Monday, February 06, 2006
posted 2/06/2006 12:24:00 AM UTC+12, McMurdo Local Time

Weekend Update

All things considered, the station has been really quiet over the last few days. It's been overcast with occasional snow and wind, nothing major but it definitely puts a damper on things. Windchills (which have a lot more bearing on comfort than raw temperatures) are generally between 0 and -10f lately. Not too bad, but I'm not running around town in my sandals anymore. The attitude around town is an uncomfortable blend of anticipation, quiet nostalgia, frustration, relief, uncertainty, exhaustion, and nervous energy as things both get really busy and start winding down simultaneously. Along with vessel offload, there have been a few flights full of people heading back to warmer climes. Hundreds more people will be leaving over the next few weeks, including a few friends who have really helped shape my experience down here.

The cargo vessel has been offloaded and is now being filled back up with all the garbage (aka "retro") from here and South Pole to go back home to the states. Reloading the cargo vessel is supposed to take a bit longer than unloading it did since the shipping containers ("cans" for short) have to be arranged on the ship rather than just being quickly plucked out. Some areas around station are cordoned off for staging and distributing cargo, more people are on nightshift, and there's a bit more traffic around town than usual, but other than that not a whole lot is different in town from my perspective. The fuel tanker made it in to the turning basin on Saturday where it's waiting for it's turn at the ice pier. The current plan is that the cargo ship should get done sometime around Tuesday or Wednesday, it'll pull out from the pier to be replaced by the tanker, which we will then offload over the course of the following three days or so. South Pole has enough fuel for the winter, so although we might still run out of AN8 before the tanker is offloaded, it won't be as of a deal since the remaining flights will be transporting people and cargo and can just as easily run on the JP5 that we have plenty of.

So, that's the big picture of what's happening. On a more personal note, I worked Saturday at the fuel pits as usual, but unusually was able to get out of the pits a little early since there weren't any planes needing fuel after 6pm or so. Missed the shuttle back to McMurdo by a minute or two, but got lucky and got a ride back with some DA (dining room assistant) friends of mine who were running the Willy Galley. Spent the first part of the evening hanging around at the coffee house (my home away from home when I can make it,) then a typical only-in-McMurdo style spontaneous party erupted around 9 or 10pm and went on to sometime Sunday morning. Woke up this morning (noon for everyone else, still in swing shift mode) downed a half gallon of water (it's unbelievably dry here for being on the coast, although I guess the sea is frozen over...,) then walked over to the galley to grab brunch. Unfortunately I found that due to those pesky boats we would be having a mediocre lunch of pulled pork sandwiches and various fried things (funny aside - the galley guys actually wrote "various fried things" on the menu board a week or two ago, thought that was funny) instead of the tasty brunch that I've somehow managed to miss for the last few weeks. Oh well. Hung out at the coffee house, did laundry, borrowed a laptop and talked trail stuff with my friend Delaney, spent some time on the computer, watched the tail end of a movie, and generally had a mellow, lazy day.

Haven't confirmed this with Bodie, but it sounds like I'll be on PM pits for this week since we'll be doing tanker offload, which I'm not too excited about but will deal with. Have been on PM pits for something like 6 weeks (normally we have a single (AM or PM) 2 or 3 week rotation at pits per season) and am frankly sick of the schedule that goes with it and doing practically the same thing for days straight. As we say all too often - It's a harsh continent.

I thought it was funny at least

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