Actually getting on ‘THE ICE’

24 Sep

So we are all lined up patiently waiting our exodus out of the plane.  We are all bundled up with only a very small portion of our noses exposed.  It starts to get a bit warm under all of those layers of protective gear, but we just deal with it! 

I get up to the door and OH MY!  HOLY CRAP!  It hits me that I am about to leave a plane and walk on Antarctica.  I looked around and all you could see was white, EVERYWHERE!  The sights were incredible.  I would have stopped to take some pictures, but we were specifically told that we couldn’t and shouldn’t.  I stepped down the few stairs and the first step onto the ice was UNBELIEVEABLE!  I was walking on land in Antarctica!  I was walking where only a small population of people from all over the world have been.  I felt really incredible and truly blessed to have this opportunity.  

Meanwhile, I began to realize that I was outside and in the cold still.  The temp was around 0 degrees without the wind chill.  It was really much warmer than I expected.  I know that 0 degrees is cold, but relatively speaking, it was much warmer than I guessed it would be.  I expected ice crystals to begin forming around my eyes and nose, but thankfully, that didn’t happen.  I did eventually come to realize that 0 degrees was colder than I was comfortably used to and that I should move my butt a littel quicker and head to the shuttles that would take us ‘into town.’  We walked a litte ways and waited to hop onto the shuttle.  As we were waiting, I took a second to take a few photos.  I know I broke the rules, but how many times would I get the chance to photograph this experience?

The infamous C17 that brought us to The Ice.  It may look small, but it was HUGE!

The infamous C17 that brought us to The Ice. It may look small, but it was HUGE!

Me in BIG RED during my first few moments on The Ice.  You can see my name on my right breast pocket of my coat.  You may not be able to tell, but I have a huge smile on my face.

Me in BIG RED during my first few moments on The Ice. You can see my name on my right breast pocket of my coat. You may not be able to tell, but I have a huge smile on my face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I  boarded the shuttle.  We were riding on Ivan the Tera-Bus!  I had heard so many times about this mode of transporation and now I was riding on it!  There was a little warmth and I eventually took off a few layers.  One does get hot after a few minutes!  There was singing, cheering and screaming that we arrived safely and happy to be here.  There were definitely some veterans that were happy to be back!

Riding on Ivan the Tera-Bus.  It was a littel bumby, but it had heat and music!

Riding on Ivan the Tera-Bus. It was a littel bumby, but it had heat and music!

 As we rode into ‘town,’ I looked around and all you could still see was pure white!  Not sure if it was ice or snow surrounding us, but for miles and miles, there was beautiful views of white.  There was mountains in the distance and big drifts of white.  It was really amazing to think that this place I had just landed on was the coldest, dryest place on earth. 

I was sitting near the center of the bus (that was the first seat available) and the windows were all fogged up (or frozen), so i didn’t take any photos!  I admired the scenery and kept trying to understand the fact that I just landed on the continent that was only hours away from the South Pole.  We rode for about 30 minutes going about 15-20 miles per hour.  We came upon ‘The Town’ and headed directly to my new home…the galley (or kitchen for those of you not familar with the term).  

Walking out of Ivan was pretty cool.  It was a bit colder and windier in town that it was on the airfield.  On my left was ‘McMurdo General Hospital and on the right was building 155; housing the ‘freshman dorm,’ the kitchen, the store (I call it the bookstore), many admin offices, the computer lab, and Highway 1 and 2 (very important info is posted on the walls of HWY 1 and HWY 2).  It’s very central and a good meeting spot. 

McMurdo General Hospital

McMurdo General Hospital

Grand Central in McMurdo (Building 155)

Grand Central in McMurdo (Building 155)

Upon entering the building, I came across the ‘bird bath.’  It’s called that because there is a great deal of handwashing that is encouraged constantly and there are two handsinks reminding everyone to use proper personal hygiene especially before they enter the serving area for meals.  I can’t recall that name, so I have nicked named it the bird cage.  Seems close enought!

The Bird Bath (aka The Bird Cage)

The Bird Bath (aka The Bird Cage)

Next, you come across the three cubbies for housing BIG RED’s or whatever coat you wear down here.  Some have big carharts, some have other cold weather jackets, but the majority of people here are wearing their BIG RED’s, atleast now they are.  In about 2-3 months, I hear it changes and we wear lighter gear, like my mini red wind breaker.  As I entered the first cubby, I picked my hook. I had heard from a few others that you need to make sure not to select another person’s hook, especially someone that had wintered over.  I did my best.  I choose mine (first cubby, back right corner, third top hook on the left)  and plan to use it the entire time I am here.  I would hate to take someone else’s coat by mistake.  It’s pretty odd to go into the cubby and try to find the one BIG RED that’s yours when they all are EXACTLY alike! 

My cubby...I know it's bare now, but it's really intimidating filled with BIG RED's!

