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Antarctic Perfect

Antarctic Perfect: “All kinds of disappointment wrapped in a package that looks like something you’d want.”

~ Thomas “Tree” DaCosse, Antarctic Fire Department, Summer ´09 -´10

While my trip to Antarctica was by no means disappointing, the above quote sums up how things aren’t always what they seem, how you often need to make due with what you have, and how humor can make a harsh environment more bearable.

As I review photos of my time at McMurdo Station, I realize how deeply I miss it. I’m happy to be home with family and friends of course, but there is something about that far away place that I’ll never forget. The following photos still give me a chuckle.

Due to the extreme cold, all the water and other utilities are run in utility chases with heat trace to keep them from freezing. Fire hydrants are enclosed and stuffed with insulation and equipped with drains to prevent them from becoming unusable.

Antarctic fire hydrant.

Not all stop signs in McMurdo have been obscured. (No, there are no traffic lights.)

Antarctic stop sign.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown riding the perpetually blowing wind.

Antarctic wind vane.

Random funnies:

I just shook my head at this and went to bed.

Get 'er done!

Antarctica or Bust. I remember that feeling well.

In one of the supply yards, locations were not indicated by a boring numbering system…

…they were referred to by mustaches.

Things need to be weighed down to prevent them from blowing away.

Antarctic portable toilet. (Note the frowny-face on the concrete block)

The summer sun is very strong in Antarctica. On the rare occasions when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun is not obscured by clouds (Yay – Pink Floyd reference!) it feels downright pleasant. The thermometer pictured below was mounted at the entry of my dorm building. The high temperature was 34°F that day, but this photo was taken prior to 7:00 am so it was probably around 25°F at the time.

Wishful thinking.

The power plant is undergoing an upgrade. And one of the generators crapped out.

Failed generator.

At times it felt like I was on another planet. This little fella reminded me of Star Wars.

Antarctic droid.

I’m not sure how heavy this thing is, but whatever.

"Just stick a rock under the tread."

"There, that'll do it."

Keeping people entertained without hurting or killing themselves was the responsibility of the recreation department. I was only able to find this one Frisbee Golf thingy. Oh well, it’s a harsh continent. At least the scenery is splendid.

Frisbee Golf?

Keeping the infrastructure maintained is the responsibility of FEMC – Facilities Engineering, Maintenance and Construction. Here are some examples of infrastructure stuff.

The simplicity with which the utilities are run to and from the power plant, water plant, and wastewater treatment plant is staggering.

Mama tank and baby tank.

This guy was lying next to the nuclear plant demolition site. The light bulb was not lit, so I assumed it was safe to pass.

Oven upgrade?

One day, while attempting a photo of scenery, I took a bit of a tumble.

I believe this is what I was aiming for:

Skua, my frequent companions.

“May the time not pass so slowly before I set sail again.”

Green and Red of Mayo
The Saw Doctors

4 comments to Antarctic Perfect

  • Kristen Kessel Ellison

    “…before I set sail again.” Again? Does this mean you’re going back? Sue, don’t hurt me just because I asked! :-D

    I was just thinking this morning – you only got to show me half of your 7000 photos. Thanks for 10 more.

    Your photo with the little rock under the tread of the enormous roll-y tires reminds me of a hysterical photo we took in Culebra, PR. I’m going to dig it up now for you; you’d really get a kick out of it. It was like a huge construction trailer dangling off the side of a cliff with one little cinderblock propping it up, complete with an oven on the ‘front porch.’

  • Kristen Kessel Ellison

    Oh and was that guy “Tree” the one who was the huge guy at the Halloween party, and one of the regular height guys dressed up as Tree and even shaved his head? Good times in Antarctica…

  • Scott

    I’m not going back any time soon. It would be too difficult to leave my very supportive and loving wife for that long again. I’m also fixing to be a productive member of society for awhile. I would like to return during this lifetime though.

    For this post I was just quoting a song. ;)

    Yeah, Tree was the huge guy at the Halloween party; and no, I’m not posting any Halloween party photos. What happens in Antarctica stays in Antarctica.

    Or something.

  • Sue K

    Hi Kristen. I already caught that quote and asked about it. I’m glad you asked too!

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