Monday, October 30, 2006

Way Out There

Besides being the biggest and busiest place
on the continent, McMurdo also acts as the
hub of transportation to the rest of Antarctica.
The US Antarctic Program (USAP)operates field
camps all over the continent and LC-130's, Twin
Otters, and Baslers leave McMurdo on a daily
basis to go to these locations.

Most field camps are very small. Ten people
or less is the norm and when the planes go
there, it may take them three to four hours
to get there, spend a few minutes dropping off
people and supplies, and then take off again
for the long flight back to McMurdo. They'll
do it all over again the next day to another
location that can be just as far away in the
opposite direction. Sometimes non-grantees
can go to these camps to help tear down or
open up the camp for the season. These trips
are called boondoggles.

I got my fair share of boondoggles my first
season on the Ice. I got a ride in a Coast
Guard Helicopter, went to the Ice Caves,
rode on a ice breaker and hiked on Tent Island.
However, now I feel like I'm cursed and will
never get a fun boondoggle again. The reason?
I turned down a trip to the Dry Valleys. The
Valhalla of boondoggles and one of the most
coveted locations on the continent. I was
offered the trip (unheard of for a FNG) but
my boss was leaving in two days and and I
still felt I had lots to learn from her before
I took over her job for the winter. I can't
really complain though. I've spent several
nights at the A-Frame, many dinners at Scott
Base and have seen auroras and star-lit skies
countless times. Maybe someday...someday I
will get that long awaited boondoggle to
someplace the Dry Valleys...or
even the South Pole itself. If only I can
break the curse.

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