Thursday, June 30, 2005

Chapter 8 - Labor Day Picnic on the Glacier

Labor Day Picnic - September 3rd 1989 (Sunday Night)

We had a picnic on the glacier for the Labor Day holiday on Sunday night. It was great. Everyone got bundled up in their warm clothes to get on a sled pulled by snowmobile to go up to the top of the glacier.

I was still sending out traffic, so I told the rest that I would hike my way up and meet them up there. It took me about thirty minutes to finish up what I had to do and soon I was on my way up the glacier at around 7:30 p.m.

I walked out of Biolab and past the carpenter shop, GWR and continued up the hill past the T-5 building and then behind the Clean Air Facility. The glacier starts at ground level at a dip in the rocks behind the Clean Air Facility and slopes at a nice 25-30 degree incline about one half mile up to the top. The top of the glacier on a clear day is a long flat surface of normally, snow-covered ice. During the summer months, the snow melts off this ice surface and is very slick to walk up in most places.

I couldn't see the campfire up top, but that wasn't too unusual as it was dark and there was a light mist in the air and a low cloud ceiling this night. Under normal circumstances, the light from the station reflects with all the snow and ice, illuminating the path to the top of the glacier. On a clear night from the station, you will see to the top of the glacier and all the stars above.

The trails up to the top are marked at the beginning of the summer season and then regularly checked for crevasses and marked with posts. When I first started my trek at the base of the glacier, I was able to see the posts and was using them as my guide. As I proceeded up the glacier, I hadn't noticed that the fresh snowmobile tracks I happened to be following had pulled away to the left of the posts that marked the trail.

About half-way up the path, I suddenly noticed that I did not see any trail flags. I was still able to see the snowmobile tracks but as I proceeded further up the glacier, the mist became thicker. I didn't have a flashlight and the light from the station had soon faded out of sight into the mist which was growing thicker.

Soon I found myself stuck in a no-man land between the station and the top of the glacier. It was something out of a dream with white mist on every side of me. I was hoping that I was still on the proper track, since I couldn't see light from the power plant any more and couldn't yet see the light from the campfire that was on top of the glacier.

A moment of fear gripped me and I suddenly felt lost. I started to second guess whether I was actually on track. I resorted to getting on my hands and knees at times to feel the freshly packed snowmobile track to make sure that I was still following the fresh snowmobile tracks.

Too far to the left and I would be in Arthur Harbor and over an ice cliff. Too far to the right and I would plunge down into Hero Inlet off an ice cliff. Would I see the ice edge or any hidden crevasses before the plunge in? I couldn’t hear them at the bonfire. Would anyone hear me if I did actually take a fall or plunge? The air was so thick with ice and fog that about all I could hear was hear the crunching of snow beneath my own boots.

I pushed my fears down and reassured myself that the snowmobile tracks that I had been tracking were, in fact, the fresh tracks. I reasoned to myself that we had just had fresh snow only yesterday. That covered up all other tracks; that much I knew. Now, I had to push down my fears of falling off the glacier or falling in a crevasse.

As I slowly continued, I started to see the trail markers to my right. The snowmobile must have cut a bit to the right at this point, bringing me closer to the path. This meant now, that I was between the path and the glacier edge of Arthur Harbor about 500 yards to my left. The snowmobile had taken a path up on the left hand side of the marked trail. At least now I had established my bearings and my fears started to subside.

The freezing mist quickly built into a icy fog, which made seeing any distance ahead difficult. But by this time I was finally far enough up to the top that I could see an orange glow like a sunrise at the top of the glacier. I couldn't see or hear anyone over that glacial horizon yet, but I had made it to the top and could breathe a sigh of relief.

As I walked up to the group, BJ looked at me and started laughing.

"What's so funny?" I asked.

BJ replied, "With that frozen mist all over your beard, mustache and clothes, you look like you've aged fifty years!"

At that point I felt like I had aged fifty years. I've never been lost in a forest, but now I know what it must feel like. The only difference was my forest was like being lost on a cloud where you can only push forward. Nothing ahead, nothing behind and nothing on either side but white snow and white mist.

A campfire was made in a 55 gallon barrel that was split in half and a grill was set up for a regular holiday cook-out on the glacier.

Hamburgers, hot dogs, and baked beans were all hot and ready for me to dig into. The beans were cooked two hours in the oven on the station and were still soupy until after the cast iron pot had been set directly into the fire. They cooked down to just the right consistency and were mushy in about half an hour! That and some good cold beer and we had a great time--all 13 of us. Tom, Richie, BJ, Ned, Dick, Robin, Pat, Marcia, Doc, Allen, Don, George and me.

By the end of a couple of hours, we were ready to go back, even if the beer kind of made me forget about the cold. Being on top of the glacier with no mountain to block the cold winds can send a chill through your bones fast.

The trip back down the glacier was memorable! Two guys took the food and supplies down on one snowmobile, three hiked down the glacier--following the flag-marked path and the remaining eight of us crammed on a sledge hooked up to the second snowmobile with a psychotic driver!

As we were heading away from the campfire, BJ was starting to shout that we were not going the right way. As the rest of us recognized this, we all started shouting at Pat, but were unable to get his attention.

At this point, BJ was prepared to dump himself off the sledge. We all finally somehow made enough noise that Pat stopped long enough for us to let him know that he was way off the path. Pat had taken the snowmobile to the far right, intersecting the trail at about a sixty degree angle. We were now on the opposite side of the trail that I had come up on and headed directly toward Hero Inlet. Pat had not seen the trail markers and blew right by them.

Pat pulled the sledge around to his right and we soon found the trail markers which would lead us back down to the safety of the station. Somehow we made it down alive! For a minute, we thought we would end up over the cliff into Hero Inlet! Wouldn't those headlines have been interesting?!

The next morning, we used the telescope to have a look at how far off the marked path the snowmobile tracks were for our return trip. The loop was pretty visible in the new snow; Hero Inlet almost had a new name.

Doc told us that he didn't know if he had enough body bags for that kind of a disaster. We would have just been put into the sub-zero deep freeze, stacked like cord-wood until someone could arrive to take our remains northbound.

05 September 89

Sorry I didn't get back to you when you sent that letter home. My sister just told me about your letter about two weeks ago and said that it has been sitting around back at home for four or five months now!

Everything here is going great. In fact, I was supposed to leave Palmer on the 14th of October, but was asked if I wanted to stay until the end of March! So I accepted the job, new contract and a 5% pay increase.

Winter is almost over here and temperatures haven't gotten all that cold. The coldest it has been has been -11 C. The British Base who we report our weather to, has said that this winter is one of the warmest since 1956. We have had almost no ice in the harbor. Even though there has been snow, there hasn't been that much.

It will be great to spend another (austral) summer here. The penguins should start coming back within the next month along with a lot of other birds common to the area during the summer. Hopefully, we will start to see more whales too. They only come down here on their migratory routes, but during the last summer, we saw them quite often.

Things are a little more relaxed during the winter, and when a good day does come along, we try to get off the station. Last week, we took a couple of Zodiacs and cruised around the harbor. We checked out the shipwreck of the Bahia Paraiso. The ship is settling more and still spewing out oil and diesel depending on the waves and the winds. Over the past ten months, we have seen the ship roll over more and sink further below the waters surface. Not very much of the one-time hospital/warship is above the water now.

Also went over to the Old Palmer Station about a half mile away. It's on the same island as we are, but you would have to cross the top of the glacier with all the crevasses, so the only safe way to get there is by boat.

I guess I haven't told you too much about the people that are here. Right now there are 13 people. We have a government sponsored artist who has been painting some nice paintings of the station and its surroundings. Also have two scientists on station now studying the ozone here. We have one woman who is in charge of the laboratory and its supplies. The rest are all guys. We all seem to get along well and enjoy ourselves a lot. The sun is now up from 7 a.m. until around 5:30 p.m., so the days are almost normal again. That will change come November when the summer days get real long--even longer than where you are in Holland.

Take care and say hello to all the family.

07 September 89

Don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but if you have any friends that operate on the HAM radio frequencies, Palmer Station operates on 14325 MHz with the call sign KC4AAC. Normally people are up from 0000GMT until 0400GMT or so. We had a communications blackout during the winter on most of our HF frequencies, but now HAM is coming back, so it gives us a chance to talk with friends and family back home. Some operators have phone patch capability and have been very supportive by putting collect calls through to our families back home.

We also have an hour on Saturday and Sunday that we can make calls out over the ATS satellite, collect from Florida, so we aren't always as isolated as you may think.

08 September 89

Thank you for your letter back in June. You mentioned something about South Pole in your letter, but we are actually closer to Chile than to South Pole, believe it or not! We are located in the “Banana Belt” of the Antarctic and sit at 63 degrees south which is just north of the Antarctic Circle (70 degrees south).

I was just starting to get ready to leave when the opportunity came up to stay another five months. Probably won't get up to Punta Arenas until the first week in April. Then I'll do the traveling I was planning on in October. My parents are probably sure that I'm crazy now!

Last week we had a twin otter plane stop in. They were on their way south to deliver supplies and a sled dog to the Transantarctic Expedition which is now in the middle of the peninsula. It was the first time I have seen a domestic animal in eleven months. So we got to pet it and took our pictures with it.

I have been climbing the glacier more often to get some exercise. It is a great view of the area and the mountains behind the island. We went up to the top for the lunar eclipse, but the clouds rolled in just as the eclipse started. The weather hasn't been too bad, but is colder this month than last. We have stayed mostly in the lower 20's range this month, and have an inch or so of snow every few days. Got out in the Zodiacs and got to see some of the area again. It is nice to have the chance to get away for a couple of hours during the day.

The job is going alright, although communications with the satellite has been difficult lately. It gets hairy trying to get out my backlog of data after a couple of days of no satellite traffic.

