After three days of poor
weather and constant flight rescheduling to the South Pole, I finally made
it to the South Pole Stations, Antarctica. This was it the "big"
Antarctica experience! Whenever most people think of Antarctica,
they think of a flat, cold, undescript landscape, everything that the South
Pole is. Except for the building that constitute the station, there's
no other landmarks (natural or man made) as far as the eye can see.
When I first arrived I was told to take it easy, so I wandered around that
afternoon and went to bed early. The whole philosophy behind slowly
easing into life at the pole is both due to the cold weather and even more
importantly the relative altitude of about 9,000 feet.
The next morning I took a tour
of both the astrophysical labs, which includes all the deep space radio
telescopes, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration clean
air facility. These facilities were a huge shock from the McMurdo
buildings because they all are built on stilts to elevate them off the
ground. The idea there is so that they don't get buried by the snow
that blows across the polar plateau and also to avoid influence from the
cold ground. Look in the photo album to see the new elevated station
currently being built for an example of this Antarctic architecture.
Later in the day I ran into a
friend of mine from Christchurch who worked night shifts in the Vehicle
Maintenance Facility. Since I wanted to see my friend and gain some
mechanical experience, I spent the next four three nights working in the
garage at night. One night I took a small side trip and even learned
who to drive Caterpillar machinery. It was definitely different than
working in the field with scientists, but just as fun if not more.
I was suppose to leave the pole
on the 21st, but since I had been delayed getting there and since I had
absolutely no objections to staying at the pole for Christmas, I asked
to extend my stay for a few more days. I was thankful they could
accommodate me. At the pole, every bed is valuable since they started
constructing the new station. Their population has increased also
three fold to 200 people due to the added construction workers trying to
complete the new Elevated Station.
Christmas dinner was great and
it was fun to eat with a much smaller, closer knit group at the South Pole
compared to the 1,000 people celebrating the holidays in McMurdo.
On Christmas day I got to participate in the Race Around the World.
This race was a 2 mile event that looped around the South Pole three times.
Participants were invited to run, walk, drive or do whatever they wanted
to complete the race. Some people even decided to ride couches that
were pulled by tractors. However people completed the race everyone
had fun and everyone got a Race Around the World T-shirt, one that I am
guessing will be unique in my closet for sometime. I finished off
Christmas day by taking m "hero" shots at the South Pole. I posed
in a variety of clothing including my ECW gear, my scout uniform, and my
venturing uniform. The process took time, but felt even longer since
all my uniforms were short sleeved. Don't worry, the outside temperature
was only something like -46 degrees with the wind-chill, not like it was
cold or anything.
Well, today I returned from the
pole and are preparing for a long haul in McMurdo before I leave for New
Zealand in mid January. Of course now McMurdo doesn't seem half as
cold, so I think I'll be able to survive until then.