11 November, 1999
Thursday November 11, 1999 Veteran's Day
Woke up this AM at 0410 hours and did something I have been waiting to do since I got here on Monday, take a shower. What a great feeling! Don't get too excited though, because they are "navy showers": run the water for one minute to get wet, lather up with soap, then rinse for one minute. It's not heaven, but very close to it. Worked on journal until 0630 hours then off to Crarey to get my email and see if today is the day the techs can fix my computer problem. Worked with a gal called Sara today and think we have this computer thing under control. I hope. I want to thank you all for responding to the call for help. It was the only way to tell if I was reaching you.
Barb and I finalized our program, at least what we plan to do, but more problems. May not have access to computers on two of the four days per week. Again it is Antarctica and we are teachers, we will adapt.
Came back to my dorm to put together all my ECW gear for tomorrow, tomorrow night's and Saturday's survival training and helicopter school. It sounds awesome.
I just spoke to Bert and he said we will be in the same class. That's good. We shared the fire on the Nathaniel B. Palmer and the crash into the Russian ice
breaker the AkademiK Federov (See my journals from my trip to the ice in 1992.);so I think we'll survive this.) At least I certainly hope so!
I decided to climb Observation Hill today. This is a very steep (at least I thought it was) volcanic hill, they tell me about 800' high, just on the side of town. It took me a little over an hour. I was real "uncomfortable" the last 1/4 of the way up. It was steep, I mean really steep. I honestly was fearful of falling off the crazy hill. It was bad enough that it was steep; but where the wind did not hit there was drifted snow, and where the wind did hit there was the force of the wind itself as well as the very loose volcanic soil and rocks.
Climb took about an hour and a quarter. It was worth all the effort and consternation; it was an awesome sight. I could see in all directions. Immediately below was McTown as turned to the left about 90 degrees the panorama opened onto the Blue Ice Runway with four C-130 aircraft loading with construction materials for the Pole; as I turned 90 degrees further to the left the New Zealand Antarctic Base, Scott base came into view as well as "Willie Field"(William's Filed) , the "airport" that will serve as the landing field for McMurdo beginning about the middle of December, because during these summer month the "Blue Ice Runway, begins to melt and the sea ice breaks up. Another turn of 90 degrees gave a panorama of mountain after mountain including Mt. Terror and Mt. Erebus and Castle rock, plus several others I do not know the name of.
While I was at the top of Observation Hill I heard a noise and looked behind to find that I had company. A woman, probably in her forties had just climbed to the top during her lunch break. We chatted and she took some pictures of me (you'll see one shortly) the Scott party cross. At the top of Observation hill is a memorial cross that was erected in 1913 in memory of Robert Falcon Scott and his team members who perished on their return journey from the Pole in March of 1912 following their most disappointing loss to the Norwegian R. Amundsen in the "battle" to be first to South Pole.
She is a carpenter from Vermont; but not really. She is, in real life, and an artist and a private art instructor. She has many carpentry skills and used them to bring her to the ice. This is a happening that is oh so common among ASA personnel. She informed me that she had been in McTown for about six weeks and would stay till February. She then said that about every two weeks she climbs Observation Hill to make peaceful journey back to Nature. Pretty nifty. We talked about five-minute and then she returned to work. I stayed and reflected on how fortunate I was to be here and to think in turn about my loved ones at home. Boy I miss everyone big time.
Coming down the hill was worse for me then going up. I had to look down and for some one as vertically challenged as I, an who for anumber of years has not really enjoyed beign in high places, this is not a good thing. I now sooner turned to start down then I heard a noise and there went my water bottle sliding down the hill. It finally stopped on the edge of a rather steep drop. Wow!! That is all I would need: lose my water bottle, I definitely need it (especially when I go into the filed, like tomorrow); leaving liter behind, not a good thought; and of course there is the thought that I should recover it. Great, I'm frightened enough, now I must slide my way slowly to where the bottle is and recover it. I know I can do it, it just might take me a while. I plan to slide, on my overly plentiful backside, inch by inch until I reach it.
It took a while, but I got the bottle. This time I put it into one of my inside parka pockets so I could not lose it. I slowly took my time going down Observation Hill. Once at the bottom, I returned to my dorm and rested for a while.
After a quick nap I went off to dinner and chatted with one of the fireman. He told me that response time to any place in town is only three minutes. That was amazing, but most critical, since it is so dry and always so windy. He told me of the volumes of water they had available, but I forgot then numbers. Suffice it to say I feel much safer having talked with this firefighter who was originally from Colorado.
I returned t the computer lab to work on journals. Made it an early evening for tomorrow its happy camper school.
Penguin Pete the Polar Man
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