Antarctica: September 2012


Nothing like waking up to find a pile of balloons hanging outside your doorway...

...colorful, smiling, dong-shaped balloons. Welcome to September. (My friends, they are classy.)


This weekend's kitchen experiment is a fruit tart... The crust slumped in and is about a mile thick, but it turned out to be edible. The inside is painted with white chocolate.

The filling is South Pole style pastry cream, made with evaporated milk, square eggs, and yolks from a bag.

The stars of the show are two kiwis and one banana, lovingly pulled from the DSL freezy box.

The assembled fruits: blueberries, mango, raspberries, kiwi, and banana.

The last step is applying a binding layer of gelatin goo to make everything shiny and (hopefully) prevent the bananas from turning brown.

The finished product! It took a jackhammer to break through the crust and all the ingredients have been frozen...but it's real fruit, a treat for the eyes and taste buds in the middle of winter.

Seasoned cheesy foccacia is also on the menu for tonight.

And a greenhouse salad, with peppers and globe basil!

Dale's famous chicken parmesan is our main dish.

I think I'm starting to get spoiled by all these extravagant Sunday dinners.


Continuing to learn new and useful skills this winter...

...a colorful arrangement of 72 pencils.

It's kind of ugly with the hasty glue gun job, but it's a proof of concept.

I noticed it goes well with other colorful things on my desk.


Happy birthday, Kris! He has quite a few cameras pointed at him as he opens presents.

Documenting the consumption of one of the last grapefruit gummies on station. Amazing how 10 pounds of the initial supply have dwindled to a small handful.

The greenhouse has had a bumper crop of mint, perfect for drinks cooled by fizzy chunks of glacier ice.

Everyone at the table is experimenting with minty concotions.


The 2013 Pole marker base is out in the galley for all of us to sign.

It's the last day that the engraving station is set up, and almost all the signatures are in.

It's September 7 -- happy civil twilight! Light restrictions have been lifted, and the window covers are starting to come off.

An excellent occasion to make another visit to 0.5. Almost all the available wall space is now covered with Sue's brain. It's like an analog version of the internet!

Setting up the entertainment system.

Umbrella drinks all around. Happy birthday, Sue!


The light outside is growing at an astonishing pace, and the last few stars are quickly being washed out by sunlight.

Our crossing beacon, which has been sitting quietly for 7 months...and which will remain that way for awhile longer.

The MAPO mega drift that I navigate around every day. It's a lot less annoying with ambient light.

All the flags were planted about 5 feet above the snow at the beginning of the season. This is what's left of one of them.

The rolling hills of snow outside MAPO swallow parts of the flag line.

Viper is completely encrusted with snow.

DSL and the advancing sunlight.

We have our shoveling work cut out for us.

The gas cylinder is barely recognizable underneath its coat of snow.

Me and "my" window cover. Light restrictions were lifted a few days ago, but we're leaving most of the DSL window covers in place until it warms up a bit more.

The station, splattered with a winter's worth of snow.

Destination Alpha.

The first drift to climb, just outside Alpha, on the trip to the lab. The flags here have been half swallowed too.

Most of the window covers in the station have already been removed.


DSL and the sunlight, which is noticeably brighter every day.

We're just about a week from sunrise, and the sun elevation is already above -4 deg.

SPT, shining in the morning light.

ARO in the distance, and the ocean of snow.

She's pointing at our CMB field.

Everything in sight is tinted with twilight pastels.

Today is the big day...goodbye, headlamp! Can't say I'm too sad to see it go in the box.

Comms is still silent, but open for flight following. The crackling and hissing on the radio is a hypnotizing soundtrack to the sunrise.


Happy Sunday...celebrating another week gone by with vanilla bean sugar cookies, filled South Pole style ghetto ganache.


There it is! The first hints of the sun, refracted into a faint elongated spot just above the horizon.

A big storm is approaching, and the winds are already on the rise. ICL is hazy in the distance.

It's nice to see her again in broad daylight.

The pink colors opposite of the sun are beautiful to behold.

The distant station and the pastel sky.

Our freezy box is being engulfed by snow.


To celebrate sunrise, MAPO is decked out in its finest pirate attire.

It's above the horizon, really...and if you squint, you can make out the faint glow.

We've had a big wind storm and snow dump in the past few days, and the weather finally cleared enough for me to see that the MAPO drift has grown by a foot or two.

Building 61 is accumulating an impressive drift too, and it looks like it's being slowly digested by that creature in Star Wars. It's now actually possible to hop directly on to the balcony from the snow.

MAPO, hidden by the mega drift.

My favorite flag is starting to become completely engulfed by snow.

The MAPO hills and my favorite sinking flag.

Seeing things like this makes me sometimes think that physics doesn't apply down here.

Each one is about two feet long and carved out horizontally, hanging in mid-air.

A mysterious apple recently appeared in the galley. Just a bit wrinkly, but still looking green and happy.

The last remaining clouds from the storm are gradually clearing out. Happy sunrise!

And very late at night, the sun was blindingly bright. But I couldn't stop staring at it...

Why hello, Mr. Octopus.

He hangs out near a frosty window.

This window is almost completely snowed over.


To celebrate the return of the Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorders to the roof, peanut butter death balls are on tonight's dessert menu.

Actually, they were an insurance policy for these coconut cupcakes, which I predicted were doomed to failure. I'm really looking forward to not having to make coconut milk from scratch.


Leftover sastrugi from the storm.

The frosty DSL deck.

The staircase less traveled.

This picture is for mom.

A frosty beam and the moon, which is up again.


The station pillars in the morning sun. The snow drift has reached comical proportions.

The sky is completely clear now, and walking outside is like stepping into a Hopper painting.

Instead of looking up at the sky, I now spend all my time looking down at the shadows.

My shadow, extending a solid fraction of the distance to ICL.

Mesmerizing ripples in the snow.

The shadow of SPT actually extends beyond ICL.

One of many horizontal spikes in the snow. The landscape looks like it's covered in frozen porpoising critters.

A gorgeous day to be outside, enjoying the walk back to the station.


Another Sunday, and another Indian extravaganza. The finest instant food packets from Steffen's collection and mine are on tonight's menu.

White man cooking...carefully emptying out the contents of one of the packets. It requires more skill than it looks, really.

I'm on naan duty again.

They're looking suitably puffy and buttery.

Pistachio almond brittle with cardamom is one of the dessert menu items.

All the bowls have been retrieved from the Alto-Sham and are ready to go.

Even though we attemped to scale back a little this time, it's still an obscene amount of food.

Chicken tikka masala, dal makhani, navratan korma, chicken vindaloo, mango chutney, AND a sprig of fresh cilantro!

A very special dessert item: fruit from the DSL freezy box. Can't imagine a better way to end September.

Click here for October photos and adventures...

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