Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In New Zealand Again!

(Pics from Last Flight)

I love this place- it's so beautiful and humid and the people are great and I could go on and on about how wonderful it is here!!

I did get in on time, I'm up north in Motueka right now, headed back to Chch tomorrow and I'm headed stateside on Friday. Off to Southeast Asia next week for 3 months!! I feel fortunate to be living the life I am- it's a pretty great one!

I've just been relaxing, eating really great food, drinking really good coffee, looking through travel guides for Asia some more, and oh yeah- I got some shots done too. No side effects thank goodness, so I'm all set for typhoid, polio, yellow fever, and rabies. Just in case there's any wild monkeys mom- I'm good. :)

Well, that's about all I've got to say for now. See some of you soon! Others of you later!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Farewell Ice and Friends... We shall meet again...

"Don't be dismayed at goodbyes, a farewell is necessary before you can meet again and meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”

I leave the Ice tomorrow, for the 5th time. It's been a fantastic season, my best ever. It was challenging and rewarding, I learned a lot in my job, and even more about myself. I worked on building friendships to last a lifetime, and look forward to seeing many of you off the Ice. This place is unique, and sometimes I have to remind myself how lucky I am when I start to get tired of work and being here, I'm in Antarctica after all! It's been an incredibly fast season, and I'm looking forward to coming back next year. Thank you to all of you that were a part of this experience- I cherish each of you and the impact you've had on my life!

I'll be in New Zealand in 24 hours if the weather gods are smiling upon us tomorrow.

Good food, greenery, humidity, dark skies and stars at night, bookstores and coffee shops-

here I come!!

Part of the Job Description

For those of you thinking that the continent is always frozen here, this is what the roads looked like for most of January for us... Awful conditions to drive in...
It's a running joke to pick the hole that doesn't have a seal in it to drive in...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

Happy 80th Birthday Joe!!

“Great is the man who has not lost his childlike heart.” -Mencius
Joe works for me as a shuttle driver here on the
Ice. This is Joe driving the airporter.
This is his second season here on the Ice, and he is turning 80 this month!!! He is a phenomenal person and an absolute joy to be around! He's got so much positive energy and exuberance for life, he is truly an inspiration and I feel fortunate to call him my friend. Obviously turning 80 is a pretty big deal, and an even bigger deal when you're doing it in Antarctica!

This is a pic of Joe from last season.
Joe had applied for several years in a row and hadn't yet been hired. When I took over, someone that worked for me was his employer in the states and recommended him for the next year. I met Joe and did his interview and just loved him instantly. He's been driving in Glacier National Park for years, and now we're fortunate enough to call him a part of our team.

This is Joe driving Ivan.
Joe owns a farm back home in Illinois, it's part of a co-op now, but he farmed that land and ran it for many decades before he became a shuttle driver. His wife Geri and he have been married over 50 years! They have 5 kids and still spend holidays together on the farm (although Joe has missed the last few since he was here.) :)

Joe's first day of training in Ivan last season- it was a snow storm- and he just went right for it! Nothing stops this guy!
Another great story- there is a workout class here called Guts and Butts- which is an hour torture you put yourself through in order to work off some of those desserts that the dang bakers keep making. He showed up at the class and the teacher was a little concerned when he decided to join in- well Joe sure showed her what he's made of- he could do more push-ups and exercises than people who were half, 1/3, and 1/4 of his age!!

Joe holding the plaque we had made for him (thanks to the carpenters here!), it commemorates his accomplishment of being the oldest shuttle driver on Ice!
We had a big sign made and it was hung outside the galley for all to see. We also printed several different pictures of him and hung them all around the buildings with different captions written on to them.

Joe and I at his Birthday Dinner.

Kathy singing the Marilyn Monroe version of Happy Birthday to Joe for his B-day. What a ham! That's what happens when you've owned a pig farm all your life.

A certificate that he was given in thanks for his service.
The galley was kind enough to let us rename all the food items for the dinner meal to something that had to do with Joe. So we had "Curly Handlebar Carrots" and "I'm Unemployed Bread" and "Super 80 Soup" and "Oba-kayba Tempe" and "Rock n' Roll Rice." These are all things he says- whenever you ask him to do something, he responds with "Oba-kayba" or "That's Super" and when he is available to do another task he'll call in on the radio and say "I'm unemployed."
The galley also made these beautiful cakes for him as well.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Marilyn and Carolyn Weather Stations

On January 23rd, I was fortunate enough to be selected for flight out to Marilyn and Carolyn Weather Stations located out on the Antarctic Ice Sheet. I went with Dr. John Cassano who is here with the science group O-283. They are based out of a Colorado University and they have several automated weather stations (AWS) located on the continent in various places- there are approximately 80 stations. This is the first time I've flown in a twin otter plane which was a lot of fun.

This picture is of Williams Field Airfield as we are departing.

