Heya everyone, long time, no talk!
I just wanted to drop a quick note to say hi, and let you guys know about a few things that have been happening lately.
First, we finally hit the -100 mark about a week ago, and of course that meant it was time for the 300 club. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a traditional polie event that happens every year when the temperature finally reaches -100F. We heat the sauna up to at least 200F, and then strip down to just a towel and sneakers and sit in it for as long as we can stand it. When the heat finally becomes unbearable, it’s time to drop the towel, and run naked outside the sauna, down the stairs, outside the dome, all the way to the pole, back to the dome, and back into the sauna. I was completely surprised at how well your body retains heat! The experience was awesome! The only thing that you have to worry about is running too fast. It’s much better to take it at a brisk walk, and not start breathing too hard. If you breathe too hard, you tend to develop frostbite in your lungs. Even with taking precautions, I was coughing for the next couple of days. I only did it once, but we had one crazy guy who did this four times that night! There are still a few people who didn’t do it, so for their sakes, I hope we hit that magic temperature again.
Today marked two big milestones. McMurdo base on the edge of the continent got their first flight of the season today. McMurdo has an interesting way of opening. They’ll get a week of flights (called Winfly for Winter Fly-in), and then they’ll shut down again for almost a month. Once this week is over, they won’t have any more till the end of September. Still, it’s a huge change for them. In one week, their population will double as they start to get ready for the upcoming summer season. Of course we’re still a while away from seeing any new people. Our first flight isn’t scheduled until October 23rd.
The second big milestone today was that we saw color in the sky for the first time! We caught a glimpse of light on the horizon about 10 days ago, but it’s been windy and cloudy since, so there really hasn’t been much to look at. Today is an absolutely perfect day outside…it’s clear and cold, with the moon nearly full, and a nice orange stripe where the sun will be soon. Sunrise is officially September 21st, but we’re done with total darkness. The moon casts a LOT of light, and by the time it sets there will be enough refracted sunlight that we should be able to see outside quite well. It’s kind of sad to realize that the winter is coming to an end, but on the other hand I’m really looking forward to rejoining society again.
It’s actually good timing for the sun to be showing up. We’ve had a bit of a sewer problem develop in the past two weeks. Apparently the sewer outfall servicing the hypertats and the El Dorm has filled completely up. This is the system that serves everyone outside of the dome, slightly more than half the population. This means for them that there is no running water at all, not even for things like brushing their teeth. There have been outhouses set up, but it’s very inconvenient for them. For those of us in the dome, it feels like summertime again. All 51 of us are now using the three showers in the dome, and sharing bathrooms for everything else. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to have been assigned a room inside though!
The thing that I’m most excited about right now is making travel plans for once I get off the ice. Its starting to look like I might not be back in the states till sometime in August. Just today I booked a nine week overland safari in Africa, and there are tons of other places I’m planning on going. It looks like my route will involve about 20 countries in five different continents. I’ll have a more detailed itinerary soon, and anyone who wants to is more than welcome to join me for a week or so at any point.