Josh's Antarctic Adventure

Hopefully this weblog will help keep all interested parties informed about what I'm doing in Antarctica, what interesting things others are doing here, tidbits of info, and photos along the way Check out the Photo overflow blog at ...enjoy Please email me with any specific questions

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Location: McMurdo, Antarctica

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Second Season

Just in case anyone may still wander upon this blog, I have returned to the frozen continent for another 6 month visit. Check out the new Blog @

Friday, February 23, 2007

Saying goodbye to the land of ice and snow

The last flight for the season leaves today. This is not a good flight to miss, as the next flight in is sometime around the end of next August. We will be leaving about 120 people behind to winter over to do maintanence and get things ready for next summer. Today is a good day to leave as it is overcast, cold and windy.

The past week as been very interesting as everyone says goodbye and the vibe of the station slows to a near eire pace. I feel a little sadness as I prepare leave this unique, beautiful place, that I've called home for the past 6 months. However I'm mostly exited to be continuing the adventure as I explore around Australia and New Zealand, and even more exited to reunite with Melissa.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The season is coming to a close

February 12-18

The hustle and bustle of ship offload last week came to a sudden end. Now flights are scheduled every other day, taking 130-140 people back north, as the season is coming to an abrupt close. I just found out that I was lucky enough to leave on the last flight, scheduled for February 24th. The last flight out is a special one. It’s the last group of people to leave the 125 winter-overs, who will not see anyone new until the end of august. My cousin Charlie is going to winter over. This past week has seen the departure of many friends. Wednesday was a sad day for me, as several of my best friends left. Every other day, there are fewer and fewer faces in the cafeteria. There is a turn over of people as the winter over workers comes to town and the majority of the population leaves.

February 5-11

It’s ship offload time!
With the arrival of the cargo vessel, the whole station gears up for the busiest time of the year. Over the next week, us at the VMF along with most of the station, is working around the clock (2, 12hr shifts) to get the cargo vessel offloaded and containers of waste returning to the states on loaded. This was the situation all week, starting Sunday evening and finishing Saturday evening. During the ship offload all three bars are closed and liquer sales suspended.

Saturday evening the Polar Sea docked again and invited the line-handlers to party with the coast guard on the ice pier. One of the Coasties shares some of his home brews for us, they were very taste.

Marble Point !! Yeah!!
On Friday I got to take a helicopter ride to Marble Point and help close the station for the season. Marble Point is a small “camp” about 45 miles from McMurdo. This camp has several large fuel tanks, it’s basically a gas station for the helicopters flying to the Dry Valleys. My trip there was short, only about 1 hr, but the helicopter ride brought me along the edge of the sea ice, where I saw killer whales and icebergs.

Polar Plunging!

Scott Base holds and annual event where they invite the americans over to join them in skinny diping in the frozen ocean. Sure we have polar plunges back home, but it's even colder here. The salty ocean water is -2C (28F), not to mention the +15f temps/+5f windchill. So what the heck, bare it and grim.

January 29 – February 4

It’s ship season!

One of the reasons McMurdo is located were it is, is because there is a natural protected harbor where supply vessels can dock. We use a pier made of ice. Essentially it’s a man made iceberg. They build it by freezing layers of freshwater, cables and covering it with gravel (so it doesn’t melt). The pier is then tied to the mainland with cables and a flexible bridge.

Some people from the community (dad and I included) volunteered to be line handlers. This means that we get called (usually with a ½ hr notice) to meet down at the ice pier to catch the mooring lines from the ships and place them on the bollards. It’s a fun way to meet more people and a nice way to break up the day.

The “Nathaniel B. Palmer” came to town for a few days to re-supply and change research groups. The Palmer is one of two full time polar research vessels the NSF operates. These two floating science labs (with icebreaking capabilities) support several science groups studying a variety of ocean related subjects. Again I was lucky to get in touch with the right people and was invited on board for dinner and a private tour of the ship.

The Tanker ship “Paul Buck” docked on Thursday. The Tanker is offloading 6.5 million gallons of fuel. The fuel will get used by McMurdo, South Pole, Scott Base, aircraft over the next year.

