I had an email response suggesting that I note the temperature for the day at the beginning of my new posts. So I decided to list it in the title line. That’s what the 35′ means. At some time today it was 35 degrees here at the McMurdo Bay Station. I can’t promise that these temperature readings will be spot on accurate, because it really depends on when I am available to look at a thermometer. And while they have constant updates to help those of us at the site to judge how well we are dressed for the elements, the actual high for the day shows up after I have gone to bed. And my accuracy for your enjoyment is not worth staying up late for.
What is worth staying up late for is the soft serve ice cream maker that they have here at the Galley. It’s called a galley as a nod to the historical fact that the US Navy was the first of the permanent American presence here on Antarctica. And besides, it sounds so much for mature than saying cafeteria. I gotta tell ya, the National Science Foundation, our host here, has done an amazing job with feeding us. I am truly impressed by the quality, size of portions , and variety of choices available at every meal. The Vietnamese Chicken last night was really very good. The aroma alone drew me to the platter long before I read the serving card. My lovely Jenny will be blown away by the fact that I actually had oriental food, as she knows I am a ham and potatoes kinda guy, but I have challenged myself in many ways for this adventure, and I am determined to challenge my taste buds as well. (Except for the tofu…God bless the vegetarians amongst us, but I simply can’t wrap my brain around eating tofu.)
The galley has set dining hours, but as the workload around here frequently dictates when a person can actually stop and eat, there are deli cases and a pizza carousel open 24-7 to let you have at least something in your stomach at all times. That is a very real concern here as I have found out from our safety training, which is mandatory for all staff regardless of your job description. Maintaining your weight here is sometimes difficult because of the excessive cold causing a body to shiver. That shivering is actually a good thing. It is the body’s way of firing up the engine and warm itself. But it takes a lot of fuel, so the NSF has set guidelines to keep people interested in eating. And they’ve done it brilliantly. I was playing dominos last night with a young man who works in the bakery of the galley. And I gave him Kudos for his efforts to come up with delicious breads and pastries with such variety in what I would consider a very limited environment.
Dehydration is a another serious concern because of the dryness in Antarctica. In fact, you may not know this because the place is covered in ice and snow, but the entire continent is considered a desert! I am not the right person to decipher that seemingly illogical fact, but it is true. The temperature is so cold here that what little moisture is in the air is immediately frozen. That creates a situation where any moisture coming off your skin or breath dehydrates YOU at a rapid pace. It is best to keep a water bottle on you at all times, and a snack or a sandwich in your backpack – to feed the shivers.
I think I feel a shiver coming on so I am off to the ice cream machine. I hope they haven’t put away the Oreo crumbles yet…