This is the first weather station location- Carolyn. This is what the view looks like all 360 degrees around you as you turn in a circle. Flat wind scoured snow and ice as far as the eye can see. It's a beautiful and serene thing to see but also very desolate and eerie at the same time. It can be very disorienting. We actually had to fly around for awhile looking for the stations because they moved about 1.5 miles since the last time they were visited and GPS marked, which was about 3 years ago.

This is what the actual Carolyn weather station looked like when we got there- we moved several of the things up on the tower so that all the equipment doesn't get buried before the next time they are out there. It takes readings for temperature, wind, humidity (that must be near 0 most of the time), and it transmits all that information via satellite. It also measures snow accumulation and stores that information so that when the grantee goes out to visit they can download that info to a computer.

This is the twin otter plane we flew in.

There were 2 other guys along with myself and Dr. Cassano that went out to help with reconfiguring the weather stations. This pic is of the 3 of them assessing what needs to be done to the station.

I was wandering around taking pictures and this is my footprint path in the snow. It was a silly sight to see this trail of footprints going in circles all by myself while I took pics.

This is Randy and Shawn, the pilots, on top of the plane- I think they were applying something to the props to keep them from freezing or something like that.

After we were done at Carolyn, we flew over to Marilyn. This site had equipment buried under the snow by about 4 feet, so there was digging to start with. That's me in my green coat again digging out the snow. The pile of snow around this kept getting deeper and deeper.

We had to add an additional tower to the current one and then move all of the equipment up to the top. I volunteered to spend my time up that top of this hooking up all the equipment which was fun. The other guys weren't real keen on climbing up it. I spent over an hour up there attaching things and dropping wires down and hooking things up.

Success!! All finished and everything works correctly!! This is the 4 of us that were out working on it.

Another funny story about these weather stations- I asked how they got their names, and John explained that several of them are named by the PI for this project who often named them after girlfriends at the time. (The PI is not here this season- he's stateside.) He is in his 80's now and I suppose has had quite a few (now ex-) girlfriends as there are so many stations with the different names. I believe Marilyn is named after his sister, and Carolyn was possibly the secretary in the department for while. There are also sites named after members of the grant groups family and friends, etc.

The views from the plane on the way back were amazing. We flew over the Trans-Antarctic mountains.
This picture is of White Island and Black Island with Mount Discovery in the background.

This is a close-up of some of the crevasses on this range.

Looking out over the Trans Antarctic Mountains.

Looking down form the plane- this was at the base of the mountain where the ice is starting to melt and form pools in the pressure ridges.

More melt pools...

Looking out over the range again, you can see the lines coming from the base of the mountains, those are the pressure ridges and melt pools.

This is a further away shot of the range and the Ice sheet in front of it.
Overall a great day and beautiful weather to add to it. Sights like this remind me how amazing a place I am at.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Marathon Support 2009- Antarctica Style

There is a marathon held every year on the ice and the runners run along the snow roads that go out towards the airfields. I helped to coordinate all the vehicle support for this event this season, which was held on 1/18. I also went out and drove around to help monitor the runners as well. I had a great time! The day was really beautiful weather, no wind which was key. A couple people that work for me ran as well so it was fun to cheer them on.
This is everyone getting ready to depart town for the race.

Here is the start of the race- that's Jim with the stopwatch yelling to get ready. He was the main guy organizing everything for the race along with help from a few people.

And they're off!! The start of the full marathon.

This is the start of the full marathon right before they took off. The runners are to the left, and the skiers are to the right. That's me in my green coat all the way to the left taking pics. I like my green coat- it's easy to find me in pictures. :) There were about 20 people for the full marathon.

The start of the half-marathon. I had to explain the route and get them all ready for the countdown to the start, so I didn't have my camera for the start line. But this is looking at all of them taking off in to the distance.

Scott Base had some people participate as well so they provided some support too. This is a Hagglund which is a tracked vehicle that pulls a separate cab for additional passengers.

After I spent a few hours driving around in a van to help monitor, I switched out and got on to the skidoo with Jim to help run around and monitor the runners. It was a fun time!

Again, without the green coat- wouldn't have a clue that's me inside that helmet. :)

YEAH JEN!!! Jen works for me and she ran the full marathon and she won every category she was in- first place for the women and over 40!!! She's awesome! We found a banana and got to her on the skidoo during the race to give it to her- you've never seen someone so excited for a banana!

YEAH PINKY!!! This is Chris that works for me- we had to give him a nickname so that we wouldn't get confused in the office and his friend sent this box addressed to Chris "Pinky" S. It was hilarious and it stuck! He skied the full marathon! This is him at the end of it before getting on the delta to come back to town.

It was a long day- we were out supporting the race for about 9 hours, but it was a really good time. I really enjoyed getting out and cheering people on. I even got a t-shirt from it- though I feel a little bit like a fraud if I wear it since I didn't actually run it- and I don't think it counts that I did the length of it a few times over on a skidoo!