Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tru Vu Drive In

It's been over 25 years since I've been to a drive in theatre.
Luckily, we have two drive ins within driving distance in
Delta and Montrose.  Tonight, we visited the Tru Vu Drive In
in nearby Delta.  Everything was very familiar, including the
old-time speakers available for you to place on your window.
However, there is now an option to tune your car stereo into
the soundtrack of the movie.  Also, most people here seemed to
set up their chairs in front of their cars to watch the show.  As it
was pretty warm at showtime, this was a great idea!  As for the
movies...meh!  We saw The Lone Ranger and World War Z.
Both kind of disappointing, but it was the Tru Vu Drive In that
was the real star of the evening!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tragedy in Oklahoma














A tornado tore through the small city of Moore, Oklahoma.  It's
a suburb of Oklahoma City.  We are always worried when we
hear of tornadoes in Oklahoma because we have family that
live there.  In this case, my nephew Matt works at Bob Moore
Ford (noted by the red circle on the map) which was only a
few miles north of the tornado's path.  This particular disaster
reminded me a bit of the earthquake a few years ago in
Christchurch, New Zealand.  Lynn was in the middle of the
Central Business District during the quake and Facebook
became a valuable tool to help find people.  My sister Terri,
who is in Indiana and me were both trying to find out if
Matt was ok and both of us were using Facebook.  Luckily
our friends Marta and Sara (who are originally from Norman)
are in Norman this week and were posting updates on Facebook.
I asked Marta if anyone had heard anything about the area around
Matt's dealership since at that time, we didn't know the path of
the tornado.  A friend of Marta's was able to report that her friend
worked at the same dealership, she had spoken to Matt's boss and
Matt was safe!  It turns out much of the area's cell phone and
internet was down due to the storm and Matt couldn't contact
anyone.  What a small world it is that a friend of a friend of a friend
was able to tell us Matt was ok.  As much as social media can be
a headache...in times like this, it turns out to be a great thing!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Helping The Library


When you're not working, there's a fair amount of down-time.
I took advantage of this today when Lynn and I went over to
the First Congregationalist Church to help set up the twice yearly
Friends of The Mesa County Libraries sale.  Books are sold for
either $1.00 or $2.00.  When we arrived at 9:00, much had already
been set up the night before.  However, Lynn was able to help
set up the children's section and I was able to bring lots of books
in from storage.  Almost all of the books were donated and we
probably could have held two sales with the amount of books
there wasn't room for.  I overheard that these leftover books might be
taken over to the Clifton branch for a sale there.  Because we helped
out and Lynn is a member of the Congregationalist Church, we were
able to put a couple of books aside that we were interested in.  The
biggest reward though, was being able to help out for a worthy cause!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Lousy Economy


How do I know that the economy is really lousy here?
I stopped by the nearby Dollar Tree store this afternoon
and it was packed!  I've been there in the past and was
just about the only person there.  Today, there must have
been 50 shoppers inside the store.  I had to actually wait
in line.  I think that dollar stores are great since one can
usually get a bargain.  However, if it's that busy, it's
saying something about the economy.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Back Together Again


While Gina and Leslie are out of town, we are lucky enough
to kitty-sit Prometheus.  He lived here for a bit a few years ago.
He's teamed up with our kitty, Basia just like before.  However,
since Basia has had a few health problems lately, they can't
be together to annoy each other!  Even so, it's nice to have
two cats back in the house again!

Friday, May 03, 2013

Headed To The Sun



Gina and Leslie are headed to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for Gina's niece's
wedding. This morning, we took them to the airport for their flight.
Usually they are giving Lynn or me a ride to our flight, so it was a nice
change of pace that we could return the favor.  I'm slightly jealous since
they are going on a trip to a foreign land, while we are at home.  However,
we get to watch their kitty, Prometheus, while they are gone and that's a
treat.

Visiting With Susie


Over the last few days, we've been having a nice visit from our friend,
Susie.  She stopped while driving through the area since she has old
ties to Grand Junction and we've gotten to do a number of fun things
with her.  Earlier this evening, she and Lynn attended a function at the
Western Colorado Center For The Arts and then we all stopped by
The Hot Tomato Cafe in nearby Fruita.  We had wanted to come here
for dinner for some time, and having Susie in town was a great excuse!
Susie's headed out of town tomorrow and has big travel plans for the
next couple of months.  We hope to see her when she gets back!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fruita Fat Tire Festival


