A crappy day and an amazing day....(LOTS OF PICS....EVEN PENGUINS!)

McMurdo Station Travel Blog

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Poobaca working hard in the sludge pit.
Well, some interesting things have happened since i last wrote. The two ost interesting things were my incredibly crappy day a week or so ago, and my amazing day today, but I will get to that. Here are a couple other things going on.

Tomorrow I have my first Bartender meeting. Thats right I will be working as a bartender at some of the most southern bars in the world. Its a fun thing to do that pays minimum wage plus tips, you can do pretty well actually, up to a few hundred a night in some cases.

I did finally make my move to the suburbs...however I didnt get the upper class suburbs of 211 or 210. I ended up with 201 which means smaller rooms, and a slightly longer walk. The upside is the heated bathroom floors woohoo! I will be living with my good buddy Mitch.
Me working hard on my crappy day.


Now... onto my crappy day...
Some of the duties (no pun intended) that come with being the fire inspector for the southern continent are rather interesting. One of them is doing safety standbys when someone needs to do a confined space entry. These are usually a storage tank of some sort that needs to be repaired or most freqiently cleaned.... such as the open pits in the waste water treatment plant... yes the place where everything goes when you flush it down the toilet. Poobaca*, our neighborhood Sewage Smith needed to go down into the one of three sewage "trains" that had not been put online yet to clean up some "pockets of sludge and the propeller". The sewage train is essentially the area where the sewage is treated by "fecal microbes" thats right, no chemicals its all micro-biology, and rather interesting also.
Preparing to board the delta.
The propeller is what helps circulate everything. So he requested a firefighter to be his tender to haul up the buckets of sludge, grease and hair. Firefighter Cassidy took these duties, and myself and the Safety guy were sent down to just watch over things and make sure all went well. Safety had a 4 gas detector for environment monitoring, and amazingly there were not enough noxious gases to set it off. Actually... the smell, while not terribly pleasant was not that horrible either. So down Poobaca goes in his rubber boots, and just starts rippng and cutting hair from the propeller , and shoveling out pockets of unwanted sludge. The part that interested me the most were the sprouts...like what people eat on salad, that were growing thanks to the various undigested seeds and such.
The first set of emperors of the day.
So something does indeed grow in the Antarctic. Overall it was a very interesting and rather fun couple of hours. So only a crappy day in the literal sense.

Now for my amazing sunday...
I signd up to be an alternate for a delta** trip to Cape Evans, approximatley 14 miles north of McMurdo station. The big draw of Cape Evans is that it is the locations of Captain Scott's Terra Nova hut. The basic story behind the hut is this...

Originally built by R F Scotts team on his ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the Pole.*** The hut was later used By Shckleton's party as part of his Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Where the men' ship blew to sea standing them at the hut for roughly 3 years, with no idea the fate of "The Boss" Shackleton.

The entire story of the hut and both expeditions can be found at the link below courtesy of the Antarctic Heritage Trust, who is responsible for the upkeep and preservations of these sites.
Captain Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova Hut.


http://www.heritage-antarctica.org/index.cfm/Human/Scott2/

So we gathered outside, all 14 of us to load into the two deltas and "set sail" on the white ocean for Cape Evans. The ride in a delta is best described as rough. A smooth ride on one means constant rocking back and forth. Most of the windows in the passenger area of the delta have spiderweb style cracks.... from peoples heads smacking into them on large bumps. The insides have inscribings of nearly 50 years of Antarctic Program Participants and stickers from all over the world. The weather quickly deteriorated, and at some points visibility came down to roughly 50 feet. Soon we heard from our driver on the radio to look out of the left side of the delta.... and there they were...
Writing inside one of the bunks reads "RW Richaras,August 14, 1914. Losses to date" ones of the names listed is "Shack?" since they were unaware of Shackleton's fate at that point.
11 Emperor Penguins out for a sunday stroll. All the typical oohs and ahhs were heard and i snapped some pictures. We then saw two more along the route roughly a mile further down... but the windows were too frosted for a picture.

Upon arrival at the hut we walked from our deltas about 100 yards to the Hut. Everything there is the original artifacts left over the years You must be careful of your step on the way up, not only for the tidal cracks in the ice, but for errant artifacts that cannot be touched or moved, even if they are very much in the way. The outside of the hut has sledges, skis, and somewhere under the snow that we could not uncover is a dog, which could not be taken with when they hasticlly left the hut after 3 years and had to be shot, to this day it lays next to the hut still chained up.
One of the bunks in the Terra Nova Hut
Inside is dark. very dark. We had a few flashlights, and luckily the flash on my camera did a wonderful job. Everything froms cans of cocoa mix to a mumified emperor penguin are still there. Even a newspaper from 1908. The rest will be explained in the picture captions.... enjoy!

*Yes he is known as Poobaca around station, and is an excellent person.

** A delta is a big orange people transporter that was brought down here by the navy. it is a bumpy ride that throws you around in back even with your seat belt on. These are used for recreational trips since they are very solid and can push throw a lot of rough situations and can also carry quite a few people.

***Upon his arrival at the pole Scott found a flag and tent belong to Roland Amundsen who had beaten him there by nearly a month using only trained dog sled teams. This is why the South Pole Station is known as the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. While enroute back to the hut, Scott and his men took a wrong turn and died in a blizzard. They were found a mere 11 miles from one of his supply depots where they would have been safe and alive.
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Poobaca working hard in the sludge…
Poobaca working hard in the sludg…
Me working hard on my crappy day.
Me working hard on my crappy day.
Preparing to board the delta.
Preparing to board the delta.
The first set of emperors of the d…
The first set of emperors of the …
Captain Robert Falcon Scotts Terr…
Captain Robert Falcon Scott's Ter…
Writing inside one of the bunks  r…
Writing inside one of the bunks …
One of the bunks in the Terra Nova…
One of the bunks in the Terra Nov…
Lab area of the hut
Lab area of the hut
R F Scotts desk in his private are…
R F Scotts desk in his private ar…
Dark room supplies in the hut
Dark room supplies in the hut
Close up of the date of the newspa…
Close up of the date of the newsp…
The second set of emperor penguins.
The second set of emperor penguins.
Crase from Scotts expedition.
Crase from Scott's expedition.
Seal skins and blubber
Seal skins and blubber
The anchor that held the ship of S…
The anchor that held the ship of …
Proof that something does grow in …
Proof that something does grow in…
Quick break on the way to the hut.…
Quick break on the way to the hut…
Sledges and skis outside the hit.
Sledges and skis outside the hit.
Self explanatory.
Self explanatory.
Food stores in the hut.
Food stores in the hut.
McMurdo Station
photo by: mtfd528