Sunday, January 20, 2013

Days 85-88, January 17-20th, 2013 -- McMurdo Life

Again, the past few days, more of the same. The balloon has now come most of the way around the continent, at about longitude -163 at the time of this writing, but in order for it to land in a reasonable spot we have to wait for it to get to about longitude +157, which is 40 more degrees (longitude is measured from -180 to +180, with the prime meridian at 0). Given that it's been traveling at about 16-17 degrees per day, that means we've got a little over two days until our projected termination date/time.

So we just get to wait around in McMurdo and truly experience what life is like in the largest base in Antarctica. On Thursday, Michele and I went out to Hut Point to look for penguins. We saw one sitting on the ice off in the distance, but it went into the water as soon as a helicopter flew overhead. After that, no more penguins, but we did see a skua (boring) as well as what looked to be a seal swimming out in the open water near Hut Point.

Later that day, we walked to Scott Base, which is about 3 miles from McMurdo on the other side of the hill. I had never been to the store so I wanted to check out their selection of t-shirts and other souvenirs. In the evening we all attended a talk given by a doctor/astronaut/mountain climber (yes, I'm serious) who talked about his experiences on seven shuttle flights as well as his two attempts at climbing Mt. Everest (the second successful).

I don't remember what I did on Friday, but on Saturday I decided to volunteer in the galley during the afternoon. At first they had me help washing serving dishes, and when I was done with that I asked for more work -- apparently I'm the first volunteer they've had this season that has done so! I was then given a mop and mopped the entire service area. After returning the mop, I was recruited by the baking team who is currently shorthanded -- I helped with some of the prep work for both Sunday brunch and Saturday night's dinner. It was a lot of fun, and I got a sweet hat (I'll try and remember to take a picture of it for the next post).

In the evening, after dinner, I took part in the 2nd Annual Mustache Roulette. This, though not officially a fundraiser due to NSF rules, was a way to help a couple different charities by submitting one's facial hair to razor-related embarrassment. I was going to type out how it all works, but basically it's an excuse to have fun, shave some crazy 'staches, and raise money for good causes. I ended up getting my mustache shorn in a Batman-logo-style design, and two girls actually shaved their heads. They ended up raising over $1600 -- pretty impressive!

Pictures (including the 'stache, of course):

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