The strong winds cleared the “bergie bits” out of the shipping channel, now there is ice free open water. One of the new past times is to grab a beer and walk down to hut point and watch the whales and penguins swim around.

On Sunday the “Paul Buck” left and the “American Tern” came in. the American Tern is the cargo vessel that has most of the supplies for next year.

January 22-28

Icebreaker Tours and Cruises

The work place is busy as usual. The real fun this week has been getting to know people and taking tours on the icebreakers. I became good friend with a group of meteorite hunters. These men and women have spent the past six weeks living in tent on the high plateau, searching for and collecting meteorites. They are in town for the week getting gear and samples packed up for shipping home, and hanging out in the evenings. Dad and I got to know the right guy, and got a very nice private tour on the Icebreaker “Oden.” It is a beautiful, well kept, modern ship. This boat has 2 saunas, pub (with draft beer), movie theater, and other nice luxuries. I equate it to a four star hotel.

On Saturday I checked out the LC-130 Hercules. These large cargo haulers are the only ski-equipped unit. They fly here for half the year and in Greenland the other half. All the supplies and people that go to the South Pole Station take these planes. These guys also supply field camps. They prefer to land on a groomed ski-way, but can land almost anywhere. Another neat aspect of 109th Airlift (the Guard unit that fly the LC-130) they are also the last unit to use a sextant for navigation. They still use the instrument to sight the position of the Sun to triangulate their location while they are flying. Of course they use GPS today, but still use a sextant on every flight to maintain their proficiency.

Harbor Cruises on the Polar Sea!!
On Sunday a lucky 450 of use got to take a 3 hour cruise on the Coast Guard Icebreaker the “Polar Sea”. On the cruise, we went out along the channel and saw swimming Emperor Penguins, Weddell Seals, and Minke Whales! We also took a few runs and broke some 14 ft thick ice. Breaking the ice was smoother then I expected. The cruises were a great moral booster for everyone in town. Everyone was very exited to go for a ride.

Jan 8-14
The Polar Sea found her way to McMurdo. They were in port most of the week uploading fuel and letting the crew stretch their legs. During the evenings, they held ship tours, showing what life is like on an icebreaker. The Shipping channel has been roughed out. Over the next few weeks, the icebreakers will continue working on the channel, making it wider and breaking the ice blocks smaller.

Waddles of Penguins!
One of the side effects of breaking open a channel for the shipping lane is the increase in penguin traffic in town. Just on the edge of town there were over 140 Adelie penguins hanging out and modeling for us as we take their picture. Once in a while one wonders through town. One little guy decided the middle of the road was a comfy place to take a nap, effectively closing the road most of the day. So what do you call a group of penguin? If they are walking on land (or ice) they are known as a “waddle”, if they are swimming, they are known as a “raft”

Party season is in full swing.
Many work centers are hosting community BBQ’s or social mixers complete with live music. It seems like there is a social gathering once every week to week and a half. The Helicopter hanger hosted a BBQ last weekend, and the waste management facility held a dance party this weekend. These are fun events aimed to keep morale high and celebrate the soon closing of the season.

January 1-7

Happy New Years!
I (along with several dozen other Americans) brought in the new year with our kiwi neighbors at the Scott Base Station. It was a festive celebration with music, a count down and champagne.

The Making of a Shipping Channel
The Icebreakers Oden, and Polar Sea have been working on breaking open a shipping channel in the sea ice. The channel will be used in the future for a fuel tanker, a research vessel, and the cargo vessel to come in February.

Sunday the 7th, was the annual Rugby game. Every year the some brave Americans from McMurdo, form a rugby team, practice all season, and challenge our Kiwi neighbors, to a game of Rugby on the compact snow of the Ice Shelf. The game resulted in the 11th straight year the Americans haven’t scored a goal.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ice Breakers, Drillers and Blue Balls

The Icebreakers are coming to town.
The Oden made it to the edge of the sea ice yesterday, and has started breaking the channel to town. The ice edge is about 25 miles away. The first 12 miles is thinner, easy to break ice, but then the ice gets thicker and hard to break. The Polar Sea is will be arriving in a few days to help the Oden with the thick ice. The Coast Guard guys estimate the ships to get here around the 4th of January.

