half as much as i have bring it to you but sadly it now comes to an end so lets get on with it!

Like last season there is some really good points and some not so good but when you weigh it all up as bad as it got it was a hell of a experience and one that i wouldn't swap with anyone. I learnt so much both about myself, about my new friends and as Ive tyred to explain before they are friend that are very different compared to the normal friends we all have. They are people that come from all different walks of life be it Electrician, Scientist or Chef or me the Plant Operator but we all have one thing in common a love for Antarctica.

We all have one main trait other than wanting to live/work here, which is rare enough i mean wanting to be at work really can you imagine that. However when working in such a remote place one needs a great deal of tolerance and is rare in the real world in the form we have it down there. It is a word that is often used but rarely totally understood by those that use it, well Ive seen it at work and it is quite unbelievable.
Anyway lets get back to the voyage home and ill sum it all up at the end. Last blog i left  at Day 4 and lets get back to it....................................

Day 5


The seas finally abated and those who we hadn't seen since leaving Casey were now beginning to turn up in the mess for food. I went up to the helideck to have a look at an Albatross that i had been told about following the ship and here she is!! Here is a web site about the Albatross that you might find interesting CLICK HERE.





She was flying so close to the water it was memorizing to watch............what a majestic animal!



Bec joined me a little later and was so happy with the weather calming down that she had to do a little jig..................




Anyway was good fun up there in the fresh air.............wind in the hair, and beard!!!\

A little later in the day there was the King Neptune ceremony. Whats that you might ask well CLICK HERE and it might help but in short as i know many of you LOVE my links. Its a tradition that involves all those who haven't been down before. Pollywogs as they are known are initiated by King Neptune and given safe passage.

All sounds good huh well before we get to the good stuff let me tell you a little story. Although i have been down before i have never been on the Aurora Australis before and therefor haven't been initiated before. Now i know some of you are going to say that i planned it this way but believe me i didn't. King Neptune started reading all the names out and people were being..................well initiated and when he got to the crew of the AA i though i was next. I was dressed and ready but King Neptune didn't read my name. I missed out and after smelling it i was well a little happy on one hand but on the other unhappy. Unhappy as i now know that next season if there is another one my initiation is going to be super bad!!

Anyway take a look at these and you make up your own mind..............believe me the smell was bad too!!














All pictures in this King Neptune section were taken by Peter McKernan who is the character in the second last picture!! LOL

Don't think narration is needed it is, but it was very very funny?

Day 6

The only thing of any excitement today was handing our issued clothing back and getting organized ready for our arrival first thing in the morning. Don't really remember too much of this day other than the fact that i was now getting really excited to in as i knew my mommy and daddy would be waiting to see me at the wharf. I was a very sleepless night, spent a fair bit of time in the library on my computer and at about 11pm i think it was Charmy come running through saying that you can see the light houses meaning "LAND A-HOY"

Day 7

Woke up this morning and the seas kicked up a little, but the excitement for our pending arrival home had turned my stomach into knots. Making our way up the Derwent River in the morning darkness was beautiful, seeing the city sleep as we made our entrance.

No streamers............no balloons, no nothing. In fact we pulled up along side a part of the wharf that nobody could see us. Australian Customs made their way onto the ship with AAD representative who happened to be a good friend from last season in Wendy COUGH COUGH. After getting a once and twice over from passport control as me with a beard and me with no beard do look a little different. But ultimate they let me in and we made our way to where everyone would be waiting for us.

There they were..............Mum and Dad and after seeing them i don't know who missed who more. It was a difficult season back home with much sadness and to see them waiting for me made me sooooooooooo happy. However there was one thing that i needed as much as my mummy and daddy..............................................yep i needed COFFEE.

Myself and Bec were taken by a friend to the hotel to drop the bags and get down to Salamanca for the first coffee. This is where we ran into our first problem, Bec had a room closer to the entry so we decided to dump the bags there till we had our fix. Only problem was there was someone still in the room!!!! HEHE Anyway we dumped the bags into my room and got down to the Salamanca markets where fresh coffee and real milk would be waiting for us.

After parking the car Bec began to feel the ground moving beneath her feet and well take a look at what happened!!!!

video

Here we are and your about to witness my first REAL coffee in 5 months and 2 day..............doesn't sound all that exciting but to me it was priceless............

video

So now its time to get back to some sort of normality i guess...............Mum and Dad had just left and i wanted to stay in Hobart i guess to slowly assimilate back into society and figured that the best way to start is to shave that bloody beard off...............

Here is how it went...........








Ahhh back to normal...............well as normal as i can be anyway!!!!!!

So its now almost a month since arriving and life still hasn't got back to normal and don't think it could. You kind of look at life a little differently your relationships with others and what you really need to survive. My needs for survival and happiness have changed and my desires with it.

