Chilling at the South Pole

Radio telescope looking at the big bang, 13 billion years ago

Radio telescope looking at the big bang, 13 billion years ago

Chilly at the South Pole

Chilly at the South Pole

Greetings warm friends,

            I’m writing this note from the comfort of the station at the South Pole, where it’s been sunny and a steady wind chilled -74F for the past few days. I originally was supposed to fly out on Wednesday as the sole passenger on a fuel delivery, so I put my cold weather jacket, bibs and bunny boots on and schlepped up to the transport building for my ride to the glacier runway. After 10 minutes of hanging around, I finally asked a desk jockey whose job is to plan flights in and out of McMurdo and he flippantly told me that I probably wouldn’t be flying because they didn’t have a plane to make that run. I exercised unusual restraint by not shaking him like a bobble head and asking him the rhetorical question of “Did it just occur to you NOW that you didn’t have a plane, or is that usually an afterthought for a flight to the South Pole?” I ended up with a day off to hang around and try again the following day, where miraculously a plane was provided in advance for the 2 ½ hour flight south.

            I’ve seen and treated 25 dental patients, or Polies in the last two days, and was due to return to the big city of McMurdo this afternoon, but the weather gods caused that flight to cancel, so I’m here for at least another two days. There’s ping pong, pool, Scrabble, movies and dish washing to fill the time, plus over 100 interesting people who have either been here for 3 months or are planning to spend the next 9 months in the cold and dark once the sun goes down for good in April. When the plane is finally cleared to fly north I’ll be joined by 2 Polies that need root canals as soon as we land so I can put them back on the next flight to return to the Pole, since the designers of the dental clinic here didn’t bother to consult with a dentist to make it work for most dental procedures.

            Once I’m back in McMurdo I’ll have 5 days to departure to the sweet embrace of Pat and the green warmth of New Zealand for the next 2½ weeks before returning to the US. Hope your winter is helping to keep the oil and gas industry running.

            Cheers,

                    Pole basking Bob