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Finally, another post!

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  • Ben
    Whoa, it s been over a month since I ve written! No excuses, but better late than never. I don t want to bore you with the details, but it has been a busy
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 18, 2007
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      Whoa, it's been over a month since I've written!
      No excuses, but better late than never.
      I don't want to bore you with the details, but it has been a busy
      month. And I'm outta here tomorrow, so this will be the last message
      from the ice this season.

      It started out with a cruise out on the bay in the Coast Guard
      icebreaker, the Polar Sea. This was the first time in years that
      people have gotten to take a trip on the icebreaker, although
      apparently in years past it was an annual event. Now that I've done
      it myself, I can see why the old-timers were disappointed that the
      practice had been stopped.

      There were two cruises, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
      Luckily I was on the afternoon sailing, since I was up late the night
      before DJing a rave. So at a quarter to two I headed down to the pier
      along with two hundred and fifty of my closest friends.

      We chugged through the already-broken ice that was floating around in
      the channel, knocking chunks around like big pieces of Styrofoam.
      After we got about a mile out, the whales started showing up. One of
      the Coast Guard guys would announce over the loudspeaker that there
      was a "Minke whale off the port bow" or "a group of seals to
      starboard." On the way back, a couple of Emperor penguins swam
      alongside the ship for a little while.

      There was a Russian tour ship parked just past where the ice cleared
      out of the channel; they waved at us as we passed. We didn't go much
      further than that, and when we turned around, the crew showed us the
      icebreaking capabilities of the ship. We rammed the side of the
      channel and went probably a third of the ship's length over the ice
      before we stopped, and when we did, the weight of the ship crushed
      what was beneath us. A nice ship-shaped piece came out from
      underneath us when we backed out.

      Speaking of wildlife, I went out to Hut Point the other day and I was
      welcomed by a lone Adelie penguin. He and I had a nice conversation
      for a good half-hour, until I started to get too cold for my liking.
      Unfortunately I couldn't understand most of what he said, but it was
      nice to chat anyway. Somehow I doubt that he found me as cute as I
      found him, although he may have been just as fascinated.

      I took a few more people out to Pegasus and showed them the plane
      crash. I've put up a history of the crash up here, and a bunch of
      historical photos up on Flickr. Every time I go out there, the plane
      is a bit more uncovered. It's cool to see more and more of it. Maybe
      next year it will be mostly exposed. Of course, there's just as much
      chance of it getting completely drifted over.

      I've finished another draft of the book, shaved Antarctica into my
      head, and done a lot of music trading over the past few weeks. No
      more DJing, but plenty of music happening. Neoma and I have been
      planning our various trips over the summer: East Coast, West Coast,
      Colorado, and South America. Busy busy!

      Believe it or not, I've gained weight! Indeed, I have put on ten
      pounds or so since I got here. I had a feeling that was happening,
      since my pants began fitting a bit more snugly than usual. So I
      decided to go up Ob Hill to get some exercise. I learned quickly that
      I am out of shape! Like, the worst shape I've ever been in. I barely
      made it halfway without stopping, and by the time I got to the top I
      was in pain. But I made it, and saw my friends Eric and Lisa at the
      top. The next day I went halfway up and then all the way around,
      something I've never done before. There was a nice blanket of snow, a
      rare sight on the hill. Snow makes everything look so nice, so soft.
      It was a treat to be walking through it in solitude. My solitude was
      briefly broken when, as I was lying down relaxing and swimming in my
      own thoughts, a skua tried to land on me. I opened my eyes to see him
      about five feet above me, ready to come down and see if I was edible.
      Had I not been startled I would have let him try it, just to see if
      he would actually land on me. That would have been impressive.
      I've gone up twice more, both on the same day. I'm feeling better and
      my muscles, while initially unhappy, are glad to be getting some use
      again. I'm sure once I'm out hitchhiking again I'll start burning the
      calories like I normally do.

      Work slowed down considerably over the course of the month, as I
      finished all the furnace cleanings around mid-January. I did get to
      learn how to fire a rocket toilet, aka incinerating toilet. I went
      with a couple of coworkers up to Arrival Heights, way above the main
      station, and helped dismantle their toilet. Once a year the burner
      and a few other things have to be replaced. It wasn't too bad of a
      job, until we tested it out. We let it fire for an hour (it takes
      from one to four hours to burn a full toilet) and I stupidly opened
      the lid to see how far it got. A got a face full of hot shit-steam.
      Not a nice thing at all. I nearly hurled on the spot. Next time I'll
      let it cool first.

      No more posts from Antarctica this year. I hope you've enjoyed the
      season as much as I have. Next post will probably be from North Carolina!

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