I really hope you all have enjoyed my sometimes long winded explanation of my experiences and hopefully just hopefully i have inspired one person to take a look at their lives and reassess where they are going and start following your dreams. Cut the garbage out of your lives and start enjoying it, after all we are here for a good time not a long time!!

thank you for being with me on my journey,

Michael
P.S..............Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.
                But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
                   Winston Churchill


END 2010 - 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

34 - The journey home and the end of the 2010-2011 season...........PART 1......

Hello friends,
Well the time has come and I now write the final blog for the 2010-2011 season and  its been an emotional roll-a-coaster of a ride to get to this point and I'm sure some of you will be sad to know that I’m now back on Australian Soil.........It has been a little difficult to get everything done to get this done. I hope you have a coffee in hand and ready to be here for a while as this is a BIG BIG BLOG, you have now been warned!!!!!!!
So let’s dive in a couple days before the ship arrived. We needed to prepare the helli pads  which basically involved was moving a couple machines and clearing as much of the snow from around them as possible. Without moving this snow the helicopters would picked up that much snow that the pilots wouldn’t be able to see anything. The Aurora Australis or AA had on board 3 choppers in total, 2 Squirrels and a S76. Before the ship arrived we needed to complete all the safety briefings on both the helicopters which involved watching a couple videos that looked like they had been shot in the 80’s.I kept waiting for Magnum to make his entrance.
As there were lots of unknowns being that we didn’t know exactly where the ship was going to pull up and from my perspective this was new territory. If the ship wasn’t able to make it very close this would impact helli opps but as it turned out they were able to make it within 6nm making it a very short ride out there. But all would soon be realized once the helicopters were in the air and on their way!
Day 1
8am in the wallow, main living area, with bags and ready to go at a moment’s notice we had been told. We had been warned that things could start slow then fly quite literally so have your goodbyes done and gear handy ready to run.
Getting into the emersion suit proved interesting to say the least and I did choose the XL but it might as well have been a small. An emersion suit is something between a day suit and a wet suit and is designed to enable its occupant to be able to survive for a short period of time in the fringed waters until rescue. First helicopter arrives with all the emersion suits where we were instructed to get into them. Two people later and about 10 minutes I’m in, how I should have gone for the XXL not just the XL. Here I am in the wallow looking all............well all orange really aren’t I.
Picture: Peter McKernan

Saturday, April 9, 2011

33 - End of the Summer 2010-2011 season at Casey Station Antarctica.....

Hello friends,

so here i am and my time here is very quickly drawing to an end.................................................i am writing this at 1am and we are awaiting the arrival of the Aurora Australis which is currently 26nm from Casey Station. Since my last blog there has been much excitement and as much sadness about our pending departure.

The pending departure is going to leave me feeling a loss that i have only felt once before in my life and that was when i was faced with the the same thing last season. That being said life continues at home and much has happened, some good but more not so good since i have been gone.  However for me to stay in fear of something happening to people that you love is not to really live at all but living in fear and this is something I will not accept.

Many times in my blog i have tyred to share what life is like down here, the other day i was talking to a friend who i think summed it up very well both what it is like down here and what he is expecting arrival home.

I have been pondering my arrival back on the mainland and was thinking that for the last six months it has been like living in the womb, all nice and peaceful and quite, aware at the same time that things are going on in the outside world, however not being affected by them as such, a feeling of calmness and security...

Simply to let you know I might talk a lot (sensory input overload) or I might be very quiet and not say much at all (feeling heart), yet speak volumes with my eyes, as I gaze upon you with heartfelt tenderness and affection in unconditional love....

So like my friend who wrote that I'm having an internal battle with on one hand the excitement of going home and on the ship no less which is another box ticked now. Then on the other hand the sorrow for the loss of not being in this incredible place and the new friendships formed while here. All good things must come to an end...................

So here is the deal, tomorrow no in a couple hours the ship is going to be deploying the choppers to start ferrying us out to the ship which by then will be in the harbour. Estimated flying time 60 seconds, 23 passengers to go out. There is 3 choppers on the AA two Squirrels and one S76. The Squirrels take 3 passengers and their cargo where as the S76 takes 6. 20 cage pallets of cargo to come off and the same to go on, all things going well we should be departing Casey tomorrow night.

The AA will take 7-9days to get the 1880nm to Hobart so i know this blog has been a touchy feely one the next will be a little more pictures and the last of the 2010-2011 season. 

Thought i better put some token pictures so i thought some nice sunset pics would go well with the tone of this blog!!!!




So on that note take care and ready or not HERE I COME!!!!!!!!!!! 

Michael

P.S.............."Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all."
                   Helen Keller





*Pictures not denoted with photographer are taken by me & all pictures are copyright to the author*

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

32 - Last Jollie, Bogging, Lab work, end of summer dinner and the AA stuck in ice.....

Hello friends,

well its been an interesting week to say the least.....................but ill get to that a little later!

