Dry dive to 130 feet!

Hi undersea fans,

Last week the call went out for volunteers who had scuba experience to go in the Navy hyperbaric chamber and test some dive computers for accuracy, so Rob the aerospace doc, Lynn the flight nurse and I signed up. The idea was to go down to 130 foot depth and write down the gauge numbers as we ascended back to the surface, while ignoring the probable nitrogen narcosis that occurs for many people at that depth and results in a very pleasant “I don’t care what happens anymore” experience. Rob and I felt pretty buzzed at that point and would have played some hop scotch but Lynn kept us focused and we finished the task and the high wore off by the time we emerged back to the outside world.

My south pole time finished up without incident and I flew out on a brilliant, sunny day with the wind chill at 55 below, returning to McMurdo in balmy temps above freezing and plenty of oxygen. I was sporting my repaired sunglasses after making friends with someone who had brought down a 3D printer who made a replacement part for the broken arm on my glasses. Since being back, I’ve held on to my ping pong title, done some bar-b-queing on the ice shelf for the folks at the long duration balloon project, finished up some root canals and did a fair number of fillings and cleanings. To top the week off, we biked down to see a few penguins this afternoon who are hanging around waiting to molt into their new winter coat.

One more week before meeting Pat in Bangkok and doing some SE Asia touring. Apparently I missed a good snow storm in Colorado, but plenty of snow here to make up for it.

Cheers,

Hyperbaric Bob

 

Still smiling after descending in the Navy Hyperbaric chamber

Still smiling after descending in the Navy Hyperbaric chamber

Reading our gauges as we dive to 130 feet

Reading our gauges as we dive to 130 feet

Hamish the South Pole winter doc learning some dentistry

Hamish the South Pole winter doc learning some dentistry

 

The 3D printer that made new arms for my sunglasses

The 3D printer that made new arms for my sunglasses

The grow chamber at the South Pole for fresh greens

The grow chamber at the South Pole for fresh greens

Grilling shrimp and steak for lunch on the ice shelf

Grilling shrimp and steak for lunch on the ice shelf

Bird’s eye view of the cargo ship docked at McMurdo

Bird’s eye view of the cargo ship docked at McMurdo

A plump Adele penguin hanging out for his molting session

A plump Adele penguin hanging out for his molting session

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Pole News

Jim and I enjoying a few quiet moments next to an old Delta

Jim and I enjoying a few quiet moments next to an old Delta

55,000 year old ice at the Spice Core drill site

55,000 year old ice at the Spice Core drill site

 

Doc Sarah holding some glass clear ice at the Spice Core site

Doc Sarah holding some glass clear ice at the Spice Core site

 

Frozen C-130 at the South Pole and disabled plane in the upper left- note the line of people walking the runway looking for debris

Frozen C-130 at the South Pole and disabled plane in the upper left- note the line of people walking the runway looking for debris

Camping spot at the South Pole !

Camping spot at the South Pole !

 

Tourists pay $50,000 to fly to the South Pole for a photo op!

Tourists pay $50,000 to fly to the South Pole for a photo op!

 

Successful wisdom teeth patient wearing her teeth as earrings and a necklace

Successful wisdom teeth patient wearing her teeth as earrings and a necklace

 

The traverse team of tractors nears the South Pole station after 1000 mile run from McMurdo

The traverse team of tractors nears the South Pole station after 1000 mile run from McMurdo

New dental drills at the South Pole clinic

New dental drills at the South Pole clinic

Skiing outside the South Pole station to the geographic pole marker

Skiing outside the South Pole station to the geographic pole marker

Hola Icelovers,

              After only a day of delay, which is a shockingly low waiting period for  this place, I flew to the South Pole with a few friends to work on teeth for the  folks who can go nowhere but north.  Our C-130 skied to a landing and the plane  picked up about 30 folks who were heading out of there, but it soon returned  because of weather issues. Since all the rooms at the station were full they  became refuges on the gym floor for 5 days which was aptly renamed the  refugasium. The plane sat frozen through the night in 40 below wind chills and  was unfit to fly by morning, so it will be weeks before the seals can be  replaced and it can head back to McMurdo, so other planes have been making the 4  hour trip from McMurdo.

            Sarah the doc has been  filling my schedule with folks who are  planning to spend the 10 month winter season at the Pole, so I’ve been busy with  check-ups, cleanings and fixing a few chipped teeth. The one highlight was a  young lady who admitted   that she has been told in the past that her wisdom  teeth ought to go, but she said she didn’t have the funds to take care of that.  I countered that I could solve that objection, so after a few minutes of  contemplation, she said “let’s go for it!” The surgery went well, and when we  checked on her the next day she was presented with custom earings and a necklace  pendant  of   her  former choppers, which she proudly wore to  dinner that night.

