The (hopefully) main picture of this page was taken at 1:26am. Pretty trippy. It’s only a little dark because it’s overcast and it was taken a couple weeks ago. Right now it’s always bright – like, high noon kind of bright – all day every day. Unless there’s cloud cover.
I’m sitting in the lounge in our dorm and I’m looking out the window and it’s weird to see random blobs of black amid a huge swath of sea ice. Those are seals. There are probably 50 seals / pups around base now. It’s pretty cool to see. We’re in their world, rather than the other way around. It’s wonderful and sad.
This entry will have no point. Spoiler alert. I’m just going through what’s in my head as to life down here because I’m doing laundry and I have a half an hour to kill. On that note, the laundry machines are surprisingly good. Though there are 5 washers and 5 dryers I think. We probably have 400 people in this building?
I’m going to SKUA today to see if I can find a pair of flip flops that aren’t of the “thong” variety. Showering with my flip flops isn’t the smoothest of executions. The showers are a single room separated by privacy curtains. It seems to work fine, but there’s another bathroom with single showers that I try to go to just to have a little more privacy. Also, the water gets hot very quickly, but then it goes from scalding when someone flushes the toilet to icebreaker just after. It’s a bit of a dance.
I’m still wrapping my head around if dating down here exists or if it’s a series of events that happen that lead to you not seeing anyone else other than that person. Jury is out on that one. It’d be nice to find someone to spend some time with consistently other than a coworker type relationship.
I’m volunteering at “Science Cargo” today, which I’m super pumped about. It seems rad. My understanding is that they are in charge of keeping track of / organizing / dealing with anything regarding cargo for the scientists. That could be packaging 20,000 year old ice cores for transport from the ice to Denver to making sure the microscopes that were ordered are put in the right place. It seems pretty rad, and my friend from Christchurch, Tabi, invited me to help. I’m thankful to get out of the galley. She kind of took me and my other friend, Angel, under her wing when we all arrived in Christchurch together – and she’s awesome. Through her, I met Tobi and Thor, too, and they’re awesome. And Lisa! Met her at the same time. All of them are awesome and that’s just awesome.
I’ve started volunteering to help with what’s called “Food Pull” on Thursdays. Every Thursday, we get thousands of pounds of food delivered from the storage warehouse on base to our back loading dock and we need to take the shelf-stable food from the crates and pack them in various parts of our kitchen/coolers/freezers. It took from 9a to 3p yesterday. Hauling and putting things in various places. I hand-stacked 1500 pounds of flour in a pile that was well over my height in the bakery area of the kitchen.
Two friends from the front of house moved to the back of house in the last week. Another moved a week prior. We have so many people working in front of house, a lot of times people are standing around and it’s my job to make sure they have things to do. I’m trying to lead by example, but it’s a difficult job. I’m hopeful it gets better.
I am bartending tonight. It’s the night before our Halloween party, which should be fun. It’s going to be a busy night because it’s karaoke night again. I sang last time and I’m sure I’ll sing at least one song tonight. That should be a good time and better money and I get normally hopefully. My co-bartender and I will be wearing onesies. I believe I’m going to be a leopard? I also have a penguin option, but that was rented from Rec, so it’s questionable if it’s clean or not. At least I know there weren’t any bugs or rats to get into it since everything’s frozen here.
Speaking of – they just announced that the “ice tube” is going to be in place in the next week! That’s a tube that has a ladder going down under the water into an observation chamber that’s made of acrylic so you can see all around yourself under the freakin’ sea ice. Holy shit I’m excited about that. Sorry mom! Evidently the pictures are going to be badass. Since it’s always light, supposedly looking up at the bottom of the ice gives off amazing colors. It’s nice to have something to look forward to. And it’s open 24/7, so I hope to see it at least a couple times.
Also planning on going on a sea-ice hike with my friend Angel on maybe Sunday after work. It takes about 2.5 hours from what I’m told and it literally goes out onto the sea ice and around Ob Hill, up by the Kiwi (New Zealand) base down the street and back. That’ll only be available for another month or so at which point, it will break up with the sea ice breaks up. Then the penguins come.
I also signed up to be a tour guide. I forget if I mentioned that or not. There’s a place called Discovery Hut and it seems that the learning aspect of the hut is on me to do – like, there aren’t additional trainings or anything – but we’ll see. I think I’d be a good tour guide.
It’s weird to just get my amazing gift – my green plaid Carhartt jacket and wear it outside over my tshirt and be comfortable…in -5 or something degree weather. Before coming down here I thought I’d be frozen solid after stepping foot outside. That’s not exactly the case. There are times, though, when that would be the case. Like, I was hiking the other day and I didn’t realize my eyelashes froze along with my beard. Oops. It’s a harsh continent. I also want to see a CON1. That’s where the weather’s so bad we can’t leave the building. Supposedly those are few and far between during the summer, but it still happens. I live and work in the same building, so it wouldn’t affect me much other than looking at it through the windows.
I rented cross country skis last night. That’ll be fun to learn how to do. I was invited to go on a walk/ski soon, so I can learn then!
A helicopter is taking off outside of the window. I wonder if that’s my new friend Ryan, or Graham. I’d love to ride in a helicopter.
We have to work Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we get a spare day off otherwise, so I’m going to take my birthday off. I got a nice bottle of scotch in Christchurch that I’m going to open up and cheers with some friends to a weird ass birthday in a weird ass place.
Throughout the day I keep thinking of things to tell people about how different it is here, but in this moment I’m not remembering any of them.
More to come. I hope all of you are well.
Is there any travel between the country bases? Do people go to The Kiwi? If you find anyone who has, I’d be curious if it’s very different (maybe better food or rec options?). Are there other bases nearby? Since you’re now an official Hut tour guide, I figure you’ll have detailed answers to all questions.
There is usually travel between the US base and the Kiwi base. It’s a surprisingly easy walk. The Kiwi’s however, have disallowed Americans to visit at this time because we have a number of covid cases on base. My understanding is that the Kiwi base is much smaller than McMurdo, but the bar is better/less expensive/also smaller, and the gift shop has more options. That’s about the extent of what we’re able to do there, I believe. Bar and Gift Shop. The other bases nearby aren’t really close – they’re more of a short flight away and I haven’t heard of anyone going to any of those bases. A lot of times, however, the inhabitants of those bases have come through McMurdo on their way. And I haven’t really had any time to follow up on the hut tour guide thing yet. Still on the radar, but working 10 hour shifts in the galley, 6 days a week doesn’t leave a lot of extra time. I hope you’re doing well!