Check out the Oden's stats at

Check Out the Polar Sea At:

There are a lot of interesting projects happening right now. One of the big science projectg going on is ANDRILL. It's an international sediment core drilling project. They are drilling through 85m of Ice Shelf, floating on 900m of ocean, and 1200m into the sediments below. The Core is studied by many different scientists, some looking at the types of rock, microfossils, pore water chemistry, ect.

Check it out at It is a great website, check out the little video journals.
This the hollow drill bit that is used to drill out a core sample of the rocks. This is the bit that drilled the last depths of the hole, this photo was taken about 3 seconds before being put down the hole to finish the job.

Big Blue Balls?

Stellar Axis is a large scale art project that was set up and filmed here. It was funded by the Antarctic Artists and Writers Fund. They are arranged in accordance to the southern night ski, large balls represent brighter stars. I try to be understanding of the arts and symbology, but I'm struggling a little with this one, I get some of it. Maybe you can figure it out at

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

First., Merry Christmas to all. My the holidays bring happiness to everyone. Second I'd like to appoligize for not keeping the blog site updated. I have been having problems with the site, and haven't had the ambition to take the time to figure out the glitches. With having the last two days off I decided it was a good opportunity to do it now.

Sunday December 24
Merry Christmas
It was a fun week; the mood of town was generally festive, with live music at the pubs, and small impromptu social gatherings. Work was very busy as we were trying to finish several projects and clean for the big Christmas party that was held in the repair shop Saturday night, it was fun. There was a live choir, tap dancing, snacks, drinks, dancing and a festive atmosphere. Tonight was the Christmas Eve dinner. It was really nice. There was duck, beef wellington, lobster tail, shrimp, pies, ect.
BLAST, a balloon born telescope . I got a tour of the telescope a few days before they launched it.
This is a picture of them launching the balloon with the telescope attached. This balloon is huge, the picture hardly does it justice. check out the progress at
For Scale, This huge machine is the baloon launcher thats on the bottom of the picture above, It holds the payload as the balloon is filled. The guy in the picture is Greg, a coworker

Sunday December 17
PENQUINS! Finally I got to see some of Antarctica's Icons. These Adelie's were just outside of town on the sea Ice just cruising around. It was another fairly average week at work, fixing vans and trucks. I went to a few small social gatherings, and attended science lectures. Saturday evening there was an all women talent show/ charity benefit. It was pretty nice, with singing, dancing, story telling and poetry.

Sunday, December 10
This was another typical week of work, science lectures, and socialization. Today was a tour of the Andrill core analysis group. It was interesting to see how they do core analysis, and the implications of the data.

Sunday, December 3
Overall this was another typical week. Attended several lectures, but socialized very little, feeling really run down, I am fighting “the Crud.” Saturday I got to help dad with moving the “Sea Ice Runway”.
Quick explanation on the airports: During August and September they build a landing strip on the annual sea ice, about 1.5 miles in front of town. This airstrip is used October and November, everything lands here. In early December, the ice starts to weaken and surface melt pools form, so they move the airfield. All of the ski equipped airplanes (C-130’s and Otters) land at “Williams airfield”, a snow surface on the Ice shelf (about 270 feet thick) about 8 miles from town. The C-17 needs a harder surface to land, so they use “Pegasus Airfield” which is build on the blue ice area, of the Ice Shelf, about 16 miles from town.
In early December, they close the airports for a few days, and move the support building (control tower, radars, fuel Barrels, ect.) from the “Sea Ice Runway” and move them to “Williams Airfield” or “Pegasus.”
Saturday evening, The VMF (my work center) took several vehicles and drove them out to Cape Evens for fun evening of touring the hut and exploring the grounds.

Sunday, November 26
Happy Thanksgiving!
Another fun week. I attended a party put on by the seal research team, it was much fun. Work was high paced, with a variety of things to fix. Last night was Thanksgiving dinner, it was very nice. Today I relaxed and watched two movie showings by Werner Herzog.

