Friday, October 16, 2009

New Address

I've been getting a bunch of requests for my new address:
William Brotman, RPSC
McMurdo Station
PSC 469 Box 700
APO AP 96599-1035

I might have a phone and pager too. If you want those, ask.

What to send? I don't know. I came a lot more prepared than last time. The best thing you could honestly send is a letter or e-mail letting me know how you are. A lot of people back home seem to think their life is boring in comparison to what I am doing down here, but I miss the conversations we would be having about that minutia of life if I were able to spend time with you.

Things to send (someone summed most of these as luxury items that are consumable):

  • Bulk granola cereal from wholefoods or sunflower market would be fantastic.
  • Trader Joe's dried fruit.
  • Froodles from CO springs would be brilliant
  • MyChai concentrate (made in Bend, OR)
  • Reese's Pieces or Peanut Butter cups
  • Energy snacks (Clif, Luna, Jelly Belly Sport, etc)
  • Oregon Chai (accept no substitutes) is always good, but I have a LOT here
  • 'Fancy' microwave meals like 'Tasty Bites' indian food are great (we can buy the basic ones like mac&cheese, soup, etc here)
  • Music or book that you think I'll love
  • Book of crosswords
I didn't add this section last year and got a ton of stuff I couldn't or just didn't use so here is a list of what not to send (because they have a ton on base or I know I won't use it and don't want you to send unnecessary goodies that you could use at home):
  • PACKING PEANUTS (use newspaper or bubble wrap)
  • Hot chocolate (pales compared to the OC!)
  • Batteries
  • Foot Warmers
  • Hand Warmers
  • Trinkety stuff that shouldn't be sent to the most environmentally protected place on earth
  • Computer gear
  • Granola bars
  • Anything I'd want to keep, but is challenging to travel with or ship home
  • Anything I need more than a microwave to cook
  • Drugs or medicines
  • Sheets or clothes

My room's view when I can't sleep

One of the nice things about adjusting to the new timezone down here is that I wake up at times I wouldn't normally be awake and see a part of day I normally wouldn't. My first couple nights, I woke up just before 4am and spent each night working backwards until 1am. Since I didn't have a clock setup yet, I didn't ever know what time it was. I just got up and looked out the window to catch some beautiful colors in the sky. My last summer here I didn't have a window so this is a real treat.

1am view from my room.

1:45am view from my room.

Our current sunrise is at 4am and sunset at 11:30pm. In just under two weeks, the sun will stop setting and I won't have another chance to see the sunrises that I love so much until late February (and no, Katie Folts, sunset isn't just as good as sunrise at a better time).

Current conditions:
Fogged in to less than a quarter mile visibility
-7F ambient
12mph winds
-26F windchill

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Photos from the Journey Back

Flying to Christchurch over the Southern Alps on the South Island of western New Zealand.

A plot near the entrance to the gardens.

My favorite path at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens

Whittling away five hours on our flight to Antarctica.

Small ice chunks in the ocean below as we approach Antarctica.

Much larger ice chunks as we get closer to Antarctica.

I think that is pancake ice.

Icebergs and land (covered in ice) as we first reach the continent.

Small icy mountains.

Icy mountains.

More icy mountains.

Big ice mountains.

Even more icy mountains.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Journey Back!

The first step is the hardest or some saying like that. After spending most of the day packing, playing my final rec league ultimate game with Shiny Happy People, and chatting too much with my roommate, I took my first steps towards my car and Antarctica. If I got in and drove to my brother's wedding in Pittsburgh instead of flying it would mean that I'd be leaving home, leaving Sabah and heading back to the Ice. They were tough steps. Denver was finally feeling like home again and the idea of leaving Sabah just sucked. It felt selfish.

Short version:
  • Tuesday-Thursday, 22nd - drive to Pittsburgh, 1447 miles, 30 hours in the car
  • Friday-Saturday, 24th - drive to Greensburg, PA, 40 miles, 1 hour in the car
  • Sunday, 25th - drive to Wisconsin Rapids, WI, 740 miles, 11.5 hours in the car
  • Wednesday, 30th - fly to Denver, 1035 miles, 10 hours door-to-door
  • Friday, 2nd - fly to Phoenix, AZ. 589 miles
  • Sunday, 4th - fly back to Denver, CO 589 miles, arrive 1am and bike home
  • Mon, 5th - Wed 7th - fly to Christchurch, NZ, 9533 miles, 26 hours in planes and airports
  • Friday, 9th - fly to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, 2415 miles, 5 hours on the plane
TOTAL: 16,388 miles, 100ish hours

My journey back.

