Saturday, September 4, 2010

Our Room

This year we decided to move to a different dorm where we would share a bathroom with our neighbors and would have a sink in our room.  The past four years we had been living in dorms that had shared bathrooms for all the males in the dorm.  We weren't sure how we were going to like it, since these rooms are a bit smaller than what we've had in the past due to the fact that the bathroom takes up some of the room space.  We figured we'd give it a year to see what we thought and so far it's not too bad.  We've decorated it with all the things we've left here over the years plus a few new things we mailed down this season.  Here are a few shots of the room so you can see where we're living.

A Fun Story as told by Dave

Two weeks ago on our first Saturday night here we couldn't find anything on TV we wanted to watch, so we decided to watch some episodes of Bondi Rescue.  Bondi Rescue is a popular Australian reality show, which follows the lives of the lifeguards at Bondi Beach in Sydney and what they have to deal with in their daily lives as they work the most popular beach in Australia.

We became acquainted with this show a few years back when we started receiving the Australian Network here via our Kiwi neighbors over the hill at Scott Base.  We both really enjoyed the show and were disappointed to find out that it was no longer on, when we returned here the following season.

I sent an e-mail to the Australian Network and told them how much we enjoyed the show and wished they would carry it again.  They wrote back and said the show was so popular that they could no longer afford to carry it.  They also sent me the e-mail address of the production company who did the show in case I wanted to write to them.

That day I sent the producer an e-mail explaining that we worked in Antarctica and how much we enjoyed the show and wished we could continue to watch it here on the Australian Network.  The next day I received a response from Michel Cordell, the owner of Cordell Jigsaw, and the producer of the show.  He asked me for our address and was kind enough to send us DVDs of season's 2 & 3.  It's been great to watch these from time to time, especially after a long cold day at work as it gives us something to look forward you may know we love beaches!!!

So back to that Saturday night... as we were looking at the DVDs, we realized we had never seen the last episode from season 2.  Kelly put it in the player and shortly after it started the lifeguards from Bondi got called over to nearby Tamarama beach where there was a red bellied black snake spotted on the beach.

Kelly looked at me and said there was a snake on the beach at Tamarama when we were there one time.  I then remembered that there were actually people with cameras there filming some people who were trying to catch the snake.  It then hit me that the people trying to catch the snake were in blue shirts, just like the lifeguards from Bondi....just then Kelly yelled "There's me!"  We couldn't believe it, we were actually at the beach that day and Kelly got on TV.  We had never even heard of Bondi Rescue back then, so of course we had no idea why someone was filming that day and we never gave it another thought since then.

We had such a good laugh over that and we both just sat here in shock that we've had these DVDs for a couple of years now and never saw this one.  We'll be sure to bring them back home with us after the season in case anyone wants to see Kelly, the Australian TV star, but if you want to check it out on YouTube now here's the link  Drag the cursor to 5 minutes and 47 seconds in to the show and you can see him walk in to the shot in his blue swim trunks.

More Nacreous Clouds

We had a few days this past week with really nice nacreous clouds and we wanted to post some of these to share with others.

Working The Flights

From the moment we arrived here we started working and we worked the next 14 days straight.  There were two more night vision goggle flights scheduled, which were the next days after we arrived.  The weather was nice both of those days with temperatures somewhere around -20 and no wind. 

The first five flights of Winfly (Winter Flights) got in without any problems, but the sixth flight was delayed for three days due to bad weather here.  When the weather cleared they finally launched on Friday August 27th and got to within 15 minutes from McMurdo when they turned around due to bad weather here.  The weather was actually fine at the time.  There had been some ground fog earlier that day, but it had cleared by the time they turned around.  They decided to head back to Christchurch, refuel and come back for another try.  That meant the poor passengers on board would have to endure another 10 hours on the plane and that we would have to come back to work that night.  They landed that evening shortly after midnight and it was 3 am by the time we got off work.  We then had to be back to work the next morning at 8:30 for the flight that day.  Needless to say we were both extremely exhausted and ready for our first day off on Sunday.

The first sunrise since last April was on August 19 and with the sun so low on the horizon since then we've had some really great colors in the sky.  Here are some shots we took while working the past few weeks.

Here's a shot from the truck as we were driving out to the runway to work an incoming flight.

Watching as the plane comes in

You can barely see the lights of the plane coming in over the snow piles

We had a few nacreous clouds this day as well as some ground fog.

The fog was so bad when the plane was leaving that all we could see of it was the tail above the fog.

Here's Kelly trying to warm his toes on the ride back to town

This photo was taken two days after the first sunrise.

Mt. Erebus with some nacreous clouds around it.

Here Kelly is standing on the side of his loader, which is attached to the sled.  This day was really cold, somewhere around -56.

The sun setting over our cargo sleds

Here we are getting ready to head home after a long day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Christchurch and Our Flight to The Ice

I think most USAP participants wish for a few extra days in Christchurch on their way down to the ice and our wish was granted.  After getting on all our gear, standing in line and getting checked in for our flight on the 13th, we had an hour for lunch and that had to report back for a briefing before we boarded the plane.   After the break and the briefing it was announced that the plane had a mechanical problem, which required a part to be flown in from the States, so we were released until the next day.  The following day there was bad weather in McMurdo, so the flight was again postponed another day.  We did end up flying on the 15th and made it in at 6:40 pm.  Those of you who know McMurdo know that it would be dark at that time this time time of year.  We actually were on the first flight to ever land in Antarctica where the pilots were wearing Night Vision Goggles.  They have been doing NVG training flights the past few years, but this was the first one to ever fly with passengers, so we made a bit of Antarctica History.  Here are some photos from Christchurch and our flight.
Here's the long line of people weighting to turn in their bags for the flight and to get everything weighed.

Kelly is filling out his New Zealand Departure Card while we wait in line.

Drew & David while waiting for our briefing.

Since our flight was an historic first in Antarctic Aviation history, there was a photo taken of the flight crew prior to our boarding the plane.  Unfortunately Dave got this photo, just after they were starting to disperse.

The rows of passengers on the C-17 flight to McMurdo

Kelly, Dennis, Twan & Pete on the flight.

Flying over the Antarctic Ocean

On the C-17, these little portals on the doors are the only outside views we get on the flight.

The horizon is getting pink in this photo as the sun begins to set.

A view of the setting Sun from the plane

Kelly & Dave just prior to arrival with all their gear on.

Here's a shot of the C-17 we flew on, the first to ever land in the dark with NVG's.

Orientation in Denver

As mentioned in the previous posting we had already left Bend, which we did on August 4th.  We spent three nights with Mom & Dad Cheek in Selah to spend time with Kelly's family and we flew to Denver on Saturday the 7th.  Due to bad weather in Seattle the day we left, our flight out of Yakima was delayed, so we missed our connection in Seattle.  We had to wait about 4 hours before we could catch another flight.  We were suppose to have had dinner that night with friends at Pam's house, but since we didn't arrive at our hotel until close to 9 pm, it was postponed a day.  So here are some photos from the next night at Pam's.

Jen, Mandy, Susie & Tony.  Mandy and Tony aren't coming back this year, so we're really glad we got to see them on our way through Denver.

Susie, Tony & Kris

Pam & Kelly