The main picture on this post is me on top of “Ob Hill” or “Observation Hill” as it’s called in its entirety. It’s not terribly high, by any stretch – just under 800 feet of elevation – but it’s pretty vertical and basically entirely scree. There’s actually something they do here called the “Everest Challenge” which – for whatever reason – is 39 ascents up Ob Hill. So far I’ve done 3. It’s a tough little hike, but nice to do after my shift. I started my hike yesterday at around 9pm and was up and back by 10. I was going at a pretty good pace, but still…just a wee hike. The bonus is the view. It’s got a wonderful view of base as well as the surrounding areas. The wikipedia page has more information if you’re interested in it (like the fact that it’s a lava dome!).
That’s one of the things that I’ve enjoyed doing outside of work – hiking. I really got into it this summer in Idaho, and I’m super happy that I’m able to do some unique hikes down here. There’s a pretty simple one called Hut Point that takes you out a little further, above the sea ice, and you can see the seals pretty up close and personal. It’s baby season, so it’s been kind of a trip to see them go from car-sized, to slightly smaller car, and mini car sized seals. Pretty amazing. I’ve also done a hike called Hut Ridge…which is…the ridge…above Hut Point. That leads to Arrival Heights, which is an Antarctic Specially Protected Area. Pretty sure that’s where all the aliens live, but I haven’t gotten confirmation of that one. We didn’t go into that area, and we backtracked a little bit and went a different way back to the base. That was the night I saw two sunsets and two sunrises. I think I mentioned that one already. But it’s been fun to hike. Funny that I didn’t want to do a hike two nights ago because it was -19 out and then I decided to do a hike yesterday because it warmed up to 1 above. It’s weird that during breaks, I go outside without a jacket on and it’s pretty normally below 0. But I guess I’m turning part seal myself because it’s shockingly comfortable if it’s not windy. When it gets windy, it’s not the most comfortable thing ever. As you can understand.
I’d say that this week has been better than last week. And last week was better than the first week. I don’t love my job, but I’d say I’m good at it, so that’s something. We have so many people working with and around us. It’s pretty weird. I’ll tell you more about this paragraph in person some day.
But the “outside of work” life is picking up. I officially have three jobs. First is working in the aforementioned galley job where I’m a “Lead Dining Attendant.” Basically a manager of the staff who work in the galley. The galley is basically a cafeteria style dining experience. My second job is a bartender. Basically a tender of the only bar that’s currently open here, Gallagher’s. It reminds me of Tanks in Dayton – for many reasons – for those of you who knew me at that chapter in my life. I’m hoping to work at least one shift a week at either that bar, or the other bar, Southern, if / when they open that one up. Potentially when the remaining 400+ people arrive here. Side note: coming from Stanley, ID, the people aspect is pretty overwhelming. Even coming from LA! At least in those places I can get away from people. There are ALWAYS people around. Everywhere. At all times of day. Anyway. Job three is working at the retail store. I’ve only worked at the bar and retail store once each, but I can tell I’ll enjoy those very much and will very much welcome the change. Then, I signed up to be a radio DJ. There’s next to no chance that’s going to be broadcast on the internet, but a girl can dream. Mostly it’s on the in-house TV stations here which is basically like Flyer TV, my old college TV station. I get training on that, supposedly this week. I’d like to get that going. Probably an hour to three a week. That’s unpaid, obviously. And I ALSO signed up to be a tour guide at Discovery Hut which could be fun. I think I’d be a good tour guide after a while. That’s volunteer as well. And also also, I signed up with a few different places outside of the galley to volunteer on my day off, which is Friday. I’m looking forward to all of those things.
A shocking development in the last few days, though, was that my SOAP was stolen! Can you even imagine?! Someone literally went into my shower caddy and took my soap and container. So, naturally, I made a sign and posted it around the building in a few places. People actually have been reading it. I’m, naturally, very pleased with how it turned out. If you’re interested, I’ve attached the file for you to download.
Other than that, it’s weird because living down here isn’t all glamorous. Not that I necessarily thought that it would be, but I kind of thought SOME of it would be. I’ve heard stories of some really amazing things like getting to go on helicopter rides or snowmobiles, which would be amazing. It seems that’s possible in remote instances. Boy oh boy am I gonna try to do those things! Plus, more hiking. And cross country skiing is a thing here that I want to do. They have skis for rent here which is kind of cool. I’ve played some basketball, and volleyball in the “big” gym. I played pool the other day in one of the lounges which was great for a few reasons. The pool table overlooked the ice shelf and a C17 landed while we were playing. That was cool. It’s also a surprisingly nice pool table, which was nice to experience.
But glamorous? Not in my job at least. Outside of it’s getting better, but even though I told myself I would be working the same job I’ve had before and it’s just in a different place, I had a tiny hope that there would be some pizzazz. I hold out that hope still, but I haven’t really found it yet. I have met some people who are starting to be friends, which is really nice. I think that was extra hard for me earlier because as most of you know – it takes me a little while to warm up and be myself. I can put on a show now and then, but it takes some people a bit longer to get used to me / and I them. Like, going to the bar the other night – I was sitting with a coworker at a table. A few of us left and went to get another beer and then I went back to the table and a couple of them stayed and mingled. I definitely don’t naturally want to jump into conversations with random people usually, so I went back to the seat I had originally sat in and was just happy kind of on the outside of the giant group of people at the bar, observing and listening to the music. Then he came back and was like “it looks like you’re brooding in the corner,” and I got self conscious because that’s just my face. But I think that’s kind of a good observation of how I am a lot of times.
Anyway, later in the evening I wanted to throw darts and there were a couple guys already there and they were like if you want to throw just jump in here so I did. I was wearing my favorite NASA tshirt and one of the guys said “do you work for NASA down here” and I’m like, no, just a fan. Then I told them the story about how I got the shirt at NASA JPL when Astro Doug took us on a tour and blah blah blah I love space. Well, it turns out they freakin’ work for NASA with the Long Distance Balloon program and it’s freakin’ cool as shit. They were telling me all about the things they and their teams have to do to get the balloons ready to launch and I don’t get the impression they were the scientists per say, but they were certainly heavily involved. It was a fun conversation. I was asking all sorts of questions. At the end of it, I’m like, well it was nice to meet you guys, what are your names. The first guy says KOLBY. Shut up. MY LAST NAME IS KOLBE. Turn to the other guy, what’s your name? Bryan! SHUT. UP. I’m Ryan! So it’s…Kolby, Brian – I’m Ryan Kolbe. Freakin’ universe being all awesome and whatnot. Anyway, we’re best friends now and they’re going to latch me to the bottom of one of their balloons I think. They don’t necessarily know that yet, but I’m sure it’ll happen.
Case in point, I suppose, supporting the idea of going out and randomly talking to a bunch of people. I just am not wired that way naturally. Maybe Antarctica will change me. Who knows. It’s a harsh continent.
More to come, I’m sure. Now it’s 10:45p on Sunday night, so I should probably start heading to bed. I hope you’re all doing well!