Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fire Station 2 Ice runway

I posted about the fire station in town. We also have a station on the sea ice that we call station 2.

This is the runway and station 2 looking down from Observation Hill. Ob hill is the highest point that looks down on the town and runway. It is a marker to Scott and his crew,

It is located in "Ice town" which is about 2 miles from McMurdo. Out at station 2 our main duty is to watch the planes arrive and depart. This is why I had to attend the airport training in Utah this summer.

This is ice town looking down town from the fire house. There is a galley and bathroom located a short walk from the station. We all hate having to go to the bathroom at night because we have to go outside in the cold.

The ice runway is just that; a runway built on the ice. The planes that land are wheeled but also have skier capability. We usually get the bigger C-17's from Christchurch and the C-130's that run
fuel and supplies to the south pole and other out lying science areas.

This is a C-17 landing next to our fire truck.

This is a load master from the airforce walking under the engines of the C-17. The load masters are all dressed in black and we call them the black ninja's. We tease them from our trucks every time they land.

We have a bunch of different types of fire trucks at station 2. This is one of the older ones left over from the navy days. It has the controls of a tank and drives like one. It is the only fire truck on station with a sunroof and I have been know to hangout the sunroof on occasion.

On really nice days, I like to watch the planes from a top the truck. The pilots like it when we do this.

This is red 1. Yep it's not red. It is a dinosaur left over from the navy days too. We call this one the poo truck. It has a petroseal foam in it that is made out of old animal blood and after sitting more than 10 years it is rotting and smells like poo. We all hate this truck but still use it when nothing else is available.

This is the truck of choice. There are actually 2; red 2 and red 5. They drive like a normal F350 except for the tracks on the wheels. They will only do about 25 mph but go over the snow and ice better than a normal truck would.

I like working out at station 2 better than in town. There aren't as many people and the chief is not looking over our shoulders. The only bad part is the weather is worse out on the ice. We get more storms than in town and get snowed in more often. When we get snowed in we stay inside and eat frozen burritos and drink hot chocolate.

This is red 2 parked right outside the station in a condition 2 storm.

This is the walk to to galley from the station in condition 2. Winds are around 20-30 knots and the wind chill gets down to -50 F.

Just a cool picture of the C-17 with the sun coming up behind it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Day of Fishing

On my day off, I was selected to go fishing with the scientists. The group is the Petzel group that consists of a dad and his daughters. He is studying the glycol protein levels in the fish and how this level keeps the fish warm in the 28.5 degree F water. Our job was to catch as many fish as we could in the allotted time.

We rode in a piston bully across the ice about 22 miles away. The piston Bully can only travel at about 12 mph so it took almost 1.5 hours to get there. The actual one I rode in did not have the trailer on the back. The cab can hold 6 people and gear. It has 2 bench seats in the back so it's kind of like riding while sprawling out on a couch.
We went with the 2 daughters, Anne and Jill. We also had a gal from the NSF, a guy from vehicle maintenance, Trish from the fire house and myself.

It was really windy but clear. Trish and I tried to get the wind to hold us up while leaning into it. We almost made it 45 degrees. They say it was 25 degrees F above with a 20-30 knot wind. The wind chill took it to about -30 degrees F.

First we had to drill 2 new holes. The drill makes a 4 foot hole in the ice. They drive a loader across the hole to move all the snow and ice away, then drag the hut over the top.

We drilled a total of 4 holes but keep hitting some rocks before we make it through the ice.

We ended up fishing at a place called Cape Evens. It sits out on the ice and will only be accessible for about 2 more weeks before the ice melts. I was hoping to get another chance to fish, but the project ends Dec 2.

While they were moving the huts, we walked to Cape Evens Hut where Shackelton's group lived for almost a year. The cross is dedicated to another group of men who did not survive.

There is a shack at the bottom of the hill but is considered a historical site and we are not allowed to go there without a guide.

Fishing out here is like ice fishing in MN except there is no hockey or football game on and we were not allowed to bring any beer. We use a barbed hook and 2 nuts as weights. The bottom is only about 13 feet down. These particular fish are bottom feeders.

Inside the ice hut we caught about 25 fish. The were all pretty small, under 10 inches but it was what the scientists wanted. They are some kind of cod species and really are quite ugly. They end up going back to the lab alive where they take blood samples and eventually are dissected. We use the dissected parts as bait.

I also caught a star fish. We put the star fish back. They say they have never had anyone actually hook a star fish.

As we were leaving, the jelly fish started arriving in the hole. This made for a great day off!

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Fire House Station 1

We have 2 fire stations at McMurdo. There is one in town where the fire engines and ambulance are kept. There is also a station on the ice runway where we take care of the airplanes as they take off and land. We rotate between station each day.

This is the tanker at station 1. It is an open cab meaning that the back is open to the air. It gets really cold riding around in the snow, but this is what they have and there is not funding to change to an closed cab system.

The bay at station 1 with the tanker and engine.

The station has a kitchen:

Day room with TV and pool table:

Training Room:

Bathroom with elevated throne:

And the bunk room where they make us all sleep together. The bunk room is very noisy with all the snoring and gets really hot at night with no way to open the windows.

We work 24 hous on 24 hour off. Every 2 weeks we get what is called a K day which equates to a day off. My K day is on Sunday so I end up getting every Sunday off. On the K day weeks, I get 3 days off in a row. Some times it is hard to fill 3 days down here. The rest of the town works 10 hour days, 6 days a week and get Sunday off. With my K day being the same as the rest of the town's, I get to see people I would not see during the week.

When the weather gets bad we get a lot of fire alarm calls set off by the wind. We still have to respond to each one. Here are the pictures from the last storm.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sea Ice School

OK I finally have time and the internet connection has finally been reconnected so I can do some more blogging.

This was the day at Sea Ice School. At this school they taught us how to read the cracks in the ice so we would be able to drive our trucks over the cracks without falling into the ocean. Sounds really scary but in actually was not bad.

Our day stared quit easily with a quick stop to lay around on the ice. Once you get out of town, the ice becomes an amazing color of blue. Once it is chipped off it becomes the clear color you are use to ice being.

The instructor told us that sea ice is not as salty as ocean water so I had to try it for myself. He was right, it there was no salty taste at all.

We loaded up in the haggland and traveled about 1.5 hour outside town which only put us 10-12 miles away.

Along the way we stopped to take pictures of the seals. This is the time that they are pupping so there are up to 60 at a time on the snow.

This is the picture I like to call the seal smiling. I think it was actually telling us to get out of it's space but....

We took measurements of the ice, drilled holes until we hit water and ran some calculations to see if the haggland could cross over the crack. Since the crack was too big, we headed back. This was an 8 hour day away from town. The next part of the training was happy camper school and that is under another blog.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My first blog

This is a picture of my first hike. They flag the area with the green flags so we can find our way in the snow storms. I am just learning how to post pictures so I will learn how to rotate them for the next entry.