30 October 2004

Welcome all to Saturday!

We split up today. Stacy and Bob went to cinder cones and finished imaging the settling plates that have been on the seafloor for thirty years or so. But who cares about their day. What did I do? I am glad you asked.


We have finished all of the science at our current dive sites and rather than just moving somewhere else to dive we have to drill more holes. Mike D. talked specifically how this is done on a previous day. It starts with meeting the driller, Tom, at the transition (i.e. where the land “transitions” to the sea ice.) We are five minutes late and Tom, as always, is early. We head out to the north side of Hut Point to find a location for the current meter. The ice is not only filled with cracks, although many of them very old and refrozen, but is so old and weathered that it is a constant series of two to three foot high peaks and valleys. The drilling rig cannot take this sort of abuse and the cracks themselves present a time problem. Each one needs to be "profiled" (measuring the width and thickness of ice on either side.) Tom walks over to me and says in a polite way “no chance.” He uses different words but he is one of those people who speaks without overblown conviction but you know his statements are correct. He suggested some other options but we were running low on time and had many more holes to drill which were higher priority.



The next locations are all in front of the station and upon getting there we notice large piles of snow on top of our dive site. Not a problem for Tom. He starts bulldozing. A man in a truck drives up and asks why he is doing that. We tell him and he goes away. Tom kept on clearing the snow. All I can say is bulldozers are awesome.
The man in the truck returns with another person. The first man, named Rex, explains that he and the other man are in charge of making sure the transition is strong enough to support the road traffic out to the runway as well as making the ice dock. The ice dock is where the re-supply ship ties up to at the end of the season and is made of many layers of ice that are then reinforced with various means. They have been working night and day on both of these projects. They have concerns about the location of one of the holes and were not sure that it wouldn’t be a problem later in the season. They also express concerns about our dive hole locations in Winter Quarters Bay. We were not planning on drilling these today but offered to mark them so they could decide about them. All of this then will get decided by people other than me, specifically Rob Robbins, Stacy, and the station managers and such. In any case we go ahead and drill three of the holes that they OK.


Since one of the holes has quite a bit of snow over the top, Tom worked on knocking it down to ice. The closer we are to the top of the water while suiting up the better for us, which is why they do this. During this time we went over to mark the other locations that we will eventually want holes. We put a flag in to mark our proposed dive site and walked away. Much to our surprise a bulldozer comes right over and bulldozes our flag! We walk up ready for some sort of confrontation, for what we are not quite sure. The driver opens the door saying “I’m just taking it down to the ice for you guys.” With a big smile! This is the McMurdo that we know and love, people going out of their way to help without being asked and always with a big smile. We put in the other flag and later came back to see that someone had driven all around it taking that location down to the ice too.


"I claim this land for Stacy!"


We drilled three holes, separated by lunch, and shoveled the snow from around them. Tom arranged a grader to come by and do all of the grunt labor for us at the third hole.


Joy of joys. Jenn and I sorted the trash from our trip to Cape Chocolate.



We finally had to say goodbye to Elizabeth for real. Her string of delays ended and she escaped from the ice to return home. We will all miss her for both her help and her personality. She was a wonderful addition to the team.


That was just the day! It is also the night of the infamous Halloween party. We all met at seven to try to A) make up a costume or B)improve our costume and aid with the brainstorming of others. The costumes were topped by Stacy as a jellyfish, Mike D as a land shark, Bob as a Russian pilot in a partial pressure suit, Jen was a safety person, and I was a flower (last minute costume as always for me.) Kathy was feeling under the weather so she stayed in. We danced till late and went home happy.



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