Good Morning, dear reader.
It’s Sunday, 15 September, 2019.
I am currently two weeks into season 6 in Antarctica.
So here’s what’s been going on, I’ve been keeping a bit of a journal on my phone as I’ve been waiting for a chance to get on a computer and actually blog some.
We (first flight of Winfly) landed at approximately 1930 on September 1. The flight down was pretty uneventful and I was seated at the front of the C-17 so I was able to be one of the first people out of the plane.
After zipping up my Big Red and throwing on my backpack, I walked down the steps of the plane and started walking towards Ivan the Terra-bus, the deltas and the vans. About 20 feet away from the plane, I saw two of the firefighters walking towards me. I immediately recognized both of them. One of them was the winterover Captain, Emily and the other was Catfish. He and I flew down together at Winfly last year and I count him as one of my closest friends. He and I practically tackled each other with hugs. After a quick Hello, I got into one of the vans to transport back to McMurdo.
After arriving, all of us went to an on-ice orientation in the Galley with some super delicious pizza waiting on us. After about 45 minutes, we were able to trudge over to the Firehouse to pick up our pagers. I think I may have audibly squealed when I saw all of my friends when I arrived. Marsha and Wes had come in to work the flight so I was able to see both of them. As the crews returned from the airfield, I got more hugs from everyone and then we were off to collect our luggage.
This year, I’m in dorm 208. I don’t have the magnificent views that I had from my dorm room last year, but that’s okay. I’m not in my room that often anyway.
After lugging all of my bags up to my room, I went in search of another friend from last year who just finished his first winter on the ice. I managed to track down Z for hugs and then returned to my room to chat with Marsha for a bit while I sorted through my belongings. We were laughing and chatting when there was a sudden knock at my door. I opened the door to find Catfish standing there with my oil diffuser and leftover essential oils, which was a nice surprise, but the news he brought was even more exciting. There were auroras popping all over town.
So I threw on my big red and grabbed my camera and tripod and headed downstairs. *side note* I was dressed in leggings and had on tennis shoes, but the adrenaline rush kept me pretty warm during the two hours I was outside.
Sorry these are out of focus but, it’s been a while since I’ve done any night photography.
We watched the aurora dance across the sky over Winter Quarters Bay and then realized that the better viewing was actually OVER town. The light pollution normally drowns out the colors but the lady was beautiful and green, right over our dorms! I may have shed a tear or two watching them. It felt like a great ‘Welcome Back’.
After spending about 2 hours outside, it was time to go inside and thaw out. I made my bed and took a hot shower and used hair conditioner for the first time in two weeks. Finally, after two long weeks of waiting in Christchurch, I finally felt like I was home and went to bed around 0315.
The next several days consisted of readjusting to life down here. Meal times, work, good talks with good people. Hugs and laughs. Laughing so hard that I spit out a mouth full of coffee, twice. We took home the trophy at trivia night Wednesday the 4th, but I honestly played no part in that win. I just sat there and kept everyone else company because I knew all of like, two answers.
We also had several more days of bad weather which delayed the second flight from coming for several days. But it finally arrived on September 5. Of course, this meant that it was also a Goodbye Day to several of my friends, but I’m glad they’re now back where it is green.
September 6 was a karaoke night. Fantastic time, as always. Not a lot of people here this time of year (current population is 277) so I was able to sing several songs. Overall, not too bad.
Week two was a flurry of training and getting things ready for our relocation to BL165. That’s right, the dispatch center for the Antarctic Fire Department is moving. Dispatch and Mac Ops have historically been two different work centers with different job taskings, however, we are merging this year. It makes sense because though we do different tasks, our two centers have been the eyes, ears, voice… hell the heart of McMurdo for ages. So this year is going to be full of changes, but hey, if I didn’t like change and challenge, I would NOT be in this line of work. One of my favorite parts of the amalgamation – WE WILL HAVE EXTERIOR VIEWS!!! Like this!
Weather wise, it’s getting lighter for longer here. It’s been wicked cold for a few days now. We actually hit Con 1 in town for about 90 minutes on Thursday. It was right when we were supposed to get off of work so we ended up stuck at the fire station for a while. But it was fantastic because Havoc the mechanic and I found some spam and eggs and cooked it up for a few of us.
Overall, things are going great and this may be my best summer season so far!
And here are some other pretty pictures for your viewing pleasure.