Not quite like the ‘Nestea Plunge’

31 Dec

For those of you too young to laugh at the title of this post, please continue to read on.  For those of you who giggled at the title, I hope it brings back fond memories of the good ‘ol days when TV wasn’t filled with Reality shows and different versions of Law & Order or CSI episodes.

One of the traditions here at Palmer Station is to take the Polar Plunge every time the LMG pulls away from the station to head north.  This means that you get down to your skivvies and jump into the cold, cold, sea water (it’s usually about 28 degrees F).  Following the plunge, you immediately head to the hot tub to rewarm your parts and pieces that almost broke off from the frosty waters. 

The day the LMG left to head northbound was pretty crappy weather in September and I opted not to jump.  However, there was a very nice day on October 11th.  The temperature was reasonable, relatively speaking, and there was very little wind. 

I got all dolled up (or dolled down really) to my swimsuit and robe and began my mental preparation.  I’d jumped previously at McMurdo and recall how cold and extremely frightening it was, fearful of something nibbling at my toes or becoming so cold so quick that my heart would stop.  Mind over matter is what I kept reminding myself.  I kept thinking about my happy place (a nice, sunny, hot beach).

I reminded myself that it was warmer on this side of the Antarctica and it would be much easier.  Okay…it was all mind over matter at this point.

We all headed to the pier and started this insane ritual. 

One by one, folks jumped in.  Some did so with great enthusiasm.  I stood in amazement and awe.

One of our Recycling Technicians going head first...He's obviously CRAZY!

It's hard to determine if that's excitement or fear on our Science Support Supervisor's face. It's apparent that he's CRAZIER!

Now come on now...Our Boating Coordinator is the CRAZIEST! I mean really, a flip?

Now it was my turn.  I joined my friend Lisa in female solidarity, and we jumped together.

Can you see the snow we jumped off of? Our feetsies were chilled even before jumping.


What you see now is moment my head was completely submerged and I had brisk, ice cold sea water up my nose. It's a moment I will never forget.


After this moment was the mad rush to the rusty ladder.

It's a good thing I took swimming lessons and got there first. It was quite the mad dash. I don't think Lisa was too pleased about it.

So, I made it.  Nothing nibbled at my toes (either that or they were so cold I never even felt it).  And even though I think my heart skipped a few beats, it didn’t completely stop.  It was breathtaking, exhilarating, and invigorating all at once.  And yes, the water was a smidge warmer than I recalled, but once you got out…the wind, as minimal as it was, was a tremendous reminder that we are still in Antarctica and IT’S COLD! 

I scampered to the hot tub, about a five-minute walk (and not too simple with wet feet in flip-flops on snow and rock) to find the rest of the group already toasty and warming their tender, cold parts. 

I immediately hopped in and joined the group.

A much warmer and happier crew post Polar Plunge.

Shortly after, we were greeted by the Adult Beverage Fairy who brought us delicious adult beverages to nicely complement our post plunge hot tubbing experience. 

So with a hot toddy in my hands, I was surrounded by great folks and lots of hot water.  I was very pleased I took the plunge. 

I am not sure if I will continue this ritual EVERY time the LMG pulls away from the dock and heads north, but I am very glad I participated this time. 

Life down here is not too shabby.   

: )


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