Awwwhhhh ya. At last. We finally made it. After unimaginable obstacles that culminated from the ridiculous amount of paperwork and medical visits, made all the more difficult by the way I choose to live my life in remote areas, this is it. I finally made it to Antarctica.
As I said in my last post, I finally made it onto a plane after my ninth day in Christchurch. An impromptu, much needed vacation was extremely nice but I was definitely ready to get back to work. My flight into Antarctica was uneventful. I mostly watched movies and talked to some of my new friends that I made while in the Garden City. It was cloudy most of the flight and when we actually reached Antarctica, there was too much cloud cover to see any of the mountains in the area. I did get a small glimpse of a cluster of mountains in a break of the clouds but it was blanketed in a thick cover all the way to Antarctica. As we descended onto the runway, I saw my first view of the Big White South in the form of Ross Island, the place where McMurdo Station is. We landed on the sea ice on a makeshift runway made by packing snow down. As we shuffled out of the plane in our full ECW gear, the clouds split and it became sunny. We saw the megalith C-17 cargo plane that left right before us. I kind of wished I came in on that plane instead of the cushy airline plane they had my group fly in on. It was seemingly majestic in the stark contrast of it’s pure white surroundings.
They herded us into our 70’s style wood-paneled transport bus for an excruciating hour long bumpy drive to the station. The windows ended up fogging up from so many people crammed into one bus so I didn’t end up getting any kind of view of my surroundings. We pulled up to the administration building in the middle of the base to sit through another meeting and orientation. Afterwards, everyone dispersed to their rooms to set up their stuff and wandered over to the laundry rooms to get their bedding and pillows. I got set up, found my way to the kitchen to get a bite to eat and went promptly to bed so I could get up at 7 AM the next morning for my first day.
My first day was very vague and consisted of making hundreds of sandwiches for hundreds of people. It was almost a blur since I found out when I got into work that same day that I’d be one of the overnight cooks until one of the field camps opened up. When the field camp named Williams Field Airstrip opened, I’d be the overnight cook there, too. Any overnight worker on McMurdo Station is aptly called a Mid-Rat. I wasn’t too sure about working the late night shift since I’ve never done it before. I’m definitely a night guy when it comes to work so I was glad I didn’t have to wake up anywhere near the time bakers and breakfast cooks had to wake up but I’ve never had to work all the way through the night before.
They let me off early my first day so I could go to sleep and start transitioning to a different schedule. I found it hard going to bed and sleeping all the way through the afternoon just to wake up at 8 PM and go to work.
After a couple of days of that schedule, I found it much easier to wake up at 2 in the afternoon, hang out and get some stuff done until my shift at 8 PM started, and go to sleep right when I got off at 6 or 7 AM. This way I could sleep when everyone’s working, work when everyone’s sleeping, and still be off work when everyone comes home for the day to hang out. It has given me a chance to get to know more people from the community this way, which is a huge benefit of being in Antarctica.
The Mid-Rat shift has also grown on me, too. My coworkers and I have almost become family on the night shift. The extravagant personalities from several people that work with me compliment my abrasive and outgoing personality every night and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to have worked with them in any faculty.
That being said, I’m also extremely disappointed that I can’t go to any science lectures or TED talks that they show at around 8 PM through out the week. One of the reasons I was so adamant to come down here was because of all the sciences that is associated with this place. To miss any opportunity to be apart of that makes my experience just slightly more negative than I was planning. I’m really hoping I can get the day off corresponding to the busiest science outreach day in the community here. We shall see…
My days have been a constant stream of new experiences throughout the kitchen, the station, and exploring my landscape. I’ve been finding it harder and harder to actually find time to sleep. This forces myself to stop and actually take care of my body sometimes instead of trying to do all the things I want to do. I have done a bit of hiking and walking around outdoors, which has been fun. When most of the snow melts off the island, I’ll be able to be outdoors most of the time. I’m also planning on camping out at the air field I’ll be working at. So many things to do, so many places to see, as always.
I don’t know what the future holds for me within the next couple years yet. The next few months are definitely gonna be pivotal in deciding what I’ll be doing for the next year and a half here in Antarctica. Until then, I’m not gonna worry about planning anything until at least January. I’ll keep everyone posted, though. As always, send me stuff!
Kristopher Loosemore-GSC #155/240A
PSC 769 Box 700
APO AP 96599-1035
I have a stack of post cards that I need to send out, too. Planes are finally able to get in and out of the bay so keep a look out for those to anyone that sent me their address from Antarctica. Enjoy reading!