Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Walkabout (part 1)

The McMurdo community had a festive Christmas Party yesterday in the large shed of the Vehicle Maintenance Facility, that provide the necessary dark party atmosphere while the evening sun continued to light up the world outside. A few of the town folks put up a good little entertainment show that included tap-dancing, which was greatly enjoyed and appreciated by the crowd. This was followed by a choir performance after which it was officially ‘party time’! Beer and wine flowed and the delicious snack counters which were already being sampled, kept up with the demands. A few folks gathered to watch the large screen displaying a slideshow of pictures submitted by community members which included anything from pictures of folks at home, to shots from earlier party occasions, to pictures of gaudily dressed up pets! A lot of people lined up to have a photograph taken with Santa on a snowmobile! As the evening progressed, the music picked up and the floor of the shed usually covered in oil and grease was transformed into a dance floor where young and old folks had a ball. Around midnight, after I could no longer keep my glass of wine from tumbling over, it was time for me to make an exit.

A good nights rest; I woke to a not so pretty day. The sky was grey and the temperature had dropped a little, but a little walk after lunch was a good way to elevate my spirit. I had earlier met James Robertson, a cheerful chap from the New Zealand Navy, who helped with cargo at McMurdo. The name for their work group is ‘Kiwi Cargo’ and James himself has a nickname – Robo. Robo and I walked along the road heading north from town where a little eroded ridge seemed like a good place to check out. As a geologist, I was interested in noting all the rocks I could find around town, and although they are all volcanic they all have their distinguishing features. I will save the geology for a little later.

The view of the town from this short ridge was a lot different than any others. We were just behind all the storage facilities and looking south over the town and across the Ice where the clouds covered up most of the mountains. The cargo containers, logs and pipe casings, probably a lot of it eventually headed to Pole, the rest used here in McMurdo, the trucks ferrying load after load, all showed a town that can be described in one word – busy!

A busy town.

Across the road from this ridge, features in the ice caught my eye and we walked over for a closer look. The ice here had been subjected to repeated melting and refreezing and the strong winds had transformed its surface into a work of art.

The Ice sculpture gallery.

To extend our walk a little, we went over to Hut Point where I sat down for while as Robo studied the writing on Vince’s Cross (see On Hut Point Ridge)

Robo at Vince's Cross, Hut Point.

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