I’ve just celebrated the absolute best birthday I’ve ever had in my life today! For the past three birthdays that I’ve spent on the ice, most of them have been kind of so-so just because it’s at the end of the normal season, and everyone is pretty burned out and concentrating on nothing more than how much they want to leave. Palmer however has a different schedule, and when the 13th rolled around, there was already a new summer crew that was fresh and full of energy. In addition, due to a mechanical problem on the resupply ship, about half the winter crew was still around to join in the festivities.
The tradition at Palmer is for people to get hit in the face with a meringue pie on their birthday…well, I was pretty much expecting that and I made it a big deal that who ever tried that was going to get it right back at them. Of course a statement like that wasn’t going to go unchallenged! After they brought out a cake and sang happy birthday, I found myself ducktaped to the chair I was sitting in…they started playing stripper music, and wheeled out a huge cardboard box decorated like a huge birthday present. Suddenly the top flew off, and our boating coordinator, Toby, jumped out in full drag dancing his way over to me to give me a lap dance. I’ll admit that I’ve been here for a while, but even a full year at pole couldn’t make that look attractive! 🙂 Of course after he got down to just a set of pasties, the pies came out in full force. I think I got hit with about six of them from all different directions, and like I promised as soon as I got free of the duck tape I was chasing everyone around. When we finally finished, the galley was pretty much wrecked and it took almost an hour to clean it all up before we could move the party to the bar.
Once in the bar, there was the usual festivities…dancing, boozing, and eventually another Palmer tradition. Shot-a-minute isn’t as bad as I thought it would be at first….it’s just shots of beer, but doing 32 shots of beer in a little over a half hour really catches up with you pretty quickly! When you first start, it seems like forever between each shot, but after about 15, the minutes really start to fly by. It seems you’re just finishing swallowing the previous shot when it’s time to do the next one! Fortunately for my head, the next day was a work day so we all quit at a reasonable time. Whew!
While all the above makes for a great birthday, what made it even better was that I finally found out what I’m going to be doing with my life for the next few years. I’ve accepted a full time job with the Antarctic program as a Network Engineer in the Denver office. It’s mostly an office job, but there will be opportunities to go back to the ice every now and then. Besides the full time job, I’m also doing a quick cruise on one of the research vessels from December of 2005 to February of 2006. I’d thought I might have to sacrifice that cruise if I was needed quickly in the Denver office, but they’ve made arrangements to have someone cover the job untill I get back. As if that wasn’t good enough news, Raytheon is going to fly me to New Zealand direct from Santiago so that I won’t have to waste anytime going back to the states! This means that my schedule for the next few months is going to look something like this:
- Oct 29th (today) leave Palmer Station on the Lawrence M. Gould
- Nov 3rd: Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile
- Nov 4-14: Road trip around southern Patagonia…basically south Chile and Argentina.
- Nov 15-21: Easter Island (the one with the big heads)
- Nov 22-Dec 10: Northern Chile, Bolivia and Peru including Macchu Picchu
- Dec 10-11: Fly to New Zealand
- Dec 12: Embark the Nathanial B. Palmer ship, and do work in port.
- Dec 18: Depart New Zealand and sail to McMurdo station doing lots of science on the way…this is going to be amazing!
- Feb 2-4: Disembark the Nathanial B. Palmer and fly from McMurdo to New Zealand
- Feb 5-6: Fly from New Zealand to Houston Feb 7-12: Move to Denver Feb 13: Start work in the real world.
Stay tuned..I don’t think I’ll be able to update a lot from the ship, but you never know! Look for lots of travel pictures coming up soon!