Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Chapter 11- Back to Palmer

04 November 89

Sorry it's taken me soooo long to respond to your marsgrams. I did live through the ship rides--both ways!! Actually, the second trip was smoother, but I wasn't up to par. Didn't woof my cookies, but did a lot of sleeping and reading. The trip north was the worst storm that many of the crew has seen. We had up to sixty foot swells and did a couple of nice 45 degree rolls.

We did make it to P.A. in one piece, somehow! Spent a day in P.A. with the departing Palmer crew and then flew up to Puerto Montt for a few days. The temps were great, in the 60's the whole time in Puerto Montt and 50's in Punta Arenas.

We got back to Palmer on the 29th of October. I received the second box from you on Halloween. The candy was a nice touch, especially since I received it on Halloween! Thanks for buying all that stuff for me. I suppose that I could have lived without the most of it, but it is always nice to have personal items that you are used to. The jeans fit well. I did send off a letter and I think some postcards from Chile, so you should have those by now.

I caught some kind of bug when I got back and have been sleeping most of my evenings away to get rid of it. Feeling better tonight, but I'm on watch till 4 a.m. and it's only after 1 a.m. now. I ended up taking a nap earlier in the evening to prepare myself. I haven’t opened the Christmas presents yet. I'll hold onto them so that I have something to open then.

05 November 89

It's been a busy day here. Greenpeace came in yesterday and will do some inspections for pollution from the station and probably from the Bahia Paraiso as well.

I'm cooking dinner with another guy this afternoon and just got the steaks in a marinade an hour or so ago. Spoke with Gram this afternoon on the ATS sched. She sounds like she is doing well, but is worrying a lot about Dad, Mom, Dee and you. She says she doesn't worry about me down here as much as you guys up there!

The job here is going alright so far. I have enough to keep me busy and out of trouble. I only hope that my attitude can stay this good for another five months. So, now I've been back to work for a week and I am feeling settled in again. I'm happy that I've stayed.

The weather has been fairly nice with temps around 30-34 F. I see you are starting to get colder temps than us. Guess summer is coming, finally. Greenpeace is here checking things out this weekend. All things (political and ideological differences) considered, the visit went well.

The crew invited all of us on the station to visit with them on their ship, the M/V Gondwana which is anchored in the harbor. So we had a good afternoon listening to their spiel over some Kiwi beer. Then yesterday, the Greenpeace people spent the day standing on the overturned side of the Bahia Paraiso with their banners while the helicopter with the Fox film crew was flying over taking pictures and video tape. Fox is bumming a ride with Greenpeace to produce some kind of special for television.

I told you this was going to be a circus this year! Poor Peter, our station manager was a wreck worrying about liability problems and what the front office and NSF are thinking about Greenpeace being so close to Palmer.

Hello again, Rick, 07 November 89

I sent out the postcard with the Faraday cache around the middle of last month along with a short letter that I wrote while on the Duke. I asked Al if you had said anything about receiving it, but he said no. Hopefully, you have received that by now. Let me know. I do have another card that I can send if that got lost.

I had a nice week of vacation in Chile before coming back. Took three days and flew up to Puerto Montt. The area was beautiful. I ended up meeting Dennis Hampton, Marcia Medford and Robin Lamere at the airport the next day and we ran into Vince Kelly from the Polar Duke, too. The five of us had a great time.

The seafood was beyond words. I don't know how I will be able to go back to the Midwest after having eaten so much fresh seafood in Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt!

The Puerto Montt area also has a market that sells wool sweaters, straw woven stuff and lapis jewelry. So I managed to pick up sweaters for the family at around $12 a piece which would have run around $75 in the States. What a suitcase load! Robin had to buy another suitcase in Puerto Montt for all the sweaters that he bought! We had a great time, but it was too short, as are all vacations.

So, now I'm "home" back at Palmer and working on settling back into the grind again. I expect to be here until the end of March or April. I have a ton of marsgrams to catch up on too, so you will be seeing them from me for awhile to come.

07 November 89


How is life back in civilization? Life here is going along alright. I think I'm finally settling back into a normal pattern again. Still need to start my workouts again, but everything else is humming along. I wanted to thank you and Marcia and Robin for stopping in and spending some time in Puerto Montt. It really made my vacation fun. I'm anxious to hear about your journey on the train back north through to Santiago. How was your car drive around the Big Lake? I really want to make that trip myself, so any helpful hints you can offer would be appreciated.