          I’ve   fought off all ping pong challenges, won and lost a few games of  Scrabble,   and did a great 2 mile ski out to the ice core  project called Spice-Core as they reached 1 mile under the ice to pull up a 55 thousand year old sample that is as clear as glass. It looks like I’ll be here at least a few more days to train the winter doc and PA once they make it here next week, then head back to McMurdo for a few weeks of dental care before winter returns and I head out in mid-February.

Send  some news and don’t forget the sunscreen when you venture out in 24/7  sunshine.

Cheers,

       Pole dentist  Bob

Back on the Ice

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Rob and Andy join me on our first hike up Observation Hill  looking out over the frozen Ross Sea

Rob and Andy join me on our first hike up Observation Hill
looking out over the frozen Ross Sea

The US Coast Guard icebreaker opens a path for the cargo ship

The US Coast Guard icebreaker opens a path for the cargo ship

Weddell seals hanging out on the sea ice as it begins to break up

Weddell seals hanging out on the sea ice as it begins to break up

Hi fellow travelers,       

       After 2 weeks of building up my tolerance for heat in Florida, where it was 86 degrees on Christmas and New Year’s Day, I deployed south. After a nice 4 hour stop in Dallas for bar-b-que with my brother and sister I boarded the double decker Airbus 130 for 16 hours to Sydney, Australia, where I was able to catch up on most of the new release movies I have not seen in the last 12 months. Since I had a 12 hour layover there, I ventured out despite the non stop rain and took in a few sights before the midnight run to Christchurch, New Zealand. Two days turned into three after the flight to McMurdo was cancelled, but last Saturday I landed on the Ross Ice shelf in bright sunshine.     
       It’s been a great week of seeing lots of old friends and trying to remember everyone’s name. I’ve also managed to beat all the best ping pong players on the base, so now I’ve heard they are conspiring to figure out how to overthrow my position. I suspect we’ll trade the top spot back and forth over the next 4 weeks, but it’s fun to be the best for however long it lasts.   
     I’ve already done a few root canals, pulled a couple of wisdom teeth and fixed a few fractured teeth from a mosh pit collision and an aggressive kissing incident, where speculation is that in both cases alcohol may have played a part. Tomorrow looks like a good day for a glacial hike and climb up Castle Rock for a bird’s eye view of the frozen sea and distant Transantarctic mountains, since I’m scheduled to fly to the South Pole on Monday to play dentist there for a few days.  
Cheers, 
     Top Dog Bob

Antarctic telemedicine meeting and Iceland‏

Tromso, Norway and the Church of the Arctic

Tromso, Norway and the Church of the Arctic

Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, Iceland

Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, Iceland

Inside one of Harpa’s corridors

Inside one of Harpa’s corridors

Reykjavik’s famous concrete church is the tallest building in the city

Reykjavik’s famous concrete church is the tallest building in the city

Pat at Pingvellir National Park, where the Earth’s tectonic plates  are pulling away from each other about 9mm a year

Pat at Pingvellir National Park, where the Earth’s tectonic plates
are pulling away from each other about 9mm a year

Gullfoss staggering waterfall with about a dozen people standing on the rocks in the middle left

Gullfoss staggering waterfall with about a dozen people standing on the rocks in the middle left

Sitting next to a river of glacial melt in a lava pot formed by a bubble in cooling lava 8700 years ago

Sitting next to a river of glacial melt in a lava pot formed by a bubble in cooling lava 8700 years ago

Falls at Skogar with a long trail to hike up and behind the falls

Falls at Skogar with a long trail to hike up and behind the falls

Seals swimming among icebergs from a glacier in Jokulsarlon lagoon

Seals swimming among icebergs from a glacier in Jokulsarlon lagoon

Photo op among the icebergs

Photo op among the icebergs

Boiling an egg for a snack at the geothermal park

Boiling an egg for a snack at the geothermal park

Basalt columns from ancient volcanoes at the beach in Iceland

Basalt columns from ancient volcanoes at the beach in Iceland

Standing by 6 inch thick moss covered lava from the 1783 eruption  that covered over 500 square kilometers

Standing by 6 inch thick moss covered lava from the 1783 eruption
that covered over 500 square kilometers

