The flight into town was pretty fun. We were all buzzing on the excitement of heading back to civilization and our pilot was nice enough to fly us by some seals and emperors. We set down on the helo pad right next to the limno team. They wasted no time bragging about how they flew down the edge of the sea ice and got to see pods of orcas on the prowl for tasty penguins. Our jealousy wore off quickly as we took in the commotion of Mac Town, and headed to drop our stuff off at Crary (the science and engineering building in town that houses all of the labs and offices). In Crary we ran into a bunch of people that we hadn't seen since early November. We were stoked to see them, however they were hesitant to stand too close. During our stay in the field we acquired a particular musk that we no longer noticed. The limno team made sure we were fully aware of this, and we quickly dropped our gear off to head for the nearest shower. After using a solar shower (once a week) for a month and a half, hot running water is a truly magical thing. New clean clothes were also a real treat. I was happy to find that after washing my socks they were no longer rigid.
We took the first night back into town pretty easy because Ice Stock was the next day. For those of you who aren't familiar with McMurdo, Ice Stock is an annual music festival held on the New Year's weekend on base. Saturday morning we washed some more stream sample bottles in the lab because it wouldn't be a proper day in McMurdo without doing so. Then time rolled around to check out the bands.
|Ice Stock (photo credit: Forrest McCarthy)|
We had a lazy day Sunday and enjoyed some of the luxuries that town has to offer, like 24 hour pizza at the galley. Mikey and I also headed down to the gym to do some climbing on the rock wall. It has been ages since I had done any actual climbing with a harness, so I was pretty excited. Turned out I was pretty good at it and it was a bunch of fun! Guess I will add it to the long list of hobbies I'd like to get into.
We tried to fly out Monday, but our flight was canceled due to weather. We had finished all of our work in town on Sunday because we thought we were flying out so we really didn't have much to do. I wandered the labs asking my friends in other groups if they needed help, and was able to kill some time bugging them. We ended up renting a couple of movies and watching them in this little theater they have set up. There is a long arched building (called a jamesway) with a big screen at one end and four rows of couches on either side of an aisle. It is really dark in there and that probably explains why I was unable to keep my eyes open the entire time for each movie.
Tuesday we were put on weather hold again so we went down to the gym to mess around until helo ops figured out our flight. They finally scheduled us for a 7pm flight. We went and killed the rest of our day playing monopoly in the galley. We loaded everything up and took to the skies. Our pilot was kind enough to fly us along the edge of the sea ice which was an amazing experience. We were able to see adelie and emperor penguins hanging out on the sea ice, and jumping into the dangerous waters below where the orcas wait. We were lucky enough to see some orcas on the prowl along the edge of the sea ice. Such cool animals, I wish we had all day to spend flying around and whale watching. We landed at F6 and settled back into home sweet home.
|Sea Ice Edge|