The Kiwis are still here. We have a contingent of NZ Defense Force here and they were meant to be home last week. Poor buggers. The weather has thus far refused to play nice enough to allow flights in to get them. And to deliver our mail. Mother Nature is being a bitch.
Winter on the ice doesn’t officially start until the last flight toast. We all head out and have a champagne toast as we watch the last flight head northward. Well, until this year. This year we’ll have flights, in theory, every 2 months or so.
Winter may not have officially begun, but the grumblings of winter have. General galley chatter has changed from “nice day out” (ie not windy and, oh, warmer than -10F) to “man, it’s getting a little chilly” (today, -18F to -48f). It is becoming more and more difficult to recognize people. I’m going into secondary recognition mode – identinfying people by their gear. And even one of the most tell-tale signs of winter has arrive: Mississippi Mark switched from shorts to pants. And not just because it’s laundry day.
My dorm on the bay side of our little stretch of paradise. In between us and the clinic is the main building, where the galley is housed and where we muster for Con1 or fire drills. All told, it’s probably about 200 yards from my dorm to the clinic. Many folks will walk through the main building to get out of the cold on their way to the other side of the station. I choose to walk a straight line to the clinic, which keeps me outside. When the weather gets rotten, hand ropes between buildings go up for those of us who have to go to work, regardless of the weather. There’s a lot of excitement about our first Con1 (condition 1, the worst, movement restricting, weather). Old salties are debating the possibility of a nasty winter if we’re already talking about Con1s and it’s only March.
So far, I’ve stayed pretty warm. Today, an Icebreaker 260 wt baselayer under an Arctery’x Fortrez hoody, under a BD Access hoody (40gm) under a Patagonia Nano Puff (60gm) kept me warm enough (picture above). But I’m still rocking my Vans.
Over the weekend, we celebrated St Patricks expulsion of the snakes, first at our bar, Gallaghers, on Thursday with live music and green decorations and then again at the Kiwi bar, The Tatty Flag, on Saturday. As the Rubberbandits fueled rumor goes, St Patrick brought leprechauns to Ireland to eat the snakes. Since there are no snakes here, I can only assume that Antarctica is littered with leprechauns. Perhaps leprechaun hunting will be my winter pastime.
I also found the Ross Island Cup at the Kiwi base. This was a cup contested annually between the US and New Zealand. It has been touted as the southernmost rugby game in the world. We, reportedly, have never won. The match has not been played in a few years. I boldly informed the Kiwis that I would train up the Yanks and we would return the Cup to it’s rightful place, McMurdo Station. They laughed. I followed up by alerting them that should that plan fail, I would just steal the fucking thing. They took me a little more seriously.