Antarctica: July 2012


We've had a lot of windy weather in the past couple of weeks, and the megadraft outside of Viper continues to grow.

This is the worst point in the walk to DSL. It's where my goggles usually give out, and the drifts get especially bad beyond the ridge that's forming between Viper and Building 61.

The wind is carving a snow bowl around Building 61.


A gorgeous halo appeared around the moon today.

The moon, ICL, and me, pausing at MAPO on my way to the lab.

A walk around the back of the lab, where I faceplanted from the drifts for the first time this season.

SPT backlit by the full moon.

Another glamor shot of my telescope. :-)


The moon is setting, and once again, I happened to catch it just as it was disappearing below the horizon.

The sky has been pretty quiet for the past couple of months, but even the faint auroras are still lovely to see. Our lab window covers are apparently not completely perfect.

So many stars in the sky.


Today is a big harvest day in the greenhouse, and Joselyn is giving us instructions on which plants to pluck.

Carlos is trained up and ready to start harvesting.

Joselyn brought down a polaroid camera and some ancient film, and she's seeing if there's any life left in the gizmo.

Bell peppers that I picked! We're only grabbing the small ones that are starting to develop bad spots, and we'll salvage what we can. The big happy ones are staying on the plants for now.

Spencer and Joselyn are working on harvesting the sorel.

After the peppers are done, the big bushy lettuce plants are my next task.

Carlos is still hard at work.

Carlos's next project is the chard.

We weigh everything we harvest so Joselyn can monitor the greenhouse output.

Some ghostly images from the Polaroid camera.

Not only do we have freshies today, but I also bartered for some of Jase's absolutely amazing walnut bread. WIN!!!


It's time for another midnight meeting of the nocturnal nommers.

Steffen made an obscene quantity of bread. Each loaf weighs, like, 5 pounds.

It goes perfectly with an equally obscene quantity of sundried tomato hummus...

...and a salad from the recent greenhouse haul! Best day ever!


Halo Bambi is bringing us the news that it's an especially chilly day. It's been below -100F almost all day, and there's a pretty strong breeze.

It's a good time to hide from the cold weather and make hedgehog rolls! Jase did all the hard work and dough prep, and I'm just here for the fun part.

Jase takes the first crack at forming the little hedgies. We're using currants for the eyes and nose.

The spines are just snipped out with scissors.

The first little guy is done!

He's soon surrounded by many friends.

The first tray of breadgehogs is ready to go in the oven!

After 20 minutes and a few occasional spritzes of water to help fluff up the quills, batch #1 is complete!

They're pudgy, silly, and dangerously spiky.

After cooling off for a few minutes, Jase makes a nest for the hedgebreads.

I actually couldn't eat one. They were looking at me.






Since we're past the midpoint and it was a late night at the lab, it seemed like a good day to tap into the DSL freezy box. Here are a few precious items that I retrieved. Words can't describe the awesomeness of the taste of real grapes, banana, and orange in the middle of winter.


Tonight's open mic night in the gym. Nate and Katie are the opening act, and Jase and Heather are demonstrating their waltzing skills for all of us.

Meanwhile, Robert is stealing ALL of the milk.

Next up: Ethan the Good and his guitar.

He's followed by Cap'n Jack, who's performing banjo pieces and reading some fine poetry selections.

The next act is Johnny and June, singing about Palmer.

The audience is...amused.

Kris is setting up a mountain of gizmos for a live electronica performance.

His opening piece features a gigantic native American flute that we found when rooting around in the band room one day. It was lying next to the Maui xaphoon.

Kris and the audience, mesmerized by the hypnotic lights.

He looks like he has a keyboard leg. (Perhaps even better than a keytar!)

One of his next pieces features the lightpad, which has all sorts of glowing and blinking buttons.

Jase is up next, and he's singing a song that his brother wrote!

Jono and Nate tear it up and inspire Jase and Mel to hit the dance floor.

After the festivities, Sven tries his hand at the drums.

