Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22nd.

Nature strikes again.  We're all fine. Camera and phone are stuck at work so no images coming your way. Lots of love and peace. Jo x

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Antarctica - Part 2 (Scott Base)

After 2 nights, 3 days at Scott Base, I nic-named it 'the Shire'. It was a little slice of NZ - smothered in all those values we make TV ads with.  The live-in crew were sooo hospitable, kind, super cool and grounded.  The buildings - super tidy, homely, with evidence everywhere of an immense respect from the years since 1957 (its inception). Here is a look:
Arriving at the back door (we were considered family).  
Attending the flag change over from the summer crew to the 14 winter overers.  This has been a tradition since Hilary's first winter in 1957. 
A very nice reading lounge with great windows looking out over the sea ice (and seals)!

A room half dedicated to dress up clothes for Scot Base parties. Lonely Planet says the dress up phenomenon is part of the culture at all Antarctic bases.  After wearing the outdoor gear daily - I can imagine the need to get 'out of it with style'. 
Impressive board game selection. Cos you know - not much to do when its dark for months, or a storm is a brewing!
Racks of tents above and below that are organised for visiting scientists going out in the field. 
The renowned buffet. Scott Base food rulz OK! (better than OK).  
Huge high quality NZ images line the walls to remind everyone of home - and another place, where there are trees, grass, coloured landscapes. 
I liked the way everything needed at Scott Base is set out really well, often complimented with a meaningful touch. Obviously this is the cuttlery stand - with Scott's winter birthday feast pictured above. 

The Trans Antarctic Expedition Hut - where Hilary and others set up Scott Base. Its now like a small museum where walkers and passers-by can drop in and check it out. 
It has some cool artifacts of the 50s, 60s. 
Some great elements of that era shown in the carpet! Imagine living here for 6 months of winter!
Some great equipment on show for cooking in the past..
And some strict and sensible rules for dining. 
Back at Scott Base - its a builder's, engineer's or mechanic's dream...
And this was the only sign of deep soul searching around.  I thought we would encounter more of this - but only a hint on the carpenter's door!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Antarctica - Part 1

So, it appears in my haste, the previous post (written at Scott Base) gave a slightly underwhelmed feeling.  For someone who is mega excited or overwhelmed about most things, finding a strong sense of ease and belonging in a place is a fine thing.  Not disappointing at all! It was pleasant surprise after such anticipation. And now I am home, and I am overwhelmed by not being there!  I welled up leaving yesterday. Crazy.  Here are some shots to get you in the mood. Hard to think I was there for the weekend eh? 
 First bergs from the plane (approaching Antarctica on Saturday)
 First appreciation from plane of the ocean freezing...
 Me with NZ's hot new 757 which will take over from the hercs to take US and NZ Antarctic Program personnel down from now on.
 You know...just driving from the airport to Scott Base, and came across this guy (that hair do is made up of his baby feathers) - its moulting time!
 Proud of the 'NZ claim'! Such global dominance!
 Just hanging with a Hagland..
 Midnight sun...
Checking out the US' amazing balloon project late at night...
 Scott Base to McMurdo Station 'Coastal walk'
 Romantic Sunset...
 Scott Base from the Pressure Ridges (formed from where the Sea Ice hits the Ross Ice Shelf)
 After dinner walk to meet the 'blobs' that sit in the view from Scott Base...(so friendly and cute close up)
A mirage...the light played tricks on our eyes and this landscape kept changing throughout the night!
 Pancake Ice (The sea freezing..)
And of course some good natural product shot sets...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Great White Continent

