October 31, 2009

The day began rather badly for me. The dust-exposure had set my immune system into hyper-active mode. As a result I woke up with swollen lips and throat – classic signs of food allergy. I could not swallow even water. I started to panic a bit but ate an anti-histamine and took the day off. I slept for most of the day. Emma was a ray of sunshine all day and made  delicious pumpkin pancakes. First meal that I could eat in many days!

Maciej and Jim came by to the jamesway in the afternoon. They are having a very hard time getting the melt-hole right. First, the “hotsies” that are used to generate the high power necessary for melting the hole have suffered from frequent break-downs. Below is a picture of a hotsie that actually caught on fire last night. Second, the melt-hole quickly refreezes and grows a layer of ice up-to 3 inches thick. Maciej has also injured his arm and back due to all the heavy lifting and is rather in bad shape today.


One of the "hotsies" for generating power for melting the ice-hole caught on fire yesterday.

The team came back in the evening when Emma had cooked an awesome dinner and pumpkin cakes for dessert. We all had a good time.


Vickie and Emma in their Halloween costumes. Emma dressed as a 70's housewife.


Partying in the "jamesway" or living quarters at Bonney camp.


Emma's creation - pumpkin cake.


Bill playing the guitar.


Emma gave hand painted and personalized pumpkin drawings to everyone. Mine had an empty "speech box" because of lost voice.




Cold Antarctica – Part 2

October 29, 2009

Last night was one of the coldest I have experienced. Katabatic winds of upto 30 mph blew for most of the night with windchill upto -30 Celsius. Of course, the winds did not penetrate the tent but the cold did. The sound of the wind was enough to keep me up most of the night. Since I had caught a cold in McMurdo, I haven’t been ableto eat much. That meant that my body did not produce enough heat to fight the cold. Hence, I was shivering badly half the night. Finally consuming a bar of chocolate, and covering every part of my head except the nose put an end to the shivering and I was able to sleep a bit. Thanks to happy camper school for teaching so many little things needed for survival!

Bill suggested I take the day off, which I did. Having slept in the warm jamesway for 5 hours, I feel much better now. The team has been extremely caring, helpful and supportive, and I hope to be well enough soon to get back to work.

The rest of the team went to the Bot-house and made good progress. They have started assembling the various components that were flown separately into the bot. Maciej and Jim have gotten the tecqhnique of melting the hole down and it is coming on well. The team were chilled to the bone and almost frozen when they got back at the end of the way after their long drive in the ATV in the cold.  There is not enough propane at the Bot-house, hence they had only one heater running and they were rather cold all day.  Bart has been a little sick too and he looks exhausted.



At Lake Bonney

October 28, 2009

Finally the weather cleared and the entire team had reached Bonney. We flew to help with the Bot-house construction at West Lake Bonney. The Bot-house is up and the carpenters are setting up the electricity and propane heating today. We took the morning off to fix up the stuff in our tent, and clean-up the East Lake Bonney living area.

It was a pretty miserable day for me yesterday.  The rooms at McMurdo are not cleaned for ages. In the process of vacuuming the room, I inhaled some dust that resulted in throat inflammation and trouble breathing. Getting sick in McMurdo is almost a right of passage – that’s what happens with 6 people per dorm room, multiple changing room-mates, almost  1000 people packed in small area, and hardly any cleaning of dorm rooms.

Anyway,  I hardly got any sleep the night before last, and then took the helo flight to Lake Bonney, and was out working (or at least trying to work) in the cold and it was pretty miserable. I did manage to stay warm and sleep well in my tent last night. I am much better today, though my voice is almost gone and I still feel a bit fatigued. Bill says that this is an adjustment phase and I will feel fine soon.

Vickie, Chris and Rachel getting ready for the helo flight to Bonney.

Vickie, Chris and Rachel getting ready for the flight to Bonney.

Chris and I in the helicopter.

Chris and I in the helicopter during flight.


View during flight to Bonney.


East Lake Bonney camp. This will be our home for the next 5 weeks.


Myself in front of the Bot-house which is being set-up by the carps (for the most part) with Bill's supervision.


Chris, Bart (on the stairs) and Kristof setting up part of the Bot-house.


Some of our cargo (the robot's batteries) being unloaded from a helicopter).


A helicopter flying a sling load. Background is Taylor glacier.


One of our ATVs ran out of fuel on the way to Bonney camp from Bot-house. This is about 12 min at about 10 mph.The other ATV had to run back to Bot-house to get fuel.