Yup, he's got natural talent.


It's time for a special field trip to 0.5 to visit the latest addition: the Twilight Shrine.

I also hadn't seen the Eurovision corner yet.

There are all sorts of gems on the walls, including this rejected Pole marker design from a few years ago.

The ceiling is still empty, but some grand plans are apparently in the works.

Tonight's poison: a bucket of fruity goo to be mixed with rum and club soda.

It's a good combination, but it's really the little umbrellas that complete the win.

A true gentleman's beverage.

Sue and her "office."

Not only do the umbrellas enhance the drinks...

...but they also serve as decorative hats.

The eye-level view from my spot on the couch is...fascinating.


Today's evening adventure: my first trip to the ice tunnels since 2006! Kris is admiring rodwell-turned-poo-tube. It smells lovely in this corner.

The tunnels are buried in the ice, and there are emergency escape hatches up to the surface sprinkled all over the place.

Looking down the tunnel, along the pipes.

A map of the underground maze. Well, not so much a maze -- just a long straight section with offshoots.

The walls and ceilings have jagged cut marks in some areas.

A dead end at one of the offshoots.

Kris is pausing to gather a snow sample from the icy depths.

Crimping a seal onto the snow sample bottle.

The most wonderful part of the tunnels is that there are a handful of niches carved into the walls where various relics are frozen for posterity. Here's an ice bust of Amundsen, watching over the station from below.

This pig head commemorates the first elevated station crew from the winter of 2003.

The tomb of the unknown carpenter.

It's a truly surreal combination of spelunking and museum exploration.

Did I mention surreal?

Kris is pausing to admire the niche that houses the "pope soap on a rope."

Finally, we arrive at my favorite ice tunnel destination: the sturgeon shrine!

He's totally for reals.

I have no idea what's in the box.

The story of the sturgeon, part 1.

The story of the sturgeon, part 2. I didn't actually pause to read this on my first tunnel visit way back when.

One bottle of emergency Crown.

Another dead end at one of the offshoots, which looks like a scene straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.

A tribute to the New Zealand winterovers of 2005.

A quiet memorial.

Here's a plaque in honor of the fire teams.

One of the motivations for this ice tunnel trip was finding a permanent home for this breadgehog, who I couldn't eat. He's temporarily squatting in one of the niches to see if it's a good fit.

The breadgehog looks a bit sad. "Why you leave me here?!"

A large memorial in honor of the nature of this continent.

Hedgie decided that he wanted to hang out with his sturgeon buddy.

Actually, I think he's more interested in the girl on the box.

We're finally at the end of the line, rodwell 3, where there are some gorgeous ice crystal formations.

Every surface is covered with ice spikes.

We could hear (and see) the water pulsing through the tube.

Large ice crystals growing everywhere.

Ice stalactites suspended from the ceiling. My fingers were frozen solid after the two hours of tunnel exploration.

Looking down the pipe and back towards home.


It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time for another greenhouse farmer's market!

The table of tasty treats includes goat cheese spread, tabbouleh, mango salsa, a crapton of cheese, Jase's famous bread, and two precious melons!

My first plate of colorful greenhouse noms.

The tabbouleh features locally grown red bell peppers and a generous sprinkling of parsley.

The mango salsa is especially popular and looking as tasty as always.

Tiny morsels of two lovingly grown melons, to be paired with the dish of prosciutto.

Joselyn and the fruits of her labor!

There's also mint lemonade and four flavors of ginger beer for us to enjoy. Carlos is scrutinizing the cranberry ginger beer (which was my favorite).

Sven in action with his spycam.


A very tasty Sunday dinner, featuring Dale's famous cranberry chicken. Yum!

My tiny contribution was a small marzipan menagerie. Almond paste is a fabulous sculpting medium.

Tiny hippo, tiny train, and shanked tiny raven.

The rest of the almond paste that I was playing with went toward a flock of little blue marzipenguins.

The one in the back is winking at us.

Click here for August photos and adventures...

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