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16 November, 2003

Sunday, a day of rest?

The folks here in Antarctica work very hard. As you can imagine it takes a lot of effort to support hundreds of scientists or "Beakers" which is what some of the support staff call the scientists. There are many workers who are in construction trades, they spend long hours building, repairing and maintaining the infrastructure here in McMurdo. From here, they not only support the science being done in McMurdo, but maintain the life lines to the various camps away from here, including support of the South Pole Station. As Tom Larson, our C141 captain told me on our flight in, "McMurdo is the first land point in the straight line shot from Christchurch (NZ) to the South Pole. Although Palmer Station is closer to South America than McMurdo is to New Zealand, it is a shorter distance from McMurdo to the South Pole (Admundsen-Scott station) and easier to transport resources.". In addition to the construction crews, there are science support staff who maintain and issue gear, keep the Intra and Internet up and running, science labs functioning and a myrid of other operations all running smoothly. So that is a primary reason that McMurdo looks like a mining camp, lots of activity always going on and with the sun up 24 hours a day, the activity never stops but it does slow down a bit on Sunday.

So all this work makes one hungry and the food staff do an incredible job making a full repast for thousands of people three times a day. The food is good, plentiful and free! I overheard one construction worker trying to figure out if he was eating so much because he was hungry or because it was free. For Nate and me, the self serve soft ice cream machine holds a special attraction (Complete with hot fudge sauce, m&m's chopped nuts, Snickers pieces and more!). In the dining hall you see flight suits, Carharts, polarfleece jackets, ponytails, shaved heads, full beards, trimmed beards all sitting in no apparent segregation. Everyone talking about their experience du jour, because everyday you are guaranteed at least one good if not great experience and what better place to share your day but here in the cafeteria.

The rest of the week will become busier for us, on Monday we will take our High Altitude training course then later in the week we will go to "Happy Camper School", practice crevasse rescue and then do our shakedown camping trip before we head out to the field where the science begins. I must admit, I did not expect so much "ramp up" time in order to get out to the field but now that I am here and experiencing the environment, it all makes sense and understand why they do things this way. Antarctica is not a place where mistakes are easily corrected and the best way to avoid them is as a former principal of mine would say "PPP" or Prior Proper Planning.

So on this day off I will go back up Obs Hill to shoot some more images because every day brings McMurdo in a different light. Afterwards, I will probably head over to the Fire Station, to attend their Open House and see the demonstrations they have planned.

Below is a link for a virtual tour of McMurdo station:


This link is the McMurdo Intranet site:




This cross was errected in 1913 on Obs Hill, in memory of Captain Scott's failed attempt to make it to the South Pole and back. McMurdo Station is in the background

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