Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Beginning of Winter and a Tribute to Summer

It is now officially winter at McMurdo Station. On Saturday, March 5, the final flight took the last of the summer-only contractors back to civilization, leaving 151 people here to maintain McMurdo until late August, when the next summer research season begins. For the departure of the last flight, all the winterovers (as people who spend winter at McMurdo are known) gathered to watch the plane and toast the official beginning of winter.

Far in the distance, on the ice shelf beyond the open water, lies the Pegasus runway and the few buildings that lay around it. Pegasus is the permanent runway, unlike the sea ice runway which is built and taken down each year.

The last flight has taken off...

...and now we're all stuck here together until August! I hope it doesn't get too cold...

Larry and Zachary toast the beginning of the winter season.

After the toast, everyone had Antarctic cake in the galley.



Mmmm... I had a side piece with lots of icing!
For the winter, my job is in the Supply department, specifically food supply. Yay!! I work with a guy named Gareth to deliver food from the food warehouses to the kitchen each week. We're also in charge of organizing the rest of the food that came in on the supply ship last month. There are three food warehouses: the freezer (which is cooled), the CF (can freeze, which is neither cooled nor heated), and the DNF (do not freeze, which is heated). We also help the store managers by delivering beverages from the beverage warehouse to the store and bars and merchandise from the store warehouse to the store. So far, I've been trained to drive three different types of forklifts. I like my new job. :)

I realized the other day that I had never posted any photos of me as a janitor, so here's a tribute to a wonderful summer season keeping McMurdo clean. :)

Uh-oh! A dirty spot!

Spray... Scrub, scrub, scrub...

Much better!

Disinfecting the waterless urinal... it was stinky!

On a cold September afternoon, ice cream from the ice cream truck to warm everyone up!

Mike and Juicebox clean up the floor in the electrical supply shop; it hadn't been cleaned in years, and it was GROSS!

Most janos arrived in August, but a few came in early October, so we formed a welcoming committee!

Happy Meagan takes out the trash. :)

Everyday we had stretch break from 10:15 to 10:30. Atlee helps Larry stretch his legs.

For Halloween, several janos dressed up in various Lady Gaga outfits and did a dance routine to her song "Telephone"; the Lady Gaga janos also won the costume contest.

Tyler sculpted a peace sign into his goatee.

Liz cleans the halls of Building 155 with the Zamboni.

I got to work with Juicebox on a special deep-carpet-cleaning project in September before most people arrived.

Kevin refuels the truck after a linen run. Periodically, the janos would collect all the used linens from the dorms and deliver them to the laundry room, where Nikki and Lolo would clean them.

During the summer, the Shuttles department is in charge of running taxis, shuttles, and getting people to and from the airport. During the winter, however, the Supply Department takes over that function, which meant that I had to be trained on driving pick-up trucks, vans, airporters, and deltas.

On Monday, February 21, I was assigned to drive one of the passenger Deltas to the Pegasus runway; I had 18 people in my trailer.

Over 100 eager people line up to get on the C-17 taking them to Christchurch, New Zealand, where many of them would begin their post-Antarctic vacations. Little did anyone know they would be landing in Christchurch within 24 hours of a devastating earthquake.

A view of Erebus (obscured), Castle Rock, and Ob Hill from Pegasus.

For my runner friends, here's a link to a New York Times article on the McMurdo marathon that was held in January. The route went from near Scott Base out to Pegasus (about 14 miles one way) and back. I will continue to post throughout the winter season, and I still have several things from the summer that I haven't put up yet. Stay tuned!


  1. Hi Joseph... I always love your posts.... and thanks for re-enacting your 1st job! (why would a urinal be waterless?)
    I think the most creative people, for sure, are hired to work at McMurdo... you all know how to have fun! Your new job is such a contrast... have you ever driven huge trucks like that before? Stay warm and keep having fun!

  2. Bette, apparently these waterless urinals save water since you can't flush them. When I worked at the University of North Carolina, they had them there too. Same brand and style. And they stink in both places. Ewwwww...

    This is the first time I've ever driven any of these large vehicles, and I'm loving it! :)

  3. Joseph! I am so glad you are enjoying winter and all the fun times that are coming along with it. I miss you and Larry very much! When you get off the ice we have to meet up somewhere.
    Hope your winter is magical!!!!

  4. Hi Joseph, is 151 the total number of people who stay through the southern winter or the number of contractors who remain? Definitely enjoy your posts and am looking forward to seeing what the winter is like there (while -- whew -- our own winter recedes into history).

  5. Dan, 151 is the total number of people here for the winter; I'm not sure how many of them are summer people who stayed over, but it's less than half.