Antarctica: June 2012


In honor of Cap'n Jack's birthday, Mel made yet another mindblowingly amazing cake. With a pirate ship!

And next to it, a second skull and crossbones cake.

A closeup of the cake shark/whale/fish creature!

Complete with a treasure chest and an X to mark the spot. Happy birthday, Jack!

Last week, all of Europe enjoyed the annual display of singing in the one and only EUROVISION song contest! And this weekend, this gem of European culture has arrived at the South Pole!

Some tasty noms to accompany the tasteful songs. Cardamom cookies, grapefruit gummies, and blue cheese with figs.

The crowd of Polies is avidly watching...

...the power violin ballad from Iceland!

Carlos is cheering on his home country and also picking up some wicked dance moves.

The happy Eurovision crowd! Sven and Kris are proudly displaying their score cards.

Jedward of Ireland got one of the most positive reactions from the Polie crowd.

Carlos and Sven are imitating Jedward's signature heart gesture.

After the Eurovision festivities, time for a random selection of other fine European music. Including Pall Oskar! This photo is for Jon, who kindly hooked me up with the Eurovision final broadcast. :-)

The South Pole votes are in! Jedward claims first place with 29 points, the Russian grandmas come in second with 27 points, and Romania (first time in the history of mankind that bagpipes and moonwalking have been combined into grand unified awesomeness) takes third with 25 points. (And even though they didn't make it to the final round, I heart Finland.)

Back to the galley to put away leftovers...where we discovered that a cake graffiti artist had struck.


The latest chemistry experiment: tequila with heat gun roasted guajillo peppers.

Welcome to the middle of winter...


The moon's been up for awhile, and it's time to say goodbye to it again. I happened to catch the last sliver of light disappearing below the horizon as I walked out the lab. A tiny distant speck of orange.


One of the less glamorous aspects of wintering is dish pit duty, which we all have about once every six weeks. The meat wheel of death lies waiting to be cleaned.

Even though lunch is long past, the dish bucket is already full to the brim, and two sauce buckets have migrated over to the sink.

The kitchen cart is almost overflowing at the start of the afternoon.

I'm looking perhaps a little less than thrilled about what lies ahead.


It's finally time to put my bags of chiles to good use. Step 1: roast with heat gun.

A few down, and two bags total to go.

The steadily growing pile of roasted guajillos. The lab smelled pretty awesome after all two bags were heat gunned.

The bowl of de-seeded and de-veined chiles, ripped into chunks.

Sue wandered into the galley while I was cooking away and offered me a ring pop. Win!

Beans, onions, and a crapton of garlic are boiling away on the stove. The onions were an adventure...pulled from the deck when it was -100F outside, and chipped off a monolithic frozen cube using a steak knife.

Meanwhile, time to paste-ify the chiles.

The gloppy beany goodness after adding the chile paste and a bunch of spices.

By some strange coincidence, just as the beans were about finished, Steffen (sans mullet) wandered into the kitchen with an empty bowl.

Nick soon followed, also with an empty bowl. Given that the project started with a six-pound can of beans, there was shockingly little left by the end of the night. :-)


Tonight's kitchen army of penguin cookies!

Penguin minions, dressed in formalwear and ready for action.

These penguin dads are balancing an egg and a baby penguin on their feet.

This happy penguin just caught a fish.

Business in the front...

...and party in the back.

Two mullet buddies.

A third mullet buddy, sporting a wifebeater.

Most of the penguins went to the hungry masses, but here are the special ones that I squirreled away.


A few precious special items from a trip to the greenhouse: some baby cilantro and three wee ancho chiles!

Perfect for enhancing a bowl of frozen guacamole.

Special pre-midwinter noms: guajillo sauce and beans with chiles.

A delicious morsel with cilantro bits spilling out the sides.

A few sprigs of greenhouse mint for a special pre-midwinter drink...

...that features one of the kiwis from the DSL freezy box. It's cracked, leaky, and almost disintegrating after thawing, but it's real fruit nonetheless.