Sunday, November 19
Another typical week of work, science lectures, and socializing. Saturday I went to sea ice training (a requirement I was supposed have had before I take trips on the sea ice) but it was interesting. It was nice to see the Barnes Glacier up close. Today Dad and I groomed the castle rock loop with a Pisten Bully.

Sunday, November 12
This week was Pisten Bully repair week. I rescued one out in the field, and fixed several others. Thursday was the mass casualty drill. Many community members (my self included) volunteer to assist the medical team gets overwhelmed. Saturday I got to assist a seal research team look for suitable seals to study. It was pretty cool; we walked right up to many seals, looked at their identification tags, and drove around the sea ice.

Sunday November 5
The week started off like a normal week, with science lectures on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Thursday I took off work to assist the Mayo Clinic group with some blood sampling. Saturday the VMF had a Pig Roast. And today I hiked to Scott Base and Ob. Hill.

Sunday October 29
This has been a fun week for me. On Tuesday I attended Happy Camper School. This is where a small group goes out onto the ice shelf, sets up a camp, learns basic survival skills, and sleeps outside. We had four sleeping options; a Quincy hut (hollowed out snow pile), a Scott Tent (pyramid, sleeps 4), a mountaineer tent (sleeps 2), or a snow trench (sleeps 1). I slept in the snow trench. It was cozy, and I slept well. Thursday and Friday lead to going out to Little Razorback Island (about 12 miles out on the sea ice) to Rescue a broken Pisten Bully. It was I nice change of pace for work. Saturday was the Halloween party. It was fun to the dozens of creative costumes people have made over the last few weeks. Today I went to Cape Evans, about 15 miles from town and toured the historic hut that Scott and Shakelton used. Town Is at max capacity 1050. Many people waiting to go to the South Pole.

Sunday October 15
It has been a busy week in town with steady flights flying in, bringing more people and supplies to town. The town population has nearly doubled to 790 since Oct. 3. Saturday night was the “70’s party at the pub. Otherwise it’s been business as usual.

Sunday October 8
Oh No, Main body Begins
Winfly officially ended with the First fight of Main body on Tuesday the 3rd. The mood in town has been fairly anxious. The 400 people who have been cohabitating togeather for the past 6 weeks have bonded a lot and we all know that everything is going to change when Mainbody comes. For me that anxiety was a little different because Dad came in on the first flight.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Links and Tid Bits

Here is some general info and links to other interesting websites.

Auroras Over McMurdo!!...At last!..Sept 12 , Dave (my room mate) and I went on a very late hike and saw an impressive display of the Aurora Australialis. We stayed out and photographed them for about 1/2 hour (then the batteries froze). (photo by Dave Barud and I).

Antarctica is the worlds driest desert. The air is extremely dry. They add humidity to the air in the dorm rooms. Dehydration can be a real problem, I drink a full liter (34oz) of water right before I go to bed and often wake up thirsty, usually drinking another Liter of water or juice for breakfast. One nice thing is that when we drive a snow covered truck into the warm shop, only a little bit of water runs off, most of the moisture is absorbed(sublimated) by the air before it actually melts.

Time difference. We are in the same time zone as New Zealand. We are 17 hours ahead of Central time. So if its Noon on Friday here, it's 7:00pm Thursday evening in MN.

Check out my Photo overflow Blog

Other Links Check this guys site... This is what I am trying to do! Some cool videos from McMurdo Great general info about the continent a neat website My friend RJ's blog. Check out the stats on the C-17

What's going on in Mac Town

For the next few weeks all the departments are gearing up for the busy summer. At the VMF we are working 24 hours (2-12 hour shifts) getting vehicles ready (most of them were in a snow bank over the winter) and keeping the heavy guys going. The heavy equipment operators (fleet ops) are also working 24 hours on building the sea-ice runway. (Unknown photographer)

For October-December flights, it's actually more economical to build a runway on the annual sea-ice right in front of town. By December, the sea ice weakens (and usually disappears by February) so they move the airport to Williams field or Pegasus field (built on the Ross Ice Shelf) which are 14-16 miles from town. Right now there is no active airport, we are marooned until October. (My picture)

What Am I Doing Here

Here at the McMurdo station my (all of ours) jobs are to support scientific researchers by providing them with all the services required for them to carry out their studies. I was selected to work in the Vehicle Maintenance Facility (VMF) as a mechanic to keeping the fleet of trucks and Pisten Bullies in operation. My main ambition is to get to know many of the researchers, and the research they are doing.