I'm still working on my inventory and hoping I can finish before summer open during the first week in October. I may have a chance to get off Palmer for a few days in Punta Arenas. It would be nice to get away for a change. A couple of the guys who will be leaving on that ship are planning on renting a car and going down to the tip of Tierra Del Fuego on the Chilean side. So I may be able to break with them for that, then head back up to catch the Duke back to Palmer. I'll just have to wait and see what the time constraints are.

Today is beautiful out. The sky is clear and sunny and only a few clouds in the sky. The temps are colder than they have been, around the upper teens and lower 20's. Last week was the coolest week we have had all winter. We had an average temp of 27 degrees.

09 September 89

I started a letter to you in mid-winter and never finished it. I also wasn't sure where to send it. You move around more than me!

We had a plane come in yesterday and stay the night. It is surprising how little ski-way the twin otters need for landing. Our ski-way is on the top of the glacier about a half mile from the station. We have had about a half dozen planes land during this year up on the glacier. This plane that came in today had been trying to get here for three days, but the weather had been bad either here, at Punta Arenas or at King George Island. Weather needs to be good at all three sites so that the Twin Otter can make a complete round trip without an overnight if possible.

This letter is coming to you earlier than expected because the twin otter has been hired to come and pick up some scientific equipment that missed being loaded onto the Polar Duke when she left port in August. This little mid-winter plane visit has given us the chance to send out mail and they also brought mail in for us. So I was writing some letters to send through Chile. I got your card yesterday, but didn't have time to write a response due to the celebrating last night. They left this morning at 8 a.m., and it was hard getting up so early after last night.

10 September 89

It was great to speak with you, even if it was only for five minutes. The connection over the ATS on my end was bad, but good enough that I got some answers to the questions I had for you.

Still working on inventory. It has become the story of my life. I have been relocating parts and it can be a real pain. The satellite is still a little fickle. Sometimes it works great and other times it is just too noisy to get traffic in or out. I've been putting in some long hours too, but managing to keep my attitude up.

The weather was great two days ago. We had a perfectly clear sky and went over to Bonaparte Point just to wander around. Got some pictures of a fur seal and of the station. The temps have been cold this week and last week, staying around the lower 20's. Today it has been snowing, freezing rain and back to snow. Not much accumulation and generally a good day for sleeping and being lazy.

16 September 89

The excitement of the ship coming in less than one month has kind of caught everyone. I have been trying to work on my inventory completed before the ship comes in. I will still have to make all the updates in the computer file in Dbase III, which I will have to learn.

Monday, I will send off a telex with everyone’s travel arrangements. I haven't heard yet if Al is going to let me go on the ship to P.A., for the trip up and back. But I can't see any reason why he couldn't handle it alone until I get back. It would be nice to get away for a small break. If it happens, I will leave with the others on the 14th of October arrive on the 18th in Punta Arenas, then leave Punta Arenas on the 23rd to arrive Palmer on the 27th. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high yet though.

The weather hasn't been real great the past couple of weeks, but we have had a few nice days with beautiful sunsets. A couple more inches of snow this past week and a lot of wind. Yesterday I got out for about an hour to take some pictures of a few gentoo penguins that were out behind the station about a half mile. We don't normally see too many around here since most of our colonies are adelies.

I'll try calling next weekend over the ATS-3 or over HAM if I can't get through.

18 September 89 11:50 pm

Sorry I haven't written you a marsgram in awhile. I did send off a letter via Chile when the plane came in, so I hope you have received that by now. I sent along a couple of polaroids with that letter too, hope you liked them. I got your letter when the plane came in and I just received your marsgram tonight, so I figured I would get another letter off to you since I'm on watch tonight.

I haven't received that last box you sent me yet, but it is on the manifest for this ship coming down the beginning of October. So hopefully, if you have sent this other box off by now, I might get it the beginning of November or so. It just depends on the space available in the shipments sent off from Paramus. Thanks again for taking care of these boxes for me.

Oh, stand by, I have to go do a generator check. It's midnight. I'll be back in a minute.

OK, I'm back. Had to make sure we would still have lights and that the reverse osmosis and desal is still making fresh water.

The weather here has been overcast the whole week. Also had watch last night and when I finished at around 2:30 a.m., I took a nice dip in the hot tub--oops, strike that--the therapeutic bath. It was snowing hard and the water was so warm. We had about eight inches of snow last night after temps around 36 degrees the whole day! It is going to be great to see the full change of seasons come summer-time here.

You commented in one of your letters about me being lonely here, but I'm really not lonely. We live in such a tight-knit community, that everyone is kind of like family. We all miss our families, but I wouldn't say that we are lonely.

The mood is really starting to get high here with the ship due in in less than a month. Of course, two weeks out on the Duke and crossing the Drake Passage twice just for a boondoggle makes it sound like I'm a real gluten for punishment!

If you have never been sea-sick, you will never know what I mean! Mine usually passes after the first day (and a couple of Dramamine!). It is like having the flu, only worse because your head is woozy even if you lift it up off the pillow. Most people get seasickness to some degree at some time or another, if you make the trip enough times. You should hear some of the horror stories!

I'm going to close now and do my last round for station watch. Take care of yourself and hang in there. Thanks again for packing that stuff up for me and for keeping such good letters with me. I'll be looking for your letters and the boxes and I'll let you know when I get them.

21 September 89

It's about 1 a.m. right now and I'm on watch, so I thought I'd drop you a quick letter before my final watch.

It will be a big change to go from 13 people to 45 again, but I think I need the change again. I'm still working hard to complete my inventory and traffic is starting to pick up with the preparations for the upcoming summer season.

You wouldn't believe summer is right around the corner with the weather we're having this week! Yesterday and today we have had minimum 30-35 knot winds constant with gusts up to 60 knots this morning. It has been snowing some, but mostly blowing and drifting all over. The harder snowfall didn't really start until late in the afternoon and we will probably get another six inches now. It is funny to think back on how rocky it really is under all this snow during the summer.

Guess we will have our share of tourism again this summer too. It will be nice since the Polar Duke will be heading over to McMurdo during December-February. At least we will have a way to get mail and freshies (fresh veggies and fruit). Our cooks are able to trade things we have for things the tour ships need. The tour ships also will take mail out to the States and bring mail down from Punta Arenas on their way down.

I haven't received any final word on going to Punta Arenas for those few days, but I'm pretty confident that I will be allowed to go. Al can handle this place while I'm gone, probably on his head if he wanted to. Of course, this is not a pretty picture. A man who wears a tunic with nothing underneath but what nature intended, standing on his head in the comm shack!

How, you might ask, do I know that nothing is worn underneath the tunic? Well, I’ll tell ya. Not so long ago, Karen, one of the science coordinators on the Polar Duke was out on a cruise with the scientists. Al was on that ship and just so happened to precede Karen up the ladder to the next level on the ship. Suffice to say, Karen was somewhat shocked but apparently not scarred for life at this display. So now we are all socially aware of what nature intended to be worn underneath a tunic and probably a kilt. She told us about this at the bar during the summer season; I swear!

It’s late, I’m tired and about goofy right now. Guess I'll close now and get ready to make my last rounds.

22 September 89 11 p.m.
The past few days haven't been too pleasant and we have had a lot of wind and snow. Temps have been staying in the high 20's and 30's most of the time.

I did get word just today that the credit card arrived at the office in Paramus this week. Thanks for getting that to me. You will probably have to do the same thing with my Visa card in December. Before the extension, I would have been home to receive the new card. Also, let Debi know that the box she sent off for me has arrived in Paramus and was being taken to the shipping department. Hopefully, I will get it the end of October.

It is hard to believe that the ship will be here in less than two weeks now. I don't know where the time is going to. It seems like just yesterday that the winter season started! I'm still not done with my inventory and Marcia has volunteered to help me update the inventory records that I've been making corrections to all along. With her help, I should be able to finish about the time the ship gets in. The satellite has been behaving most of the time, but it can really be a pain when it acts up, like tonight. Take care of yourself and say hello to all for me.

24 September 89

I got word from Paramus that the second box that you sent out around the 12th has arrived in Paramus and was being sent to shipping. With any luck, I may get it in November. Since there is a lot of stuff still to come down, it may have a chance of getting loaded into a container sooner. I will get the first box when the ship comes in this time around. I also found out that I will get to go out on the ship for the two week break!

The weather has been nasty tonight. We are in the middle of another snowstorm with winds around 25-35 knots steady. Visibility is only about 500 feet and the snow is drifting all over. Some of the people that have been traveling between the buildings look like snowmen when they come back in!

Since winter started, we’ve been going through what looks like a three pound “coffee-cans” of mixed nuts in the military olive drab color. They have probably been around here for twenty years or so, but are still fresh and go very well with mixed drinks, beer and good conversation.

The other night, a group of us are over at the bar just chatting and drinking. As I’m drinking, I’m looking through the bowl of nuts and not finding any almonds. I’d eaten through the almonds and hazelnuts and dumped a few more nuts from the can, only to discover no almonds at all. Finally, Doc and BJ can hold back no longer and just bust up. They knew my love of almonds and gone through the entire can and removed all the almonds to see my reaction.

But I’m not the only one that has been providing entertainment for the group. Since we’ve settled into the winter-over mode, Ned has gradually evolved into watching like four or five movies, over and over and over. Having discovered Ned’s weakness, BJ has hidden Ned’s movies from him. Oh the humanity! No “Wizard of Oz”, “Godzilla” or “Gamora” among the essential classics Ned has seen week after week into the wee hours of the morning. I don’t know if BJ has slipped them back into the movie collection yet. I think it is still payback for all the pounding on the punching bag Ned did all those weeks that drove BJ and me crazy!

