Click on any photo to see a larger size
Early this morning, Lynn and I made our way down to
the Helo Hanger where we were issued cool helmets (in
addition to our Santa/Elf hats) and we joined our four
fellow elves and Santa for our trip to seven awesome
places that we hadn't been to before...delivering gifts
to each stop and bringing Christmas cheer!
It was a really foggy morning on part of the ice shelf headed
out of town, but we managed to skirt it and after about 15
minutes we were at Black Island.
Black Island holds the communication equipment that makes
it possible for us to stay in touch with the outside world. If you
get a phone call from me, it goes through Black Island and the
equipment held here. It was originally built because the satellite
equipment on Ross Island was blocked by Mount Erebus and
Black Island was far enough away to get a clear signal.
the 80's and he's a really nice guy. I've known him for a few
years and he's always pleasant to me and has good stories.
distance. At the very bottom of Erebus is a small
set of darker hills. That's where McMurdo is located.
It's fun after all these years seeing McMurdo from
Black Island instead of the other way around.
photo of our fellow "elf" Katie, as we're entering the
as we flew up into the valleys.
and the scientists there seemed very happy to see us.
In all the places we visited, no one lived in the main
building or buildings. They were just central gathering
spots and a place to eat. Everyone sleeps in tents.
told that the night before, it was much higher and they weren't
even able to cross it.
Our next stop was the Lake Fryxell Camp.
Yes...that's a boat!
It's in a beautiful location, surrounded by the lake and
I really liked their galley tent.
We landed the helicopter directly on the beach.
is the camp manager here and they shared some knitting
stories. Rae is a wonderful knitter that Lynn really looks
miles up the valley from the ocean. This happens occasionally
and scientists are trying to figure out why.
thing happened here too as the Penguin wandered up
the valley to die.
I asked Rae if this water was drinkable and she told
me that it is the source for their drinking water. It
comes from the top of the glacier. Back home, even
mountain water must be filtered because of giardia.
scenery that included glaciers and glacial lakes of beautiful
under this glacier near Lake Bonney that drains with the
melt water and looks like blood.
isolated, but probably the prettiest place we visited all day!
The scientists have estimated that Taylor Glacier is about
1000 feet in depth and the area where the camp is located
is over 50,000 years old.
were absolutely stunning!
experiments. This hole was 70 meters deep! That's over
200 feet! When we would drop chunks of ice into it, it made
a really loud ping pong sound and air would blow up into our
faces. It was a lot of fun!
and they spent our entire time there showing us their
route over the mountains to Marble Point.
waterfall of ice, headed over a cliff.
is one of the driest places in the world.
and I was lucky enough to have a window seat. Marble Point
is essentially a refueling station. It is the perfect location for
a much larger Antarctic station and it was actually considered
as a replacement for McMurdo at one time, complete with a
dry land runway.
complete with couch, grill and foilage.
see him. He visited us in Grand Junction during the summer.
Now we got to visit him!
place called Bay of Sails, where lots of icebergs are "trapped"
Our pilot, Jack, who I've known for years, flew all the way
around one of them, just above the water line. Then he
asked if any of us have ever landed on top of an iceberg.
No one raised their hand, and the next thing we knew, we
were touching down on the top of the iceberg! WOW!
the area, showing paying tourists the local sites. Jack
congratulated us. He said that the folks on the ship were
paying up to $50,000 each to see what we were seeing today!
Our last stop of the day was Cape Royds. Occasionally
folks from McMurdo get to visit here, but not often as
it's usally a trip given to people as a reward. Exactly why
we were here today!
Cape Royds is about 19 miles north of McMurdo, and home
to a really large Adelie Penguin rookery. There are thousands
of penguins in various stages of nesting. It reminded me of a
crowded beach of people on a summer day at Lake Michigan.
I'd seen lots of Adelies a few years ago at Hut Point at
McMurdo, but this was probably 100 fold the amount
This Skua though was giving us the evil eye the entire
time we were watching the Penguins. He was probably
thinking we were moving in on his territory. One of the
main things that skuas like to eat are penguin eggs and
There is a small, historic hut here that was built by Ernest
Shackleton, during his 1907-09 expedition. I can't imagine
We didn't get to spend as much time exploring the hut as
I would have liked, but it was great to finally see it in person.
The day was spent enjoying all the physical beauty, but it was
really nice finishing it amongst a site of such historical significance.
This day is definitely in my top ten of all days I've spent on this
earth. I've now been to everywhere in Antarctica that I've
really wanted to go. If I get to go to other places, it will be icing
on the cake.