Long Version:
The first leg of my journey was spent with Sabah and I alternating between driving, sleeping in the car, and playing at rest areas. Just after Des Moines, IA, I accelerated a bit too quickly out of the city and got pulled over. I didn't get pulled over until at least ten minutes later though. It was weird. The officer asked where I was going. I told him I was on my way to my brother's wedding. He asked to see the invitation or present. I didn't have either. I had forgot the invitation and had planned on buying a card in Pittsburgh. At this point, the officer decided I might be a smuggler because my story wasn't checking out. He asked me to open my trunk. I couldn't because a friend had used my car and the trunk hadn't really been working since then. He was skeptical, but let me go and even just gave me a warning. Just thirty short hours after I left, I pulled into Pittsburgh rush hour. Luckily, I didn't have any traffic troubles because everyone stayed home to dodge the G-20 road closures.

Kilted for my brother's wedding.

After two short days at my old haunts and friends' houses in Pittsburgh, I was off to Greensburg to see my family for my brother's wedding. For some reason, getting together with my family is never easy. This one, I'm pinning on my brother. He neglected to tell me about some of my duties as a groomsman and made me track down a grand kilt to wear for the ceremony. Once the headaches were out of the way, it was a great couple days and fun to see everyone. Sabah even managed to slide down her tallest slide yet, eight feet high. Seeing my brother off on his honeymoon at an Eat N' Park brunch also led to one of the great undiscovered ideas of my life:
Oregon Chai Tea Milkshake
Oregon® Chai tea and vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Unfortunately, the end of wedding festivities meant I had to hop back in my car for another drive to my mom's place in Wisconsin. The trip was uneventful until I got to the thunder and wind storms in Wisconsin. Crazy and beautiful. At my mom's place, I got to start on three quiet days of getting Sabah acquainted to her new home. In the time it took me to toast a bagel, she was already playing with the 100+ pound Alaskan malamute. The springer spaniel wouldn't warm up to her until I left and last I heard my mom wrote, "sabah is doing well. She and princess play tag in the yard and garage." Great stuff.

My flight back to Denver was supposed to get me home in time for practice. I landed at 5pm, but public transit did not get me home until 8:30pm. I timed it about as poorly as I could have. I had just missed a bus and had to wait an hour for the next one. Ugh. Thursday, I packed and had a small goodbye gathering. Friday, I flew down to AZ for Southwest Regionals for ultimate frisbee. My team had been hoping to finish top 3, but ended up 9th. We played pretty well so I left with a smile, especially after seeing my old friend Missy from college. After getting delayed on the flight home, I got one last road ride in back to my house.

On Monday morning, it was rise and shine for one last mountain bike ride with Dave at Lair O' the Bear. Instead of doing the entire ride, we pulled up short to work on a couple technical sections. It took me about a hundred tries, but I finally got them. Such a treat since I hadn't been able to get them most of the summer. Unfortunately, all the goodness of the ride was dashed away when I went to get some gourmet grilled cheese at Chedd's and it was closed, possibly for good. It looked like it was being remodeled, but had no sign. This followed on finding out the month before that another Chedd's had closed in southwest Denver. The only one left may be in Austin!!

Chedd's, oh how I miss thee . . .

After saying goodbye to more friends, I was off to the airport. It was weird to see so many old faces. I hadn't seen some of them for eighteen months, but they were as fresh as when I left the Ice. I still had some apprehension about heading down though, but my course was set. I hopped on the first of three very long flights, watched a bunch of movies, crossed the international date line, wondered what the experience would be like, and soon found myself back in Christchurch walking in the gardens, eating out, and playing ultimate with old friends like I had never left. Playing ultimate with the Christchurch team again was a treat, even in the cold rain. Afterwards, we went to an indian restaurant and it happened to be playing my favorite Michael Franti and Spearhead album. Yum, yum.

After two quick days in Christchurch, it was time to hop on my final flight. I still had a lot of emotional backwash, but when I finally touched down, it felt right. It felt natural. I stopped questioning things and just knew that this was going to be a good season even if I don't know why.

"Wise folks count their blessings. Fools count their problems." -Spearhead