29 September 89

One more week until the Duke gets in. I'm really pushing hard to finish this darned inventory. I am hoping to put in a few extra hours and finish the main inventory during the weekend. I am going to wait to inventory the tools until I get back at the end of October.

I was informed this week that I will go out on the science cruise during the six days out at sea from October 7th until the 13th. Then I will remain on the ship when it leaves for Punta Arenas. Wow, what a vacation! I will still help out when and where they need me, but it will still be a break from the routine at Palmer. I think I will be ready to get back to work after twenty-one days aboard the furthest thing from the Love Boat! It will be a good rest though. So if you have any other pictures to send off, you need to do that soon. The ship is going to be leaving Punta Arenas around the 23rd. You should be able to get a letter through the Chilean post by then.

I had to laugh about your comment from Dad about my decision to stay. It makes me wonder if I'm doing the right thing when he compliments me on a decision I've made!

I still am looking forward to going to Europe when I get back. My German friends have been keeping me up to date with what's going on there too. I'm still writing in German and keeping up on it, so speaking it should come back to me fairly quickly.

As far as the “haps” here; the seals are starting to pup. I haven't gotten out to get any pictures yet, but a bunch went out today and got pictures of a new elephant seal pup. There is also a Weddell seal pup in Hero Inlet not far from the station here.

The weather has been pretty overcast most of the time, but the temps are fairly comfortable and the winds aren't too bad. But then again, comfortable to me is cold for you now. Mom was saying that the temps have already dipped to 35 F. Here that is a heat wave, we're talking T-shirt weather!

I'm going to miss fall again. Fall is my favorite season and now I've missed two. Not only do I miss the leaves turning, but I miss trees, period! They say that after such a long time away, it is like sensory overdrive when you get back up north the P.A. Up there spring should just be starting. I'm looking forward to the trip north.

I'll write you a novel on the ship when I have more time. Say hello to everyone for me and take a break. What would Julie Brown say? "Hey, like chill out and have a mental margarita!"

Miss ya,
Love, Dave

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Chapter 7 - Men of Antarctica 1989

05 August 89

The Polar Duke will be pulling out tomorrow, so I'm trying to get this into the envelope tonight. We are having a Mexican Fiesta tonight complete with Margarita punch, so I'm half expecting not to be able to write this later on! It is really going to be hard to see this group go, but I guess that them leaving brings us closer to our departure date.

I got your marsgram, but I haven't had much to write about, so I'm waiting. I should have any letters that you have sent me via mail by the end of the month. The Polar Duke will be back in around the 25th or so of August, so we will be back to ten people on station till then.

I was telling you a couple of months ago that I may have a lead on a job next year in October. If everything goes right, the guy who is working comms on the Polar Duke is going to put in a word for me at South Pole. I may get the chance to do a summer season from October until about February. The job I want to try to get would be a computer operator position. I really would jump at the opportunity, plus it would give me an excuse to see Australia and New Zealand. But I'm not going to get too worked up about it yet. The contract will possibly change companies at the end of this year. Although the people usually follow the contract, nothing is ever certain.

I just got myself a Margarita and am sending traffic over the satellite on the other computer. Even though I'm missing dinner right now, it's alright as long as I've got some refreshment here to keep me going!

Dinner was great, as usual. Dick, our cook had frozen some guacamole in the freezer awhile back. So, our Fiesta wasn't too bad. The Margarita's ran out, so I've switched to Dos Equis at this point. I'm sure tomorrow morning at 08:30 a.m. when the Duke pulls out, I'll be sorry! We have snow falling right now and have accumulated about an inch so far. The wind isn't blowing and everything seems pretty quiet. The party has continued in the other building—“across town.”

Guess I'll close this letter out and get across-town to the party. Just got a call on the ring-down crank phone to bring a ladle over to the other side. Doc made a punch with pineapple and tequila; some kind of sedative he is trying out! The pineapple has sat overnight in the tequila, so I'm ready to try it! Sounds like it may be just what the doctor has ordered.

10 August 89

The weather this last week has been varied. This week we have had a snowstorm, a windstorm, and one beautiful but overcast day with temps of 35 degrees. Today started out at 0730 with a fire drill. There was a blanket of fog across the whole area this morning, but half of it has lifted behind us and the sun is shining now. The days are starting to get longer with the sky getting light at around 08:30 a.m. and the sunset around 5:30 p.m. Spring will be here before we know it!

We had a crab eater seal up on the station a couple of days ago. He had four deep gashes in his side from a leopard seal. So he sat on land for a day to recover and had to keep moving around because a sheathbill was pecking at the wounds.

14 August 89

Ham radio is starting to come back in again.

We've had a stretch of days that have been really nice out. The temps have been around 25 degrees and the sky has been pretty clear too. Tonight we got our first snow in 1-1/2 weeks; but only .5 cm. Not anything to cheer about.

The harbor has some grease ice around and the glacier has been calving more, so there is a lot of ice in the harbor now too. But it only takes a day and the right winds to blow all the ice out again. Actually, we are all hoping the weather stays nice so that we can go to Faraday Station (the British Antarctic Survey Station about 25 miles from here) when the Polar Duke comes back in at the end of this week.

The big item around here now is the "Men of the Antarctic" calendars. One of the guys here is creating a Chippendales type calendar for the last group of female scientists that were here. We were a pretty close knit group and Pat wants to give them something to laugh about. Eight of us guys are posing in semi-compromising positions with the "naughty bits" covered.

Marcia, the only woman here is judging the pictures to determine which shots will be used for the calendar. She says she is looking for "originality, poise and maximum exposure"…among other things! Marcia has a great sense of humor and has been enjoying this picture judging! Some of the conversations heard by Marcia and Pat (our photographer,) “Don't you have a bigger spatula?” “You're revealing too much…Dick” (our cook of course!! Where is *your* mind?)

Lessons learned from their kitchen photo sessions are that a violin (Pat) and a keyboard (me) cover a lot more than a spatula (Dick)! (But I don't know how one would play a violin that low.) However, for the oil can shot in the garage (Robin), it depends on how big the spout is!

After judging the initial photos against the second shoot photos of Dick’s kitchen shots, Marcia liked the first shots with the naughty bits exposed. So she took a magic marker to the “over-exposed” shots of Dick! As you can tell, we are having fun with it and I'm sure the recipients won't be disappointed. It's amazing what we do to humor ourselves down here, huh?

Now sign me,
Divulgingly Dangerous Dave

14 August 89

It is great, as always, to get mail! Thanks for writing.

It will be strange to work out at a regular gym after this one here. Most of the time I arrange my workouts so that the gym is all mine. As of late, I am working out in the mornings since my satellite sched is around 7 p.m. The afternoons have also gotten busier, so the mornings are about the only time I can get my workouts in. I've been doing the stationary bike every workout,
but I need to do more aerobic work to burn the extra calories.

One of my coworkers Ned has this knack for trying to piss people off. Since I’ve started working out in the mornings, he will purposely beat me in there and start banging away at this damned punching bag. He knows that the noise wears on my nerves. Well, little did he know that he was also pissing off BJ. BJ’s office is right next to the gym and has a door into the gym. So poor BJ is trying to work and can’t hardly hear himself think once Ned starts in on this punching bag.

Well, things finally came to a head when one morning this week when the punching bag held air no more. Of course, I got the blame since Ned has continually found ways to try my patience throughout the winter. But truth be told, both BJ and I knew it was BJ who resolved the punching bag problem. An ice pick through the stitching conveniently rendered the inflated tube inside incapable of holding air anymore. Boo-hoo! BJ and I are just devastated. It was worth it, even if I did have to take the blame.

The winter is most of the way gone now. It seems hard to believe that I've only got another two months this week. The Polar Duke is to arrive this weekend with mail, freshies (fruit, veggies, etc) and more people. We will only get in four permanent people, so it isn't that bad. Two science people to study ozone, one carpenter and an artist sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Also have a Navy person coming down to check out the medical equipment, but he'll leave two days later when the Duke goes back north to dry dock in Val Paraiso, Chile. The next time the ship comes in will be the 6th of October with our replacements.

We are hoping to get the chance to go to the British Station about 25 miles away when the Duke comes in. The Duke brought out a guy from Faraday that wasn't very stable mentally, so their doctor had to accompany him north to Punta Arenas. Sounds like he had a break-down. The Brits do two year stints and this group was only on station for six months. Our Doc will provide radio support until their Doc gets back down from P.A.

So, when the Duke comes back in, they still have to drop the British doctor back at Faraday. Hopefully, we will get a field trip out of the exchange! I work with the comms guy there everyday--pass current weather observations and also collect marsgrams for them for Rick to send to England. I would really like to meet them after working over the radio for so long with them.

I'm sure it's gonna be hard to give up my social life here to settle down into a functional normal being back home. I'll have to learn how to be a couch potato and flip channels!

Guess I'll close for now and go to bed so I can work out in the morning. Take care and hope to hear from you again before I leave the 14th of October.

19 August 1989

Faraday Station Boondoggle

The Duke came in to Palmer from Punta Arenas and dropped off mail, freshies and supplies. They still had one more stop to make, however. The doctor needed to be dropped back at Faraday Station after he escorted one of his former winter overs from Faraday back up north to Punta Arenas.

This would be the perfect opportunity for a day-trip away for most of the station personnel. This would give me the opportunity also to meet Peter Lomax who I pass daily weather observations to at Faraday twice a day. Everyone was really looking forward to this.

The only hitch is the weather. Antarctic winters are very unpredictable, but the weather patterns appeared to be clear and the sea ice wasn't too bad at Palmer. Everything was a go.

It was a clear day all the way up to the Lamere Channel. Things then started clouding up some and the sea ice seemed to thicken. There was discussion of not landing anyone at Faraday except the doctor, but that decision was changed once in the harbor at Faraday.

