A lot of luck and clear skies brought our LC-130 skiing to a landing on the glacial runway of McMurdo last Tuesday evening around 6PM. It was a great relief after over 4 weeks of hotel isolation. Our cohort of 18 loaded into Ivan the Terribus, a 40 passenger aging wheeled snow vehicle designed for everything but comfort for the trip to the base. Five minutes later we were stuck and spinning multiple wheels from a combination of fresh snow and warm weather. The call went out for a tow, and a friendly bulldozer showed up in front 10 minutes later and pulled us to firmer ground for the 30 minute ride to town.
We checked in, got our room keys and I dumped my bags in a room that looked like the same one as last year, but without a roommate, and headed for the galley for some pizza. Dinner and a shower was all I needed to head to bed by 11.
I spent the first day getting the dental office in shape and started seeing patients before we were rewarded with a 2 day holiday. Hiking and pickleball were top priorities, so I secured the gym for 2 nights a week for pickleball with the rec department. Christmas eve was the first possibility, and one energetic young man showed up to play. He left a bit dejected after failing to beat the old guy but I told him how wonderful it was to run around and sweat a little for the first time in over a month if it was any consolation. I’m hoping some more will show up tomorrow evening to get a group of regular players to burn off all the good food the galley has been serving, especially the pies and tarts.
Yesterday I hiked up to Castle Rock and climbed to the top with Shawn the doc in 15 degree wind chill, which my burning thighs reminded throughout the rest of the afternoon, but it was worth it. Today it’s been pretty quiet and I’ll probably take a stroll down to the water to check for penguins after lunch.
Hope your holidays are quiet and your waistlines are stable.
Hi transport fans,
Hello frequent fliers,
We’re on day three of delays and cancellations to fly to Antarctica from New Zealand, but were given the green light for a 4AM departure. So we packed up our bags at 1AM and shuttled to the airport to start the process. First a check-in, then a weigh-in and sit and wait for the bus to take us to the Kiwi C-130 cargo plane. After 40 minutes on the bus we finally boarded and sat in cramped cargo seats for another 30 minutes.
The engines started and by 4:30 we were on our way for the 8 hour flight. I napped, watched a few movies and made a few trips to the back of the plane to the urinal inside a tent like structure. It was looking promising as we approached the point of no return where there is not enough fuel to make it back so we would be committed to land at McMurdo. Suddenly the captain came on and in some unintelligible, garbled static told us we were turning around, so with no choice but to sit for another 5 hours we hunkered down for the slog back to Christchurch in what is referred to as a boomerang flight.
We touched down around 2:30 in the afternoon, tired and famished. Back on the vans, and back to the hotel to shower and crash for some real sleep. Basically we flew 10 hours to nowhere at some cost in the hundreds of thousands with a light breakfast to hold us over.
Back at the hotel I indulged in another delicious lamb shank dinner with real silverware, and we were just informed that we will not be attempting to fly again tonight, so it’s off to bed in a while to wait and see what tomorrow will bring.
Have a good day and stay tuned for the continuing saga of go or no-go to the Ice.
Greetings stay at homers,
Inspired by a story shared by my hotel mates about a chef in a similar hotel quarantine for 2 weeks in Asia, I’ve employed the hair drier and iron to add some heat to leftovers. I acquired some aluminum foil from the kitchen crew under the ruse of wrapping up leftovers, and so far have enjoyed some nicely browned toast and reheated Kung Pao chicken and rice without setting off the smoke alarm or sprinkler heads in my room, which was a total measure of success.
A real chef in our group took it one step further and made a mouth watering grilled cheese sandwich, which I may try closer to our departure date to lessen the risk of having my wares confiscated prematurely, but in a tone of inquiry and adventure, “What could go wrong?”
In days filled with mind numbing hours to fill, the creative process can run wild, and who knows what could be accomplished if the steaming tea pot is employed as well. I’ve still got 48 hours to go, so feel free to send suggestions and I’ll see what passes my strict adherence to the rules.
Creative cooking Bob
Reheating chicken and rice
A neighbor’s grilled
Hola future Vaxers,
As we round the corner on our isolation timeline and are in our final week, I thought I’d share some insights into the personalities of the people tasked with making our stay more bearable, or not in some cases.
Someone from the “wellness” team calls every few days to banally ask how we are doing and if they could do anything to make our stay more comfortable. I repeatedly ask for real silverware and a ping pong table and always get the same reply of “No, I’m sorry” in the Glenda the good witch tone, knowing that the manual they are provided has a cover of unicorns and fairies but inside is just a single sheet that has one line that says in 250 font “Tell the sniveling weasels NO to everything!” in a pleasant manner.
Most of the Kiwi yard guards are cheery and smile under their masks as we walk lemming like in circles but one stands out who surely graduated with honors from the prestigious but less well known Auschwitz Charm School. She’s always threatening to revoke our outside privileges if we don’t stay 2 meters apart which leads me to think she gets a bonus pot of gruel at the end of the month for her exemplary discipline and adherence to the rules. She must have a bloodhound like sense that can detect deviants like my buddy Dylan and me who inch closer in conversation as we exit her field of vision.
Lastly some nameless, faceless demolition worker in a room next to mine is busy most afternoons alternating between hammering, scraping or applying a belt sander to the wall in an effort to either remodel the whole place or tunnel his way to freedom.
Just 5 more days of living the dream and then we either fly south to the frozen promised land or transfer to another hotel that promises to be less restrictive. Hope your viral load is low and your spirits are high.