I have to write Robin yet, but I figure that I have a couple more days until he gets back home. I wonder how his New York pilgrimage went. I'm sure that he had a blast. Has anyone heard from Pat or Dick? I don't expect that we will hear from Dick for a couple of months with him in Ecuador.

As it turned out, I could have stayed in Puerto Montt since the container ship didn't arrive in P.A. until the following day. So we left 24 hours behind sched. The trip back wasn't as rough as the trip north, but I still spent most of the trip sleeping and reading. Maybe it was just depression about coming back. I did have serious thoughts of going north while waiting in the Puerto Montt airport.

We had a good Halloween party. It seems like it is going to be a quieter season than last year. There was finally some dancing and general craziness on Halloween, but for the most part, we could have considered the place a morgue.

I've heard enough griping already about the winter-over manager Tom from this group. I'm glad that I haven't been called upon to defend him or his actions! He made such a big deal about the cohabitation on station with the oncoming summer crew, but things are going alright now. Peter seems to be a bit more at ease with people and the wide range of personalities with forty-five people on station now.

We did get a pep-talk from the new oncoming contractor, Holmes-Narver. They are interested in names and addresses of people who may want to come back in the future. If you need their address for when you get out of the navy, drop me a line.

I hope everything is going well for you back home with your family and your new assignment. Lisa and Andy say hello.

08 November 89

I'm sorry I woke you up when I called a couple of weeks ago. Our new ATS satellite time is now at 11 a.m. your time.

My trip north to Chile was great. I couldn't say too much over the phone, because I would have ended up spending the whole time talking and would have needed another half hour to finish!

The trip back to Palmer was relatively uneventful. We got back on the Sunday before Halloween and had our big party on Sunday night. It felt nice to be back "home" again. It's funny to think that I've lived here longer than at the condo we own! Just a few more months now.

We have just caught wind of the German's opening of travel restrictions in Berlin. I can't believe it's actually happening. It's about time! I only wonder how long until Germany is once again reunified. As much as no one wants to admit it, or as much as the Russians will fight it, it is only a matter of time. I have read that people were taking chunks out of the wall too! Someone here received a letter that the said the East Germans were astounded at the consumer goods available and some even saw a VCR for the first time. Unbelievable! Hopefully, there is no turning back now.

17 November 89

Boy, you are cranking out the letters lately! I have been trying to get my Christmas cards/letters out when the ship leaves next week after Thanksgiving. Guess I'll start answering all of your questions from you last marsgrams:

Yes, the jeans fit well. Maybe I can lose weight over the next four months to make them not fit, but don't bet on it. I'm at 185 now due to two big meals being served every day of the week and too many deserts and beer.

Next letter; say no more, it was too depressing!

About the CD's: Yes, please turn them over, but only into six month CD's. I don't want to tie my money up for too long of a period at this point.

18 November 89

There are so many of this new crew that have earrings. Talking with our assistant cook Meg last week, she volunteered to do piercings for any of us that wanted them. Bob our cook has said that he had a spare earring he’d give me, so I was ready to take the big step.

Meg, with leather needle in hand, met a few of us at the bar that night. Medicated with only a couple of drinks and bar ice applied to my ear lobe (for not long enough, I might add), I now am officially decorated.

Good thing she did mine first! Greg went after me and she had one hell of a time getting the needle through his ear. I thought that she was going to have to put him in a Three Stooges headlock in order to land the needle through his earlobe! It wasn’t too bloody, just much more effort than it took to do mine.

In other news; Bob Taylor, our cook and I received some unique hair styles last weekend. I had my head shaved and Bob got a Mohawk! We raised money for the March of Dimes. We decided that we may as well have a reason to lose our hair. So far, I'm growing back pretty quick. I did get some good pictures from all of it. I had someone here take some shots!

The weather here is getting warmer and the penguins, cormorants, kelp gulls and skuas are all back now. The penguins have eggs already. The scientists here studying them say that the mortality rate will be high this year due to the amount of snow that is still on the ground. The temps have already hit 43 F and we are getting a lot more rain and snow mixed when we do have precipitation. Soon, all the rocks will be exposed again. I don't even want to think about the tourist ships coming in around January. It can be like having company that won't leave!

You were asking about the southern lights. We don't get the chance to see them because we are so far north. They are supposed to be more visible at the South Pole and at McMurdo Station, I'm told from people here now that have worked there. We do have a good view of the southern constellations though.

Thanks for offering, but there isn't anything that you can send me. After being here for a year, you either learn to do without or improvise (in all respects)!