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22 January, 2001

Fresh water is produced here in McMurdo using reverse osmosis to desalinate sea water. Because of this, everyone is encouraged to conserve water. In one of the first Polar Programs introduction videos it is demonstrated how to take a two minute shower. One minute for getting wet. Turn of the water, soap up. One minute of water for rinsing off.

Once you arrive here you find out during your recycle class and video that the desalination plant is actually producing more fresh water than is used and as a result your showers can increase to 4-6 minutes. It is also during this talk that you also find out that 40,000-60,000 gallons of solid human waste are mashed and dumped into the sound per day, 400ft from the water intake.

Back to two minute showers.

Standing in just my towel dripping outside my locked door, a sinking feeling sets in. I can picture exactly where I left my room key: on my bed. It must be Monday. Since I do not have a roommate, my options have become dramatically reduced. If I could find a phone and someone to call, I could wait 1/2 hour or more to be rescued. The second option would be to walk down the stairs through the galley, were all of McMurdo is currently eating breakfast, and find someone who could open my room. There has to be another way.

The room next to me is unoccupied and open. Slipping into the room I see there is a bunk bed pushed up against the wall adjacent to my room. Holding onto my towel, I scale the bunk bed and move the drop ceiling tile closest to the wall. Getting on my knees I climb up above the ceiling and move one of the tiles from my ceiling giving me access to my room. Damn, nothing to stand on. Using the bunk bed blanket as padding, tightening the towel around my waist, I swing my legs over into my room. Holding onto the wall with both hands I slowly lower myself down the wall. So far so good. Several thoughts flash through my mind. The most vivid is me explaining why Iím wearing only a towel, laying on the floor with a broken leg and open ceiling tiles leading to the next room. Luckily, non of those imagined scenarios played out.

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