Journal report from Terry Trimingham January 15 through January 21, 1995
Wow, will you look at the date???? It is almost the end of JANUARY!!!!! I signed up for the birthday dinner yesterday (which is on the 31st) and it is strange to think that the end of the month is only ten days away!
Last week I ended up going to the cast party for the play when I got off work at 0030 on Sunday morning. There were still about 8 or 10 people there, but of course most everything was all wound down. I did get a few munchies. The cast said it was the best performance of all, the house was packed, with people standing all along the edges. There was a video made, so I am hoping to be able to see it sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Sunday started out gray, windy and snowing. For some reason, when it is snowing I don't mind the wind! I was very excited to go outside and ski! I was worried we wouldn't be allowed to check out as the weather did look marginal. It worked out though. We got going about 11 or so. As for the trip around the loop, it was GREAT! There is something so invigorating about being out there in the elements. It was a struggle to fight the wind along the ridge, but well worth it! Nobody else was out there, and it was fun to have everything to ourselves! When we got to Castle Rock it was all obscured by moist air blowing by (I think we were in the middle of a cloud!). There was no view at all! The snow was pretty deep too, but I can't remember when I had so much fun. That day, out at the instructors hut on the ice shelf, there was going to be an open air concert/jam session. A lot of people had planned to go out, but I didn't know if anyone actually would with the stormy weather. We decided to go out to the instructors hut to see what the action was when we got down on the flats. There was hardly any wind, and it had stopped snowing, but he snow was VERY deep. We had to plow through the stuff! We got out to the hut about 2:30pm to find that they were just getting things started. There had been a big party/jam session out there the night before and people were slow in getting started. A BBQ was set up with hot coals all ready. I put on a few Polish sausages and we had a snack. They had a chain saw and were cutting blocks of snow to put up as a wind screen for the BBQ. Of course there were some curious skuas circling overhead too! The wind out there was still blowing somewhat, and as we stood there a big group of people from Scott Base arrived with some fancy kites. They had them up in the air in no time and it was fun to watch them swooping all over the place. One guy tried to get the kite to pull him on his skis, but the snow was too deep and heavy (or the wind wasn't strong enough). More and more people started showing up; they rode the shuttle from McMurdo and then walked the 1/2 mile from the road to the hut. I had asked for a radio to carry when we checked out as the weather hadn't been so good. Some friends borrowed the radio to call up the musicians and get them out there. I was pretty sweaty from having already come a number of miles on my skis, and didn't want to stand around. It was too stuffy in the hut, and I could tell with all the electric guitars and amps in there it was going to be too loud to think before long. We set off and skied back to Scott Base and then walked to McMurdo, getting in about 5pm. After a quick shower we went to eat (they had New York steak and king crab legs!).
After dinner was the weekly science lecture. The lecture was given by a historian all about Scott, Amundsen, and Shackleton (polar explorers to this area and the South Pole in the early 1900's). He showed slides he had taken from old first edition books, and it was VERY interesting! One slide showed Hut Point with McMurdo in the background. There was only Scott's hut there, no McMurdo buildings at all! Very strange to think that I am walking around now where those guys did back then.
Monday afternoon I met a friend and we visited while I took readings at the Greenhouse. I was amazed to see how it had changed! I hadn't been there the week before and was surprised to see a huge squash plant with little patty-pan squash on it! There were also tomatoes, lots of peppers, blooming chamomile, snow peas started, and some kind of climbing bean that was in bloom too! It is so nice to go in there!
I like the evening shift as I get to broadcast the next days helo schedule and talk to the camps. I also give a "thought for the day" when I work that shift, and everyone seems to like that. I was expecting a mellow time, but it has been non-stop busy the entire week. I think I am getting used to it now. You just can't concentrate on anything for more than five minutes before you get interrupted!
Wednesday I walked over to Scott Base to visit my friend the cook there. It was nice to have lunch and hear all the Kiwis talking, they have such a different vocabulary than ours! I was amazed at the challenge of following their conversation! I also introduced them to the idea of peanut butter and banana. They thought that was a VERY STRANGE combination, and I assured them that it was very commonplace in America! They thought that vegemite and banana was better, but I wasn't sure that I even wanted to try THAT! In the evening there was a department party for information systems to celebrate the end of the summer. Some of the folks here are leaving for R&R and it was our last opportunity to gather. Someone relieved me at work so I could stop in, but by the time I got there they were starting to clean up. I did get to see a few people though.
Thursday I had planned to get together with a friend that had the day off to go for a walk. She woke up bright and early and saw a heavy, thick snowfall outside and decided I wouldn't want to do anything, so went to the gym to work out. I looked out when I got up and was excited to go out in the weather again. Anyway, I ended up taking the shuttle out to Willy Field that afternoon and walked back to McMurdo alone for exercise. The weather didn't look that bad in McMurdo, but once out at Willy it looked very nasty, due to the wind and blowing snow. I hopped out of the shuttle and bundled up and started to stride along the road. The wind was to my back (thankfully) and the snow drifted across my path as I waded through it. It made me think of the early polar explorers as I moved along in the weather, looking at the vast white spreading out in all directions around me, and the patterns in the snow. There was white stuff clinging all over my boots and socks and my black fleece pants were white on one side where the wind froze the moist heat radiating up out of my clothing. I got very warm after 20 minutes and it was quite enjoyable to be out there. It took me about 2 hours to walk the 7 miles back into McMurdo. After my walk I had a nice visit and some tea with the woman that didn't want to go out earlier, it was fun to have a nice chat with her.
Friday I spent some of the morning clearing out props from the set of the play; we are slowly dismantling everything and going to put it in storage for next year. I spent the afternoon knitting. I FINALLY finished the other sock (to complete the pair) I had given to my roommate for Xmas....glad she got it before we are out of here! Now I am going to try to knit a hat with the wool I have left. I don't know how far I will get though...
Saturday it was really pretty when I woke up, but I had a hard time getting out of bed! I decided to go climb Ob Hill, but by the time I got outside I only had time to go up about 1/2 way. I was very surprised to see the open water! It looks to be about 12-15 miles away (about at Cape Evans). The Polar Star is having problems with its computer system, and thus is only operating at 3/4 capacity. The Polar Sea has come down to help out, and has been busy cutting open the channel so the tanker and other ships can come in. It shouldn't be long now until we see some water in front of McMurdo.
Tonight is the art show. I hope to go (if someone comes in to relieve me). The art show is made up of things that people have been working on in their spare time (hobbies, crafts, etc.). Tomorrow is the Scott's Hut race (about 5 miles of fun run), but I decided I would rather ski so I will miss it. I have run in it the past 2 years, but would rather get out on the snow now.