Southern Living

Ready for a flight to the South Pole

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

Inside the DC-3- cozy but unpressurized

Scenery of endless mountains and glaciers

The grow room at South Pole of lettuce, cucumbers and other fresh green treats

Summertime camping awaits you next to the ceremonial pole