We had the chance to see the station, meet the people who would spend the next 1-1/2 years remaining at Faraday and have a beer with them if we chose.

Our visit was cut short however, since the weather seemed to be closing in. We didn't want to get stuck in the harbor trying to work the Zodiacs around the sea ice and the barometer was starting to take a dive indicating we were probably in for a change of weather.

At least we had the chance to get off the station for a day and got some great clear shots of the Lamere Channel too.

22 August 89

We got some mail in when the ship came in. I got a couple of letters from Europe and Dee said that Roland and Angelique from the Netherlands sent me a letter to Naperville. Dee will mail that one off to me. I'm anxious to read that since I got a postcard from them on their honeymoon in south Germany. If you remember, they are from Holland and Roland is in the Dutch army. Angelique went into the army also around last September or so.

We did get to Faraday Station this weekend. The weather was kind of flakey, but we did get in a short visit, at least. It was nice to get off the station for a change. I don't mind going on the ship too much anymore. I have been lucky enough to get off station aboard the Polar Duke twice since I've been here, so that isn't bad. The weather has gotten bad again with another six inches of snow and ice built up in the harbor. Don't know if it will freeze over or not. Overall, it has been a mild winter and it isn't looking like the harbor will freeze over at all.

24 August 89

Sorry that I haven't written back to you sooner. The mail that we received last week was the first that we have seen here since the beginning of June. I should have given you the address for Rick in Pennsylvania. Those letters reach us over the internet, so there isn't too much wait time.

Winter here hasn't been too bad. We have had a couple of windstorms, and naturally, some snow. But, I think that I have seen more severe weather growing up in Chicago than we have had here, so far. The temperatures mostly stay between 0 and -2 degrees C but we have had some days below that. Today, it is 0 C and we are having some snow. As always, it is cloudy. I think it is almost as constantly cloudy as in Kalkar, Germany!

30 August 89

Thanks for the letter. It was also great to speak with you last weekend.

The weather is still cool, but nice. We haven't had any real storm in the past few weeks. Went up the glacier a few times and one night we had a bonfire in a barrel on the glacier. Got out in the Zodiacs and got around to a couple of spots in the harbor.

Saw quite a few leopard seals, more than we have seen before sleeping on ice floats. The giant petrels are back and were checking out the Zodiacs invading their territory. The Antarctic terns were also buzzing our heads and watching us. Most of the penguins are gone, but they'll be back in the next month. I can remember how many were here when we first arrived last year in October!

The temps have been staying in the low 20's to upper 20's for the most part.

31 August 89

We haven't had any sea ice form in the harbor and the temperatures have stayed in the 20's most of the time. We have a low pressure closing in on us today, so the weather started out clear, sunny and nice and has gone bad over the last five hours.

Earlier this afternoon, we had a twin otter plane land here for a quick visit. The plane is a leased plane from a Canadian company--Kenn-Borek and they are running supplies for Will Stieger's Trans-Antarctic Expedition. After lunch, we all went up the glacier on the snowmobiles to check out the plane. The plane has no trouble landing on the short landing field and is equipped with skis for glacial landings. They had with them a Siberian Husky, Razor that was headed down to meet the expedition. So I got to touch and pet a dog for the first time in eleven months! It was nice to see a domesticated animal for a change.

Today is Robin, our mechanics' birthday. He has a thing for flatulence and requested a dinner of pinto beans, sauer kraut, hot dogs along with grilled onions! That and some beer and I'm sure he will blow us to the continent tonight! I have a feeling that it may be a crazy night. It started last night when his door was saran wrapped!

Some people here have set up a birthday/treasure hunt with clues hidden all over the station, including one clue hidden in a bag of elephant seal dung. Every time he finds a clue, he has to take a shot, then proceeds to the next clue. So each clue is a clue to the location of the next clue and eventually it will lead to a present. I'm not sure what the big present is yet. One of the smaller ones is a “soap on a rope.” They’ve drilled a hole through the middle of a bar of Ivory, attached a rope and adorned the one side of the hole with steel wool. Enough said about that! I think that is probably an indication of the direction this birthday party is going to go.

Things are starting to wind down now with the summer crew expected to be in around the first week in October. We haven't made any reservations yet, but probably by next week. Guess I should mention that I've been asked if I want to stay on for the summer season from October till March.

How it all came about was that I had seen that my position was still unfilled. We’ve known that Peter was coming down as the manager for next season and I asked him if he wanted me to stay for a month or so until they could find someone. He came back to me the next day on our daily phone time over the ATS and asked if I’d be interested in staying for the whole summer season.

Peter has worked on the Polar Duke as a coordinator and a few other jobs, so all of us have worked with him at some point or another. He has a great reputation with everyone that has worked with or for him. So from my side of things, I am more than happy to stay and work with and for him. He is very no-nonsense and will let you do your job without butting in.

Along with Peter, Al is coming back to be my supervisor again. Now that we’ve done a season together, I think that he and I will get along alright. There is a lot scheduled to happen this summer and I think I can learn from it. I figure it doesn't make any difference if I stay here another six months. So now I just have to wait and see what happens in the office up north as far as the paperwork and request goes.

01 September 89

I'm back. Just got confirmation today that I can stay next season if I want to. The way it looks now, I'll get a short break for a couple of weeks and head up north with the Duke to Punta Arenas in mid-October. I'll spend a couple days in Punta and then I'll come back down. I don't know the exact date I'll return, but it looks like it will be around the middle of March. I know the five or six extra months won't be that much more. I am actually looking forward to the idea of spending another summer here.

02 September 89

I would like to ask a large favor of you. Since I had only planned on staying until October, I'd like you to send out a few things to the office in Paramus for me. These need to be sent to Paramus no later than the end of the week if they are to make it down to me in time. The Polar Duke isn't going to be down but twice more before March this season.

I just spoke to Dad tonight and he said he would tell all of you about the job. He sounded a little (no, a lot) shocked about my decision to stay.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Chapter 6 - The Bastille Day Party

The Bastille Day Party - July 15th 1989

Sitting at the bar one night, Lisa, Megan, Cathy, Robin, BJ, Pat, Marcia and I were thinking that now with Fourth of July past, there weren't any real excuses to party. Lisa then remembered that Bastille Day was just around the corner. So it was settled. We would throw a Bastille Day celebration.

So we through a Bastille Day celebration on Saturday night that shook the panels off the building, or was that the wind? Dick Wall, our cook would put together some French Cuisine; I would produce a banner which read Viva Bastille; Cathy and Megan would set the table to include candles, table clothes complete with scalloped napkins and party hats; and Pat would insure that enough firewood was cut. Strings of white Italian lights were strung all around the ceiling in the galley and the galley's pot belly stove had a great fire going to give the galley that certain ambiance. Finally, Lisa would provide the refreshments since she advised us she could make killer Margaritas--appropriately renamed Margarit's for the occasion.

Dinner was to be served at six, so Lisa began her mixing at about five with the punch bowl and a big chunk of bar ice. Carefully and skillfully, she worked on creating the proper blend of alcohol to mixer. By the time six rolled around, Lisa was sure she had the proper mixture....she was speaking from experience since she was pretty lit by this time!

Dinner was nothing short of fantastic! Filet Mignon, Pomm Frites, homemade pasta with shrimp, fresh baked French bread, good red wine and topped off with a tasty chocolate mousse. Of course, there were toasts after dinner with champagne and then dancing. If this isn't roughing it, I don't know what is!

Since I was on watch, I had to restrict my drinking, but still managed to have a good time. As you might expect, since I had watch till 4 a.m., I cleaned up after everyone crashed. The fire was just going out as I headed off for bed.

Robin our maintenance/generator guy provided the entertainment for the evening by blessing our eyes with his ever-famous belly roll. It's something like a belly dance, except with a hairy belly. He just had us in stitches. Dancing around and rolling his belly while being egged on by all of us in the crowd.

For an encore, he was "persuaded" to show Cathy (one of the scientists) his "tattoo". To everyone's surprise, Robin bared his thigh to show off a heart with Cathy's name on it and he was able to move his hip and thigh to make it pump! Till the next morning, Cathy thought the heart was real and the name was only written in, but the whole thing was a set-up. Pat and Robin had drawn in the “tattoo” with magic marker. Too bad we didn't get that show on video! Robin had us all on the floor laughing.

16 July 89 8 p.m.

I have been talking more with Jeannette and Megan, two of the scientists who went to Easter Island on their way down. Trying to get some idea of where to stay, what to make sure to see and everything else. I think that trip will be the highlight of my return trip back north. I just have to decide how long to stay there now.

They both agree that I should at least stay one week. The beach and eucalyptus grove are supposed to be beautiful too. Jeannette worked for the University of Hawaii and had nothing but great things to say about Easter Island--How nice the people were and how unspoiled the island was compared to Hawaii. The islanders are also of Polynesian descent, so there are many similarities.

The island is only about 30 x 15 miles, and even thought it's small, it's as dry as a desert and there aren't many paved roads. I am pretty sure that I'll be doing some traveling with a couple of the people from the station when we get to Chile too, so it's just a matter of arranging my travel schedule with the few flights that do go into Easter Island.

18 July 89

A group of us got out today in the Zodiac again. It was nice to get away from the station even if it is only a mile or so away and for a couple of hours. Saw a couple of lost penguins and a whole den of nasty sounding and smelling elephant seals. Then we went over to Old Palmer Station and checked out the old station and had a look in back to see if the ice cave was still open. All the snow and wind we have had covered the ice cave up.

Froze my fingers and toes, but it was worth it. The sun went away almost as soon as we left the station, but we did manage to get some pictures of the mountains behind Palmer. As you look to the north across the horizon, you can see Mount Williams on Anvers Island, the lower mountains on Weinke (pronounced wink ee) Island and the coastal range on the continent; all covered in snow. It's a sight we don't get to see often since winter has arrived.

