Well I made it out to WAIS and I could not be happier. Here I am in such a beautiful place, pristine white snow as far as the eye can see and a big beautiful ever changing sky. The people are amazing, rough and and tough hard workers… a work ethic I have never experienced before in all the years out in the workforce. But also the nicest bunch of people I could ever ask to spend the next three months with. I am in a blissful place in my life right now – living in a remote campsite working as a camp medic. The perfect blend of my two favorite things in life, I couldn’t feel any luckier. Don’t get me wrong, my life in Seattle with my friends, my dog, my cute little house and amazing ER crew is well missed and I think of all these things on a daily basis but I know my time here is limited and I will be back there soon enough.
It was day after day of my flight being cancelled, then one day it happened… we got to the plane, it took off, didn’t turn around and we landed at WAIS. I sure had a great time in McMurdo, enjoyed the amenities like flushing toilets, TV and internet, made lots of friends but it was my time to get out to the deep field camp. The flight was a smaller plane than I came to Antarctica on but very similar. A cargo plane flown by the Air Force, this time I could see my luggage and all the medical cargo I had packed in the weeks prior.
My cute little Medical Tent which is 3/5th’s medical clinic and 2/5th’s my living quarters. I’ve never taken an empty room and turned it into a clinic before so I’m proud of how I set it up to a functioning clinic, ready to manage a trauma (though I hope I won’t have to).
So how do I spend my days?? Well, I’m available in my tent after breakfast for 2 hours but then available by radio as instead of a 2”x3” pager, I have a camp radio I carry around, to meals, to the outhouse, always on and always available. But I’m usually around the back of the Galley tent or the Rec tent filling the water melter every trying to keep the water levels in the tanks at the “max” level, the most challenging task I’ve given myself here at camp. In addition to camp water melter (actually everyone really does their part, but I like to decrease their workload where I can) I’m also the camp DJ and hostess for “Are your a snow-it-all” trivia nights. There’s plenty of work to do around camp including receiving cargo, helping to strap down cargo we are returning to McMurdo, mending tents (it’s a harsh continent), scooting over the outhouse when it’s starts to fill up – more on that on the outhouse blog entry to come).
I’ve only been here a few weeks now and got to experience Thanksgiving with this new camp family. As an pre-dinner treat, the carpenters (about 10 people out here helping to set up some structures) gave us some entertainment… topless carpenters donning hand made tutu’s crafted from clear garbage bags executing a well choreographed ballet incorporating their hammers and measuring tape to the tune of swan lake. I kid you not!! This was followed by a delicious dinner followed by gluten free flourless chocolate cake with Grand Manier flavored whipped topping. After dinner we had a full on dance party DJ’d by your’s truly in the Rec tent. Since everyone works so hard around here 6 days a week (sometimes 12 hour days!) it was nice to have a two day weekend and blow off some steam.
I also got to experience a “Con 2” almost “Con 1” storm with winds at 30-50mph. Fortunately I was always able to see the other tents and the outhouse when I needed to. If I found myself on my way somewhere and we had bad white out conditions, I’d have to just stop where I was until I could see something or who knows where I’d walk off to. After the storm there were drifts of stone several feet high between the tents. With these super white conditions and the sun behind the clouds, it is really hard to see surface definition and everyone whiles out when we think we are walking on flat land but really walking into a 4 foot drift. I sure have whipped out a few times, but the snow is soft and I usually only have a hard time getting up because I’m cracking up.
I’m trying to take lots of pictures around camp to send back to Mc Murdo and have someone email them to my Seattle Blog Gnome so I can give you a tour of my new little town and what its like to melt water, use an outhouse in Antarctica and live in a small camp environment supporting science so we can hopefully convince our new president elect that climate change is a real thing. But first, someone needs to tell him the world is round and there’s a frozen continent down here so he doesn’t cut off support and I can get home at the end of the season.
The Sun is up in the sky to the east first thing in the morning and up in the western sky when I go to bed. It reminds me to look north and send love to you all from the 7th Continent, on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.