30 August, 2004
Down time on the Oden
When we are waiting for cores to come up and samples to come aboard or for the drilling to resume, there are plenty of opportunities to unwind and relax on board ship. There is always time to wander the deck in search of the perfect picture. We joke that our friends and relatives will be overwhelmed by our photos when we return home - that you will all be groaning after looking at pictures of ships - pictures of ice - pictures of ships in the ice. In reality the light can change often here and so the landscape, or "icescape", is always changing. When the illusive sun does come out to shine upon us, there is often a mad dash for cameras, for it is then that you can capture the scenery with some depth and definition. Often the sun appears when the time is closer to nighttime (10 or 11 pm) rather than daytime; yet in the Land of the Midnight Sun, daytime is really an illusion, for it is never dark. I was sitting and talking today with one of the scientists who normally works the night shift. He looked at his watch at 12:00 and asked, is it noon or midnight? That question is not unusual here. I wake up in the night and check my watch to see if it is close to the time to get up because the light diffusing through the window shade gives no clue at all.
If people are off-shift, on their free time, and not taking pictures, they may be having coffee at the two daily coffee breaks. We take our coffee seriously and strong here on the Oden. I was warned before coming aboard that Swedish coffee would be much too strong and that I should bring my own American blend. Well, that American coffee is still in the containers in my cabin closet; I have adapted too well to Swedish coffee. Coffee time is a nice break-time and social time when the crew, scientists, everyone gathers together in the mess for coffee and cookies or a coffeecake treat.
What about entertainment, you wonder? There is a movie showing every night at 2030 in the Oden cinema. The cinema seats 21 very comfortably in stadium style seats. I provided some movie candy the other night, packed for me courtesy of my daughters, but where is the movie popcorn?
Others find recreation in the gym - ping-pong table, rowing machine, exercycles, treadmill and weight equipment. There is an organized (or often disorganized) aerobics class every day, led by expedition co-chief Kate Moran, just after she comes off her 12 hour shift. There is a rumor going around that there will be a performance by the aerobics class at the end of the expedition. Others in the gym are racking up kilometers on the exercise equipment to add to the "Great Race from the North Pole to the South Pole". We keep track of our progress on a chart and map on the gym wall.
There is a lounge for relaxing and conversation and if quiet time is what you crave but you'd rather not be in your cabin, there is also a very nice lounge for reading.
Every other day the Oden Supermarket, the ship store, is open in the lower deck foyer from 1:00 - 1:15 for purchases of t-shirts, postcards, toiletries or candies. There is often a line and closing time is usually delayed due to the number of consumers. After all, it's the only store in town.
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