Sometimes, even though you've lived in an area for a while, there
are things you've never done, even though they are right near your
home.  One of those things is the Fruita Fat Tire Festival.  Fruita
is one of the largest meccas of mountain biking in the nation, if
not the world.  I used to mountain bike quite a bit in the Chicago
area and would like to start again, so it was quite interesting to
check out the booths of the different manufacturers.  We visited
during the middle of the day, so there weren't many riders about,
but it was fun to stroll the festival grounds regardless.  We also
took time to visit the new Chow Down Pet Supplies on Aspen Street
as well as Turn The Page used book store.  It was a beautiful day
to be out.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Sad Loss

Lynn and I, as well as much of the U.S. Antarctic Program were shocked today to find out that we had lost a good friend and co-worker. Nick Johnson took his life a few days ago. Nick was known as the author of the book, "Big Dead Place" as well as a ambitious blogger. He was smart, funny and an all around nice person. We will miss him dearly.

"You may believe that you are only going to Antarctica for one season. Though that may be true, it is not. Antarctica will pierce you in the heart, and even if you don’t come back, you will think about it off and on, probably for the rest of your life." Nick Johnson

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What I Do

I put people on airplanes in Antarctica. Much of the time, it's on planes like this C-17 that landed here recently.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hut Guide


Several years ago, I volunteered as a Hut Guide. Being a Hut Guide involves a fairly small amount of actual training, but a larger amount of knowledge about the historic huts themselves. In the Ross Sea, there are historic huts located at Hut Point, Cape Evans and Cape Royds. I'll be certified again this season to lead tours of all three.  Because of ice conditions, we probably won't be headed to Cape Evans or Cape Royds, which is disappointing. I've been inside the Hut Point Hut and Cape Evans. During my Santa Ride, we saw the outside of the hut at Cape Royds, but it was closed. I'm looking forward to leading a tour. More people who come here should know more about the history of the area.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Italian Shuffle


McMurdo Station not only is a scientific station in its own right, it also serves as the logistical hub for much of this part of the continent. This means that other Antarctic programs such as the New Zealand, Australian, Italian and sometimes others, will transport through McMurdo on their way to their own stations. Today, Pegasus Field received twenty-two members of the Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide (The Italian Antarctic Program) arrived on a C-17 and transported to Mario Zucchelli Station at Terra Nova Bay. It would be interesting to go there some day, as I hear the food is wonderful (how could it not be with Italians doing the cooking?), but I'm not counting on it ever happening. My friend, Carly in Fleet Ops took these photos of the operation out at the airfield. We will probably have more Italians (and a few Koreans that work with them as well) transiting through here in the next few weeks and then later in the year, we reverse the process. It all gives this place a more "international" flavor.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Three Pillars


I came south this year with three definite plans. My three "Pillars" to a successful season.

1. Get regular exercise
2. Get enough sleep
3. Drink enough fluids

In the past, I planned to read more, learn a language, socialize more, etc. etc.

1. Blah
2. Blah
3. Blah

However, this year I WILL be more successful. I've committed myself to work out at least five days a week and have been getting 8-9 hours of sleep every night. It's not hard for me to get fluids as I drink lots of water throughout the day. So this year, it's all about being healthy and not doing unrealistic things that I won't be able to commit to.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Weather Outside...


...is frightful!

Why do Monday mornings have to coincide with really crummy weather. It's hard enough walking up the hill to work, but have to fight this kind of weather just adds insult to injury! Luckily, I ran into friends Moose and Josh who have a pickup, and they gave me a lift to work. The commuting gods were definitely smiling upon me!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Riding In The Kress


Yesterday, when I got off the A-319 Airbus, there were two vehicles ahead of me. Ivan the Terrabus; an old, sometimes trustworthy friend which was full of people, and The Kress Vehicle. It turns out that Ivan was full of folks that were headed north to Christchurch. I would be taking my first trip on the Kress.


I first wrote about the Kress a couple of years ago when it was delivered via the cargo vessel. It's actually a pretty impressive vehicle.


Inside, it seats 59 passengers and feels like a movie theatre. The ride was one of the smoothest I've had from any of the runways here. I was even able to have the ability to have a nice conversation with a past fellow winterover I hadn't seen in many years. Count me as a big fan of the Kress!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Southbound


I'm beginning my 13th season on the Ice and my 11th journey south. Every season's flight is very different, and this year is no exception. I would have preferred to fly on the C-17, but instead I arrived on the A-319 Airbus. It's funny though how a little experience helps one have a better flight. I lined up where I needed to after the safety briefing in Christchurch and got a good seat on the bus to the plane, which in turn, got me
a great seat on the flight.