The VMF with the setting sun. Working in the shop is always interesting, I'm constantly working on different pieces of equipment. (My picture)

This is Herman Nelson Heater, nick named "the Hermie". These semi portable heater use gasoline to create 400,000 btu's. They will heat a large amount of -40 f air to 280 f nearly instantly. They are all about 35 years old, and apparently no longer manufactured. They can be cantankerous to get running, but when the do, they work great. (My picture)

I'm using a "Hermie" to warm up the engine on this van so it will start. It seems like everything here takes longer then it should. Something as easy as turning the key to start this van took me almost an hour. I have to put a tarp under the engine, one over the engine, start the hermie, let it warn the van engine for 20-30 minutes, and 50% of the time jump start it too! We do use "block heaters," all the vehicles have at least three heaters to plug in. 1. An engine oil heater, 2. Engine antifreeze heater, 3. Battery heater, and if the vehicle has hydraulics, there is a heater for that too. (My picture)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Life in Mac Town

In this posting I'm going to try to capture what life is like living in McMurdo.

Here is just some of the Extreme Cold Weather gear they issue us. Not shown is a full set of Carhartts, several other pairs of gloves and mittens, and several pairs of wool socks. The central unit of the ECW is "Big Red" the large "Expedition Parka" I really like it. The "bunny boots" are nice and warm, they are a little bulky, they gave us "yak trax" (sole grippers) for extra traction on the ice. (My picture)

This is my corner of the dorm room. I live in building 155, which is attached to the galley. My room has two sets of bunk beds, but my room mate and I set up the room so we each get a corner to call our own. Unfortunately our room doesn't have internet, so we have to go to one of the computer labs. (My picture)

Sept. 3rd I went for a walk to the Ross Ice Shelf. It was very cold and windy. There are several marked trails so people can safely hike/ski around. When walking around on the ice shelf or glaciers the threat of falling in a crevass is an ever present reality. Several people have died because they ventured off the designated safe areas. The weather is classified in three categories. Condition 3 is good enough for outdoor recreation. Condition 2 is starting to get really crappy, with high winds, or extreme cold, 1/4 mile visibility. Condition 1 is less then 100 feet visibility, with high winds, and extreme cold.
This photo was taken during mild condition 3. (My picture)

Wednesday night (7th) a small group of us decided to do a night hike to castle rock. Castle rock is a rock outcrop on the edge of the McMurdo Ice shelf (part of the Ross Ice shelf) it is about a 3 mile hike from McMurdo. The rock is steep (think of it as a mini devils tower). One side is less steep, and is easier to climb, a rope is still needed to get to the top. it's not for the faint of heart. We had Thai (a Professional mountaineer among many other things) with us as guidance. It was about 11:30pm when we reached the summit. The experience was out of this world! The weather was perfect! Calm, Clear, -25ish, the moon nearly full, we saw a few Aurora Australialis (southern lights). It was a difficult hike. Over 6 miles after having just worked 12 hours. I was way overdressed, so I was working extra hard to keep up. But it was well worth it. This photo was taken (by Dave Barude) with a 13 sec exposure so it looks brighter then it really was. Mt Erebus (an active volcano) is in the background. for more pics check out my other blog (My picture)

Monday, August 28, 2006


Sunday August 20,
Left Minneapolis at 10:00am flew 1.5 hours to Chicago, then 2.5 hours to Denver. Arrived in Denver about 3:00. It was very hard to leave. I started feeling a little better when I started meeting other Antarctic bound travelers in Denver.

Monday August 21,
Went to Raytheon Polar Services Company headquarters for pre-deployment training. Then wandered around the mall near the hotel.