Everything else here is going along alright. I had watch all last week and it really set off my schedule. I have a late schedule as it is because my satellite time has slipped later into the night past midnight, but staying up till 4 a.m. and getting up at noon left me with no energy or attitude to do anything! So now I'm getting back to normal again and facing the reality of inventory.

Today we had a leopard seal on the station right by the weather shack. It was a young one, but that is the closest I've come to seeing a leopard seal where I could make out the markings and shape of its head. If you don't know better, it's easy to confuse a leopard seal with a Weddell or Crab eater. Leopard seals heads are shaped differently and come more to a point at the snout. In the water, they are stealthy hunters and live up to their name. During the summer season, we had seen several leopard seals capture penguins in the water and shake them out of their skins. I hope the pictures turn out clear enough.

22 July 89

......Just heard about that United DC-10 that went down over Sioux City. Can't believe that anyone lived through all that!

We have been having snow and minimum 25 knot winds constant now for three days. As soon as we shovel out, it snows and blows more. We are walking on the railings again when going between the Bio and GWR buildings since the snow keeps burying portions of the deck. We had a break for three hours this afternoon, and then it started up again. It must seem funny to hear how bad the snow and winter are here when you're in the middle of summer with temps in the 80's and 90's. I hear that your weather hasn't been as hot as last year though.

The scientists gave a presentation on Copepods and had shown us slides. Pretty interesting. These little guys are like the size of brine shrimp and smaller and are fed upon by the whales and other creatures of the deep. Then Meagan and Jeannette, the two who went to Easter Island showed us their slides. Really beautiful with a certain intrigue attached to it. I still had a few slides of the Bahia Paraiso that I didn't send home, so I pulled them out along with some slides taken over the last few months.

A lot of the people in these slides from last season will be back in October. It will kind of be like old home week once they get here. My old supervisor, Al will be back too. He did manage to send a marsgram to us here last week. He is still traveling in South America--since the beginning of June. He went through parts of Chile and the Lakes Region in Argentina, then up to Ecuador. He is in a Spanish school in Quito living with a family and learning the language.

I'm in the middle of wrestling with the satellite at the moment. The past week has been noisy and difficult to keep the connection. I don't think these winds help matters at all the way they push around the antennas. Talking of problems from the weather, we are currently having problems with an iceberg over our seawater intake now. Unlike in the summer, we have the freshwater melt pond to draw water from. But now, we have to rely on the desalinization units and reverse osmosis from water drawn from the seawater intake.

This big old piece of bar ice is dropping all kinds of silt into the system and clogging up the works, so we are trying to conserve water until it moves permanently. It not only provides water for our desalinization units, but also for the scientist's fish and copepods (and for refilling the hot tub---um, therapeutic bath!!) If the scientists aquarium tanks don't get fresh seawater, the specimens will die. Specimen mortality isn't an issue yet, but we will have to conserve water until the berg moves.

The berg moved when the wind shifted today, but came back tonight with the storms resurgence. The glacier hasn't calved too much lately either. The chunk over the intake is probably fifty feet by fifty feet (the part above water), but 90 percent of an iceberg is under water. To give you an idea how deep this berg sits, put an ice cube in a glass of fluid and imagine the area you see on top of the ice cube to be 50 x 50 feet. By looking under the surface, you can better understand how deep an iceberg sits in the water. So this little iceberg is doing a dance on our water intake and probably smashing the pipe like a smashed down straw.

26 July 89

I started a letter a few days ago to you, but things got pretty hectic and I never finished it. Things here have been busy. I had trouble getting traffic out on the satellite the past four days. I could bring stuff in, but couldn't send anything out. Some of the scientists get a bit worried when they can’t get data and correspondence off to their counterparts back stateside. They have such a short stint here in the Antarctic that they really depend on our ability to transmit and receive all their info in a quick manner. From our standpoint, we really miss getting in the news on a regular basis. I pull down the latest news stories and print it out for everyone to read when they’re in the galley. So finally yesterday, I got everything out. I had quite a backlog, but put in the extra time and sent it out all at once.

Had an antenna bracket come loose on Sunday. So I went up on the roof with another guy, tilted the antenna and put a new bolt in. Normally, this is just a five minute job, but the wind was blowing at 50 knots and temperatures at about a minus 3 degrees C, the wind chill was bad. My fingers were numb within minutes, but it's done fixed.

The scientists did us a favor and performed a dive down by the seawater intake to scope out the damage from the iceberg. They ended up removing the end portion of pipe. The last four feet of the pipe was smashed down almost flat from the berg dancing on it. The intake is still far enough below the surface that it won't draw in bad water or garbage. Bilge is released on the Hero Inlet side and the seawater intake is on the Loudwater Cove side of the station, so it shouldn’t be an issue. At least now we won't have to worry about our water usage so much.

Within the next two weeks, this group of scientists will leave. It's hard to believe it's almost August. I'll be sad to see them go...this group has really been a lot of fun. We received a tentative schedule this week to leave here on the 14th of October. Another 2-1/2 months to go. We will start to make travel arrangements in another month.

We have had two beautiful days of clear cold weather. We have been able to see the mountains again for the first time in months. There is some grease ice coming into the harbor now, so parts of the harbor may freeze over yet. The stars were out in full force last night, so got a nice look at the Southern Cross and the Milky Way.

26 July 89

It was really great to talk to you on Saturday. For once I didn't wake you up and we had a chance to talk. The weather over the past couple of days has been cool. Today, the scientists on station insisted that we needed a group photo, so Tom, our station manager pulled out the Caterpiller and we had our picture with all of us on the Cat with the mountains in the background. The sun was bright for a change and the sky was pretty clear too. Tom and Robin have been clearing snow for the past two days after the storms we have had.

I'm still working on inventory now, but it is tedious and puts me right to sleep. I've got the rest of the winter to finish it, but I need to spend like a couple weeks straight on it and just get it out of my hair! Aside from the normal weekly reports to be written, inventory and satellite woes; everything else is going well.

We just had the most beautiful sunset today. I took about a dozen pictures and will send some out the beginning of August. I have a couple of other pictures taken of me with the beard that I'll send out too. Debi got a real kick out of the last one I sent with my beard. This beard is a little longer, and I've had it for a few months now. A lot of blonde and red like my mustache. I'm going to shave it before I leave though, since I don't want my tan to be uneven on my face when I go to Easter Island! Besides, you get hassled in South America if you have a beard going through the airport and customs.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Chapter 5 - Winter Over; Palmer Style

15 June 89

Just a quick marsgram to say hello and let you know that I had a nice birthday. The cook gave me my choice of meals and I chose lobster. He also cooked up scallops in a wine sauce with fresh made pasta. The cake was great too; chocolate with a chocolate kaluha frosting! To say the least, I porked out!

Got my choice of movies too, so I chose Witches of Eastwick. I hadn't seen it since it came out and we just got it in here. Took a late night dip in the hot tub, but only a couple of stars were out last night. We had a warm front come in with lots of clouds. Three nights ago, the sky was so clear, you could see forever.

We're having an Indian Summer right now. Winter starts next week, but our temps yesterday and today soared above 32F for the first time in over two weeks. Down here that is almost like T shirt weather! The breeze smells fresh like spring. By the time you get this, it will probably be back to cold and snow. But it is nice while it's here.

The ship comes in on Saturday. My old supervisor, Al, said that I have a bunch of mail coming. So, I'm looking forward to Saturday. I'm hoping to go skiing today. The station manager and the cook have been up on the glacier already and seemed to have a good time. With so little light now, you have to be out at noon and the sun is setting by 2:30 p.m. I've taken a couple of nice sunset pictures. I don't think I've seen the sun above the glacier in the past week or so.

BJ and Ned were able to get rooms apart once the last crowd left, but that still hadn't solved the arguement about Ned snoring. Unbeknownst to us and Ned, before BJ had moved to his own room, he went to the pains of recording Ned's snoring. Last night we were at the bar just drinking and playing pool and BJ brings out a tape to play in the bar. He turns up the volume and all we hear is snorting and snoring! We were all dying laughing, but now we can be a bit more sympathetic to BJ's plight. BJ has dubbed this recording "Ned's Snotbox Sonata."

23 June 89

Just passing some time while my data goes out on the satellite. The satellite conditions have been good for crap all week and tonight it looks as though we may get the news for the first time in a week!

This new batch of scientists are really keeping me on my toes. I forgot how much instruction they needed and how busy it makes us here. It is kind of nice to have the new faces in.

We had a darts party with the British guys at Faraday Station on Tuesday night. We are only about 25 miles away as the crow flies, but cannot get there, so we set up the radio and gave a shot by shot description of the shots! I don't know if the Faraday guys really believed that the women at Palmer weren't really wearing see through teddies while throwing darts, but it kept them interested in the game! Palmer didn't win, but we didn't lose anything more than a few songs losers sing. Then the following night, an impromptu party broke out and we danced for the first time since New Years Eve. It was great and we all paid the price the following day!

The weather has been great all yesterday and today. We have had at least a foot of snow with some high winds in the morning to blow all the snow around. It is nice to see some foul weather for a change. The temps are staying fairly warm between 25 32F.

I've finally had the chance to do some reading since the winter has started. I am almost through the J.R. Tolkien series, Lord of the Rings. I have started into the final book and can't believe how fast I've covered the series. I have also started the listen to some Spanish tapes, but haven't made any serious effort yet to keep up with that...soon though.

Thanks for sending me the care package. I owe you one. It will be nice to see some new things by the time it arrives. By now you should hopefully have received the boxes I sent home. Don't dig through everything, but there is a letter in the box to explain things.

