The week ending December 4, 1994

At the moment I am not feeling good (AGAIN) and so don't know how this will turn out.

Sunday was a nice day and I went around the Castle Rock Loop with two friends. Two of us skied, one walked. It was a beautiful clear day and I felt so exhilarated to be outside. I just love doing that loop, it is about 7 miles all told I think, and you can really stretch out your legs and have a good time. My skiing isn't very good though, but I enjoy getting out and that is what counts! We walked from McMurdo to Castle Rock, about 3 miles, and then put on the skis and went down the hill (about another mile) then we skied on the flats to Scott Base and walked on the road back. We stopped for a little R&R at "Silver City", the survival school shelter that is about a mile from Scott base. There we heated up some water and had a cup of hot cider. It was very warm in the shelter and I took off most of my gear so as not to sweat to death!

After dinner I ran into someone from Information Systems that is a ham radio operator and had him give me a lesson on tuning radio amplifiers. It was kind of complicated, but I think I understood a little of it. I still want to operate the ham radio here, and it is nice to have someone that uses it show me.

The next day after lunch I went to the greenhouse to do my weekly checking of nutrients. The tomato plants are getting pretty big, it will be interesting to see if they produce. When I got home I found out that my roommate had left for Byrd Surface camp, and so I had the room to myself.

Tuesday I ran errands all day, getting all my Christmas cards ready to mail.

Wednesday it was a BEAUTIFUL sunny windless day. I walked over to Scott Base after lunch and ended up shopping a little. It was SO nice outside, I wish I had gone out sooner. I was able to meet one of the comms operators at Scott Base and look at their set-up. They have a system MUCH more different than ours, so it was good to see. That evening at work, Vostock station called at exactly 6pm. I always cringe when they call as they don't speak much English and I don't know any Russian, so it is usually a struggle communicating. This time they were asking for someone and I didn't understand what they were saying. Turns out there are some French out there, and one of their colleagues was here in McMurdo. It was really fun for me to sit there and try to understand. I could understand Claude (the guy here) very well, but the stuff on the radio was hard. Claude is from Grenoble, France (which is VERY close to Chambery where I once spent the summer) and he was so nice to me! It was very encouraging! I was able to carry on a small conversation with him each night for the rest of the week when he came in the radio room, so I was very excited about that!

Thursday I decided to go out to Willy Field and see the balloon scientists I had met in 1992. One of them is a ham radio operator from Berkeley, and he had done a number of phone patches for me when I was a cook out there. Unfortunately, he hadn't received all of his equipment yet, so he didn't have the radio set up. I was hoping to learn from him, but as it turned out I didn't have much time out there and he was busy besides. They are building some very fancy equipment that measures gamma rays in the atmosphere. This payload is just like stuff that is launched via rockets to be satellites, but these guys attach it instead to a balloon and let it orbit that way. They can later cut it down and retrieve all the info it gathered,; this approach saves a lot of money compared to doing it the other way.

It was another MAGNIFICENT day in McMurdo, and I was so glad I went out to Willy! I hadn't been on a shuttle all season, and the Royal Society Mountains were splendid and Mt. Erebus was spectacular!!!! Going out to Willy is an ENTIRELY different perspective: you get a feel for the vastness and WHITE of the continent (unlike staying in muddy McMurdo).

After I got back to town and had lunch I grabbed my skis and went out to the ice runway to ski back. I tried to take some photos, but don't know how they will turn out.

Friday, ho hum, the old sore throat and headache were back to plague me and I ended up staying in bed again all day :-(

Saturday I had made plans to hike the Castle Rock Loop again. I had also invited Claude, but he was too busy getting ready to leave for Vostock. He called me on the phone and I was pleased I could carry on in French on the telephone! I felt pretty sick, but decided I was not going to let that ruin a day off. I went to sick call at medical and got some pills, and continued on. It turns out that it was one of the NICEST days I have ever hiked the loop. It was overcast, but there was NO wind! That was a first. We were so warm we didn't even wear coats! Usually SOMEWHERE on the 7 mile loop you have to bundle up, but that day was amazing. I enjoyed the walk immensely and wished I had brought my skis...there was someone out there grooming the trail for skiing, AND there were amazing plate crystals on the ground, about as big as dimes! They tinkled like small pieces of glass as my boots kicked them around.

Work has been going very well and I am enjoying it a lot! When I go in the radio room the time seems to FLY by!