 
About 3.5 hours into the flight, we started to fly over the Transantarctic Mountains, which form the spine of the Antarctic continent. I never tire of this view of the mountains and glaciers. There is a Qantas flight that makes a similar route to ours on New Years Eve and that costs approximately $10,000 per person. Yes, I get paid to make this flight!


Once we start veering toward Ross Island (where McMurdo is located) we start flying over McMurdo Sound. There are lots of icebergs this season. Although they look smallish, each of these is probably about
the size of a city block.


I've seen this view many times, being on the ramp, (this would be called the tarmac at regular airports) but I don't get to see it often from inside a plane. It doesn't look that much different from last year, although I believe the Ice Runway is a bit closer to Scott Base this year.


This is the typical shot of folks leaving the plane after arriving from the Ice. I was contacted by a representative from the NSF (National Science Foundation) for a photo just like this for one of their early season documents. I submitted it, so I hope it gets used.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Travels of My Bag


Presumably, after galavanting around the South Pacific, my missing bag decided to show up. I was watching television at my hotel (The Elms) at 8pm tonight and the phone rang. I was very excited because I thought it would be the front desk telling me my flight tomorrow would be cancelled. Ha! No such luck. However, I was lucky that they had my bag at "Reception" and I should come pick it up. Upon dragging this 51.5 pound monster to my room (I already had my 70 pound duffle bag) it looked no worse for wear, but had many new tags on it. I have no idea where it went, but I was glad it found its way "home"!

Spill Prevention


Christchurch is amazingly still struggling with quakes and aftershocks, a full two years since their first major earthquake. The citizens have a good attitude, but I also think they have a "let me up, I've had enough" feeling. One thing I love to do when I visit different countries is to shop at their grocery stores. New Zealand is no exception. I love all the bright colors and different options they offer compared to our stores back home. I needed to pick up a few items to take down to the Ice, so I visited my favorite supermarket in New Zealand, Countdown. They've had so many aftershocks the store has apparently taken the bull by the horns and have done what they can to stop items from falling on the floor. All aisles with glass items now have plastic barriers that stop things from falling on the floor and breaking every time an aftershock hits. Ingenious and innovative. I'm sure they also have less calls for "Cleanup on Aisle 6"!

Serious Lamb Burger


My very long flights from the States to New Zealand didn't leave me any time on the 29th to see anything, anyone or get anything done in Christchurch. Also, as a result of the time change in New Zealand, I lost an hour of sleep as well. After four full hours of sleep, I rose and was whisked away by shuttle to the CDC for my clothing issue, and orientation at the Sudima Hotel. Clothing of course went very smoothly, but I had to plan a bit differently since my one bag with most of my clothing did not arrive with me in Auckland. What frustrates me is the fact that they have no idea where it is. I hope it shows up before I head to the Ice. While we were on break during our orientation session, me and a couple of friends headed to a new McDonalds nearby. It's been built since the quake and I think it used to be CalTex petro station. Anyway, I like to try new things and they certainly had a new thing on the menu. The Serious Lamb Burger! Ok...to understand this, you have to understand the Kiwis. They love beets (beet root) and fried eggs on their hamburgers. They also love lamb. So, what they did was combine their regular Kiwi Burger (which is beef) with lamb and made essentially a LambBurger! It was...ok. Not the greatest thing in the world, but not truly horrible either. However, I don't think I'll be jonesing for one during the next five months!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On The Road Again


Another year, another season on the Ice. It was sad to leave Lynn and Grand Junction, but it must be done. It's a job. New challenges are ahead. Even though I have the same position, a new contractor is in charge and I have one less person working with me than in past years. It will be an interesting season, but it's only five months, and I'm sure it will go by quickly.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Free Airshow

The Airshow at the Grand Junction Airport is scheduled for this weekend. The first time in four years. It's a bit pricey for us to attend, but we were out running errands today and decided to head over to the airport to watch the Blue Angels practicing for their show. It was really amazing! I hadn't been to any kind of airshow since I was in Junior High and that was at my brother-in-law's air force base up in Michigan. It always astonishes me how these planes can move so fast, stay up in the sky and do the tricks that they do. Again, just amazing!



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pad Thai


More years ago than I would like to admit, we took a Thai
cooking class from our friends Saluay and Cheri at Hut 10
at McMurdo Station. Cheri had recently taken a similar
and was willing to share her new-found knowledge with us.
Our friend, Saluay, who is originally from Thailand acted as
co-teacher and we learned how to make all sorts of great
Thai dishes. In Antarctica, of all places! We even received
a great cook book to take with us. Ever since then, I've loved
to make Pad Thai. It's one of my favorite dishes since I love
Thai food and I love taking all the steps to make it a great
dish. Lynn claimed that my latest effort was possibly the best
Pad Thai she's ever had and I like to think it was pretty darn
good as well. Darn...now I have this urge to go back and visit
Thailand again...






