Since Sarah went to Antarctica I have wrestled with the same notions many friends and family have dealt with as well. Why? What? Is this something I want to do? How do I feel about someone I care about doing something like this?
Books read, documentaries watched, contacts made via Sarah... none of it compared to her talking about Antarctica when she came back. Her excitement connected to the part of me that loves to travel and experience new places. The issue never rested in a 'do I want to go there' but more in the 'do I want to go there and work for months' sort of deal.
Well now I've been here for just over a week and Antarctica has not disappointed at all. Just stepping onto the continent feels as though you are stepping directly into an epic storyline and that is because when you come here that is exactly what you are doing! Just go read about all of the explorers.
(The first picture is of my flight in on the C130 Hercules. Just flying on this big boy was an experience worth having. I was pumped up)
So here I am in Antarctica and I'm in route to head to the South Pole where I will be a Logistics guy, a material person who moves things around and does a giant load of inventory on a regular basis. When I'm not doing that I'll be digging in the snow and ice looking for lost treasures, or just things that have been set aside and need to be recovered for obvious reasons.
I'm excited, nervous, bewildered, and ready to work...hard. It's going to be good hard work. This week I've been getting trained in McMurdo, our American base down on the coast, and am slotted to head down to Pole this Saturday. We will see as flights can sometimes get delayed for a week due to weather.
(Ivan the Terra Bus is our shuttle to get from the ice runway our C130 landed on to the base)
The day after I got here a vessel came in with tons of goods that needed to be unloaded to the base. This meant a few things for my particular job. Not a good time to get trained but a good time to be there for extra manual labor. A few good long twelve hour days because they need to get the ship unloaded stat. It was a work, eat, work, and then try to get a run in sort of week. Definitely a great week but still tired and working on not spacing out and staring at the wall when no one is talking to me. I think we may have a day off coming soon that will replace the one we worked through and that will help for sure!
It's been a fantastic week of learning the small stuff while big things were happening all around me. The weather has been surprisingly pleasant, for the most part albeit a little cold, and I have been able to get a few runs in. There is a picture below of one of my new favorite trails around Observation Hill here just beside McMurdo. The trail is hilly and over loose volcanic rock and traverses to the other side of the hill from the base. There are some points on the trail when one can feel as if they are miles from anyone even though it's only just under a three mile loop. Pretty amazing runs with one down to Scott Base (the Kiwi base) and past down to the ice just for fun.
(My pic of satisfaction upon first arriving at McMurdo. There will be a similar pic at the South Pole that will mean so much more to me because that is my goal - 90 degrees South)
Then Sarah made it here! Yay, but we were only together for about fourteen hours before they whisked her away to the South Pole. We work for different companies and so it makes sense we are on different paths to the same place. I cannot wait to see her again and then spend ten months super close where she cannot escape! Bwa ha ha. It was a much long awaited feeling to be on this continent together and to share this place.
(Chapel of the Snows is the chapel here on base. Quaint and quite nice)
Well now that Sarah's gone I'm just a working man again, making sure goods get from one place to another or marking down where they were put so we can keep track of everything. More training is to be done before I head down and then we will be reunited.
The people here are great and super helpful. As the new kid on the block there is a feeling of being somewhat displaced at times but even then I'm not alone as there are tons of people coming and going for the random jobs that need done here at McMurdo. I will say I'm looking forward from going from this community of around 900 to the South Pole Winter over community of around fifty. I look forward to developing some lasting relationships and actually getting to know people. Here people know I'm moving on and so while it is wonderful to meet some folks, they and I both know it's only temporary.
Oh, side note. I met and have been working with some Kiwis who are in the military. I mentioned I am friends with a guy from seminary who is now a chaplain in their military and both of them knew him! Small world indeed and super cool.
(McMurdo and Observation hill in the background of this memorial on the other side of McMurdo)
More pictures so I'll leave a comment on each one. Having a blast so far and loving my Antarctica experience. Can't wait for the Pole!! Tonight if the weather holds out I'm going with a firefighter Sarah knows from the Pole to head on snowmobiles out to a unique site called A Room with a View. If we make it you'll most likely be seeing some photos of this experience too.
(Another shot of McMurdo in the background. This cross memorializes a man who drowned near this spot from the Discovery expedition)
Scott Hut. This was the home base for the ill-fated Scott expedition to the South Pole. Read about it.
The top of Observation Hill, this cross is a memorial for the Scott Expedition. Really great views up there and Sarah has still never done it! Ha. I've done some stuff she hasn't done.
Big deal when the ships come in. This year they had to cut through sixty miles of sea ice to make it to McMurdo. Crazy right. Lots of food on that boat!!
Cool shot with the sign and the boat! They were unloading that thing fast!
A pic while working. I had to shave my beard for the fit test for my fireman's mask. So why not do a mustache on the way. I shaved it for Sarah so she almost didn't recognize my baby face.
Part of Observation Hill Loop, I love this pic because you can see the trail getting smaller and smaller as it loops up the hill. I had just run down this which is a fun and slippery experience with these rocks. There is nothing for scale except for the dwindling trail. Really like this loop.
Part of the loop comes down close to the ice where some seals hang out. There has been little movement the few times I've run by but they are still fun to look at while running by, though being careful not to trip or step on a sharp rock.