Another step in preparing for the long dark winter is to install flag lines to all the outlying buildings. After Dana and I searched our schedules, it turned out, between him working days and me working nights, various cleaning activities, and his Station Science Leader activities, we had to do it Sunday morning.
All the summer tourist have no choice but to leave their used sheets and blankets behind and it falls to the winter crew to do the laundry. Our washing machines have been going nonstop since Station closing and it has been a community project to get it all done. Every time you go by the laundry room you just toss a load in or fold some sheets and blankets.
Station closing came early this year. We were working out at DSL on the afternoon of the 13th when rumors started to make the rounds among the SPT crew that the Station would close early, due to poor weather approaching the Pole. One day can make a huge difference with the tight schedule at the South Pole and a mild panic set in among the beekers.
BICEP was in good shape. Cynthia and I just had to tighten a number of screws that had come lose on the telescope mount. We spent a few hours until 1 in the morning, doing a contortionist act around the telescope, before heading back to the Station for a quick celebration with some of the SPT folks.
Our winter supply of eggs arrived today. Are large crowd gathered at Destination Zulu to unload the eggs. Speculation abounds on the prospect of the eggs lasting for the whole winter. In my past five winters it has been hit and miss. I don’t eat two (or more) eggs for breakfast every day. So this doesn’t bother me much, but it does amaze me that we haven’t figured this one out after more than 50 years of running the South Pole Station. This year’s eggs come pre-oiled and thus we won’t have the usual egg oiling party.
The Station is preparing for winter and the Summer Camp is closing down. Today we got the official word that we can use all the remaining water in the Ice Palace. The last plane left a little earlier than anticipated. So I guess there was some extra water.
Normally we follow the “Two minute showers twice a week” rule. So this sounded too good to be true. I made the track out to Summer Camp at two in the morning and took a loooooong shower. Probably the longest shower in South Pole history. Well, maybe not counting Jerry Nielsen.
The Ice Palace is a strange place. It looks like a campground bathroom combined with an industrial site. It does have big windows. So I could sit inside after my shower and stare at the frozen landscape outside. Minus 55° and not a soul to be seen. Very relaxing.
It is nice to see that this year we got a huge supply of beverages for the winter. For some reason the Antarctic Program uses the code word Baja (don’t tell anyone) for beverage delivery. So today was the day we moved all “Baja” into the Station. A grand total of 45,000 lbs. There is the slight problem that the elevator and the hoist just don’t work and even if the hoist did work, there is no way of lifting anything to the first floor. So we just have to carry everything up. The logistics folks did a really good job of getting everything organized and it all went very smoothly and fast.
Interestingly, one of my colleagues pointed out that this amounts to 3.5 lbs per person per day for the winter. I don’t think I can handle that.