My cubby...I know it seems nice, but imagine it was filled with 100 more BIG RED's!I headed into the dining area and picked a spot. I met up with Linda and we de-layered and chatted. We were still pretty overwhelmed about the whole process. We grabbed some hot beverages (there is a large supply of teas, coffee, cider, and hot cocoa). I was pretty impressed with the selection. The training continued and we first recieved our "Welcome to the Station" address from the NSF representative and a few other big wigs. We learned about our trainings for the afternoon and the next day. Being a part of NANA Services, I had a brief training for about 1 hour over some basics we would be officially trained on the following day then we were done until tomorrow morning. It was about 3pm and I headed off to pick up my housing assignment. I was assigned building 209 (an upperclassment dorm), room 322. First, I headed to pick up my luggage in the mail room and then toff my room. Without the bellman, I had to shlep my luggage myself. I ran into John (the mechanic). Since he was already moved in, he assisted me. We headed up the three flights of stairs (with ALL of my luggage) to find that both beds were made and it appeared as if I was assigned a room that was already lived in by two people. I was a bit disappointed because the room was REALLY nicely decorated and set up. I shlepted ALL of my luggage back to the house office in building 155 and spoke with the housing people. I explained the situation and just then, my new roommate walked in the door. This is the beautiful bed that Talie made up for me. It

The welcome note from Talie

The welcome note from Talie

Talie, AKA McGeyvor, Morrison introduced herself and told me she wanted the room to look nice for me.  So, I headed back to building 209 and up the three flights of stairs (with John’s help).  After further examination I realized that Talie and I would get along great.  She is so sweet that she’d made put a sheet on the bed, put pillowcases on the pillows, wrote a nice welcome note and left some flowers (fake, but looked really nice).

There are a few photos of the rest of the room as well as my view.  I must admit that I was temporarily living in the penthouse suite with the bay side view; a room that is only reserved for employees that have a great deal of housing points from being here so many years or being so very important.  Let me remind you that I didn’t fall into either of those categories.  I guess I was lucky.  I knew I would have to move by the end of the month, but was thoroughly going to enjoy living here for the time being.  (We wouldn’t move into our permanant rooms until then because they were not ready for inhabitants.)

Yes, more room shots.  This is Talie's side.

Yes, more room shots. This is Talie

More room pictures...our wardrobes (closets).

More room pictures...our wardrobes (closets).

The Wonderful Shower

The Wonderful Shower

The Comode (and I think water saving, too)!

The Comode (and I think water saving, too)!

 

The entertainment center and food storage area.

The entertainment center and food storage area.

The part of my bathroom that's within my bedroom
The part of my bathroom that is in my bedroom plus our beverage center.

Here area a few shots of the view from the room.  I really lucked out with my temporary housing!

The chapel and another misc. building with some great mountains in the distance.

The chapel and another misc. building with some great mountains in the distance.

I know it looks like this building is on fire, but it's just the run reflecting from the windows.  Not sure what the buildings are yet, but will find out.

I know it looks like this building is on fire, but it is just the sunset reflecting off the windows. I am not sure what this building is yet, but will work on it.The georgous sunset from my window on the first night.

More great mountain views.  It feels like I am back in Colorado!

More great mountain views. It feels like I am back in Colorado!

Since it was getting late, I headed back to the galley to dine with my new coworkers for their family meal time (the meal time before service).  I met them all and had a wonderful time chatting about the random things that had happened that day as well as the winterovers offered some great advice.  I couldn’t recall all of their names or what exactly they did here, but I realized that they were a fun bunch of people and I would enjoy my time with them. 

Following dinner, I headed back to my room and found Talie.  We got to know each other and chatted a bit about her time here.  She’s from Crested Butte, CO and has been here since August 2007.  She’s a janitor and also works the laundry room, in the bookstore, and volunteers in the library.  She loves wine and beer and being outdoors and physically active.  We made a plan to get up early and head to the gym before the work day (training day for me) started.  I knew that we would get along just fine!  Since I was pretty exhausted from all of the anticipation, I fell asleep pretty easily!

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4 Responses to “Actually getting on ‘THE ICE’”

  1. Mike September 26, 2008 at 6:11 pm #

    Keep blogging Marci I am so interested. I read every word and am happy so far all is going well. Stay strong. Mike

  2. Sarah September 27, 2008 at 4:04 pm #

    These pistures are AMAZING! I am proud of you for breaking the rules and taking a picture of the plane on the ice! I am having the best time reading about your adventure!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Have a great day!!!!!!

  3. syinly September 28, 2008 at 9:27 pm #

    I enjoy reading about your adventure also. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Eric September 29, 2008 at 7:13 pm #

    Yay! I’m so excited for you, and love being able to read about what’s happening. Bonus points for the Obama sticker on the fridge 🙂

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