The weeks are flying by here at CTAM! The holidays were good though it seemed arbitrary to have them as there is no distinction between night and day or from November to December to January. Only the emails and letters from home reminded us it was that time of year. Our galley was dimmed and a feast awaited us on Christmas night. A few people played a violin, a mandolin and a guitar and we all sat around and ate until our gift exchange. T-shirts from science projects, extra female urinals, used books, massage certificates, extra lotions, hidden bags of real coffee, weather balloons filled with helium, candy and a backgammon board were among the random gifts. We had a two day weekend filled with skiing, hiking nearby on the hills, board games, snow volleyball and naps.
About five of the eighteen science groups are done and have returned to a world with nights, stars, internet, traffic and kitchens of their own.
Each day we meet in the galley for breakfast between 7-8 o’clock, followed by morning announcements, flight schedules, camp tasks assignments and stretching (usually turns into a mini yoga session). After this we drift into out daily tasks.
Some people prepare reports or grade papers they brought with them, or write essays for journals. Operators climb into machines and groom the runway and town, move gear and rocks toward outgoing flights or around camp. Mechanics fix snow machines, heaters, generators and rock saws broken in the field. Others monitor air traffic, fuel aircraft, or catalogue and build cargo pallets, clean common facilities, shovel snow and there is never ending cooking and baking. I spend much of my morning assisting helicopter operations on the camp side.
I assure that the next group of sciencetist going out is weighed, briefed and ready for loading. In the evening I meet them on return and load their gear into sleds pulled by a snow machine.
About twice a week we get an LC-130 from McMurdo, bearing fresh food, mail from town, new visitors/scientists/rotating staff. They haul away our recycling, waste, tons of rocks for analysis, and people at the end of their stay. Today weather is poor in McMurdo (though sunny and beautiful here) so a flight with 37 people from South Pole unable to land in McM is rerouting here. We are scrambling to make dinner, tent sites, chairs, outhouses and melted water meant for 62 people to accommodate 99. I have not seen so many people in two months.