Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's a harsh continent

Apparently I need to clarify. The titles I use here are not meant to indicate that I don't like it down here, rather, last week's and this week's titles are references to common phrases down here which are used in both a serious and a joking manner. For example, if it's a particularly gorgeous day with amazing views, you might say, "just another cold day in hell". If your tent got torn to shreds by 65 knot winds (~75 mph), you might say, "it's a harsh continent". The same phrase could be used when you're gorging on a ridiculously tasty dessert and fill your belly too full.

View from my new tent at Bonney camp

Our last days at Hoare were quite busy, and even a dance party on Saturday night did not interrupt our schedule of being up at 7 am to get out onto the lake. Consequently, we were back at the main house before people were rolling out of bed on most folks day off. Instruments and packing were topped off with a full, dairy-rich, German meal, complete with homemade cheesecake and New Zealand ice cream (thank you, Lactaid). On Monday, we moved back to Bonney camp, which felt strangely like coming home. With no other groups "ruling the roost", we basically get to make up the rules, and decide when we want to do chores (generally when they needed doing). At Bonney, my main contribution seems to be cooking along with some other folks, but since we lost most of our frozen goods (including our chicken) when our sling loads were stuck at Fryxell for a couple of days, the cooking chore required a bit more creativity. Asking the former vegetarian to come up with meat-free meals isn't exactly rocket science, but the lack of freshies (onions, etc) was a bit challenging. Some how we survived on Italian, Mexican, and Thai dishes with a few soups, and delicious breakfasts and desserts as always.

The tent that got away, with Bonney camp in the background

The biggest change at Bonney camp was the tent situation. Forty knot winds at Hoare translated to 65 knots for the same wind storm at Bonney. All four of our tents fell down, and two of them blew away, but not due to improper securing. One tent broke its lines where they connected to the tent, and another had all the poles pop out. The one that was carried 1/2 mile south on the lake had several broken poles, but everything was recovered and half of the tents were salvaged. The rest had to be packed up to be returned to the field center, where somehow these things get patched back together. With our extra tent and a borrowed tent, we were back in business after a few hours.

Taylor Glacier from West Lobe of Lake Bonney

The lake ice was a little flatter, the moat was starting to melt, and the weather was warmer this time around. We also "adopted" a grad student from another group and I was introduced to the Big Bang theory TV show. Other than that, it was hijinx as usual. Spurred by the promise of town for the weekend, we decided to forgo our day "off" and did back to back limno runs, with 4 am and 7 am followed by another 4 am and 7 am set of days. I headed back to town with samples for an experiment on Friday afternoon and promptly discovered why there is usually a day off scheduled in between. When I sat down at dinner, it suddenly felt as though I hadn't slept in a month. Sleep only brought reminders of the physicality of our job, with aches and pains setting in. A few days later and I'm good as new, but in hindsight it seemed a bit silly to rush back.

Crack in the Ross ice shelf, open water beyond

Summer solstice was earlier today, precisely at 23:38 on the 21st of December (UTC). Since we're on New Zealand time, it works out to midday, Wednesday the 22nd of December at 12:38 pm. Unlike Toolik, there's not been a word about any costume parties or bonfires (other than a Mad Max themed party I missed last Saturday out of exhaustion). Rather, people are ramping up for birthdays, alternative art galleries, and Christmas dinner reservations. If you are wondering how they decorate for the holidays in Antarctica, think "penguins". Edit: the music show at the waste barn last night did include a few folks in costume, including a bearded lady for the theme of county fair.

I've got plenty more stories, but it's already taken me a day to get this far on the post. I think it's time to upload a few photos and I'll try to revisit some missed activities later on. Safe travels everyone!

1 comment:

Nora said...

Big Bang Theory is a kick!