Polar Fun with Penguins!

Trip Start Feb 09, 2013
Trip End Oct 05, 2013

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Flag of Antarctica  , Ross Island,
Monday, June 17, 2013

Okay fun with penguins is a lie.  All daddy penguins are currently miles away caring for their little ones, while all the mama penguins are living it up and eatting all the fish they can manage.  Though Polar Fun is true!  

I have been asked often what does one do for fun in Antarctica.  No malls, only Skua (where people deposit their unwanted items-food, clothes, taebo tapes- in hope that others may find a new treasure).  No parks, though with a full moon we have some specktacular hiking trails and views.  The only TV channels we have are two Navy pre-loaded movie channels that play 4 movies a day, Austrilian PBS-like channel, and then 4 channels that show slides on the day's weather and what's going on in town.  So what does one do for fun so far from normal civilization on the harshest continent on Earth?  You be creative!

We had an Open Mic Night at the Gallegher's, the bar.  And since you know everyone on station (all 139 of us) it is like going to an Open Mic Night for people you all know.  We had songs sung by people who have sworen never in their life to sing in front of people!  We had someone’s opening debut as a stand-up comedian!  Guitars and fiddles were pulled out and poetry was read.  Nice to be in a community that anyone feels comfortable to get up on stage and take a shoot of "stardom."

Then we have people put on a Game Show/Magic Show in the Gallegher's also.  The bar gets used a lot.  The Game Show was epic!  Have you ever seen Minute To Win It?  This was similar.  Random volunteers were asked to come up on stage for various crazy competitions.  We had to “Who can unroll a roll of toilet paper the fastest without using their hands” to “Who could get the most signatures on the bottom of their feet in 5 minutes from the audience” to “Who is the fastest to get on a tightly rolling up T-shirt which has been soaked in water and then frozen outside the fastest.”  You get the idea.  Great to be in a community were people are willing to go on stage and make a fool out of themselves for the joy and entertainment of the rest of the community.  

Though my highlight the Game Show evening was the intermission.  Which was a Magic Show performed by our lovely Phil as "The Phillussionist!"   Phil is an icon of sorts here, who has worked in many different departments around station and the lead in Drunk History (a must see)!  And much like drunk history, Phil had had about 3 too many by the time he was up for his magic show.  Collin was on stage to set the mood with his fiddle and dressed as an ugly lady assistant.  Phil presented himself on stage by busting out of a paper poster onto a stage where a smoke machine was putting out a thick layer smoke.  Oh boys and their theatrics.  So dramatic!  The illusions were great from the ones that truly baffled me to the ones which were just funny (He made a cracker disappear by crumbling it up and calling is magic fairy dust).  Thank you Phil for just being plain ridiculous.

There is a tradition here in McMurdo during the weeks around mid-winter to have a Fun Run.  Yes, outside, but only one mile, Thank you Jesus!  I came in 3rd place in the female catergory.  Don’t tell anyone that there were only 4 women running it.  Shhhh.  We took off at high noon, though it was still dark as normal at that time.  I was prepared though.  I had my head lamp on and ready to go.  What I was not prepared for was that the battery in my head lamp refusing to work after about 2 minutes of being outside in -15 degrees.  No big deal, it was not like the entire ground I was attempting to run on was slick and covered by ice and snow, oh, yeah, it was!  Somehow I managed not to bust my face in the darkness, most likely due to glacier speed I was going since McMurdo is so hilly and I suck at any inclination.  It is at moments that I miss Galveston the most, especially for it’s lack of elevation, oh, and maybe it’s warmth, sunshine, and containing a lot of people I love.  Okay, no more remeinancing, back to running outside in Antarctica.  Wow, that sounds real dumb when I write it down, Running in Antarctica.  Sometimes I am perplexed by my thought process on things.  Take for instance my outfit for this run from top to bottom: hat, balaclava, head lamp, goggles, neck gator, tank top, long sleeved shirt, fleece, spandex running capres, tall wool socks, and tennis shoes.  I would like to blame T3 syndrome for the idea I had that the same type of pants I wear at home in Galveston on the hot beach to run in, is sufficient to run outside in Antarctica in the middle of winter.  I was soooo wrong.  About half mile in I was pretty sure my thighs were turning into two literal popsicles (grape flavor to be exact).  I don’t know if you have ever run on popsicles for legs, but it is not fun.  It took so long to get my thighs to defrost post-race.  Lesson learned mothernature.  You win.  You always win.

Finally you have to have a Medieval Party.  The Wasties (the four people on station that work in waste management) put on a Medieval Party.  I am sad to say that I did not go.  Though I would like you to see how amazing the customes were of everyone who went.  I am still mystified at where these people get materials in the middle of no where and being a closed environment to make these lavish outfits.  I feel at any moment I will walk into an incident like in the Movie "Elf" where buddy took apart the TV consult to make a beautiful rocking horse.  Everyone who attended was to be in a house of 4 people.  My favorite team was the Ross Island Serf Club.  There was a declaration of a tournament which people competed in jousting, alchemy, falconry, and horse showmanship.  I am blessed to be in a community that is willing to let there inner nerd fly high sometimes.

Hope y’all are having the same amount of fun in your off time!
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Kim Townsend on

Sounds like you are having a blast! Great photos, too. Glad you're doing well. :-)

Doddie Lord on

We miss you, sounds like your have a great time, cant wait to see you

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