23 June 89

Happy mid winter from the bottom side of the world. This week is officially mid winter Celebration everywhere on the continent, but here! The South Pole and the British particularly have a huge feast and party during this week to celebrate.

I'm starting to get anxious about leaving already. Some days it feels like I've been here such a short time, but this week was eight months. The winter here so far hasn't been all that harsh. The temps haven't been below 20F and most of the snow we have had up till this week has not been anything serious. We're in the middle of a snowstorm and mild wind storm since yesterday and it looks like it may last through tomorrow at this rate. It's nice to see the foul makes me feel like I'm roughing it a little! You would be surprised at how mild the climate is this far north in the southern hemisphere.

It's 2:30 a.m. on the 24th and I've decided to finish this letter before I go to bed. Got my traffic out and news in for the first time in a week. The satellite has been noisy most of this week and South Pole has first dibs on the prime satellite time since they have a very small window to see the satellite this time of the year.

It's still snowing like the devil, probably the worst storm I've seen since I've been here. The drifts are stacking up and the snow hasn't shown any sign of letting up. The Polar Duke is supposed to come in on Sunday and pick up the scientists on station now for a science cruise and drop off the others that have been out for a week. The ship will only be in for a night, then back out again in the morning. The longest stay the ship had on station was when the Bahia went down. All the science then revolved around studying the effects from the oil/diesel released from the sinking ship.

24 June 89

This week made my eighth month here and the countdown is started. We have a full house on station now with about 20 people. It has been nice to have some new faces on station, but the Duke comes in tomorrow and will take this group of beakers out on a cruise and will leave off the other group that is on the ship now.

The weather has finally started to break after a two day snowstorm. Looks like we are in the middle of winter now. Some of the drifts are five and six feet high. I think we had about 1 1/2 feet of snow and the winds are pushing it all over the place. Can't wait to get back home and sleep in my nice warm waterbed with the covers pulled up to my neck!

I spoke with Gram and she is doing well. She was bragging about how nice the weather is in Arizona after I told her about our snowstorm. I told her to send some of that sun down here for a week or so.

01 July 89

Things here have picked up over the last couple of weeks since the ship came in. We have two groups of scientists that came in, but they aren't all on the station at one time. The bigger group is out on a cruise now and will stop in on Wednesday for three hours to drop off their catch then head back out. So there has been a pick up in traffic and I've been busier since I've started my inventory.

The weather over the past couple of weeks has reminded me that I'm not in Florida anymore. We had a snowstorm last week that lasted a good two to three days and dropped close to two feet of snow on us. We had five and six foot drifts all over. The one part of the stairway to the other building was completely covered and you had to walk on the railing. This week things are back to normal. Temps are a little cooler between 20 and 30F. The days are now getting longer, but I don't see any difference yet.

The sun still doesn't come up till ten and still disappears around three. We haven't had too many clear days to see the sunset either, but we're better off than South Pole. They haven't seen any sun since the beginning of April, and won't until I think sometime in August. Then it's only a little light and no red flaming ball. We haven't had any sea ice collect in the harbor this year. The water temp is around 31 degrees, but seawater doesn't freeze easily.

02 July 89

Yesterday and today we had a low front scream through here, so we have been having some great winds! The walls in the Comm Center bow in with every gust. The wall in the comm center here was breathing this morning with every gust. It looked like something out of Poltergeist! The wall would push in, then relax and shake everything on the wall. Sleeping in my bunk was like riding in a train last night. Shake, rattle and roll! In addition to the wind, there has been a lot of solar activity lately too. Trying to send and receive data from the satellite has been loads of fun. I get halfway through a file, get thrown out and can't call back up the remote script!

We are going to be roasting a pig here tomorrow. We will have tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday off, but had to work through this weekend. The only thing we will have to do on Wednesday is tie the ship up and send them off after they unload their fish samples. They are collecting krill, copapods and I think some ice fish too.

A couple of the scientists here went to Easter Island before they came down, so I've been bombarding them with questions about what to see and where to stay and where to go. The one girl brought down the book, Aku Aku and I did manage to read it this week. Written by Thor Heyerdahl, was really interesting and give a good background on Easter Island's history, people and culture. At this point, I'm not sure if anyone else is going up to Easter Island from our group, but being alone has never stopped me before.

I still want you to send the copy you bought for me so that I can refer back to it while I'm there. That way I'll know the significance of the sites as I'm seeing them. The only other thing I'll need is the sun screen and I'll be set to go. The more I talk to these two, the longer I think my stay on the island should be. I'll keep you informed once I solidify my plans.

03 July 89

The weather has calmed down some since I last wrote. The snow is packed down somewhat now, but the temps are still in the lower 20's and the wind comes and goes. The Polar Duke is coming in tomorrow to drop off some animal samples krill, copapods and ice fish for the scientists. We are also going to have two small pigs on a spit for the occasion. The crew is Canadian and Canada Day was on the first, so I think they will be celebrating too.

06 July 89

Fourth of July here was great! The Duke came in a day early, so we had a full house for the party. Robbin and Pat (our new GFA), cooked two piglets on the spit. We all had a great meal and a good party that night. I’ve hidden the head from the pig in the deep freeze for the Fall crew to discover when the resupply comes in in October!

Things are starting to get back to normal after the holiday and the Polar Duke stopping in and going back out. We worked through the weekend last weekend and took off on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Still had some things to get done throughout the weekend like traffic and weather observations, but overall, it was a pretty laid back few days. Too much partying, too much good food, the way it is supposed to be over a holiday.

Yesterday the Duke left and the weather was really snotty. The wind was blowing and it was raining. We had to crawl over icy rocks and snow drifts to get to the hasps that the bow lines were hooked to. Plus, it wasn't a lot of fun to get up at 10 a.m. when you didn't get to bed until 05:30 a.m. We did have a good snowball fight with the scientists on the ship before the ship pulled away.

Today it has been raining most of the day, but surprisingly not much of the snow has melted away. One of the scientists birthday was also on the fourth, so we had another reason to celebrate. I've been playing with this print shop program, so I made a banner for her birthday and colored it in with highlighters.

I'm nursing an infection in my shin right now. I tell ya, it takes forever for sores to heal here. I slid into a wall on a wet floor and buried my shin into a metal corner strip a few weeks ago. It didn't show any signs of infection until last week. Doc has instructed me to use warm compresses to bring the infection out and some bacterial cream. Give it a couple of days and the infection should be cleared.

Stand by, dinner's ready and I'm hungry. I'll be back!

1900 06 July 89

I'm back, dinner wasn't too bad lamb stew and fresh baked bread. The cooking here is too good. It's a good thing I'm still working out and doing time on the stationary bike or I'd be big as a house! I'm about the same weight as when I left and that was after not working out for a month, so I must have a little more mass now. If Dee gets those boxes I sent home, please let me know. I am kind of anxious to see how long it takes.

Hold on.....Ok, I'm back again. Had to go check the hot tub. I'm putting some more water into it. It's nice to just sit back and relax some nights in there. Haven't been able to do too much star gazing lately with all the clouds and the bad weather. Gotta go do my weather observations now, so I'll close for now.

under 100 days left!

08 July 89

It's now Sunday night and I'm trying to finish this before I send out traffic. Fixed that cable for the other satellite antenna and had to crawl around in the snow and rain to pull the cable back up to the antenna. I really don't care for the roof covered with ice, but at least it's done and working for now. Still have to go back up tomorrow and seal the connectors with sealant, but that won't be too bad.

10 July 89

The Bahia is still staying above water, but is turning slowly and belching out oil/diesel here and there. The railing from the bridge used to be above water, but as she has settled, the rail is now under water. The scientists did a dive around the ship and took some video. The ship is resting on one of its masts. They were describing how eery it sounds as the ship creaks when you are so near to it under the water. The ship is resting on a slope off of DeLaca Island. Only a small portion of the starboard side of the ship shows above the water. Maybe all of a twenty five by fifteen foot section shows during low tide now.

The scientists have reported their findings back to the NSF. I think the National Science Foundation is hashing over now what to do about the ship. Whatever they decide is going to require negotiations with the Argentine government. Too bad their attentions seemed to be drawn away to their staggering economy and another possible war over the Falklands (or Isla Malvinas if you prefer). Guess it isn't enough to get your butt kicked once!

I'm on watch this week, so it's about 2:30 a.m. and I'm just typing out this letter and listening to the British Forces Broadcast on the AM band of the shortwave broadcast from the Falklands. It's the only radio we can pick up fairly strong other than a few South American, Spanish speaking stations. I really should concentrate some efforts to learning Spanish while I'm here.

10 July 89

I really got into a winter slump after Al left for about three weeks, but that changed quite suddenly after this Winter Cruise III got in. Langdon came back down and brought about ten kids from California. They were only on station eight days. The group that is on station now is a different group; more our age. We’ve all seemed to mesh well together. Lots of impromptu partying, dancing and carrying-on. We haven't danced so much since New Year's Eve.

While the Duke was in over the 4th, I did meet Tom Smith. He didn't seem to be as burnt out as when you saw him last year. He is having all of the same problems you had on the Duke with the ship communications, plus some. Al installed Blast onto the Duke's computers and Tom hasn't a clue how to handle it. I don't know why this company insists on dropping people into jobs without the least bit of preparation! So during the few hours that the Duke has been at Palmer, I've tried to give Tom crash lessons on using Blast and the scripts that Al has written up for it. Unfortunately, as usual, the comms on the Duke leave much to be desired. Bobbing up and down in the water like a rubber ducky in a bathtub isn’t exactly conducive to stable signals and stable comms!

By the way, the Duke had to reclaim their Compaq from us about a week before Al left. So he and I spent some grueling hours reloading everything back onto the ITT Xtra's. Duke and Palmer had to send back two Xtra’s to Paramus. But, Al and I got our last laugh. We made sure to replace one of the spare hard drives that was laying around on the shelf into the one we sent back.

