Antarctica: October 2012


Another storm came and went, and it's a good day to enjoy the balmy spring weather. The snowflake flag is still surviving.

The light outside is still gorgeous, but shadows are already noticeably shorter.

The path to the Dark Sector was recently groomed, and it's awesome to be able to walk without having to look down...

...well, at least until you get here.

More mesmerizing ripples in the snow.

A tiny, floppy sastrugi.

The view from my favorite MAPO drift, looking back at the station.

The flag that's being swallowed has grown a snow mane.

My shadow and the Building 61 drift.

Pausing to admire the fine snow structure in the morning light.

The MAPO drift is spawning a twin drift.


Footprints in the snow here don't really get washed out by the wind...

...instead, they actually grow into raised formations. It boggles the mind.

A side project at the lab tonight: roasting my very last bag of precious guajillos.

All done, and smelling awesome.

This is our quantum of chopped onions. It's one of many monolithic frozen cubes that lives on the freezy deck.

A favorite weapon of choice for chipping off chunks from these frozen blocks is the big knife sharpener.

Deseeded and deveined peppers.

Pulverized to little bits...

...and saucified. Goodbye, guajillos.


It's my first trip to cryo this season, so it's been almost 4 years since I last stepped foot in this building.

Holy crap, the pee nitrogen is still here! Some things don't change.

Steffen is kludging together a thumper attached to the gas line... put some residual, old, contaminated helium to a good purpose.


And we have achieved lift!

Steffen, the shark wrangler, and his two catches, ready to be transported back to the station.

Follow those sharks!!

Back in the science lab for final assembly.

Doing some delicate, eh, surgery.

Shark harassment? Alas, at this altitude, the sharks sink when all the accessories are attached. We're working on Plan B...

The ancho plant is growing like a fiend, and Joselyn kindly donated an obscene quantity of peppers to my weekend kitchen play time. These things are gorgeous!

The jalapeno plant is also amazingly happy and produces giant, beautiful peppers.

Oven roasted...

...cleaned and cut into strips...

...and cheesified!

A quick stop at the greenhouse to admire some new plants, including these brightly colored nasturtiums.

The melon vine is totally blowing my mind. These things are about the size of nerf footballs, and there are about TEN of them happily growing.

A small but not unnoticed plant...peas!!


This is our quantum of chicken, about 10 pounds. It's going to be difficult to readjust to cooking "normal" quantities of food.

Mom sent down two jars of mole sauce for me -- best day ever!! They're going towards our Sunday MegaMexican meal.

The completed huge pot of pollo con mole.

Dale and I are joining forces this weekend, and he made his famous bean+rice enchiladas. The plate closest to the camera is his. ;-)

Dueling cameras at the dinner table.

Preparing to stuff ourselves silly with food...

The final spread includes black bean enchiladas, chicken with mole, rajas, guajillo sauce, spiced rice, and horchata.

Dessert from Johnny! Super moist lemon cake with dried pineapple bits, and choco balls filled with peanut butter and crunchy oreo and heath bar bits.

It's a bit hard to say if he's trying to be a camera hog or just passed out from a severe food coma.


One of the signs that winter is ending...a big triwall to ship our spare ECW back north so we don't have to hand carry it.

The skua room is closing down and the shack will be set up again soon. Boxes are set up at DZ to collect all the stuff we want to leave behind.

The trash line at DZ.

My build a paper robot a month calendar is finally exhausted (jumped the gun on November and December).

Do a silly pose for the camera!


Our last all hands meeting for this winter. The festive Oktoberfest toilet paper is still up.

Ethan has a very impressive multi-tool...


This Sunday's dessert experiment is fruit tart round 2. With some helpful tips from Johnny, the crust is looking better this time.

Two of the last freezy kiwis from the DSL box. I can't wait to have fresh kiwis again.

One of the last frozen bananas from the lab stash. Although the outside's turned brown, the fruit itself looks ok... long as you cut away all the mushy banana strings.

