9 November, 1999
Moving in at McMurdo!
Living and working at McMurdo Station is a real exciting and different experience. After one exits the plane and is driven to the town from the ice field where the plane lands, we are directed to a meeting room for debriefing and room assignments. There are several kinds of rooms available. They are assigned according to how long you will be in town and into which "category" you fit. Grantees (scientists) are called beakers and if they will be going into the field they are assigned rooms in the "Hotel California", a barracks with one large bathroom on each floor for all to share. Those rooms are tiny and not meant for long-term housing. Another type of housing has a shared bathroom between two two-person rooms that are larger with a nice desk/clothing bureau in one unit. I will include some photos of my room and you can decide which one I have.
One very nice service at McMurdo Station is that a wonderful cooking crew does all of the food preparation. The large cafeteria serves four meals per day with a vegetarian option at all meals.
There are plenty of "freshies" a term given to the times when the planes bring in fresh fruit from New Zealand. The tomatoes are vine ripened and are truly delicious. I have had excellent pears, mandarin oranges, snappy apples, bananas and grapes in less than a week. The milk, however, is a different story. It is made from powder and is interesting. There is no charge for the food since it is part of the support for a project. For most of us there is no commute to work either. One simply walks a few yards from the dorm to the galley to the lab and back. Close proximity to work saves lots of time when compared with commuting to work daily in rush hour traffic. When commuting is necessary to get into the deep field, it is usually accomplished by boarding a Herc130 cargo prop plane. If the field site is closer, then a helicopter is the vehicle of choice. Sometimes snowmobiles or other all-terrain vehicles are used.
My office in the Crary lab is in the LTER office and is quite comfortable. The library is state of the art with current journals and good web access to any information that one might need. I am doing the preparation work for my workshops here in the office and reading up on all the fantastic science projects that are happening.
From the various photos that I post, you can tell that the weather changes rapidly and goes from clear to snow in a few hours. For recreation, one can rent cross country skies or mountain bikes to go exploring. However, one must stay on the marked trails because there are crevasses with snow cover making them impossible to see. If one were to step on the wrong one, it can not support your weight and you would fall in and possible be killed. Safety is takes very seriously here. Training schools are given before anyone can venture out to explore the area. Time for the teacher to be the student.
Student questions - If you were the head cook and had to order food for about 1000 people for about four months, how could you plan the order? How much would you need to order? What would you order? If much of the food cane to McMurdo Station by cargo ship, what would you put on the ship? Remember that you get to eat this food too and you want people to be happy with you! What food would you request be shipped on the Herc130 planes or the jets as long as they can land on the ice runway?
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