Actually, we wanted to verify whether or not it was a functional drive. As it turned out, it was fried. So we left it in and sent it north! They have better facilities to deal with repair and replacement anyway. At least now we have a spare drive on station. We still have three Xtra's on station and I wouldn't stake my career on their dependability.

Guess Tom is going to go to South Pole in Austral Summer for November 89 and work there as a tech. He was also mentioning that they are going to hire three comms operators for South Pole. So I asked him to put in a word for me and maybe come November of 90, I can try for a summer operator position. Only problem might be trying to find out who has the contract.

We had quite a snowstorm here about two weeks ago that dropped about two feet of snow and winds that left five and six foot drifts all over the station. Paths had to be plowed to the pier so that the Duke could lower the stairs. Other than that, the weather has been fairly mild. Temps have been as low as minus 10C and this morning hit plus two C. We are still getting rain and snow mixed, but the snow that is here isn't melting.

I had my ATS 3 transmit Yagi lose its connector. Pulled clean out! As you know, the cold and salt spray really does a number on things here. I ended up having had to climb up on the icy roof to rerun the cable. I repaired the broken end inside then had to feed the repaired end out through the access hole and reach around the end of the roof to pull it up to the antenna for reconnection. I hate climbing on the roof and leaning over the edge. You know how much I hated it when you, Al and I were raising that channel six antenna after the bolt snapped and it crashed down in May.

I started my inventory and I'm sure that it will take forever to finish. I don't think I'm going to screw around with the drawers that have the transistors. If he needs to know what is where, he only needs to look in the inventory book!

Well, that's life in a nutshell (no pun intended) here at beautiful, balmy Palmer Station. We have only another 96 days left...BJ keeps on reminding us! He probably has it counted down to hours at this point. His promise to not shave his beard or cut his hair has him resembling Moses at this point!

14 July 89

Things here are going pretty good so far. I'm on watch all this week, so I've been up till 4:30 a.m. every day and get up at noon. It feels like half of my day is wasted and it's really hard to motivated. I've been working out in the evenings in between watches, so I haven't let that sched get too screwed up. Our satellite time is around 9 p.m., so this late sched works out good for that. I don't think I count the number of hours put in anymore. It is hard when you work and sleep in the same building; you know something needs to get done and you just stay in front of the computer or in the shop. Even during my idle hours, I seem to end up in here!

Winter here hasn't been that bad, more like a mild Chicago winter at this point. The guys that I pass weather conditions to at Faraday (British Antarctic Survey Station), say that this has been the mildest winter on record since the 1950's. The temps haven't been below a minus 11 C and have been staying anywhere from minus two to plus two C. The wind is what makes life difficult here.

Last night was calm at six and forty knot winds at 1 a.m. The night before last was like a dream. I was running my last round at four a.m. and the sky was partly cloudy with the half moon peaking through the clouds and some scattered stars, with the station dead quiet except for the pounding of the station generators. I took a deep breath and the air reminded me of being in the mountains in Colorado skiing cold, crisp and refreshing. It's moments like that I would like to put into a jar and save.

Yes, it does get light here. Since the winter solstice, it is getting progressively lighter. Daylight comes around 9:30 10 a.m. and sunset around 3:30 p.m. So the days are getting longer now. We still don't see the sun over the glacier, but give it a couple of months and it will get over its' shyness. Some of the sunsets have been beautiful with the pinks, oranges and purples. You'll have to see some of the slides that I've taken.

Speaking of skiing, no, I haven't dared to go back up on the glacier skiing yet. Aside from not having the time, I'm not that agile to downhill ski on cross country skis. I may get talked into going back up though. This group of scientists are pretty active and keep everyone busy.

Everyone has since recovered from the party on the fourth, so we are planning a Bastille Day Party for tomorrow night. I know, I know, today is Bastille Day, but we have to work in the morning on Saturday so it works out better to have a party on Saturday night. I won't be able to drink since I'll be on watch, but I'll still have fun. I made up a sign and hung the sign and French flag in the galley. We decided to have the party in the galley for a change. So we'll put up the white Christmas lights and have a fire going for atmosphere. We have a few here who are real entertainment packages in themselves, so parties aren't too boring!

My workouts are progressing well. I've been striving to do more aerobic activity, so I ride the stationary bike every workout day for a half hour minimum. I've been pushing up the resistance lately, but it really wears me out overall. Instead of working a three on one off, I usually work out two days, take a day off and pick up on the third day and first day, then take another day off. It seems to give me enough rest and I still feel like I'm making gains.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Chapter 4 - Winter Over Begins

April 1989

The time down here has really given me a lot of different experiences. The most memorable up until now has been when the Bahia Paraiso ran aground and sank 1 1/2 miles off shore here in January. The station came together and did as much as we could to bring in the life rafts of people, pulling canisters and barrels and other assorted floating garbage from the harbor AND somehow managing to keep our sanity with over 300 people on the station from the ship.

Fortunately, two other tourist ships came back and took 200 or so passengers from the ship off station and northbound that night. I don't know where we would have slept that many and kept them over any period of time! It was a challenge enough to find sleeping spaces for over 100 Argentine soldiers from the ship on a station that was built for a maximum of 45 50 people.

The cooks here got help from the ships cooks with meals and dishes, but is still was quite a task for them. Instead of the usual one person watch, we had three people scheduled for station watch. Certain areas had to be manned 24 hours to make sure the clepto's were kept away. We still lost a few items, but things worked out ok, considering as many people as were here.

The Argentines left over 100 soldiers here from the ship to "help" in their half hearted cleanup effort. I made a couple of friends among them, and would like to stop over in Buenos Aires on the way back if possible. With all the political turmoil in Argentina, I will have to wait and see when I'm ready to leave here.

The ship hit the rocks on Saturday, January 28th and rolled over on its side on Tuesday night January, 31st. It took the American Government some time to get the oil response equipment and people to Palmer from the States. An American C 5 flew down and landed at the Punta Arenas airport with all the equipment and people necessary to control and clean up a "worst case" oil spill.

Within weeks, scientists came down to study the oils effects on the environment and wildlife. The NSF needed to know the ramifications of this disaster on any future science to be conducted in the future. Palmer is only one of three stations that are kept open by the American contingent in the Antarctic region.

Our spill was nowhere near as devastating as the incident in Alaska, but it was the first real spill in the Antarctic and the first involving commercial sea tourism in the Antarctic. Around the same time, a Peruvian vessel ran aground at King George Island and was leaking oil and fuel. This was not a tourist carrying vessel and did not sink.

The first month was the hardest on the birds. Over the last couple of months the scientists generally had concluded that not enough oil was spilled to have had a permanent effect on the area. Even with the initial losses of bird life and non
vertebrates, the damage isn't expected to carry over into the following year.

Chilean divers hired by the National Science Foundation went down to investigate the wreck and give some kind of an idea what the situation looked like below the water level. They corked up a few holes and closed the portholes that were left open when the ship sank. This seemed to have stopped the heavy oil leaks we were smelling and seeing on the surface of the water. That's not to say that the wreck still wasn't leaking...just not so badly now. Whenever we get a good stiff south wind, it still smells like a diesel filling station here.

The oil response people weren't able to predict what effects the ice and winter will have on the ship's hull at this point. They say that at worst, the ice could crush the ship and spill the remaining contents into the harbor. But we can only wait and see. If only the engine room doors had been closed, like they were supposed to, the ship may have been saved. The two Sea King helicopters onboard were probably worth more than the ship. Once the ship took on water and started to list, there was no way the helicopters could be launched off of the helo deck without sliding into the water.

17 April 1989

Everything here is ok. I was depressed for about a week after this last group left, but I'm finally getting over it and carrying on. Al has already started to pack, so I'm getting more prepared to settle in for the winter. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the crew leaving and the station going into winter mode.

I'm going to retrograde a box of stuff back from here in May. It probably won't be home until July or August since it will go back first to Paramus, NJ on a slow boat, then be mailed back C.O.D. to Naperville. I'll send home the sweatshirts I've bought among other things I've collected. You may want to have a look at the literature about the shipwreck and all that. It's a good collection of information and will give you a good idea of what went on here during that time.

I got the box from Dee and I'm glad she sent what she did. There were a few things I wish she would have sent, that I did ask for, but I'll live without them. I have as much as I need to get me through.

I'm kind of curious as to what new music is out since I've been gone. I heard the new Bangles song on the BBC shortwave broadcast and it sounded good. I still miss driving my car.

The weather here is cooler now. Looks like winter is here to stay. Average temps are running around 28 30F and we have been seeing more snowflakes around. Last night we ended up with about an inch on the ground. We had a day last week when the whole station smelled like diesel again. The ship is leaking again, but there isn't much that can be done about it. The fumes were bad like standing around at the Dixi truck stop on old Route 66 in Mc Lean, IL!

I see your temps in Chicago are getting warmer now. We get the news through the main computer in Florida. So we can kind of keep track of what's going on in the real world. By the way, did Daley win or what? I hope so. Chicago really needs someone who knows the system and the ins and outs of the city.

21 April 1989

The weather here is just starting to remind us of winter. We have had snow all this week and have probably two or three inches on the ground now. We are having a lot of gray days the past couple of weeks. Winter seems to be finally kicking in. Guess we won't be seeing bare rocks again for quite a while.

As we will soon be closed for winter season, I'm not sure about the frequency of mail. It sounds like there will be a spell where we won't see the ship for 1 1/2 months between mid June and August. So I'll keep in touch by marsgrams during that time.

Al, my supervisor, will be leaving on the next ship out in three weeks and has been trying to prepare me for the winter and take care of some projects he doesn't want to leave hanging. Communications traffic has slowed down some since the last group of scientists went out two weeks or so ago. The mood is definitely more relaxed and everyone is settling into a winter mode here.

