Hello again. It has been a bit boring around here in the last 2 or 3 days.
After off-load finished so quickly, less than half of the time I was lead to believe, and then the excitement of the harbor escape, nothing of any merit has really happened. Except for the All Hands meeting of course. It was very informative, and in many ways uplifting for those who do this annually. Things are looking good for next summer season, and continued employment is promised for the old-heads.
By old-heads I mean people who have done this job regularly over the years, as their one and only job. It is possible to work summer season here, and travel for the rest of the year, as some of the people I have met do. There is still a vast majority of the world where the American dollar is so strong that renting a house for a month is less than $300. (and sometimes considerably less!) I have been surprised repeatedly by the number of people who do this. All ages, all education levels, all with the simple outlook: Life is like a book. If you only live in one place, you are only reading one page.
I wish I could attribute that quote, but I heard it second hand, and the traveler who quoted it couldn’t remember the author either. Even a Land-lubbing, Rocky Mountain Homer like me can appreciate visiting the other parts of the world that I find interesting. I have seen Photographs of some of my friends who have spent weeks or months traveling before they even get home from Antarctica. Of course New Zealand is a big draw, and Australia is close by, but both of their economies are strong and a bit costly for spending more than a few weeks. Thailand, Viet Nam, South Korea and the Philippian islands draw a good number of our folks. Africa and India are so exotic and geographically different than Antarctica that they have an enormous appeal to travelers on their way home. Certainly anywhere you want to go will be a welcome change to here, and HOME. One woman in particular did an entire hour long presentation of her travelogue from this past summer. She rode her bicycle from Norway to Turkey.
Norway to Turkey!! From the north coast of the North Sea, through Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary, and by that point I lost track…but she didn’t. It was an amazing photographic display and an enticing view of what a single person can accomplish when so inspired. There were other folks who have spent their time teaching English as a second language in Japan and Korea. There are five people who work the Northern Hemisphere’s Summer months in Alaska, and when it gets too cold up there, they come down here to work. Apparently these are the people who have an aversion to sweating: Which, on a side note, it is very difficult to work up a sweat here. If you do, it’s because you haven’t left the building all day.
The Supervisor for the Vehicle Maintenance Facility, in charge of all the mechanics on our night shift, is a heavy equipment operator from Wisconsin. Tim Pare has come down each Summer for the last 5 years, because when winter hits the Great Lakes region, almost all outdoor construction using the big cranes he is used to stops cold. [Pun intended!] There is no reason for him to think he should loose money and time because his main job is unavailable. He applies his many talents and skills to the National Science Foundation year after year to further it’s goals, and makes considerably more money than he would by staying home and waiting for his office to call with minor operations anyone else could do. He’s a very clever man our Tim.
We have many of the cooks in the Galley with the same basic story. They have spent a lifetime in the kitchens of Golf Clubs, sporting arenas, major market restaurants, or running family business’s. They are here to pad their resumes or to learn how to apply their small volume skills to large volume outlets like ours. Even though there are specific hours for each shift to hit each meal, the Galley itself is open 24/7, and it allows chefs the opportunity to explore new ideas from time to time. And after all, this is Antarctica! The name alone makes interviewers intrigued enough to look a little deeper at your resume.
I just have to add this to the blog. One of my friends here who works in the Galley has the most original reason for coming down here. I thought surely he was teasing, but he wasn’t. He is a marathon runner and has finished the 26.2 miles on all but one continent. He actually signed up for the full four months of service here at McMurdo for the opportunity to be paid to work while he trained for running the Antarctic Marathon. And my friends think that I’m crazy! I didn’t even know there was a marathon here until a week before the run when they were asking for volunteers to help with the water tables and mile markers. I was told that in years past, some people have come down on yachts and specialized cruise ships just to run this race. That’s some kind of dedication to a sport.