Tuesday August 22,
More training at RPSC headquarters in the AM, then boarded a bus to Denver International Airport (DIA). My wallet fell out of my pocket while on the bus, but after a few frantic phone calls, the bus driver found it at returned it. Left DIA about 5:00 and flew 2 hours to LA. In LA we transferred to a 747-400, left at 10:00pm and flew to Auckland New Zealand.

Wednesday August 23,
Skipped it, just didn't exist. We flew over the International Date Line and skipped the whole day.

Thursday August 24,
Arrived in Auckland New Zealand about 4:30am, after about 12 hours of flight time. Ironically I watched the movie 8 below while on the plane. After a few hour layover, we transferred planes and flew 2 more hours to Christchurch. Once in Christchurch I dumped my stuff at the hotel and joined a few "new friend" for dinner at a great brew pub, the "Dux de Lux". They honestly had the best pale ale I have ever had! (the bar tender said it won the worlds best beer in 2000)

Friday August 25,
Went to the Clothing Distribution Center at the United States portion of the International Antarctic Center. I tried on all my Extreme Cold Weather gear (ECW). Then had the afternoon off. A few new friends and I walked around Christchurch. We ate at and Indonesian place for lunch and a Turkish place for dinner. We checked out a museum, art center, botanical garden, and an old observatory.

Saturday August 26,
Had to meet the bus to the airport at 3:30 am. I put on my ECW and checked in my baggage. At about 6:30 we boarded the C-17. After a 5 hour flight we landed in Antarctica! the rest of the day was spent at a briefing session, organizing my room, and checking out the station. The weather is -15f with 20-25 mph winds, not too bad.

Sunday August 27,
Slept in a little, grabbed brunch then went for a hike. I did a self guided tour of the station. I went to the Crary Science Lab. I met some atmospheric researches from Wyoming. My timing was perfect; they were just getting ready to launch a weather balloon with ozone sensors, to monitor the increasing ozone hole. They offered to take me along. There is also a small camera crew here doing a documentary on "the human side of Antarctic science." As we were all just walking out the door to the van, the head researcher called the launch off. The wind was just too gusty. She was watching the weather closely, and thought that it would be ok, but in the errored on the side of caution. The balloon she was going to launch was worth about $1500 and didn't want to risk damaging the instruments if the launch failed. After that I went to the coffee house/ wine bar and chatted with a few more people. Weather was -10f and wind was 14-20 mph

Monday Aug 28
First day at work- my primary job here is to maintain the fleet of trucks, vans, pisten bullies, and other vehicles that get used in and around the station. We started at the shop with a meet and greet, followed by a safety lecture a walk around of the shop, then issued tool boxes. After lunch we stayed in the cafeteria and did training sessions on airfield operations, vehicle operations, and forklift operations. We then went back to the shop where we got training on the “Herman Nelson,” AKA the “Hermie.” The Hermie is a mega semi-portable heater. It has a gas engine that runs the fuel pump and magneto to a large burner 400,000 BTU’s, costs about $30,000 and discontinued in the 1970’s. There are a few dozen of them remaining here. They are old and can be cantankerous, but when they work, they work great. They take in -40f air, and blow out 280f air. They are used to heat up engine blocks so vehicles will start when they get too cold.

Tuesday Aug 29
First day of real work. Started working on pickups, checking them over and making sure they are in proper working order. The next few weeks we are going through the fleet of vehicles that were parked over winter and getting them ready for the busy summer season soon to come. After work I went to the coffee house and played dominos.

Wednesday Aug 30
More work stuff. We got out of work early for a town meeting, listened to people talk about changes in policy, and talk about upcoming events. Weather is still overcast and windy. I hope it clears up soon, the auroras are supposed to cool, but with overcast we can’t see them. There is about 7 hours of daylight, but it increases about 20 minutes each day. In a few weeks there is going to be no night.

Thursday Aug 31
The whole shop went to a stretching lesson. Then I started a van that was left in a snow bank over winter, had to use a Hermie. After work I went to Scott base, played a game of pool with some Kiwi’s and checked out their store and rec. area

Friday September 1
It got cold -30 and windy, -51 with wind chill. After dinner I worked on journal and typed a few emails. I’m starting to feel drained and stuffy, there is a chance I might be getting the crud.