Assembly in progress. In addition to the frozen fruit, we also have reconstituted freeze-dried strawberries. Win!

The nearly final product, complete with doily. Because we are all about staying classy here.

The finished tart, after a light coating of gelatin goo.

This Sunday's dinner theme is go big or go home. Since the latter isn't an option yet, bonus choco-cinnamon tart!

We have minestrone soup for starters, and I snarfed mine down way too quickly.

So much food! Dale's famous chicken tetrazzini, Johnny's seeded bread, and a greenhouse salad. Yum!

After digesting a bit, it's time for dessert.

The food paparazzi is on the prowl.

Still photographing away...

I'm on a post-dinner assignment to serve as a stunt double for Steffen.

Time for glamor shots. This blue-steel-esque pose may be a response to me yelling at him to pose like a model.

Body-double duty one more time, while getting very frosty.

It's really hard to smile outside. Apart from the sun burning your eyeballs out, teeth get really damn cold really damn fast.


Well, I guess my favorite MAPO flag is finally swallowed. Just a tiny bit of the bamboo pole is left peeking out.

The first repositioning flights are due this week and are already listed on the intranet.


The first repositioning flight came and went while I was asleep, but they left presents for us: freshies!

A huge bowl of apples, enough for everyone on station to have one. The sight boggles the mind.



The kitchen is soon returning to its off-limits summer state, so we're having one last Sunday food party.

My, what a large lid that is. Dinner features bonus instant food packets unearthed from the bowels of DSL.

And a salad! With real, fresh onions!

The galley has been emptied for deep cleaning, so dinner today is in the science lab. With doilies for everyone!

Tom yum soup accompanies our "ethnic chicken" main course.

Just one Indian dish this time, but it's tasty all the same.

The dregs of a bucket of freeze-dried strawberries went into these cookies, which are filled with Nutella donated from Icecube.

The QRR is about to be deep cleaned too, so one last picture of "my" piano studio before I have to gut it.

An interesting find that I stumbled on while cleaning a dark corner crammed full of magazines and other odds and ends.

The secret contents of the book.


After a winter of decorating, the "analog internet" in 0.5 is finally complete. And it is quite the masterpiece!

Drinks in 0.5 simply wouldn't be complete without little decorations for either drinks or humans.

My beer is decked out with a tiny umbrella.

The view from my seat is superb. YOU'RE AWESOME!

Armed with gin and lime juice and ready for action.


This is it...after a brief day or so of delay, the first Herc marking official station opening is finally about to land.

And there she is, making her entrance with the distantly familiar whooshing sound of landing, along with the background propeller drone.

One lone winterover is standing ready to guide the plane into the flight deck.

A handful of us are cautiously observing from a safe distance.

A lone photographer, also keeping a safe distance.

Signaling at the plane to continue approaching.

Waving hello to the plane.

Approaching for parking...

...and stop.

Laying out path markers for our new summer arrivals.

Half of us are outside, avidly taking pictures, and the other half are hiding in dark corners.

Untangling the wire to guide the passengers and prevent them from walking into the propellers.

Station invaders!!!

And so summer begins.

Even old familiar faces seem strangely new to us. The Herc brought in 29 passengers, increasing our population by more than 50%.

Piles of bags from the new arrivals, a very strange sight at DZ. THE PLANE ALSO BROUGHT MORE FRESHIES OMG PONIES!!1!!!11!!1!


The giant bowls for fruit are still reserved for us. That's right, paws off!

My dinner: salad, fruit, and fruit salad (with watermelon and cantaloupe)! A very welcome change from fried chicken, steak, and chicken fried steak.

Which is the soggy frozen leftover broccoli, and which is the fresh broccoli that came off the plane?

Apples and oranges: before and after the winter.


People are gathering in the galley for the winterover ceremony, where we all get called up and handed shiny pieces of swag depending on how many seasons we've done.

The winter and summer managers are giving their pep talks to the crowded house. Unfortunately, three of the winter crew have already departed, but we gave shout-outs to them nonetheless.

Click here for November photos and adventures...

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