Friday, February 25, 2011

Back in Christchurch

Since we flew to McMurdo on August 15th, we hadn't seen Christchurch since the earthquake they experienced on September 4th.  As we walked around the city last weekend we saw empty lots where buildings had stood and many buildings were being braced up, like the church in the photo below.  We also saw a lot of scaffolding around town as well as rebuilding and clean up still going on....that was during our three day stay...




... we flew back to the States on Monday February 21st, one day before the latest quake.  It's so sad to see the recent photos of Christchurch on the Internet.  This beautiful city we love now looks like a war zone. 

Buildings we had strolled past the day before, now lay in ruins.  Friends and co-workers still in the city ready for rest and relaxation, are now dealing with constant aftershocks, the loss of all their personal belongings and sleeping with 150 other people from McMurdo at the USAP clothing distribution center.

We are very thankful that we once again missed the devastation of this latest earthquake, but are even more thankful that all of friends and co-workers are safe.

Flying Back to Christchurch

We made it out of McMurdo on our scheduled day of February 18th along with 36 other people.  We chose to fly with the US Air Force on a C-17, while around 120 other people were scheduled to leave that day with the New Zealand Air Force on a B757.  We were so glad we chose the C-17 since the 757 canceled due to weather. 

We stood outside in the blowing snow for about 45 minutes watching our plane get downloaded and uploaded with cargo, but once we got onboard and took off, we were warm and happy to be on our way.

 
Here are a few shots Kelly took out the window as we were flying back.  These glaciers that come out into the water, like shown in these photos, are called Ice Tongues.

Open Water At McMurdo

It has been 11 years since there was open water at McMurdo, so it was a real treat to see it this year.  We had several days of wind, which kept chipping away at the ice edge and the channel.  It finally all opened up a few days before we left, so we took a bottle of wine down to Hut Point to drink while enjoying the sound of the gentle splashing of the waves (not a sound we usually hear) and the view of the Ross Sea.



We ran in to our friends Liz & Julie down there and Dave got this picture of them with Kelly at Vince's Cross.

The Nathanial B. Palmer made it's last visit to McMurdo this season to switch out science groups and take on cargo.

Dave's Trip to See the Penguins

After nearly a month of hearing Kelly talk about all the Emperor Penguins he would see going back and forth to the airfield every day, Dave finally got a chance to get out of the office to see them for himself. 

There were a couple different groups of between four to 14 hanging around the road to the airfield this season while they were molting

Martini Time!

Two weeks before we left we had a few friends over for Martinis.  Burke was one of the first people in cargo to leave and since he was on the opposite shift, we didn't get a chance to see him very much.  We actually didn't get a chance to visit with too many people this season, so we had Burke, Russell & Chris over to catch up before we all went our separate ways.

 
Chris is displaying one of the beautiful martinis we made.  Since they were made with a fruit concoction, we decided to rim the edge with sugar.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Satellite photo of McMurdo

This is a recent image of the peninsula and open water near McMurdo Station on Ross Island.  There are 2 red dots on the bottom.  McMurdo on the left and Scott Base New Zealand on the right. If you click the image and make it larger you can see the channel cut by the Ice Breaker into Winter Quarter Bay.  In the middle of the photo is the Ebebus Ice Tongue.  It's the glacier that comes down Mt. Ebebus into the McMurdo Sound.