We had a picnic at Old Palmer Station this last weekend, snow and all. It was nice to get away even if it is only a mile or so. The boat ride is normally only five minutes or so, but we had a bit of brash ice in the harbor and it took around 25 minutes to get over to O.P. We cooked steaks on the grill and a few of us went and checked out an ice cave in back of the station.

It was interesting to see light shining through parts of the cave lighting the way through it. A couple of people did some cross country skiing and I pulled a sled up to the top of the hill and did some sledding. The second time down did me in. Busted my butt. Hit a rock mid way down and flew something like two feet in the air. So I've been sitting on one cheek this week!

Just call me, Dangerous Downhill Dave.

28 April 1989

The job here has been very interesting and challenging. I have learned how to use a PC like never before. I can remember how afraid I always was of them before this job. Al, my supervisor has managed to somehow bang into my head most of the information I'll need over the next five and one half months.

I have had many chances to see the wildlife in the area. We have penguin rookeries on the nearby islands and cormorants (blue eyed shags) on another nearby island. Elephant seals are all over the place and fur seals have just started coming in within the last month. Many sitings of whales; humpbacked mostly, but orcas too. The divers from a few different teams have brought up loads of animal and plant life that I've never seen before. It is hard to believe that such a variety of sealife can live in such a cold climate where the sea water temps stay around 30 32F.

29 April 1989

No, I haven't grown my beard back…yet. I am waiting until we close up for winter. Besides, Dee just sent me six cans of shaving cream.

The weather here just turned cooler today. We got a cold front in after a week of fairly mild temps 28 32F and about a foot of snow during the week. It's funny to see all rocks covered again. It looks like it did when I first arrived in October of last year. I was just sitting in the hot tub the other night and the wind was blowing and the snow was really coming down it was so relaxing. I'm still working out, although I had to take a few days off when I took that tumble sledding last week at Old Palmer. I have two big bruises on my behind. Soon we'll be able to ski on the glacier, and with some snow, it won't be so icy. It is hard to think that we are just starting into our winter and the temps on your side of the world are in the sixties.

Things are winding down here and we're starting to get into a winter mode. The next ship to leave will take the most of the regulars out with it. So we will be left with ten or eleven until the ship comes back with the two other winter overs. Last chance to get mail to me will be on the ship that leaves Punta on 02 June. I don't know how long it takes to get mail from Chicago to Punta Arenas, but we won't see mail during most of this austral winter, so we will have to write more marsgrams.

01 May 1989

The weather is probably the most exciting thing happening around here. We had winds gusting up to 60 knots and staying steady at around 40 50 knots all day yesterday. The days before that weren't much calmer with constant winds around 30 knots. I was staring out the window yesterday just watching the waves crash up on Bonaparte Point and sending a mist into the air. The glacier has been calving a lot too, but the ice is being carried out to sea with the wind and waves. The snow that we had last week is slowly melting away and we have been having more rain the past couple of days. The temps aren't too bad and it's been staying between 30 34F for most of the week.

I'm almost caught up on writing letters. We won't get mail in for another 2 1/2 weeks, so I have a break until then. The Polar Duke will be in on Thursday and leaving on Friday to go back to P.A. So you'll be receiving another letter (handwritten) from me in probably two weeks. Not too much happening here since the last group left. There are 21 of us now and we will be down to ten after the ship leaves.

Tom our station manager pulled us all together after the ship departed for a meeting. He informed us that we will eat one meal per day as a group. It would be our decision, but we needed to be together for one meal each day. This would help us bond and give us a chance to check in with everyone while not allowing anyone to cut themselves off from the group. Winter over can tend to do strange things to peoples minds and personalities...or so we're told. So we've decided that we will all make lunch at 12 noon. That may be a challenge once my satellite schedule slips till late in the night.

09 May 1989

Deb, I have a few things I would like you to do for me. One; buy me a pocket (Random House or something similar) dictionary for Spanish to English. I want to do some traveling on the way back north and will definitely need it. I would also like you to pick up a book by Thor Heyerdahl by the name of Aku Aku. It is a book all about Easter Island and the cultures that built the giant statues.

What would also be nice is to record some music on Saturday night or even during the day. I miss hearing the normal radio programs. The tapes, book and dictionary should be sent to the office in Paramus and that way it won't get lost in the Chilean mail and will be shipped down air freight or hand carried by someone coming down in August. There isn't any huge hurry on that though.

15 May 1989

I'm starting to think about leaving and have been looking at the books to decide where I'm going to visit on my way back to the U.S. I know that I'm going to do at least a few days in the Lakes region of Chile. I've mapped out a course around one of the main lakes near Puerto Montt. The area is supposed to be somewhat bilingual (Spanish/German), so at least if I can't learn much Spanish with the tapes this winter, I can speak one language they'll understand.

I'm also starting to check out the possibilities of going to Easter Island.

Thanks for staying in touch. I'm glad you are writing again. It sometimes gets lonely not hearing from all of you way up there. Plant some radishes for me. I'm waiting at my mailbox!

22 May 1989

The weather has been generally like garbage. It rained yesterday all afternoon and changed to snow it the evening. By morning today, we had probably another six inches or so of snow and the wind stayed a steady 35 40 knots throughout the night.

Got my hair cut off last night. It's down to about 1/2 inch now. I figure that I have four or five months for it to grow back. I won't look like a fugitive forever. We may have an opportunity to take a field trip to Faraday Station. That is the British Antarctic Survey Station that I speak with every day at least two times a day to pass our weather observations to. It would be nice to get a change of venue for a day or so. I'll let you know if it happens.

Finally able to find a radio station!! Found BFBS (British Forces Broadcast Service) on the bottom of the AM band transmitted from the Falklands (Islas Malvinas). I used to listen to BFBS in Germany too since we were in the British sector, so I kind of feel right at home. Some of the broadcast is from London, so we do get live news now, other than reading it in the news updates we get from the computer in Florida. I'm not able to pull in the station with a regular radio, I have to use the shortwave.

The Duke (R/V Polar Duke, our resupply ship) is due in on Wednesday, so I'm hoping I will get some mail from home. It will be nice to have fresh fruits and veggies again too. Our new winter cook is also coming in on this ship. So we will see some new faces again too.

I'll let you know more about my plans as they solidify over the next five months.

Antarctically yours,

26 May 89

Got your letter this week. Glad to hear that everything is going well for you. You may not be too surprised that I'm staying on until October. This doesn't mean you will see me in October though. I plan to do a lot of traveling once I leave here.

My workouts seem to have more breaks in them, but I'm still keeping relatively close to a three on one off sched. I'm doing stationary biking and trying to do something cardiovascular at least two of the three workouts I do. I'm still eating like a horse and the new winter cook isn't going to help things any! I am eating more here and bigger meals because they are prepared and there, plus I live and work in the same building that the kitchen is in. If all else fails, I'll come to you for meal counseling to help me lose my midsection pudge. I think you'll be surprised at the gains and the definition I have been able to make since I left Chicago.

You asked if slides are easy to process. Yes, they are and it does require a few more steps, but as long as you are able to keep the water temperature and solution temp constant, it only takes about a half hour to do. I think the big problem for me is that to do processing at home, I just don't take enough pictures to use the solutions while they are fresh. I don't know how long the solutions keep once they have been mixed and out of the packages. The slide processing we do here is E 6 Ektokrome and there are only seven total steps including the rinses.

Everything here has wound down this last month. We have only 10 12 people on station now and soon that will be even fewer. Around June sometime, we will have some scientists on the station, but the station population will still be fewer than 15 or so. So it has been real quiet.

The weather has been less than pleasant. We have been having either rain or snow almost every day in the last three weeks. We have also had a lot of wind. Normal blows are around 20 30 knots steady most of the time. Today we have already had gusting up to 76 knots. Snow is still blowing around all over in general, pretty stinky weather.

Spoke with a friend of mine last week and he kindly reminded me that by the time I get home and spend winter at home, I'll have had 1 1/2 years of winter! That's ok, I'll look forward to spending a nice week in the sun on Easter Island before I come home.

28 May 89

Got your letters this last week. I know it takes awhile to get letters back and forth from here. I'm writing you a marsgram now because June 15th will be our last chance to receive mail until the beginning of August. This way you only have to drop a letter to Pennsylvania and I'll have it within a week.

Well, don't pull the grill out yet. I won't be leaving here until the middle of October and am hoping not to be home until December. I'm in the process of planning a trip to Easter Island to tan my skin a little and give me the chance to sightsee. I'll keep you posted as my departure date gets closer.

When the last ship left two weeks ago, it left us with ten people on station. Now, since the ship came back in, we have a couple of science people here and got our new cook in. But when the ship leaves again, we will be back down to seven. The next ship coming in will have a group a beakers and a couple of new station personnel.

I'll be seein you before you know it and then I can bore you with bunches of slides!

30 May 89

Things here are going okay. I can't believe I have been here in Antarctica seven months already. I have really seen and learned so much, it is hard to write it into one letter.

The weather here has been nasty the past three weeks. Winter is without a doubt, here. Today was the nicest day that we have seen in weeks. We even saw the sun and some blue sky! The winds finally died down today too. It may not be cold here compared to the rest of the continent, but the wind makes sure it isn't too pleasant. This is known as the sun belt of Antarctica since the peninsula has nicer weather and more animal and bird life than most of the continent.

Most of the station personnel have left for the winter, so we have about 15 people now. After our resupply ship R/V Polar Duke leaves on Saturday, we will be down to seven. Then in the middle of June, we will have some beakers come in, but I don't know how many will be remaining on station. That ship will be the last we will see of mail from the states until mid August.