And it tastes amazing when mixed with the mint and some ginger slivers.


And now for something completely different...

...a frog in the tootsie pop rain.


Happy Mid-winter!


In celebration of mid-winter, it's time to break out this special bottle of homemade wine from Hien.

Bottled in Pasadena, named after his daughter, and shipped to the South Pole. Thanks, Hien!


The station is celebrating mid-winter today, and the day begins with a fancy brunch, hosted by the greenhouse.

Joselyn and the greenhouse/galley goodies, including homemade ginger beer that Katie is sampling.

When Jos isn't looking, Sven starts chugging the basil lemonade.

The greenhouse noms include micromuffins, tiny tuna rolls, crab salad...

...and my favorite, the mango salsa!

Kicking back in the greenhouse amidst the humidity, flowers, and pastel mood lighting.

A bunch of other stations around the continent have sent us their mid-winter greetings, and they're all posted at the galley entrance.

Before dinner begins, people gather in the galley lounge for afternoon drinks.

Jos and Kasia, looking sharp and cheerful!

Spencer is hard at work in the kitchen, preparing lobster tails.

Kasia and her fancy hat.

Our beloved kitchen crew!

A sneak peak at the dining area, which has been transformed for our fancy dinner.

Everyone is taking tons of photos.

The pre-dinner crowd...

...hanging out and enjoying the fruity sangria.

Nick and me, a bit blurry and tilted.

Cheers! I believe the concoction is a mixture of orange crush and something else.

It's time for dinner to begin, and Kris is standing guard as one of the food servers.

Robert is hungry and banging the table, and Katie and Jos are pretending they don't know this man.

The appetizer includes apple butter (made from the last apples on station) and pickled green tomatoes.

It's followed by lobster bisque in an amazing bread bowl.

We pause to digest for a few minutes and listen to Katie's speech.

The next course is salad made from greenhouse veggies!

Robert forgot to document his salad before touching it, so he starts photographing Katie's instead.

Despite appearances to the contrary, I'm not drunk; I blame Robert for saying something ridiculously funny.

I was already dangerously full by the time the main course arrived...lobster, halibut stuffed with apples and brie, mashed potatoes, and beans.

Jos and Heather are enjoying the food, as well as some of Jase's homemade mead!

Robert is demonstrating how to be European.

Carlos follows suit and demonstrates his skills too.

Gus gives a speech while we're finishing our food.

We're a close-knit, sharing community.

And finally, dessert! Chocolate goodness with vanilla ice cream...and of course, a greenhouse mint leaf.

Robert's still busily taking photographs.

The kitchen crew is called out for a standing ovation for the amazing dinner that they've created for us!

A bunch of us are so full that we can't handle the full dessert...but no problem, because Robert's standing by to take a hit (or several) for the team.

Derek is testing the fullness of Robert's stomach with a salt shaker.

Gus is sampling and endorsing Hien's wine.

Completely stuffed with food, we all collapse on the sofas in the galley lounge after dinner's over.

Meanwhile, folks prepare for a post-dinner party.

The dancing crowd...

Happy mid-winter!


Totally useless frosty goggles after a walk to the lab in 20 knot winds.

A quick visit to BICEP2, where Steffen shows me how to do a helium fill in case he suddenly becomes deathly ill or falls off the deck.

Ending the transfer and pulling the vent line. It's strange to return to this side of the lab.

Yep, this is it. The very last apples on station.

I grabbed one and decided to put it to good use before it becomes more wrinkly.

Just plain apple chunks with a bit of pear balsamic vinegar. Goodbye, freshies.


Another Monday Wednesday night chemistry experiment...this time featuring sugar cubes!

...and Angostura. For champagne cocktails.

Experiment #1. Very very fizzy.

The sugar cube eventually got etched away, leaving a layer of dark and spicy goodness at the bottom of the glass.

I think Kris enjoyed the end result...

I think it was a success. :-)

Click here for July photos and adventures...

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