Following a most enjoyable time on the ice with the best roommate I’ve ever had, Lynn and I jetted off to New Zealand for a few days of re-entry into the world of greenery, kids, dogs and fresh vegetables. It was an easy adjustment, and after a few days of warmth we were ready for the beaches and reefs of Australia. Port Douglas is a pleasant town that is close to the Great Barrier Reef, so we did some scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking and beach time there. The local newspaper carried an interesting story of how tourism seems to be down ever since they posted the signs on the beach about crocodiles, even after they assured folks that any crocs over 2.2 meters (7 feet) would be relocated, since a 6 footer could only maim but probably not kill you. They are still working on the details of making that sound plausible.
Next up was Tasmania, a beautiful island off the southern coast of Australia that has beautiful beaches, over a dozen national parks, and plenty of interesting wildlife. We had some fabulous Airbnb experiences as we drove all over the island for 2 weeks and biked and hiked everyday, rain or shine. We had the best animal viewing one night driving back from a late dinner when the nocturnal creatures pranced around the roads in our headlights, and realized we should have done more night safaris. We ended our tour with a 2 night stay in Sydney, and enjoyed the sights and cuisine of the big city from an apartment overlooking the famed Opera House and Harbor bridge. Cockatoos and parrots squawked above the balcony, and biking over the bridge and back in intermittent rain had us laughing and drying out in the southern sun before a final meal of fresh seafood overlooking the harbor.
I’m back in the office and Lynn is scoping out work possibilities in town, so we’re staying put for at least a few weeks before the next adventure. Spring snow had me shoveling the driveway yesterday, but I’m hopeful the pickleball courts are dried out by tomorrow for some exercise. Hope your spring is warming up.
Tas tourist Bob
We’re on our last day here before jetting off the Ice to New Zealand tomorrow. I worked on my final dental patients yesterday for a total of 167 and packed up my gear to send home so we can travel light for the next few weeks in Australia and Tasmania. Just heard it is 117 degrees in Sydney so probably don’t need the long underwear that I wear all day here. We did manage to get up early enough this morning to hike 6 miles and climb Castle Rock in sunny, clear weather to help justify gorging ourselves on the brunch spread back in town. It was a little rough after last night’s party of food and booze accented with 10,000 year old glacial ice that was chipped into chunks with one of my dental tools.
It was another great season of seeing old friends and good times in a unique setting, and to be able to share it with Lynn made it a whole different experience. Once we return the special gear we have acquired here, like the jacket known as Big Red and the Pee bottles we hike with it’s time to integrate with the rest of the world, which can be a bit of a challenge compared to inmates trying to fit in to society after serving their time. But we’ll manage and hope to see many of you before too long. Until then, happy trails and save a hug for us.
Glacial sipping Bob
Hola weekend warriors,
While most of the US was glued to the TV for either the Superbowl or to see if the Trump administration could lower the bar even further, I was packing and traveling to 90 degrees south. I caught a Friday afternoon flight south, stayed just long enough to unpack a new dental cart that miraculously made it one day ahead of me and fixed a few teeth. Of course I played some ping pong and pool and did a little day hike in 50 below sunshine to the telescope looking back a mere 12.6 billion years in time. By Monday afternoon I was back on the ski equipped LC-130 cargo plane in time to have dinner with Lynn back at McMurdo with one more week to go before flying out to New Zealand and a few weeks of fun.
We finally saw a lonely penguin this afternoon, since the sea ice is broken up pretty well because the icebreaker escorted both the cargo ship and fuel ship to the base, but we’re still hoping for some whales to stop by too. The dental cases are winding down, and once I’m done teaching the doc and PA who are staying for the winter how to fix teeth, I’ll pack it up and ship my big bag home.
It’s been another fun season on the Ice, and there’s already talk of next year. But before that, we’d like some warm sunshine, so send some news from home and we hope to see many of you soon.
Back from the Pole Bob
Hi summer fans,
Once again I find myself in Antarctica for a 6 week contract of meeting old friends, doing root canals, cleaning ears with my dental suction and using my drill for other tasks like cutting a ring off a guy who was unable to get it past his knuckle after a hammer injury. I got to use a fat tire bike for a week and found it a fun way to get around town. Also discovered that pickleball has come to Antarctica, and am holding a session in the big gym tonight to gauge interest for more games down the road. Also found a number of ping pong players who are all gunning to dethrone me, and while I’ve lost a few games over time I’m usually able to come back with a vengeance.
Hope your winters are going well, and drop a note when you get a chance to let me know what is going on in your lives. Your friendship over the years means a lot.
Hola summer warriors,
As part of my ongoing consulting with the Antarctica program, I was told recently that funding was approved to teach the medical crew some dentistry before they head south to the frozen continent, instead of waiting for them to call me with questions like “If teeth really matter, how come they don’t teach anything about them in medical or nursing school?” Then Jim, who runs the program for UTMB in Galveston, TX, asked me how I wanted to teach the course, and I told him I would find a local dental office and we would practice on each other in a real dental setting. He skeptically asked how I thought I would find an office that would allow such an exercise, and thus the gauntlet was thrown. I did a few cold calls to dental offices and after one expressed mild interest, I sealed the deal by mentioning that we were trying to find an office that was interested in helping the US Antarctic Program- who could say “no” to that?
