What a week of celebrations it has been, and it's not quite over. Last Wednesday was Ema's birthday, so of course I had to track down a picture of bacon and turn it into a birthday card to go with the surprise cookies at work. I also discovered the burger bar where you can order a vegetarian burger with, you guessed it, bacon. Kind of silly to shell out $3 for dinner when you can eat for free, but the fries alone are worth it.
The next day had a nice break in the work day with a gift exchange mid-afternoon. I just watched this time, which was just as well because there were no Sweet Valley High books for my dog to constantly try to eat. It was rather entertaining to watch folks fight over bad bottles of wine and nerdy science books.
Christmas Eve was the town Christmas party, hosted by the Vehicle Maintenance Facility in a massive warehouse. They have lots of pictures on the walls showing large vehicles that have fallen through the sea ice or otherwise gotten mangled. Santa was there, as were cookies, bacon quiche, mozzarella sticks, and jalapeño poppers. I also spotted the third inflatable penguin I've seen in town, possibly the largest I've ever seen (one in the Crary lab pictured above). On a cross-country road trip about 7 years ago, I became slightly obsessed with spotting inflatable Santas. I think that may have been the first year they were widely available, because I have pictures of them from New Orleans, Breckenridge, and several other places. I still think they are odd, but at least they're of the slightly more appropriate penguin variety down here.
On Christmas day, it was gorgeous and sunny, so we went on a hike near town. The traditional route to Castle Rock included a stream that would guarantee getting wet to your knees, and we really weren't quite in the mood for such an adventure. Instead, we headed up past Scott's hut, and spotted some wildlife, Weddell seals and skuas (which, for you Toolikers, are in the same genus as those parasitic jaegers we used to run away from).
After the hike, we had a large meal with all of our friends. Unfortunately, not one, but two planes "boomeranged" in the days before, one of which was only 5 minutes away. We had precious cargo on those planes, namely "freshies" and mail. So no beer, no fresh vegetables, and no presents. But, we still had it better than the kiwis who were denied their Christmas turkey dinner. I have a feeling we shared our food with them, because it's just not right for nearly 1,000 people to enjoy lobster tail, sirloin, and roast duck while 30 or so people down the road were missing their turkey because of the possibility of ice crystals in a cloud layer.
Artwork cataloging stuff in people's pockets at the MAAG
In the evening, the annual McMurdo Alternative Art Galley had its opening. The creative talent here was hinted at before with the craft show, but the MAAG was art of the broader variety from conceptual to performance, sculptural to two dimensional. The majority of it was also interactive, with a photo booth and several games inside and outside. There was even a fashion show of wearable art, but the carpenter's shop was getting crowded and we opted to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and view of town below.
Mactown on the night of the 25th
After all the celebrating, Sunday brought a much needed day off to rest and take stock. So often when you are out in the field, you end up working every day, even if just for a little while. I think that Christmas and the day after were the first two "real" days off I've had in a long time- at least since summertime. Of course, taking a couple of days off did mean that I'd have to work even harder this week to get everything finished on time, but sometimes sanity does insist on being indulged. If you have the luxury of really leaving work at the end of the day, enjoying every weekend, and taking at least an annual vacation, make sure that you fully appreciate it. If you've chosen a life like mine, you have to soak up moments like these to carry you through and find entertainment where you can.
The past few days have been dominated by lab work once again. Today we were supposed to head back out for a short couple of days in the field, but the weather seems to have different plans.
Only one more day of 2010 here! Have a happy New Year!