Hi ice chasers,

       In an effort to combine a few cold weather destinations into one trip, I signed up for a telemedicine meeting of countries that have bases in  Antarctica held in Tromso, Norway, which is 200 miles north of the arctic circle, and continued afterwards to meet Pat, my mom and my brother in Iceland. Tromso turned out to be a beautiful setting at the gateway to the fiords of Norway and I got to meet all sorts of interesting folks from the UK, Australia, China, France, and Japan that deal with medical and dental issues when folks in Antarctica need to communicate with their home countries. My buddy, Jim, who now is head honcho of the medical side of the US program based in Texas flew in a day early to prep for his presentation. He discovered that renting a car with a GPS had limitations when he drove into a long tunnel, but figured he’d pick up the signal on the other end and continue on his merry way. Imagine his surprise when he encountered not one, but two roundabouts inside the tunnel, which resulted in a few misdirected choices and had him reentering the tunnel a couple of times before he got it right. After a few days there, I bid adieu to Jim and flew to Reykjavik, Iceland for the R and R part of my trip.

            Pat, my brother, Larry and my mom had arrived earlier in the day and found the first apartment I had booked on Airbnb, which turned out to be a great way to stay together in apartments and houses in new places for less than half of what a hotel would cost. We had a rental car and spent a week touring Iceland, which is chock full of incredible trails of waterfalls, glaciers, icebergs, volcanoes, and geysers, not to mention restaurants with delicious fish, lobster and lamb choices. We passed on the entrées of whale and puffin but stopped at most of the bakeries along the way to sample cakes and pastries. One of the more interesting snacks was an egg we boiled at the end of a wooden fishing pole in the 200 degree water of a geothermal park in one of the small towns along the road. It was good family time with lots of laughs and minimal discord so that no one had to be restrained and thrown into the volcano.

            Now it’s back to work, and Pat starts a new job tomorrow with Philips that might bring her out to Colorado more often, which would be a bonus. Hope your Labor Day weekend was a long, relaxing one and enjoy what is left of the summer.

Cheers,

      Arctic circling Bob

Jaunt to Japan

 

Pat’s view from the Sky Tree observation tower in Tokyo

Pat’s view from the Sky Tree observation tower in Tokyo

The Tokyo seafood market is touted as the largest in the world

The Tokyo seafood market is touted as the largest in the world

Cinnamon buns on display at a mouth watering bakery in Kyoto

Cinnamon buns on display at a mouth watering bakery in Kyoto

The Tokyo subway is filled with cell phone toting zombies

The Tokyo subway is filled with cell phone toting zombies

The obvious “Women Only” sign that we missed on the subway

The obvious “Women Only” sign that we missed on the subway

Moss lined trail to the temples in Nikko

Moss lined trail to the temples in Nikko

The sleek bullet trains are a model of speed, comfort and efficiency, just like Amtrak!

The sleek bullet trains are a model of speed, comfort and efficiency, just like Amtrak!

The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto is covered in gold leaf

The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto is covered in gold leaf

The bamboo grove was like a magic forest

The bamboo grove was like a magic forest

The remains of a building in Hiroshima mark ground zero

The remains of a building in Hiroshima mark ground zero

Hiking up a stream to a waterfall with Randi and Aaron in Okinawa

Hiking up a stream to a waterfall with Randi and Aaron in Okinawa

The mini conveyer brought sushi to the table after you ordered on the screen

The mini conveyer brought sushi to the table after you ordered on the screen

An F-15 ready to land at Kadena AF Base in Okinawa

An F-15 ready to land at Kadena AF Base in Okinawa

Pat’s Marriot points landed us at this beach resort the last 2 days

Pat’s Marriot points landed us at this beach resort the last 2 days

I got to dive one day in Okinawa with this curious clown fish

I got to dive one day in Okinawa with this curious clown fish

Konnichiwa Japan fans,

            Pat flew in a few weeks ago to hang out in Colorado a bit before we hopped a plane across the Pacific to visit Japan. It was originally planned back in 1991, but finally 24 years later we were ready to hit the streets of Tokyo. The city sights and sounds were reminiscent of many places with 10-20 million folks running around, and part of the appeal was visiting Peter and his family, a friend I’ve known since I was a kid in New York, who has lived and worked in Tokyo for over 20 years now. Pat and I took the subway around the city, and one morning Pat noticed that I was the only guy in the train car. Then she remembered that she had read about “Women Only” cars because of men groping the ladies during the packed, rush hour commute, and of course then we noticed the large notice posted on the wall. No one said anything though since it was obvious I was just another clueless male foreigner, so I kept my hands to myself and we slipped off the train without attracting too much attention.

