Sunday, October 09, 2005
(blue auroras and Discovery Hut)
In my quest to be The Favorite Web Usability Analyst of Antarctica, I came across the bloggings of some explorers at TravelBlog Antarctica.
Antarctica is the most romantic and alien spot on this planet, to my mind. I wish to someday be an ArctoNaut. Arctoecology and arctometeorology are of great interest to me, as well as arctopsychology.
(a lady arcto-naut)
The Antarctic snowscapes look like they're from a weird location in some other galaxy. The idea of being very cold all the time, and encountering snow and ice storms, all bundled up, gazing on spectacular light shows in the sky.
A bleak white eternity.
I love extreme winters.
I love walking like an arctonaut through desolate snow channels and frost tunnels, simply clambering up onto ice bridges to the moonish dream realms in the sky up above me.
(storm condition 1)
My favorite scene. Desolate, Diminished, Diminutive, and Receptive to Pure Light.
Here's an opening excerpt from a post called "A Fond Farewell to Winter" by explorer_keith, dated September 7, 2005. How often do you think of those who are at the very bottom of the world?
Like a barbarian horde invading from the north, Winfly has descended on McMurdo Station.
In total, four planes arrived and departed leaving in their wake waves of energetic invaders who made short work of ransacking our small, peaceful, winter-over community.
The tan intruders pulled a shroud of fresh fruit and sunshine over our eyes to blind us from the destruction to our way of life that was going on all around us.
They brought with them new and improved bugs that shocked our immune systems and set in motion a plague of sickness that has not been present here for nearly six months - The Crud, which is what residents of McMurdo affectionately call this sickness, has returned!
The sacking of McMurdo took about a week and, of the 241 winter over crew, less than 100 of us survived the onslaught - The rest of them managed to escape the mêlée on the northbound planes and are now enjoying their freedom in the warmer regions of the world.
The population on station is now about 441 people. The swing in population is most noticeable in the galley during meals, where the noise level has gone through the roof and the food lines wrap around the Earth -
Now, the once barren tables are filled to capacity at dinner time. The formerly quiet Coffee House, which was my hangout and reading place during the winter, has been transformed into a standing room only club with a rowdy atmosphere - Gone are the quite evenings at the coffee house relaxing with a cup of tea and reading a good book.
Also, the already overbearing rules are now being enforced with an iron fist - Saturday night we were denied permission to hike the Castle Rock Loop and we were told that it was because of a condition-2 wind-chill, but there was only a slight breeze and it was, in fact, nicer than any of the other six times we did the loop over the winter.
I have now come to grips with the fact that winter is gone and I suppose it is nice having new people to talk to and the new activity around station is energizing.
Despite the gloomy picture I painted above, there has been a lot of fun and excitement here since I last wrote. We had a day with -112° F wind-chills and we were allowed to play in it! The station was at condition-1, but, unlike condition-1s due to wind speed or visibility, we were still allowed to move around the town as long as we covered all exposed skin.
The End of Winter party and barbeque at Scott Base was great.
We got to rope up with the SAR (Search and Rescue) team and take a walk through a crevasse field.
We had the end of winter award ceremony. There have been several aurora sightings and a few more nacreous clouds in the sky. I have eaten some excellent salads and lots of fresh fruit, and I have seen the sun! The giant fireball in the sky has returned to us after a five-month absence and it was difficult not to stare at it!
Antarctica is a metaphor, an inner island of languishings.
(polar plunge hole with only her shoes on)
I can't wait to go exploring there, with other bold, cold adventurers and scientists. I bet a cup of hot Joe and a funny stick would be great at night.
It's exciting just to shiveringly contemplate it beneath my layers of blankets.
[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate
Posted by steven edward streight at 10/09/2005 05:38:00 PM