Monday, October 31, 2011

Antarctica - Just Crazy Stuff

just random pics, crazy artwork and other stuff...

Pics from around McMurdo:

the view from the NSF Chalet - panorama style on a clear day

the view from the NSF Chalet - panorama style in Condition 2
some dorms

the dorm room - shared with two freakish hooligans from Denver. Yes, Prob-eee would go nuts without personal space required for his naked yoga. I'd go nuts maneuvering around a roommate that was a naked yoga freak.

uh, ok

a room with a view

the coffee house that only serves coffee from 7PM to 11PM on Mon - Sat. But opens at 11AM on Sunday - the only day off down here.

my hangout in the coffee shop - an old quonset hut that was built back when the U.S. Navy ran McMurdo and the operations down in Antarctica.

this is how we spend our day off - sunday, playing Rock Em Sock Em in the coffee house

freaks from New Zealand get preferential treatment at all locations - even the fitness center
The Artwork around McMurdo:

a chopper, McMurdo style at the Science Support Center
a troll under a bridge

a troll under a bridge, again

a whale at the SW end of McMurdo

another view of the whale

there is a story behind this bridge - haven't heard the story.... yet

The Artwork around McMurdo:

just Condition 2 in McMurdo

the conditions around the area

next sunset.... February 21st

The Weirdness Continues:

don't read the fine print, or do

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Antarctica - A short tour of McMurdo Station & Scott Base

The real work starts tonight or tomorrow or Sunday or Monday. One of these days I'll start working, maybe. Until then I wanted to post some pictures for my two favorite B.P.R. blog addicts - my two nieces, i.e., the two kid freaks that are holding up The Kid Chapter at the Back of the Pack.

And check the links that I attached to the lingo. I didn't put the links in for my health - I put the links in so you can educate yourself. Just joking. Actually I'm not.

The Pics & The Info:

Standing at the southwest part of McMurdo. The ice dock is to the right of the picture, the ice runway is on the left. But you can't see that stuff in the pictures
This picture was taken very close to location in the picture above. I zoomed in on Discovery Hut - Do Some Research, built in 1902. At times the hut is opened up for tours, I guess. The goods from 1911 are still in the hut, fully preserved via the cold. And my roommates have pictures of a sea that was killed and dragged up to the hut - 100 years ago - fully preserved. 
Looking north west (maybe) from the same location as above. This big building is one of the many dorms. I am 'lucky' as I share a very small room with two dudes from Denver. This room is smaller than my one person dorm room in College. Yeah, no joke, jokester. My roommates are a bit freakish - so we all get along well. Recall that 'freakish' is a good word - just like ludacracy is a good word.
This is a view south from the post office. The brown dorms are on the right. The cafeteria is housed in the blue building on the left. I guess there are 5 and 6 person dorm rooms in the cafeteria (galley) building. Yeah, that would suck. But I've been there and done that when I was deployed to Kwajalein - another solo trip courtesy of the United States taxpayer.
This is a view southeast from the chapel. The LC-130s are down on the ice about a mile or two away. You can barely see the stuff out on the ice - trust me, two big planes are out there.
 Just a view of the crazy vehicles on McMurdo. Like the tracks on the truck? Look closely.
This is the National Science Foundation Chalet. The NSF is paying for me trip - because the NSF funds all (or most) of the Operation Deep Freeze activities. Then again, I could be wrong. Because I usually am. (Actually, I'm never wrong. Ask anyone and they will tell you so.)
Looking northeast from below the NSF Chalet. Observation Hill is on the right. I'll hike up there someday - but hiking doesn't interest me. Maybe I'll find a bike so I can go hike-a-biking. I like hike-a-biking, obviously.

At Scott Base, New Zealand, Antarctica. Yes, it's confusing. This picture was taken at 9:45PM. The sun is right behind me - but in the clouds.
A cool sign at Scott Base. But I'm not a fan of this kilometer thing. Did you know that New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. And Queen Elizabeth II is the Queen of New Zealand - along with being the Queen of England. That's double duty if you ask me. 
A view of Scott Base, looking north. Basically. I really like the green. Seriously. McMurdo could use a face lift - standardize on one color. Or three. Like red, white, and blue. Yeah, that's what us hooligans in the dorms think.

A Kiwi (stuffed kiwi?) at the bar on Scott Base. Us dudes must take off the shoes once we entered the buildings. No hats allowed either. But the babes can do whatever they want - naturally. Either way, it's all cool.

The Weirdness Continues:

Instructions on how to puke, spew, upchuck, whatever. I like to use the terms puke-age and hurl. Just my preference.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Antarctica - The First Few Days

Antarctica is COOL! Happy Camper School is COLD! At least this time of year.