            The bullet train to Kyoto that zips along at 200km/hour was a treat in itself, and we spent a few days there visiting temples and gardens. The bamboo grove in one corner of the city was especially scenic, and we were continually impressed with the clean, efficient and gracious nature of the people in such a crowded environment. It was as if the whole country took customer service lessons from Neiman Marcus or the Ritz Carlton, and it was easy to get used to having everything work and run on time. I also took a side trip to the now thriving city of Hiroshima to try to comprehend the devastation of standing at ground zero of an atomic bomb, and it was a sobering experience.

            The final part of the trip took us on a discount flight on Peach airlines to Okinawa to visit some Air Force friends I had worked with in Antarctica a few years ago, and the beaches, scuba diving and relaxed atmosphere of island living were a nice change. We got the local scoop on some great sushi, shopping, and tasty ice cream along with a hike up a stream to a waterfall. Hanging out one night with a few US F-15 pilots  was interesting too, and we learned that the Chinese and Russian pilots do not buddy up to our guys when they find themselves at an international air show the same way the Europeans or Israelis might share in the brotherhood of elite masters of the skies.

            All in all another good reason to add a pin to the map in the basement and return to work with a new sense of efficiency and purpose. Hope your summer is warming up and you remain somewhere safe between the floods and drought across the country.

Cheers,

Bullet train Bob

Fiji Fantasy

Bula island lovers,

            It was time to depart the frozen landscape of McMurdo, so I flew out on the monstrous C-17 cargo plane and spent a few days in New Zealand enjoying the thrill of going to the grocery store and hanging out in the produce section to inhale the aroma of fresh fruits. I also got to have some wonderful meals with friends before heading north to meet Pat in Fiji, a nation of dozens of islands about 1300 miles north of New Zealand in the emerald waters of the South Pacific. It is known to suffer from the occasional cyclone this time of year and regular military coups every few years, but is currently run by a dictator who goes by the title of Commodore and has promised open elections every year since 2011. Pat promptly flew in the next morning, landing at 6:00 AM on the flight from Los Angeles to multiple “Bulas”from the locals which means hello, and I whisked her away in a taxi to the ferry terminal to buy a boat pass and book an island retreat that sounded suitable for our first few nights. No self respecting Antarctic veteran makes reservations in advance, so Pat went along with that philosophy as long as I assured her that the probability of spending the night camping on the beach was as likely as the US congress working in harmony for the good of the people for the next two years.

Our first place was a beachfront $300/night rustic bure, or hut, with a quiet beach to ourselves and the sweltering heat to convince us to swim or shower every few hours to cool off. We got that out of our system after 2 days, so we hopped the ferry north and booked a place that promised air conditioning in a more lively setting. The Blue Lagoon resort, named after the 1980 Brooke Shields movie that was filmed there, proved to be a paradise of clean, cool dorm rooms for a third of the cost of previous place and spectacular food for all tastes. There was great snorkeling and diving with plenty of beach time in between the meals and naps, so we extending our stay and only left when it was time to prepare to depart for our homeland. Our last night was spent on an island closer to the mainland and the airport, that just happened to have a ping pong table next to the bar. We jetted back to Florida after a day of beach and snorkel time, and I faced the re-entry challenge without too much anxiety. I returned to Colorado the following week, and having worked my usual full time workload this week am ready for a weekend of hiking and biking. Hope spring is around the corner for you and the snow shovel is put away for the season.

Cheers,

     Bure-less Bob

The ice was melting on the Ross sea with the mainland across the open ocean

The ice was melting on the Ross sea with the mainland across the open ocean

Reunited in Fiji with a smile and flower leis

Reunited in Fiji with a smile and flower leis

The Yasawa Flyer ferry makes daily stops at more than a dozen islands

The Yasawa Flyer ferry makes daily stops at more than a dozen islands

Most of the islands in Fiji are ringed with coral and turquoise water

Most of the islands in Fiji are ringed with coral and turquoise water

Our air conditioned paradise at the Blue Lagoon resort

Our air conditioned paradise at the Blue Lagoon resort

The crescent beach and reef was as inviting as it looked

The crescent beach and reef was as inviting as it looked

Some cave snorkeling made for an interesting morning excursion

Some cave snorkeling made for an interesting morning excursion

A butterfly fish and blue starfish

A butterfly fish and blue starfish

A 3 day old hawksbill turtle in a protective pond at our last nights resort

A 3 day old hawksbill turtle in a protective pond at our last nights resort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ice departure and table tennis flurry