Monday, May 21, 2012

Donating Blood

Donating blood is something I used to do frequently, starting when I was in college. However, it's been over a decade since I donated blood. Well, today I jumped back on the donating wagon and gave a pint. I did have ulterior motives though. Because I gave blood, Lynn and I will be able to go to the JUCO (Junior College) World Series that starts this weekend in Grand Junction, for free. Everyone that participates in the "Step Up To The Plate and Donate" program gets a free ticket. We would have gone to JUCO anyway, since we like baseball, and this is a prime time to enjoy it here, but being able to help others at the same time, makes it that much better!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Annular Solar Eclipse

It doesn't happen very often, but we witnessed a solar eclipse this evening.
We live a couple of hours north of where we could have witnessed "The
Ring of Fire" effect of a total eclipse, but it was fun nonetheless.  Lynn and
I took our pinhole'd paper out into the backyard and definitely saw the 
effects of the partial eclipse.  It did get noticeably darker for 7:30pm, but sadly
the lights didn't come on automatically and the birds didn't go to sleep!
I was tempted to drive the several hours south, but this satisfied my 
scientific geeky curiosity for the day...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Grand Valley Beer Festival

Today, we used the tickets I won from the television to attend the
Grand Valley Beer Festival,  being held at the University Center,
at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
Because it's only five blocks from our house, we were able to walk 
(and as a result, not have to worry about having had a few too many to 
drink).  Lynn nor I aren't very big drinkers, but when we do drink beer, 
we like to try local brews as well as beers from small breweries.  The 
Beer Festival was perfect for this as most, if not all of the 22 breweries 
I counted were from Colorado.  Each person received a small glass that
would be filled at each table you visited and you could try as many of 
the brands as you liked.  You could then vote on your favorite.  I only 
found a couple (I won't mention them) that I really didn't like at all.  
Lynn and I both agreed that the "Red Monkey's Butt" from local Suds 
Brothers Brewery in Fruita was our favorite.  We had a really good time, 
and definitely had our fill.  The venue was fun as well.  I hope it's a 
successful yearly event.


Friday, May 18, 2012

I Won Tickets!

I don't usually watch the noon news and on that rare occasion that I do,
it isn't KREX Channel 5. Nothing against them, but it's just not something
we watch. However, today was different. I was sitting in the kitchen,
checking email when I saw a story about the Grand Valley Beer Festival.
It caught my attention, because it was supporting Colorado Mesa University's
Maverick Club...and, we like good beer!   Anyway, the tv station was giving
tickets away to the event for commenting on their Facebook site.  I already
belong to their site, so I commented.  And you know what?  I won tickets!
This wouldn't be something we would normally go to since it was $25 per
person to attend.  But to attend for free?  Yes, I can afford that!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Back at the Pole


It's that time of year again. After a whirlwind of Redeployment Meetings (8 of them in 3 days) at McMurdo, I'm back at the South Pole to help conduct the meetings there. Janice from the Christchurch Travel office is here as well and we'll both be helping South Pole do-everything-extraordinaire Katie to put on the meetings here. I like it at Pole, but I don't think I would like to be here for a whole season. Three days is enough!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

AVA @ BI


All season, I've been passing out flag stickers representing the Antarctic
Vexillological Association
. My friend, Gid from Scott Base slapped one onto
his water bottle right away. This week, he was tramping/camping at Black
Island and wanted to make sure that the AVA was well represented on this
desolate piece of volcanic rock!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lockheed Martin!!!


We've just received the news:

Lockheed Martin is the new support contractor for
the United States Antarctic Program!

More news to follow.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Do You Have a Flag?


Many people who know me, or read this blog, know that
I am a Vexillologist. What is a Vexillologist you say? In
simplest terms, it is someone who studies flags. Over
seven years ago, I founded the Antarctic Vexillological
Association here at McMurdo. For many years, I was
pretty much the only member. Now, with the advent of
Facebook and it's own page, there are now 389 members!
Over the years, I've had various patches and stickers
made of the official flag. I designed the flag on a quiet,
cold day in the middle of winter at McMurdo. However,
I never had an actual "flag" made. Until now. I've
contracted with a company out of New York State to
have a really nice copy. One that will be strong enough
to put up with the wind down here and put up with the
elements. I plan to hoist it from several key places here
at McMurdo, but I also hope to have it before I make my
trip to the South Pole next month. I'd love for it to fly
at the bottom of the planet. I'm proud of my little group
and now it will have a flag worthy of the group itself.