Moai on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Monday, August 26, 2013

I Became a Winter-over The Day After Winter Ended

Winter ends when people arrive at winfly.

I walked out of my dorm last Friday morning to something different.  When I walked into the galley one of my co-workers, still in her down jacket, told me not to make eye contact.  She said, “Don’t even take your coat off, just get your food and get outta here.  And definitely don’t make eye contact, just head down and walk.”  Some were afraid of the new germs the new people would bring and others were saddened because they signaled the end or the ensuing end of winter.

Until that first morning I was excited to have more people around.  I didn’t realize that only 50 more people would turn our little world around.  In just one more week we’ll have another 100 show up. 

I can’t help but feel a little bitter when I see someone who just got here eating a big plate of salad or when they complain about how cold it is or how they have to wait a few hours in the morning for it to get light before they can work.  Luckily we’ve had these few weeks to start to adjust to the new community.

The Sun!!!!!!
Apparently the sun is above the horizon now.  The day after our official sunrise I saw half the sun from the hills above town.  I haven’t seen it since, but it is just a matter of days until I see it from town. 

Sun has made my world larger.  My walk to work in the morning is as bright as it was at noon a month or two ago.  I keep that in mind when I am pleasantly surprised to look outside during the day and everything is illuminated. My world has finally grown beyond just the street lights and stars. 

Nacreous Clouds paint the sky just before the sun rises.

The constant darkness is gone and this normal-ish day and night cycle will end in a few weeks.  The sun will constantly be up ending my cycle in Antarctica.  When I first arrived here in October 2012 I said to multiple people that I would never spend a winter here. Now, almost a year later, I am a winter-over.  

During the winter every person here was the same.  Now the new people have helped define those of us that have spent the winter here.  The winter ended when winfly started.  That is also the day we became winter-overs in Antarctica.
Nacreaous Clouds above Hut Point Ridge.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

If This Keeps Up I'll Need Sunglasses Soon!

Check out the glow from the lava lake on the top of  Mt. Erebus.
Some would say the Antarctic winter ends in just a few hours.  The first (and hopefully not only) C-17 of Winfly is landing this afternoon bringing in 50 people and some cargo.  Mail and fresh food are supposed to come in on the flight this Saturday.

Morning on the McMurdo Ice Shelf.
Venus shines beyond the "porch" of Scott's Discovery Hut.

Other people would say the winter ends when a few flights land in early September. For others it might end when the masses get here in October or when the sun comes up in just four days.   I haven't decided when I think winter ends, but I do know that I am extremely excited for the sun.

Scott's Discovery Hut near McMurdo.

Auroras above Mt Erebus during last Saturday's display. 

Mike drills to check the sea ice thickness.

Solar noon is just about 1pm right now. In the morning there is a faint glow on the southeastern horizon when I walk to work and a glow on the northwestern horizon on my walk home.  Everyday I walk outside at noon and feel like a normal person again because it is light.  I can see everything again and the mountains are clearly visible miles away. Even without the sun it almost feels like we're in a more normal day and night cycle.
A crack in the sea ice had healed enough for us to cross it.

Some days the dark would suffocate me.  It felt like it would never end.  Instead of waiting hours for the heavy weight of the night to end I had to wait months.  Now that the sun is almost here I do feel like the winter night is coming to an end.  There isn't much of my memory left and I have a hard time making complete sentences and finding the correct words for simple every day things, but I feel like I've accomplished something by surviving the winter in Antarctica.

Bridging timbers in place so the Hagglund can
cross over a crack in the sea ice.
Drilling into the sea ice before a storm came
in and forced us to return to McMurdo.

Monday, August 5, 2013

What Happens When I go Through Old Photos Part 3: Desert Southwest

I've always said that my heart is torn between the mountains and the desert.  It is obvious that the mountains and ice have won.  I'm not sure if it is the barren harsh environment that draws me to these places or not.  But also every time I am in the forest I ask myself why I don't spend more time in the trees.  I do know that a trip to the trees and the desert will happen soon after I get out of Antarctica.

The Mittens in Monument Valley.

Hiking through Halls Creek Narrows in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Grand Canyon National Park.

Agave Plant in Southern Arizona

Saguaro Cactus near Tucson, Arizona

Cholla Sunset near Tucson, Arizona.

I took this while updating the book Hiking Grand Canyon National Park.

Creepy birds

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

Mesa Verde, Colorado.

Yep, I need to go back to the desert soon.  Antarctica isn't the right kind of desert right now.