Or, as the NSF wants us to say, “The station has begun winter operations”.  What that really means though is that the last plane has left, and we won’t see another one until mid to late October.  We actually had two last flights, so the whole experience was a bit anticlimactic.  All the people that aren’t staying for the winter left on the 15th of February (I know..its now March; I’m very late writing this), and the last cargo flight was the next day on the 16th.  I don’t know who the idiot in the NSF is, but our last two flights consisted of nothing but steel beams that won’t be used until the summer season starts next November.  Meanwhile, the station is nearly out of beer,  and there are several pallets full of mail that will sit in New Zealand for the next 8 months.  All of this stuff was sitting in McMurdo, but some genius decided that making his career look good by getting cargo here ahead of schedule was much better than station morale. Needless to say there are a lot people that are pretty pissed about this.  Itss only the third week of winter, and we’re down to just a few cases of Guinness, and a New Zealand beer called Export Gold which tastes a lot like Lone Star back home.  It reminds me of an old joke:
Q:  What do Export Gold and making love in a canoe have in common?
A:  They’re both fu*king close to water!
Luckily, we’ve got plenty of grain, hops and yeast on station, so we can manage to make our own.  We’ve got about 20 gallons fermenting right now, and of course we don’t have to worry much about it fermenting at too high of temperatures.
Speaking of temperatures, its steadily getting colder outside.  We’ve hit -60 a couple of times, and -55 F is the average day.  The sun is noticeably lower in the sky, and shadows outside are unnaturally long as they circle around the landscape.  Going outside plays tricks on your body; its starting to look like early evening so no matter what time it really is, you start thinking its nearly time for dinner.  Its a weird sensation, but it won’t be a problem in another few weeks.  Sunset officially is March 21st, but we’ll still have twilight for a good month after that.
With the departure of most of the people, the atmosphere on the station has noticeably changed.  People are getting to know each other better than they did over the summer, and a nice routine has started to develop.  The cooks are off on Sundays, so I’ve been spending my Sunday afternoons in the Galley with a few other people cooking for the station.  Last week we cooked Schezwan Chicken, and then retired to the movie room to watch an episode of Iron Chef that someone had taped in San Francisco.  The cool thing was that it was in the original Japanese; subtitled, not dubbed!
The mechanics threw a hamburger cookout last week as well.  We had a real charcoal burning grill set up under one of the big exhaust fans, so the whole place smelled like a picnic for a while.  They had also set up a huge screen on the garage bay doors, and were showing a tape of  a Pink Floyd concert.  I was amazed at how good the garage sounded.  We were drinking beer, eating Jell-O shots, and singing along to the music..it was almost as good as being at a concert back home.
8 more months to go!

About The Author

Henry has spent three winters living in Antarctica which funded his early explorations and adventures around the world. Now he holds down a full time job in Denver, CO and continues to make travel a priority in his life, both internationally, and on weekend warrior type trips.

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