Saturday, September 2
Slept pretty good last night, I wore wool pants and shirts to bed. I feel much better today. Worked on Pisten bullies all day, learned how to drive them, and how to fix them. It was kind of cool. I did a lot of work on the heater systems; I kind of specialized in them. The weather is nicer, only -15 and calm After dinner I went to the coffee house/wine bar for a little bit. Gallagher’s pub had a “beach party” so I threw on a pair of shorts, sandals, a Hawaiian shirt and joined the festivities. I loved the irony, a beach party in Antarctica.

Sunday September 3
I went for a walk up Ob Hill. The walk up the hill went well. The weather was -20f and the wind relatively calm. When I got to the top of the hill, it was a different story, the wind was fierce. I didn’t stay up there long; it was just too cold and windy. It was humbling being up there. The visibility was only 3 or 4 miles, so I couldn’t see too far, but the combination of the cold, the wind, and the snow covered scenery was a great reminder of the extreme environment I’m in. It is surprisingly easy to forget where I’m at, like I mentioned before I often feel like I’m just at Lake of the Woods. The walk down was challenging. The soles on my boots had frozen, thus becoming hard and very slippery. After warming up a friend and I (Ian) decided to go for a walk to the north of town and check out the ice shelf. After walking about a mile and a half, we decided to turn around. It was about -30 and at the top of the hill the wind was blowing very hard. It had to be over -50 with wind chill. I was nice and warm, I really like the clothes they gave us. In the evening, a researcher doing a study on seals gave a presentation about what she’s doing.

Monday Sept. 4
Started the 11 hour work day, it went pretty well.

Tuesday Sept. 5
Nothing too exiting happened today, worked on Trucks and Pisten Bullies

Wednesday Sept. 6
After work 9 of us went hiking to Castle Rock, then climbed it.

Thurday Sept. 7
After Dinner I went straight to bed. I was very tired from the long hike yesterday.

Friday Sept. 8
Worked on a few trucks to get them ready for the busy summer season to come. After dinner i did laundry and sat in the sauna for a while.

Saturday Sept. 9
Day Off. I toured the Powerplant. All the power here is generated by diesel generators. The water plant is powered by it’s own brand new generators, and the rest of town is generated by 25 year old generators with over 115,000 hours on some of them. There are 6 generators but only 3 are used at any given time. We use about 22,000 gallons of fuel/week. With that said, we are constantly encouraged to conserve power.
I then found the Greenhouse. It is very small, they grow lettuce, tomatoes, and a few other veggies and herbs. They don't use soil, they use hyroponics to grow the plants. There are a few hammocks, I think I Found a new sanctuary. We had VMF bowling night. We had a good time, things got quite silly. After bowling I socialized at the coffee house.
Temp -13, Wind 20mph

Sunday Sept. 10
Day Off. worked on computer, and watched a movie. This is just a relax day. The weather is warm (+5) but the wind is blowing at 35-40 mph. I may sit in the sauna for a while tonight, or go to the coffee house.
Temp -7, Wind 25mph

Monday Sept 11.
Worked today, fixed several different trucks and a forklift, I worked on "Ivan the Terra Bus" I'd love to show a picture of "Ivan" but I'm having troubles getting the blog to load any more photos... Google it. "Ivan the Terra Bus" is huge pictures don't do justice the tires are about 5 ft tall.
Temp1 -18, Wind 25

Tuesday Sept. 12
Clear night so I went on a night hike with Dave, went about 4 miles. We say some really cool auroras and spend about 45minutes trying to take photos of them, until we got too cold for comfort. Temp -24 Wind 4-17. Got a few good photos. Got in about 1:30am

Wednesday Sept. 13
Worked at 630am. Worked on an old Tucker sno-cat (used to groom snowmobile trails at home) went to bed right after dinner… very tired
Temp -24, Wind 17

Thursday Sept. 14
helped remove the engine from the Tucker sno-cat. The engine doesn’t run right so we might overhaul it. It’s a 6 cyl Detroit Diesel. Went to the Scott Base for a little while.
Temp -27, Wind 30

Friday Sept. 15
Brenden, and I ripped the engine apart, it had a split sleeve and ruined piston.
Temp -25, Wind 35 mph