Hi Ping Pongers,

It started with an email from the former McMurdo recreation director, Mike who wrote me from Denver to keep an eye out for a new ping pong table being delivered from the cargo ship a few weeks ago. That led to a note from the current rec director that a crate was delivered behind the gym, and I was welcome to unpack and assemble it if I was so inclined. I gathered up some medical folks and made it our Saturday night project, since we were able to clear our social calendar. What we found as we stood out in the wind and sub-zero temperature was a hermetically sealed 670 lb. crate with over 100 screws holding it firmly together. Our salvation came from the helicopter hanger when a mechanic showed up with a fully charged cordless power drill and spent 30 minutes liberating not one, but two beautiful spanking new ping pong tables with nets ready for some serious playtime. We tested them out and I have returned a few times to route the remaining willing paddlers, but am happy to say I am leaving a champion on the island.

I got to do some final skiing on the glacier on a few inches of fresh snow yesterday with Paul, the flight nurse from Tennessee on his first outing on skis, and he was all smiles. Tomorrow the massive C-17 cargo plane is due to fly out with 70 souls and deposit us in New Zealand for a few days to re-enter the world of trees, grass, fruits, vegetables, dogs and children among other missed aspects of the modern world. It’s been another great adventure here, and now it’s on to meet Pat in Fiji for some beach and sun time. The presses are silent after the final Scallion was printed, much to the relief of the winter admin folks. Hope your blizzards are mild and spring is around the corner.

Cheers,

Ready to bask Bob

The 670 pound crate that finally yielded 2 ping pong tables

The 670 pound crate that finally yielded 2 ping pong tables

Reed, the winter PA and I test out the new table in the gym

Reed, the winter PA and I test out the new table in the gym

Weddell seals next to Scott Base basking on the ice

Weddell seals next to Scott Base basking on the ice

Fresh powder skiing on the Ross Ice Shelf

Fresh powder skiing on the Ross Ice Shelf

New Caterpillar tractors arrived for next year’s 1000 mile traverse to the South Pole

New Caterpillar tractors arrived for next year’s 1000 mile traverse to the South Pole

 

 

 

 

Real antarctic weather arrives

Hi weather watchers,

The weather finally turned into what you would expect for Antarctica last night with 58 mph wind, blinding snow and -24F windchill. The wind whipped water quickly melted the sea ice and the ocean was a frothy, white capped cauldron that was extremely inviting for windsurfing except for the temperature, so everyone hunkered down. It hit Condition 1 outside the station and Condition 2 around town, which meant only essential travel and no flights coming or going. Meanwhile the dental schedule keep plugging on, and I took out 4 wisdom teeth on a bloke this morning to meet my production quota and save him some greenbacks when he heads home in a week or two.

The winds are forecast to die down in a few days and I hope to get some cross country skiing in with some of the medical folks and fresh powder underfoot. Tomorrow is Sunday, our long anticipated day off and it looks like it’s going to be some time for indoor activities like ping pong and Scrabble. The real treat will be if orcas and other whales show up along the ice edge and we can get close enough to have a look without becoming a snack for a hungry predator.

Cheers,

Ski bound Bob

Balmy weather prevailed for the past few weeks

Balmy weather prevailed for the past few weeks

Blowing snow outside the medical clinic

Blowing snow outside the medical clinic

The weather and departure screen shows cancelled flights and Condition 1 and 2

The weather and departure screen shows cancelled flights and Condition 1 and 2

The sea ice melts away to reveal open ocean

The sea ice melts away to reveal open ocean

 

 

 

Dental services expand to ears

Hello hearing fans,

I happened to overhear Faye, our beloved summer doc, mention how she was getting frustrated over trying to relieve the ear canal obstruction on a patient for the past two weeks. I casually mentioned how I routinely used to peer into and remove wax from Lauren’s ears with some dental instruments when she was a little nipper, only after some guidelines from my hometown doc, Jonathon, so I wouldn’t ruin her eardrum. That raised an eyebrow on Faye but also piqued her curiosity, so we escorted the patient, Kate, who happens to be the girlfriend of one of my ping pong buddy’s, coincidentally named Buddy, into my dental suite for further evaluation. I took a look inside Kate’s obstructed right ear with my loupes and light, gently placed the end of a surgical suction tube inside and grabbed a corn kernel sized chuck of ear wax with my cotton pliers as she exclaimed “YES!” like sinking a three pointer from the corner. It was the highlight of my afternoon and I shrink wrapped her record sized wax ball and gave it to her to show her friends and post on Facebook or whatever else young folks do with bodily excretions they want to share with the masses.