Lets talk about Robbos and what was the last field trip of the season. For some time the Fuel Remediation team had been talking about going out on a jollie together and finally we did it on Monday/Tuesday and we got a cracker of a night.

video

We arrived around 4pm and after bringing in all the bags we quickly settling in for a nice cup of tea out on the deck only to see an amazing sunset. I could be bias due to the location, ANTARCTICA, but it was one of the best sunsets i can remember.


Below is a short intro video that shows the hut, sunset and surrounding area.

video

Now for the pictures................


You'll notice the caves............


A close up of the same caves..............


The Vanderford Glacier with some very nice caves in it.............


A random Snow Petrel.............




 After watching the sun go down Bec made a beutiful dinner and that where the night started to go downhill in a good way. Mind you there was much very important re hydration involved as it is so dry down here! There was Bec and  me doing what could loosely be called dancing to start closely followed by Johan's rendition of the balloon dance.....................


video
                                                        Video: Rebecca McWatters  

Was a very good night..................was looking forward to a nice little sleep in until we had a knock at the door. Yep even out here there as vsitors. We knew a group comprising of Greg AKA hoopy, Margo and the superstar Sharron were coming too but didn't realize that they would be there at 8am........yes 8am HOW RUDE I SAY!!!!!!!!

Margo snapped this little number when she walked in too...........not very nice i must say!!!!


                                                          Picture : Margo Rhys-Jones
 
 In the past month it has been amazing the difference in weather compared to last season. Winter really is closing in and with this is the blizzards as Antarctica is the "Home of the Blizzard". That being said getting bogged is quite normal................................here is one of those moments for you!!

video
                                                          Video: Rebecca McWatters

Finishing up in the science building was one of the last jobs for the remediaton team that i was able to help with and here is a couple pictures of me looking pretty darn cool washing vials out for the RTA or return to Australia. These vials were a mixture of the ones used in the GC or Gas Cartography and those used for sampling the piles. Both needed to be rinsed and put into a  bag to be disposed of correctly.


                                                                 Picture: Rebecca McWatters
Now for the end of summer dinner and it was a doosey.............. Rodney "Rocket" Charles the wintering chef here made us a incredible meal and as it was a masquerade party many of us got dressed for the occasion. Not wanting to go in the normal mask i decided that something as simple as glasses would do it. But for the catch i went as Clark Kent and i even had the Superman suit on underneath.  

 Picture: Rebecca McWatters
I really should have tryed to hide my real identity shouldn't have I!!!!!

Picture: Rebecca McWatters
 Tom AKA Ned Kelly......

Picture: Rebecca McWatters
 Charlie decided to go as a VB box............think he could have chosen a better beer but ohhh well!!

Picture: Rebecca McWatters
Don't ask.................Jason the wintering plumber serving us dinner.

                                                           Picture: Rebecca McWatters
Bec and Johan................Bec in more tradition attire and Johan in a self made bucked head!!

Picture: Rebecca McWatters
Picture: Rebecca McWatters
Kate, Amber, Alison, Lance, Sharron and a couple others spent a lot of time making the cranes and little stars for table decorations...................

Picture: Rebecca McWatters
 They also made penguins............

Picture: Rebecca McWatters
 Then Benton the wintering AGSO Aircraft Ground Support Officer which is basically a fancy name for a plant operator decided he was going to make a crane as well but he took it literally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Picture: Rebecca McWatters

Last little thing.................I mentioned in my last blog that I was here for another 10 sleeps. Well that wasn't actually quite accurate as soon after I wrote that blog the Aurora Australia or AA was steaming into and all went well for 10days while Davis going to pick up the summering expeditionars. Then there was a 6 day wait after they became stuck fast in the pack ice. So stuck and also in the middle of a blizzard that there was nothing to do but "Hurry up and wait", a saying you hear a fair bit down here.

Poor old Rowdy as much as I'm sure 1. he needed the detox and 2. Caught up on all his reading I'm sure he must have been close to be put into the padded room. However TODAY the ship offloaded all its passengers all 4 of them, picked up the 40 odd summerers from Davis and now has set sail for here. So all going well we should be out of here on Sunday. 

Again emotion for me is running high as I'm sure it is thought most of the station as i am now very much looking forward in seeing family and my first coffee!! Hopefully Mum and Dad are going to be at the wharf on my arrival but as the ship had been delayed and their flights and accommodation already booked its going to be close!!!

AND also a special thanks to Louise for rubbing my nose in the nice coffee you had the other day.............YOULL KEEP!!!!

Last week I said that this week was going to be my last blog from the Ice this season this week ill just leave it OPEN.............

Be cool as im sure im not going to be when i get home!!!!!!!!!

Michael

P.S........................"You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm."
                               Colette


**All pictures not denoted with photographer are taken by me and all pictures are copyright to the author**