My first week on the ice has been very eventful. On Sunday a few new friends and I went to the latest McMurdo attraction:the Ob tube. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, which unfortunately is very hard to grasp with an iPad camera. You will just have to believe me! The tube is offered to everyone on station who has taken the outdoor training. The only problem would be not fitting in the 2 ft diameter tube that you have to climb down. I was wearing my big red jacket and barely fit down it. Plus, in order to climb down the 25 ft tube you also have to be able to bend your legs while in the tiny space which is tricky. Anyway, totally worth it! I saw lots of small fish, a few jellyfish and some really cool formations that are created in the ice. I never imagined the underside of a frozen bay to have so much unique texture. The whole thing was very unique and is only available for about 3 weeks before the ice gets too thin.
During the week I have been working in the VMF (vehicle maintenance facility) practicing with the computer program used for inventory and issuing supplies. If all goes as planned, anything someone needs can be found on the computer with a warehouse and shelf location.
The most exciting part of my time at the VMF happened on Tuesday. It started out just like any other day… I had just received boxes that I was supposed to open and find locations for. I opened one box and found silver fish!!! That may not be that exciting to y’all, but around here we do not have a single bug. The whole office got excited and looked at him in his box. The funniest part is, we has to call hazardous waste to come and remove the bug. I don’t think he lived long since she put him in a plastic bag. I wonder what I will think of bugs after a whole year without them!
On Wednesday, one of the windiest days yet, Nick and I decided to go back and check out the Ob tube. We figured there would not be a line since the weather was less than favorable. Laying about 30 ft from the tube was a seal. That was only the beggining. I then went down the Ob tube and was sitting there for about five minutes when all of a sudden all of the fish were moving really fast in my direction. My heart started pumping because I knew there was something really close that the fish were swimming away from. Behind the fish I saw a seal! It all happened really fast, but I had enough time to get a few quick photos. It made the terribly windy and cold walk back totally worth it.
After the Ob tube I decided to be social and go play volleyball. There are different activities and workout classes going on every night. Volleyball was not too crazy, but it was a great way to meet about 15 new people. Then, I went and finally did an overdue load of laundry.
– because the air is so incredibly dry (I have heard the South Pole is dryer than most deserts), the static electricity is very powerful. I now have a little flinch every time I touch a door handle or anything else metal because I don’t know how bad it will shock me. Max taught me to hit the handle before opening, which seems to make the shock not as painful. It is very interesting the things I think about here that I don’t usually think about.
– Trash is much more complicated here. There are very specific categories for each item that we call “trash”. Once I take it out of my room I have to sort it into one of 10 different cabinets which are then taken to different warehouses and compressed for containers. Once a year there is a huge vessel that comes to McMurdo with a large amounts of supplies and food. It unloads that and gets filled with all of our trash, which is sent back to the different dumping zones in the states. Some of it the program even gets paid for, including iron and other scraps. Some other stuff of value gets auctioned off. These include machines and other large equipment princes that may no longer be used.