A Day in the life (Not at work)

Trip Start Oct 16, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lately I have been trying to get out more.  Earlier in the season I found myself very tired after 12 hour work days.  Not too happy with myself for not getting out and seeing this place.  On my days off, always taking naps inbetween loads of laundry, and watching movies because I was too tired to go on hikes.  I think it was a period of physical adjustment.  I eat about 5000 calories a day and this usually leaves my body in a food coma or two throughout the day.  One after lunch and one after dinner. 

Well you know what I say, inactivity breeds lethargy.  If you don't get out and be active, you will be more tired.  Making it almost impossible to be motivated.  Plus the cold is very daunting, if not the cold, then the wind, if not the wind, then the searing UV rays that burn your skin from the lack of Ozone in the atmosphere over Antarctica.

I finally snapped out of it.  Telling myself I was acting like a baby and making up excuses.  Before I knew it I was gonna be leaving not having done anything in Antarctica besides catching up on the endless list of movies that I would like to see but never have.  Fuck that, I say.  I an in Antarctica, I am getting out and seeing this place. 

So I slap on some sun screen, grab my parka and cold weather gear and head for the hills.  First stop, Observation hill.  Which I have climbed 3 times already in the same amount of weeks.  It's a great little climb.  Close to home.  The trail is steep, and the footing loose.  Plus the hillside is mottled with ice fields.  These will come in handy later on while I decend, as you can slide down in brief stints on your ass stopping yourself with your feet and moving left or right to the next ice field.

When you reach the top of Ob hill you find a plaque and a large wooden cross dedicated to Robert F.Scott and his men who perished in 1912 on a return from the the south pole.  They were just miles from their hut and safety.  At the peak just up to the left I find some Tibetan or Nepalese prayer flags. Not what I expected, but a welcome and refreshing splash of color in the mostly white and brown lanscape that I've been living in for the last month.

The decent is easy and fun, I feel like I worked off a few of those extra calories that I have been receiving from my nightly intake of hot fudge brownie sundaes. 

This is just one of the Hikes I have done around town.  I've also done the Armetage loop twice, once on Cross country ski's and once just hiking on foot.  That's a five mile loop that goes all the way to Scott base (the Kiwi Sceintific base) and onto the sea ice for the return to McMurdo.   Impressive pressure ridges can be seen off the shore near Scott base.  But the Americans are forbidden to go there by the NSF.  Which is really funny, because the Kiwi's have a flagged route so they can go inspect the ridge at their leisure.  Just a little taste of home,  the governing powers telling us what is good for us.  Whatever, I doubt that I'll be stopped from going there before the year is out.  Who will know?, how will I get busted?  I'm a big boy now, my Mom told me so!  I can go there if I want to. 

Last weekend, Lou and I went to Discovery Hut and up Hut ridge a short ways.  Another hiking trail right near the station I have disregarded until recently.  This is one of R.F.Scotts supply huts that they stored all their goods in and used as a performance theatre for entertainment during some of their many long stays here, about 100 years ago.  It was a short walk and we didn't do the whole ridge trail.  We walked up to the hut and peeked in the window looking at the artifacts on the walls, the old stores of food, and the dead animals partially mumified from the cold dry conditions. There is also a dead seal outside that is mummified.  It's pretty gross looking as blubber doesn't mummify too well.  Looking greasy and bubbly.  I didn't stare too long because it made my stomach gurgle.

Lou and I continued up to Vinces Cross, another of the many crosses commemorating people who have died in sevice to exploring the continent and finally on to another unique religous landmark Our lady of the snow (affectionately nicknamed Roll cage Mary), which is a shrine of the virgin Mary, dedicated to some of the service men who have lost their lives while running heavy equiptment and loaders on the Ice too late into the summer, breaking through, never to be seen again. At the foot of Roll cage Mary you'll find memorabilia and trinquits left by some of the people who have visited the shrine. As well as a good view of the town we now live in 

On the way back we checked out some of the local art and had fun posing in pictures.   Occasionally you will find some cool metal sculptures around town made by McMurdoites of the past. Thus concluding our Saturday stroll and satiating my need for activity.

I've also take a recreation trip on a passenger Delta.  We went to Cape Evans for a Ski back trip.  I originally signed up for the trip because I knew one of the historic huts was there and I thought I would be able to go in and check out a piece of history.  I was sorely dissapointed when I found out that it was just a ski back trip and one of the trip leaders riding in the front of the Delta stopped us short of reaching the hut so she could get an earlier start on the return.  Damnit, foiled again.  Didn't get to go into the hut.

So we exit the Delta and don our ski's for our 11 mile journey back to McMurdo. I thought to myself, that this is a trip for real athletes and I would fall short, being this was just the second time I've tried cross country skiing in my life.  "Well, just make the best of it Sully", I told myself.  "Look, your out in the wild, miles away from nowhere.  Take it all in, look around, take your time."  There will be another time for the hut.  It was a  beautiful day for an outdoor journey.   I paused often with my partners taking pictures of icebergs trapped in the sea ice, and a seal hole.  I also saw another Adelie penguin, and some Weddell seals.  Although the seals were really far away and they didn't show up well on my camera, I still could see them.  Then the skiing became a fun challenge.  Ealrlier before we left, the driver, who happened to be JonO, told us he would wait at the hut for an hour and then start back.  If he caught up to you, you had to get in and ride the rest of the way home, to McMurdo.  I started skiing faster, getting the rhythm down, trying to get away from the Delta, I didn't want it to reach me because I wanted to get another picture of Little Razor back, from  a different vantage point.  So I skiied and skiied, trying harder and harder to reach my position.  Finally out of breath I stopped and snapped the shot.  The picture was nothing big, but I like to challenge myself and I reached my goal.
JonO eventually caught up to me and I feined a fainting in front of the Delta, as if I had skiied myself to death.  We laughed as I got up and he opened the back for me to load my skiis.  The rest of the trip was fun as we slowly approached the rest of the skiiers.  Carl, Thoa and I rode in the front with JonO and had some laughs getting to know each other and teasing ourselves and each other about our short comings.  Good Antactic bonding!
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theskinners on

Looks COLD!!!
Hey Seany! Greetings from jolly England. Great to read the stories and see pictures. Good to hear you are getting out and about. Steve wishes you would have included a photo of the mummified seal.. gross. Take care of yourself. We will be updating our travelpod soon. Big hugs and love, the Skinners.

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