Wednesday, February 4, 2009

2/2/09 otherwise known as the bag drag from hell day
Couldn’t sleep and awoke at 3:40am for a 4:45am shuttle to the CDC for donning of the Big Red and ship out to MacTown. Beautiful morning with crisp scents in the air and lots of grumpy half awake men (the coffee bar is not open yet). Took the shuttle (they had to bungey cord the trailer shut so this did not become a bag drag at highway speeds), and we were off. Clothes were changed, another briefing movie watched, and yet another flight - this time in a military cargo airplane with our palletized luggage in the rear of the plane and us up front. No windows, although there was a disturbing sign on the ceiling 20’ overhead that said EMERGENCY EXIT. When I got to glancing about there were several places on the walls marked “cut here for escape” and a small axe hanging next to it. Comforting thought. Hedgie stuck his head out of the bag fast enough for a quick photo, but then hid again when he saw these portents .
When we arrived on the Ice a shad over 5 hrs later, the first thing I was struck by was how beautiful it was – a desert of frozen slopes and angles. It was a brisk -1 degree (it should be 20-30 right now), and there was a light wind. Not many scents in the air. We all scrambled into Ivan the Terrabus – a city bus with a monster-truck-wanna-be attitude set on 4’ wheels. This delightful mode of transit ferried us to first the Scott base (the kiwi base), and then onto MacTown. The contrasts here are as sharp as the wit on most of the workers here. The land arises from the sea ice with only inches of transition, not meters of miles. The pressure ridges where the continental crust is constantly heaving up ice sheets flow along the shore area, dotted by Waddell seals basking in the final rays of summer. Scott base must have gotten a grand deal on sour-apple-green paint, as all the buildings were this bright shade. On the ride in I did a quick land orientation with Black Island, White Island, and Mt. Erebus. The land itself is sere and at first glance seems barren and alien. The sea ice shelf feels ancient and the entire thing leaves you with a feeling that this is not just a Big Dead Place, but rather it is moving at an ancient and much slower rhythm in a dance with a beat drawn out enough that we humans cannot quite feel it fully, moving at the frenetic pace we do.
Ivan transited us to MacTown, a mix of steel buildings, raw dirt and coal mining attitude. We sat through yet another briefing filled with phone numbers. I met the doc and current PT, who will be leaving by the end of the week. The doc is solid and so is the PT. It seems our PA will not be here until 2/21/09, and we have no lab tech or rad tech. I am going to be pinch hitting in these capacities over winter.
Patty, the PT, was kind enough to give Hedgie and I the nickel tour and orient us to the town. I left Hedgie in the room and went to pick up our baggage. By the time I had us unpacked, our roommate showed up (Bay – an HEO), and I really just wanted some sleep.

Ice to English Translations:
HEO: heavy Equipment Operator

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