In cooking news, I made Eggs Florentine with a side of kiwis and bananas for our medical crew to celebrate a birthday and the upcoming Super Bowl, which everyone watched while I cleaned teeth all afternoon to keep up my workaholic image and the income stream flowing. Paul, one of the air force medical crew that is assigned to our corner of the base followed up with fresh cinnamon rolls which had the whole place oohing and ahhing over the aroma.

The next day I made time to get a updated driving lesson on Delta Dawn, one of the Navy behemoth personnel carriers with Shuttle Bob, a veteran driver and all around good guy to anyone who has crossed paths with him. I’m hoping to take a Delta full of passengers out to the runway in the next week or two to keep my license active, even though the chance to drive a Delta in some other setting is about as likely as ISIS jihadists signing up for anger management classes. Now my schedule is full with cleanings, a root canal this afternoon and some wisdom teeth extractions this weekend, so it’s all good.

Cheers,

Wax-less ears Bob

Kate on the left minus her ear wax obstruction with smiles all around

Kate on the left minus her ear wax obstruction with smiles all around

Finishing up my driving test on the glacier with Delta Dawn

Finishing up my driving test on the glacier with Delta Dawn

Eggs Florentine and fruit for the medical crew

Eggs Florentine and fruit for the medical crew

Paul comes through with fresh cinnamon buns

Paul comes through with fresh cinnamon buns

The Polar Star ice breaker keeping the channel open for the fuel ship

The Polar Star ice breaker keeping the channel open for the fuel ship

 

 

 

 

Ice Grilling

Grilling flank steak on the glacier at LDB

Grilling flank steak on the glacier at LDB

Costumed ping pong at New Zealand's Scott Base

Costumed ping pong at New Zealand’s Scott Base

Touring the LIDAR roof with Erebus, the volcano in distance

Touring the LIDAR roof with Erebus, the volcano in distance

 

Fruit and salad, called "freshies" were a welcome treat for lunch

Fruit and salad, called “freshies” were a welcome treat for lunch

The Ocean Giant brought a years worth of cargo to McMurdo

The Ocean Giant brought a years worth of cargo to McMurdo

 

Hi Bar-b fans,

To satisfy my cooking desires I marked off some time on my schedule last week to spend one morning in the galley at the LDB project site. (www.csbf.nasa.gov/antarctica/ice.htm)  Three Long Duration Balloons have been launched this season carrying 5000-6000 pound payloads around the circular winds of the continent for a few weeks before being brought down and retrieved. The site is located about 5 miles from our little town, sitting across from the airport on a 300 foot thick glacier extending out over the ocean. As you can imagine it makes for an ideal bar-b-que setting, so I helped grill steaks in brilliant sunshine for the 18 or so folks that are still working there as the summer season is coming to a close.

Another field trip I arranged for our medical team involved visiting the LIDAR site on the outskirts of town in the area called Arrival Heights, which unlike imagined images of an upscale neighborhood is a squat green building sitting on a barren volcanic landscape that houses laser experiments shooting light up 80 kilometers (48 miles) in the sky to record conditions left from iron particles from passing meteors. It is an area with big warning signs that it is “OFF LIMITS” except for authorized personnel and reminds me of the “Forbidden Zone” in the old Planet of the Apes movies. I used to play a lot of ping pong with one of the research students, and was usually on the losing end so the head of the project remembers my humbleness and gave us a grand tour.

The big news in town is the arrival of the cargo ship, Ocean Giant, that is off loading all sorts of new supplies and equipment, including boxes of “freshies” that are getting stacked to the ceiling in the galley storage spaces. I scored a banana one day at lunch that was left on the table with the word “free” written on it to avoid any guilty feelings of absconding with someone else’s treasure.

Later in the week my ping pong contacts got us an invitation to Scott Base, the New Zealand station a few miles down the road, for dinner and some table tennis fun afterwards. The dental schedule here is packed but there was a request for me to return to the South Pole to do some cleanings, so I may have to load up some supplies and head back to the polar plateau next week. Otherwise I’m on the 2 ½  week countdown to meet Pat in Fiji where warm beaches and rum punch await us. Hope your winter grilling is not interrupted by a little snow or cold weather.

Cheers,

Medium rare Bob