I made it back from the South Pole last Saturday, and have had a full dental schedule for the past few days. I finished everyone and had a half day yesterday to pack and get ready to depart, plus some good pickleball after dinner last night. I just found out the plane from New Zealand took off an hour ago, so in 4 hours it should be here, and a few hours later it will be taking us to warm weather and sunshine in Christchurch. Then we have a few days of freedom to play tourist before getting on the flight back to the US, which is scheduled for Sunday.
Hello ground hog observers,
No doubt here about winter staying around at the South Pole since as the sun dips below a critical angle, it gets noticeable colder each day. Yesterday was -45F and today it is -52F even though the next full sunset is in mid March. I’m scheduled to fly out tomorrow to spend a few days in McMurdo where it’s in the 20’s, which will seem like a heat wave.
Following brunch on Sunday, Lisa the chef made a delicious Indian meal with Chicken Masala, Naan and a half dozen other dishes. I spent a few hours helping in the kitchen making samosas which are little triangular shaped dumplings which were ridiculously labor intensive but came out pretty good, especially with some chutney sauce. Today I flipped chicken on the grill and the scraps were much more tasty.
The dental schedule has come to a grinding halt since everyone that wanted to be seen has been taken care of, so I’ve got a day to clean up and get things organized for the winter doc and PA who arrive tomorrow on the same plane that I will depart. No time for a “handoff” orientation of dental equipment for the newbies, so I took pictures of the equipment and they’ll just have to muddle through it when a dental issue arises with me on the phone coaching them along.
A few hours of volleyball Monday night, and pickleball last night have kept the waistline in check and not sure if we’ll get anything going tonight or opt for the physics lecture to exercise the brain a little. Speaking of brain rattling, at lunch today I noticed the Traverse team arrived from McMurdo, hauling fuel and cargo 1000 miles in tractors at 6 ½ mph for 3 weeks that saves hundreds of thousands of dollars compared to flying.
I published what is probably my last Scallion for the season and didn’t see a pink slip from the admin folks that I like to rattle a little, so I guess they’re still willing to let me poke fun at their policies and procedures that often make no sense. Hope your February is starting off well.
Another six day work week of a filled dental schedule and a lot of folks with clean teeth has come to an end, so our one day weekend is upon us. I woke up and started some laundry, and ate a light breakfast in anticipation of the usual overwhelming brunch later in the morning. I then walked the 30 steps to the medical clinic to sort out a few things only to discover that a soda I put in the fridge last night was actually a freezer, and the 12oz can had exploded around 5:00 AM. It’s pretty amazing how 12 ounces of liquid can turn into a gallon of exploded frozen sugar water, and I spent the next hour defrosting and cleaning up the mess. In the “it could have been worse” scenario I was glad I hadn’t put a six pack inside the small freezer or I probably would have been cleaning the walls of the room it was tucked in.
Last night was the annual South Pole head weighing contest where inebriated encouraged participants dunked their heads into a full bucket of water placed inside a larger tub. The displaced water in the tub is then weighed to determine the largest and smallest head in the crowd, and heckling is encouraged throughout the evening to add to the ambiance. Of course the same water is used over and over again so after 20 folks have dipped their head it became a bucket of everyone’s oral, nasal and ear discharges plus whatever goodies were populating their hair and beards. However, with enough alcohol on board it was a moot point and everyone had a good laugh throughout the evening.
I ventured out for a stroll the other day with Melanie, the PA in our medical team, and we did some photos out by the south pole marker in -40F wind chill, which was pretty invigorating. I’ve been here eight times now, and it’s still incredibly impressive to imagine the explorers who sailed, skied and sledged here over 100 years ago, and all I had to do was get on a series of long plane rides.
Hope your weekend is enjoyable as we move into February and some good times ahead. A South Pole Scallion is attached for your reading pleasure.
Dry headed Bob
Hola Polie Wanna-bees,
It’s another sunny, clear day at the South Pole today, with the temperature at a brisk -21F and a wind chill of -45F. I made it here in the Basler, a 1943 turbo charged DC-3 a few days ago, and have done fairly well acclimating to the 10,500 ft. altitude. The real altitude is 9300 feet of ice but it feels like more because of the dry, cold conditions, so the stairs still require a few extra breaths.
I got the dental machinery working and the digital x-ray software going with some help from the IT department, and it appears my schedule is booked solid for the next week. Some skeptical souls have sent notes questioning how much work I was actually doing around my recreational activities so here is my answer to how your hard earned tax dollars are being put to use in the dental arena. My work schedule is 7:30AM-5:30PM six days a week and I usually see 4-8 patients a day, sometimes with the help of the other medical staff when needed. In comparison, at McMurdo the other 6 health care providers (2 docs, 2 nurses, 2 PA’s) see an average of 2-5 patients a day between all of them. Elise, our 30 year old energetic physical therapist is the only one who is busier than me seeing 6-8 patients a day, and still runs marathons, teaches Pilates and yoga, and makes all of us look like couch potato slackers. Now at the same time I’m able to make my own schedule and have been known to take an occasional afternoon off for mental health, physical exercise or just a nap and reading to avoid dental burnout, so no need to be concerned that I might be overdoing it.
Life is pretty simple at 90 degrees south, with interesting people, great food, plus satellite internet and phone coverage a few hours a day. It ends up being a close knit community of 60 people this season, but 10 days is just about the right amount of time for me rather than some folks I’ve met that have been here over a year. I’m still drumming up some ping pong and pickleball matches to keep the joints moving, and will probably venture outside at some point to walk over the crunchy snow and gaze out on the featureless landscape. I took a hard “pass” on the Scott tent pitched outside next to the ceremonial pole for a unique summer camping story, but admire anyone who wants bragging rights to that experience.
Hope you are healthy and can see some light at the end of the Covid tunnel.
Not burning out Bob
Hi friends and family,