So you may be wondering what the hell am I doing down in Antarctica. Well, I'll tell you, later. Let's just say that I'm NOT down here looking for Aliens. But I should be looking for Aliens. Because there probably is some big time Alien Flying Machine buried in the ice down here in Antarctica. Right? You watch all the movies. Don't you?

But I'll get back to reality later. I'm in a made rush to post some pictures before I head out to find the dudes that I'm here to support. Hopefully the dudes are arriving tonight.

Back of the Pack Racing in Antarctica

A Few Basics:
McMurdo Station in Antarctica is 19 hours AHEAD of New Mexico. So if it is 7PM on Wednesday in New Mexico or Colorado, then it is 2PM on THURSDAY at McMurdo. Cool, huh? But this isn't anything new, New Zealand and McMurdo are in the same time zone.

And it is spring down here in the southern hemisphere. AND the sun will not set until ~ February, I think. That's right. The sun is up for 24 hours a day and it goes around in circles! Am I crazy? No, think about it. And if you can't figure it out I'll give you a tutorial once I return to society.

Happy Camper School:
I'm down here in Antarctica supporting the New York Air National Guard. (Again, we are not searching for Aliens.) But I will be flying around the continent with the guys and gals. Therefore I'm required to take AND pass Happy Camper School. But I'll change the name to Antarctica Survival Training - a short course.

This training was basically 32 hours of classic 'jam it down your throat' training. We did a lot, we learned a lot and we forgot a lot. But we all survived. It was fun, but it was intense.

The basics included classroom lessons, overview of basic camping equipment, setting up tents in cold, harsh weather, building snow walls, creating cooking pits, sleeping in the harsh environment, etc. It was basically camping 101 in the Antarctic. And because of the harsh conditions you can safely assume that one must know, and therefore learn, many survival technics... if survival is the goal.

Aside from surviving, my primary goal was to avoid a) wicked sunburn, b) frostbite, c) a combination of the two. And I achieved my goal. But I had to maintain focus. Because it ain't easy operating in these conditions. (I love the word ain't, but you already knew that.)

There were many challenges in this Antarctic Survival Class, but the weather was THE CHALLENGE. We experienced sunny skies with little or no wind. We experienced gale force winds. At times the blowing snow was low to the ground. Other times it was a complete whiteout. Visibility was down to 10 feet or less. Yes, we hit Condition 1 twice! I was told. And were routinely in Condition 2. Crazy stuff! The temperature WITHOUT windchill was around 0F at 1PM. I think the temperature dropped to around -15F to -20F. Then factor in the wind that was up to 60+ mph... the windchill was extreme. But we are all tough.

A coworker who is a veteran of two trips down Antarctica sent me this definition of Happy Camper School from the Antarctic Dictionary.

Also called "Happy Camper School", it is wilderness survival training where students learn how to set up camp out on the open expanse of the Ross Ice Shelf, including making a snow wall to block wind, and erecting igloos and snow mounds for shelter. It is required for all winter-over personnel and, depending on the weather, lots of fun, or one of Dante's nine Hells.

The Restrictions:

Severe Weather Condition I

Severe weather is in progress. All personnel must remain in buildings or the nearest shelter.

Severe Weather Condition II

Restricted pedestrian traffic only between buildings is allowed. Vehicular travel is only allowed in radio equipped, enclosed vehicles, and check out with the Firehouse, ext. 2555, is required.

Weather Condition III

Unrestricted travel and activity are allowed.

So. I won't bore you with details. Because I'm beginning to think many readers of the blog are easily bored. (Or maybe I'm just a bit sensitive to Prob-eee's complaints about being bored.) Check out the pics below. I'm sure the adventures will continue for the next couple of weeks. The original plans are for me to depart on Nov 12th. But that could always change.

So where am I?
the global view - Google Earth Style

the local view - Google Earth Style

The Ice Runway and McMurdo:

arrival on the massive, but not too massive, C-17
yes, it's an ice runway and it melts and it will be water + ice in a few months

a view of McMurdo Station from the Ice Runway

our ride to McMurdo - Ivan the Terra Bus

a view of the C-17 on taxi for departure, from the McMurdo NSF lookout deck

the chapel - are you praying for me?

Happy Camper School = Antarctic Survival School:

the long hike to the camp site

a view of Mt Erebus and The Judd

a view of the camp, 7 mountain tents + 2 Scott Tents + 20 people = chaos

checking out the camp and Mt Erebus - from the supply container

looking west back towards Scott Base, McMurdo is over the hill

it's cold out there, it's 6:30AM and the sun is bright!

one minute sunny, the next minute a whiteout 

the delta, our ride to & from Happy Camper School

And the Weirdness:

uh, yeah. strange things go on down here in Antarctica.
can't figure this one out