I joined the crew of 8 in Galveston a few weeks ago as they were going through orientation, and we spent 2 afternoons in the dental office I had secured taking x-rays, doing exams, and then practicing fillings on some teeth I had set up in models for their learning pleasure. Everyone seemed to enjoy the chance to root around in each others mouths with no tongue or gum lacerations that would take too long to heal. In the middle of the 6 day orientation I managed to corrupt my old pharmacy buddy, Tien, and we played hooky one day to go sailing on a lake on a sleek Hobie Cat. Inexplicably we somehow managed to irritate our coworkers with texts and photos of our sailing adventure while they sat in class.
In local news, Colorado Springs was back on the Pickleball map by unveiling 15 spanking new courts downtown last week, and when the politicians finally stopped jabbering to the anxious crowd of a few hundred people, we got to play on a world class venue. I even won a new paddle in a drawing, which I happily collected even after a heckler called out “He’s a dentist!” like I didn’t deserve to win because all dentists are filthy rich, which I tend to flaunt with my lavish lifestyle.
Labor Day weekend means the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival, and I crawled out of bed at 5:30 this morning in hopes of seeing them launch and float around with the backdrop of the mountains. I wasn’t disappointed, and even after seeing them for over 30 years it was a treat. Hope your weekend is labor free, and you have a few more weeks of summer to soak in the warm weather.
I made it out of McMurdo on the right day but one plane behind after getting bumped off the first flight, but that sort of a delay is no biggie. Following 8 hours on a cargo plane it was a welcome relief to dump my cold weather gear in Christchurch, New Zealand, leave a box to be mailed home and have just carry-on bags to check into the downtown hotel the program had reserved for me. After a delicious hot shower I headed off in search of a noodle festival with the symphony in the park that the lady at the hotel desk had recommended, and made a nice evening of that before crashing to bed.
Next round was a 4:30am ride to the airport for a 4 hour flight to Sydney, Australia and I thankfully missed a 5.7 earthquake by a few hours, which fortunately did little damage to Christchurch which is still rebuilding from the devastating quake 5 years ago. After hanging around Sydney for 12 hours, I boarded the plane for a 9 hour jaunt to Bangkok to meet Pat and start the vacation portion of my post Ice experience. It all went smoothly and I quietly joined her in the hotel room at 2AM. We spent a few days in Bangkok enjoying the sights and friendship of my Denver dental buddy, Ron before flying off to Cambodia to take in the sights, sounds, smells and incredible tastes of a new place for us.
The temples of Angkor were an amazing mix of 600-1400 year old ruins and towers, and on the final day I decided to see the sights by bike while Pat took a cooking class at a nearby hotel. I pedaled back to her class and when the 4 Chinese chef hopefuls had to leave early I was invited to join in the chopping and dicing that lead up to a sumptuous meal of our labors.
The next flight was 7 hours to Qatar with a doubling 14 hour layover to run out of the airport and see what oil wealth can buy. I got the lowdown from the flight attendant who lives in the capital city of Doha, and we even did a little currency exchange in the back of the plane since he needed some US dollars for an upcoming trip and I wanted some Qatar Riyals for taxis and food. We paid for visas at passport control and taxied out to the main market called the souq waqif for some shopping and a sumptuous meal at a Syrian restaurant before checking out the gleaming glass and steel buildings on the far side of the corniche, a 3 mile promenade along the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf.
Then came the mind numbing 14 hour flight to Philadelphia where I caught up on the remaining six new release movies I hadn’t seen yet and celebrated with a bagel and hometown Philly cream cheese in the airport. The last 3 hour flight to Florida seemed like a short taxi ride, and in less time than it takes to sort out the message from the Republican candidates we were showered and home in bed. I’ve got a few weeks in Florida to do some windsurfing, biking and play some pickleball before heading back to work in Colorado, and right now it feels good to avoid getting on any more long haul planes. Hope your winter is going well and send some news from home.
Frequent flier Bob
My time is winding down, but it’s been another great season on the Ice. Tonight I bag drag which means shIepping all my gear to be weighed and then palletized for the 8 hour flight to Christchurch tomorrow. I managed to win the ping pong tournament and celebrated until I challenged a Chinese journalist who was visiting from a research vessel that sent a dozen folks over to our base by helicopter, but it was a good diplomatic move for US-Sino relations when he beat me later that same night. A nice finishing touch to my time here the next day was a 45 minute snow mobile run out on the glacier to the area called Room With a View. The crane operator, JD and I shared a machine out there and back and enjoyed spectacular vistas of glaciers and ocean landscapes.
My dental services wrapped up yesterday and I awarded all those that lent me a hand with a signed certificate of dental assisting in Antarctica, which should add some muscle to resumes for the next round of contracts. The medical folks are all heading home, leaving behind one doctor and PA for the six month winter of cold and darkness, which I would like to do as much as I’d like to watch political commentary for the next 10 months.
Next stop is New Zealand for a night and then hopefully a last minute purchase of a flight to Bangkok to meet Pat for a week in Thailand and Cambodia. Then on to Florida to soak up the sun before making my way back to Colorado in mid-March. Hope your winter is going well and will see many of you soon on the mainland.
Bag Drag Bob