Antarctica, 6 weeks in

ANTARCTICA – 6 WEEKS IN

Yep, the time is flying!  Hows it feel, 3rd time around?  Its different, yet again.. Same station, but different – crew and accommodation.  And the accommodation is a biggie – five of us are in the new block, which is 8 rooms.  Its two shipping containers joined, with a central hallway and four rooms on each side.  Oh the awesomeness of being able to move around a bit, during a blizzard!  And to ‘visit’ others, so easy now!! Found that out this week – we have been blizzarding since Tuesday, and four days later, the winds continue to blow up at Wilkins.   So, 4 of us headed to Casey on Wednesday – 2 vehicles, the hagg and one of the case’s with the fuel trailer.  What a trip, 3 hours normally, but 9 hours later we arrived at station – partly due to reduced speed in a blizz (I was driving soley off GPS) and because we had mechanicals in the hagg.  Managed to get it going back at its normal speed though, for most of the rest of the trip.  It was the wettest snow ive ever experienced down here, insanely wet.  Random!  And this blizz was big, it had been up to 90 knots, which Ive never experienced down here, I think the biggest has been mid 80s.  I cant imagine being in a polar tent during a blizz like that, but I often think of the great Antarctic expolorers of days gone by, during those conditions.. yep, you cant beat a warm, dry room, with movies on the laptop and games on the ipad!

So, ive been ticking along at wilkins, day by day.. the tests and limitations are predominantly food based – we have the choice of beans, peas, corn or spinach for vegetables.  The spinach tastes like grass, and it gets everywhere if u use it – sticks to the pan, to plates, to forks.. its been aptly renamed by one of the guys as ‘blizz grass’ – couldn’t agree more!   ‘Blizz’ is not just a verb, its also the build up of snow you find in the built up on one side of a tiny opening, that you may never have known was there, ie a door seal.

So, looking very eagerly towards the arrival of the ice-breaker, which was on schedule to leave a week ago, up to the day before, when its crane was broken.. however, word came through last night, its leaving late tonight – oh the joy!  Some fresh faces and fresh food!  Double yay!

 

So, my primal eating plan is slightly skew-wiff at present.  I have consumed some grain products in the last six weeks, but, I also scored more protein powder from two different sources, which is a god send, cos I wasn’t so sure mine would last, especially with no set day of the ice breaker while we were in ‘wait mode’.  Getting to use the gym most mornings – which is bloody cold some days.  Usually, im the first to feel the heat, but find I can row or ride for half hour or so in a hoodie, or even a fleece jacket!  Along with the ‘breathing out condensation’.  Love it.

The night before this huge blizz hit, was stellar.  Not a breath of wind, sun out, very little cloud.. so I went for a walk up the runway – not quite to the end, but about 7 km all up, sweet as.  My mission is to keep doing that regularly during the season, else it’s a bit of a shock to get back to the real world and start walking again!  I did the runway walk once last summer – on the last day we were here!  And it was then that it hit me, I hadn’t walked that far (8km) in over four months!  Yikes..

 

The runway is starting to appear nicely, might be hard to say that now, since the 5 days of blizz!  Such is the nature of this great white beast!  First flight to wilkins is still on schedule for 20th December – which could be a nice clash with the arrival of the ice breaker, but, Im not required for any decisions on that front so.. let it roll!

 

Today I started my ‘met obs’ for certification.  The two week course in Hobart isn’t enough – we need 60 antarctic observations to then get certified, the certification being ‘Antarctic Aviation Meteorology’ – good for two years.  Im about 11 in now, so, 49 tomorrow.  Might get a whole heap more tomorrow though at Casey Skiway – our resident met obs dude is going to be up there as two flights (at this stage) are expected, so, gotta follow him wherever he is!

 

Rock on

 

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