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26 January, 2002


Sunday is usually the day off for the hard-working support staff employees here at Palmer Station. Sometimes that changes, especially if a ship will be here.

Tomorrow the L.M. Gould will arrive to exchange passengers and cargo. So, today was the day off at Palmer station. Even when there is a day off, however, someone has the watch! This means that one person will be on duty for monitoring radio communications and for checking the power plant and station. That way, the maintenance specialist, the communications technician, and the power plant mechanic can really have a day off!

Today it is Wendy's turn to have the watch. All support staff take a turn doing the watch. Wendy is the excellent cook here at Palmer Station (her desserts are to die for!). Today she is in charge of communications and she will do the rounds of all the checkpoints.

Wendy has had a lot of experience with the US Antarctic Program (USAP). She "wintered over" at the South Pole once and at McMurdo Station twice. She has spent one summer at the South Pole, two summers at McMurdo Station, and this is her second time here at Palmer for the summer season.

Wendy also has had the experience of living in two different temporary field camps in Antarctica. In 1995-1996, she lived at Shackleton, where geologists were studying the area. In 1996-1997, Wendy was at Siple Dome, where scientists study ice cores. In both places, Wendy was the cook. She used a small 4-burner propane stove to cook for forty people! Everyone lived in Jamesways, the temporary summer housing that is used by the USAP.

This watch system (for days off) is used by every USAP station. Each place has a different checklist, however. So, Wendy got her checklist and showed me around, so that I could see all the things she would be doing. First, however, and even though it was HER day off from cooking, Wendy prepared an incredible spread of homemade bagels with all the trimmings. (On the day off , everyone fends for himself or herself in the kitchen. However, there are always lots of delicious things to eat!)

Wendy (and I) went to the power plant, the supply area, the hazardous storage building, the day tank for the GWR building, the "utilidor", the mechanical room in the Bio-lab building, labs 5-10, the volatile storage building, the freezer milvans, the dive locker/boathouse, the pier, the chemical storage vans, the masticator building (more about that another time), the sea water pump house, the aquarium building, labs 1-4, the kitchen area, and the carpenter shop. Whew!!! This was to check and record temperature gauges, air pressure in pumps, generators, sprinkler systems, warning lights, the alarm systems, boiler pressure, suction pressure, and many other things! We're glad Wendy is on watch!!

1. Even on her day off, Wendy is in the kitchen!

2. Isn't that beautiful? Unfortunately, you can only see an edge of the bagels.

3. Wendy and Michele Cochran at the bagel line!

4. Wendy checks the hazardous materials storage building.

5. Wendy Beeler checks the gauges in the mechanical room. Notice the radio in her pants pocket? She also has to communicate with people going out in Zodiacs. Being on watch is a very busy job!


7. It is sometimes tricky to find all the gauges. Here you also can see the rocks that make up this island.

8. Things are fine at the chemical storage vans! The checklist is almost complete!

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