Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Discovery Hut from the Inside

Last week, I finally got the chance to get inside Discovery Hut. Discovery Hut is the one just around the corner from our base. I arranged a private tour compliments of an Oregon Chai. I was pretty sad to depart with an Oregon Chai, but the private tour was definitely worth it.

Scott's Discovery Hut in front of McMurdo Station.
The entrance to the hut.

After a quick ten minute walk down to the hut, we were instructed to wipe our feet, don't touch anything, to leave no trace, and take as many pictures as we want. After being handed a flashlight, the first thing I noticed was the smell. I'm not going to say it smelled bad, but it also wasn't good. It was the leftovers from an expedition over a hundred years ago, including the only wildlife I seem to be able to find, the dead kind.

This looks like pig to me, but your guess is as good as mine.

Once inside the hut, we received a short history and explanation of what was what and why. The hut was based off an Australian hut that keeps the cold in really well in the outback. They thought it would keep the heat in really well too. It didn't, so they piled up as much stuff as they could in the middle of the hut so that they didn't have to heat as much area.

100 year old hot cocoa!!!
hmm, biscuits. Fortunately, the gravy was no where to be found to soften them up.

It was hard to identify a lot of the objects hanging around the walls, but neat to see it all and imagine how Antarctic exploration is so different from a hundred years ago. Most people wouldn't even consider going sledding in some of the equipment we saw. I think that is one reason it is called the Heroic Age of Exploration. Recently, a group of three men tried to replicate Scott's journey to the South Pole using replicas of their clothes and food stores. I believe the clothes proved adequate, but they had to switch over to different foods to have enough energy for the journey.

The kitchen.
Clothes of a different era

Through out our short tour of the hut our tour guide, Emily Wampler, continued to spout lots of useful information. Unfortunately, not as much sank in as I would have hoped. I know Shackleton's recovery team from his Endurance expedition used the hut. It had two layers in the ceiling to help insulate. Everything was black because of a poor chimney system. The kitchen caught fire near the chimney once and you can still see the char marks. Find Emily if you want to know more.

This person wanted for information on Discovery Hut.

Finally, as we came out we got to see a great view of the sun shining through the clouds.

I saw my first live animal since being down here and it was a SKUA. Skua is the local seagull and is a notorious dive bomber of galley trays. Some of the dining assistants (DAs) have even been told to be careful about wearing their blue uniforms outside because the skua's associate the blue trays and therefore the color blue with food.

There is now 20,000 lbs of mail in New Zealand for us.

We haven't had fresh veggies or fruit in almost a week since the flights have stopped.

My second trip out to Cape Evans (to hopefully see penguins) was canceled due to weather. This same weather has stopped pretty much any planes from flying for 8 days. We are very backed up. Ann Curry almost didn't make it to the South Pole because of the back up.

I'm going to figure out how to cross country ski while I am down here.

When I called anyone this week, no one answered.

Our Internet is really slow. We get 3Mps which is pretty much what your house gets via DSL or cable modem

I watched part of Kung Fu Hustle last night. Great movie. I watched Napoleon Dynamite then. It is a better movie the second time.

No more spare thoughts . . . .

Sunday, November 04, 2007

NBC's Today Show to broadcast live from McMurdo Station

NBC's Today Show is going to be broadcasting from my station in Antarctica Monday and Tuesday morning starting at 7am. They are also broadcasting from other parts of the world so I'm not sure exactly when McMurdo Station will be airing. It should be an interesting chance to see some TV footage of what we do. A lot of the people down here are pretty interested on what an outsider will choose to broadcast after being here less than a week.