Still Waiting

December 5th, 2011 by Maria-Jose Viñas
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By Lora Koenig

It is Sunday night, November 27, and I am sitting in our McMurdo office with Michelle. We had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Here on the Ice we celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday, November 26, instead of on November 24 (the day it was celebrated in the United States). The reason for this is that people in McMurdo work 6 days a week (Monday through Saturday) so when there is a holiday, it is always celebrated on Saturdays to get a full weekend off.
 
On Friday evening Randy, Clem, Ludo and Jessica toured Discovery Hut. Saturday, our Thanksgiving Day, started with the entire team running in the McMurdo Station Turkey Trot, a 5K race over to Scott Base and back.  It was Jessica’s first 5K race ever and she can now say that she ran her first 5K in Antarctica, which I imagine is quite a unique story.

The day concluded with a very nice dinner that included all of the traditional Thanksgiving fare along with handmade truffles.

Michelle and Clem, all dressed up for Thanksgiving dinner.

There was one thing noticeably missing at Thanksgiving dinner, and that was “freshies.” Freshies are how people on the Ice call fresh vegetables. There were no freshies because no plane has arrived McMurdo since November 21. This means there has been no resupply of vegetables, no new people, and no incoming cargo. 

Randy’s plate, full of turkey, stuffing and rolls... but no "freshies".

Having plane delays due to weather  is common and expected in McMurdo. Normally, this would have little effect on us, besides the occasional craving for a green salad, but this year is worse, because the shipping contractor made a mistake. All of the radars that we shipped from Kansas were supposed to be here when we arrived, but they were not.

During our time in McMurdo, we have to complete the following tasks as quickly as possible so we can get on a plane to the field:

1) Find our science equipment and traverse equipment

2) Test all of our equipment to make sure it works.

 3) Put all said equipment in the cargo system to get shipped to Byrd and

4) Complete all training and safety classes (See Ludo’s post).

Once these steps are completed, we can schedule our flight to Byrd. We had planned to leave for Byrd on November 30, and we have completed all of our tasks (except for one additional field safety training on Monday, November 28,  and a snowmobile training on Tuesday, November 29.) But we cannot leave McMurdo until we get the radars: They are essential to our science. So for now we are sitting and hoping that the next plane that arrives to McMurdo will carry our radars. If delays continue, we’ll have to switch to plan B (or C, or D). 

Right now, Plan B is that Clemont may have to stay behind to receive the radars while the rest of the team goes ahead to Byrd camp. But hopefully, the radars will arrive before our plane leaves for Byrd Camp. As soon as the radars arrive, we will test them to make sure nothing broke during shipping, since it is easier to fix things in McMurdo than while in the field. Then we will pack them again for the trip to Byrd. 

The weather forecast for Monday doesn’t look great, but here’s hoping we get our radars soon. If you want to follow the weather forecast for McMurdo check out  this website or you can virtually look out the window like we do, through the McMurdo webcam.

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