30 November, 2002
30 November, 2002
Up at the crack of dawn to catch Flight PO68 to the South Pole! Well, no, on several accounts:
i) room at McMurdo dorm has no windows, therefore no light, which is good because
ii) there's no difference in the light outside here, 24 hours a day. Well below the Antarctic circle at 67 degrees south, the sun moves in a 24 circle around us (when it's visible)
iii) the flight was delayed (after we got up dressed, and breakfasted, then cancelled until Sunday evening or Monday morning.
What to do? No point in showering, even though I'm a sweaty, stinking hunk of funk. The clean clothes, the razor, and even the toothbrush are on the airplane, 2 miles out on the sea ice.
Computer work seemed in order, and of course I ran into an annoying problem with turning power point presentations into movies, something I've done hundreds of times before. I finally suspect some devilish incompatibility between Powerpoint, QuickTime, and Mac OS 10.2. I made a great slide show of the sea ice and snowy wastelands on the flight in, and spent hours trying to make it export. Grrr. Finally just used QuickTime and made a journeyman's slideshow, no crossfade transistions. It's on the website. Tomorrow, I'll get computer permission (not allowed to connect without getting seal of good anti-viral housekeeping from tech folks here), and get updates and see if I can get that fixed.
Phillipe & I walked over to Scott's hut out on Hut Point, and snooped around. This is where the OTHER guys on Shakleton's expedition landed and began the work of making supply caches nearly 1,000 miles inland for Shackleton's transantarctic push. Well, Shackleton never got to do that. His boat, the Endurance, was crushed by ice, and he & his men accomplished amazing feats of suffering and endurance getting back to civilization.
These other guys, on the other side of the continent? Well, they got back from their first cache run to find THEIR supply ship GONE (blown out to sea by 120 mph winds)! They hung around for 2 YEARS, waiting to be rescued: unlike Shackleton, they had no boats to even attempt to escape. And while they were waiting, they decided they'd better keep up the job, and finished laying the caches for Shackleton's expedition (though he never came).
And you what? That hut STILL smells like cooked seal, even in temperatures well below freezing. It's an unbelievably bleak place. No plants, lots of very cold wind. On the walk over, I found it crucial to adjust my hood to keep the wind off my face. I wasn't cold, the parka and pants were fine, but if that wind touches skin, it sucks the heat right off in moments.
Nice dinner, wiped out afterwards, so I fell asleep and missed a lecture by an astronaut. I woke up later on, searched for Andy Caldwell, another TEA who's going on a meteorite hunting expedition. It turned out he's here at McMurdo. But I tried emailing him, and the mail bounced back. But wait: the astronaut is here to hunt meteorites also! And there's still people there! So I walk in, and there's Andy!
We talked until nearly midnight (easy to do, still bright daylight out).
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