Saturday Sept. 16
Day Off! Yeah… I walked around town a little, took a huge nap, worked on the computer. Went to the Scott Base for the “P” party Dress up as something that begins with the letter “P” for example, professor, proctologist, ect.
Temp -19f Wind 25mph

Sunday Sept. 17
I went on a tour of the science lab. Very cool, very modern, and modular. The walls between lab “rooms” can be arranged in any configuration, to meet the research groups needs. I went to a swing dance class, one of the carpenters knows swing, and decided to teach a class. Sunday science lecture was “mechanics of balloon launches,” given by Jen, the lead researcher doing ozone balloon launches.
Temp -9, Wind 23mph

Monday Sept. 18
There is a storm moving in, Condition 2 in town this evening and condition 1 outside of town. At work I cleaned the engine components of the engine overhaul. After dinner A woman gave a 2 hour presentation/slide show of her travels to northern India, it was really interesting and her photos were great. It sounds like a really cool place to see.
Temp +7, Wind 32

Tuesday Sept. 19
Condition 2 in town and condition 1 everywhere else, it’s a huge storm. None essential workers were sent home for fear of condition 1 being called in town. When there is a Condition 1, no one is allowed out side, 100mph winds or 30 ft visibility. There were a few gusts that pushed put us there. Too bad the VMF is “essential.” If a condition 1 was called and I was at work, I would have to stay there. Finished cleaning parts and started reassembly. Temp +12, Wind 45 (not including gusts)

Wednesday Sept. 20
Still Condition 2/1. Continued Assembling the Engine. Went to Gallagher’s pub for bingo. I know what your thinking…Bingo? It’s a lot of fun here, it at the pub, people let loose and get obnoxious, throw things at the winner…oh yeah you win prizes and money…$200 for the last game. Room mate Dave won 2 out of 5 rounds. Temp 14, Wind 45 (+20 mph gusts)

Thursday Sept. 21
Still Condition 2/1. Temp +14, Wind 40. Painted the Engine today After work I went to the gym.

Friday Sept. 22
Condition 3 finally, still windy, overcast, and a little colder then yesterday. A relatively light day in the shop, with Fleet Ops (equipment operators) off all week we were able to get caught up on the workload. Worked on Blog and emails. Temp +1, wind 25.


This is a "Pisten Bully" it's a small personal/cargo vehicle. They are a blast to drive. They can go suprisingly fast. So far they arn't too bad to work on either. (My picture)

Here is a newer fire engine. (My picture)
Notice the ambulance is jacked up with with wide snow tires. (My picture)

This truck has mat-trax, they're made in Kalstad, MN. Most of the trucks here large snow tires, the tracks a higher maintanence, so tires are perferred. The tracks are used to on trucks that go off the maintained roads a lot. (My picture)

This is an older fire engine, but it's still used. (My picture)

Here is a catering truck, as the runways outside of town (15 miles away) get used, there are a lot of people out there working. So the gally brings them food with this truck. (My picture) (This ones for you Joe)

Mc Murdo Station

A poor picture of Scott Base (New Zealand), taken from Observation hill, this is only about 2 miles away, I'll get a better pic when the weather clears (My picture)
The pub at the New Zealand base. On Thursdaynight they host American night, we have shuttles that run back and forth for this Occasion. (My picture)

This is a great aerial photo of the station. The large building in the center of town has the cafeteria, dorm rooms, computer lab, and acts as a central meeting place for many people. this is the building I'm staying in right now. I may have the option to move in october. There are about 100 Buildings that make up the station. I just thought I'd through in a sampler. (USGS picture)

The front of the fire house they have there are maybe six fire engines of various ages. The fire house also houses the spill responce team, they handle and fuel or chemical spills for the area. (My picture)

The hospital/clinic for the Station. I ate lunch with the main doctor on sunday, he seems to be a really nice guy (My picture)

This is a housing building, Named "Hotel Californina" The buildings here are built on stilts. I think it's to keep the snow blowing under the buildings instead of drifting around them. I also think there could be an issue with building on the permafrost.(My picture)