It’s 10pm at McMurdo Bay Station, and I just walked home from the coffee shop where I learned a new version of Dominos, called Chickenfoot. Joshua, our host, and Amy and I played about an hour of this cool new game. A little strategy, a lot of confusion, and a ton of smiles. Meeting the new people is not necessarily what this blog is all about, but I am having the best time making new friends and finding out about why they have each come down to Antarctica. Most are here to further their careers in whatever their field is, and are doing so in the one of the most intensive training situations in the world. A six day work week, a nine hour day for most of us, and when the workload dictates – as it will for me in late January – 12 hours on 12 hours off.
Today was my first day actually working in the Warehouses for Vehicle Maintenance. I have had my initial training on what we call the Pickle. It is the smallest of the forklift units here, but it is a sit-down cabin vehicle with a lift unit on the front end. It has all the basic functions (ie. lift, tilt, and side to side capabilities) and one thing more I have never seen on a lift truck. It can adjust the entire fork assembly at the front to rotate clockwise and counter-clockwise to allow the pick-up of pallets that are on uneven surfaces. This was cool. Although I didn’t need that function for todays exercises, I can tell by the unpaved nature of the grounds around our worksite that there will be a serious need for that function as time goes by. I am grateful for the chance to work with Mike, the man with four years under his belt here at Vehicle Maintenance for being so thorough and slow while teaching me the fundamentals. The need for two persons working on some projects makes the hand signals from driver to spotter crucial for success. I think I caught on pretty quickly, and our training was over before I knew it.
Then it was into the office for the new computer system I will need to learn to track the locations of all the parts in our warehouse system. (And what an enormous system it is!) Imagine for a moment that you took your car apart. All of it. Down to the very last nut, bolt and washer. And no cheating by leaving the windshield wiper assembly as all one piece. We have in stock every possible replacement window, gasket and seal for that vehicle available to keep the machine running because NAPA auto parts does not deliver to McMurdo. Now think of this too. We have more than one car down here. We have Bulldozers. We have Skidoos, ATV’s, trucks, vans, forklifts and a huge personnel carrier named “Ivan the Terra-bus”. We have three buildings that I have worked in, so far , and at least two other large storage facilities that I can only see at a distance. That is where , I have been told, we keep the larger pieces, like engines ready to drop into chassis and replacement rotors for the Helicopters. Yes we have those too, and you can stand almost anywhere on base and see them taking off for the other bases several times a day.
Now I thought for sure I would have some of my pictures ready to up-load by this point, but no such luck. While there are plenty of Techno wizards here, there is also a job that needs to be done. And you’ll forgive me for keeping my priorities straight for just a little while longer. I promise that the views of this location will be worth your wait. I’ll figure out how to replace the images with the correct posts later. But for now I am off to bed.
Yes, that’s me standing fully upright next to Ivan’s front wheel. This is one big machine. Hence the ladder to get the driver into the cab.