Finally, another post!
- 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!