A skua looking for a victim.
Inside The Coffeehouse.
But wait, there's more!
Thursday, January 19, 2000 and six
Just when you thought it was safe to get back on the web… No, the weblog isn't quite over yet. There are still some student questions to answer, the last couple of days in McMurdo to cover, and some sort of concluding statements, which I have yet to conjure up from deep within. Okay, I'll probably write it off the top of my head, but we maybe can pretend what I say is profound and leave it at that. So as I sit here with Bob Marley and the Whalers coming through my headphones…
Et me start with an apo'ogy (I'm sure it won't be the ast). Apparenty I have been speling Graciela's name wrong al season. She only has ony one "l" in her name. This expains why I find mysef running short of that etter. As you can imagine, we have to pack as ight as possibe when going to Antarctica. I was abe to carry ony so many of each etter, and I had to oan some etters to other peope for their webog entries. I just wish she had tod me sooner, so I woudn't have this probem. I'm aso running out of the number "six" because I forgot to carry enough for the New Year changeover. Anyway…
This week we visited some of the local sites (Discovery Hut, Ob Hill, Scott Base), and we did our best to reduce the stock in the gift shops. We took a meteorite on tour around town so that people in McMurdo could see what they were helping us to find, and we thanked them for their support while we were in the field. The meteorites were inventoried one last time and shipped to Johnson Space Center. We mailed gifts, dirty clothes, and excess belongings home.
The last few days in McMurdo were a little relaxing, a little numbing, a little sad, and a little anxious. Once the gear was cleaned, repacked, and stored, there wasn't much for us to do and we had time to relax a little. Gallagher's Pub and The Coffee House were popular evening destinations, but we didn't quite make it as far as the rock gym, weight room, or bowling lanes. Most of us were anxious to begin planned travels in New Zealand and Australia, and/or to get home. Seeing the long lists of backlogged e-mail messages was mind-numbing. Tuesday was a bit sad when we said goodbye to Joe, Graciela, Marie, and Oz, who were scheduled to fly out before the rest of us. We'll see each other again soon as most of us will be attending a conference in Houston this March. With a few exceptions, most of us were relative strangers (some stranger than others) to each other when the season began. After working and living in very close quarters with few or no other people around for 2 months so far from home, we became something of a family.
Today the rest of us are scheduled to fly out to New Zealand. Only when we arrive in Christchurch will we find out where we're staying for the first night, and the details of our travel home. We've put in our requests for these things, but the travel people don't confirm any of it until our flight actually departs the ice. Last night we turned in all of our checked baggage, which has been put onto pallets and moved into the cargo stream for the flight. We won't see those bags again until we arrive in New Zealand, even if we get stuck in McMurdo for a few more days. At this time of the year flights out are conducted with U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo planes. The C-17's are not usually kept in Antarctica overnight. So provided the plane makes it in today, it's a pretty sure bet we'll be leaving on schedule. As with all flights to and from the ice, and for us, anywhere in Antarctica, we'll be required to wear our ECW gear. It's bulky and clumsy for flying, but it does make a nice pillow!
1. Meet the skua. It's the size of a large seagull. They can often be seen, as this one was, hanging around outside the galley at meal times. Inattentive residents and newbie's are sometimes caught off guard when a skua dives in and grabs that snack they were carrying to the dorm to munch on later!
2. How to make a Quonset hut more attractive: add some plastic plants, comfy chairs, lots of wood paneling, some old sleds and skis, and keep the lights low. Voila! It's the Coffeehouse! Serving gourmet coffees and teas, and fine wine to a discriminating clientele, they also have a wide selection of board games, a giant screen TV for movie nights, and occasional live performances.