On Scott Base band width, I am avoiding disappointment by NOT uploading you a photo to sum up my last 24 hrs. And its pretty white anyway (hence the white header above).  This will be short, as the schedule is tight (and we depart tomorrow after lunch).  So far...Antarctica is not the epic, overwhelming, inhumane, or 'life changing in one smack' place that I had imagined.  It has not 'flipped my lid' or 'unhinged me'. It is so far, to me, pleasantly 'right', peaceful and full of a home vibe. There is a certain turanga wae wae (sp)? here - perhaps easily found through the absolute New Zealandedness of my experience to date. And its all the good things about 'New Zealandedness'- and the world I guess that I have encountered.  The people, the airforce carrying us down, the food at Scott Base, the comfort of Scott Base, the bizarre friendliness of Emporer Penguins, the contrasts of colour, light and texture, the horror of Discovery Hut, the bite of the cold wind, or enlightnement of the midnight sun - seems 'right', and slightly known, and not at all overwhelming.  It reminds me of going to New York - having heard soo much about the epic city, and feeling a little apprehensive on how this great place woudl affect me, but being instantly at ease there. Same here. Its nice. Photos to come.  'Having the time of my life' (to quote Patrick Swaze).  Weather looks good for us to get out tomorrow too.  xxx

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Trip To Nowhere

 Ahh...2nd time lucky. Reporting at 7.30am, this time we actually set off for our trip of a lifetime to Antarctica. Through 'customs'....
Then a dope bus trip to the plane (no more than a 3 minute drive)
Slipped straight into Business Class of the Boeing 757 (think manufactured some time in the 80s).   
This is the 3rd concept flight for the RNZAF to Antarctica - and if it continues to work well they will use the aircraft for taking staff down to Scott Base and McMurdo Stations each summer.
( Nice back seat pocket).
 Lunch was served (we didn't expect this)...think 1980s again, (but served by beautiful Airforce Personnel - all so nice and brimming with Kiwi casualness).

 And then after 3 and a half hours the wind at Pegasus Air Field, Antarctica, was too strong for us to land. The 757 does not hold enough fuel to get to the airfield and circle to wait for winds to die down, so we had to abort the trip with and hour and a half to go...and head back to Christchurch!   Apparently the wind really did get up so there would have been no chance.

On the way back, I was lucky enough to be asked to sit in with the pilots for touch down heading back into Christchurch.  Nose first if you know what I mean!
 They had some cool gear in the cockpit - the 757 has been 'pimped' to handle Antarctic landings.
And by 3.30am we were flying into Christchurch International Airport, right where we started! (that's the runway in the photo).
Throughout the 6 hours, this was the best view of anything! We went nowhere, and saw absolutely nothing.   But it was a totally unique experience, and all part of one MASSIVE build up.  Apparently when we turned around we would have been over icebergs, and on the edge of the continent, but it was too cloudy to know.  One more try tomorrow!  Reporting same time as the last 3 days! Wish us luck.  Mother Nature is soooo in charge.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The best clothes fitting ever...but one more sleep!

The one hour it took yesterday to try 'layer upon layer' of Antarctic clothing blew my mind. It felt like a practical joke. Do we seriously need all this gear? Apparently so...however....the 0900 flight this morning has now been postponed till tomorrow...so we may not need these crazy clothes after all! The joys of nature! Stand by...and cross all digits for flying tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

1 Sleep till Antarctica (all going well)...

Its not like I was having problems building anticipation for the big trip to the Ice - but to add to the excitement, I received a courier package yesterday morning with these beauties.  Possibly almost 100 year old gloves worn apparently for one of Mawson's expeditions.  The wonderful parent in laws had collected these from somewhere...and have gifted them to me to mark the trip.  Unbelievable in many ways...
To think they had some brave person's very cold hands in them a long time ago on a Continent a long way away.  (Deep!) Clothing fit-out of another era is on for me this afternoon.  You'll be hearing from me!

Monday, February 7, 2011

3 Sleeps till Antarctica (all going well)...

So.  I have been invited to visit Scott Base, Antarctica for 2 nights, this Thursday!   The weather will of course deem if the trip actually happens.   RNZAF 757 is scheduled to leave 0900 hours on Thursday all going well.  Here is a bit of build up for you.
 In preparation, my Mother in Law, Margaret Blair, has been sending me gifts.  She is very knowledgeable about fabric, and noted my curiosity with the Antarctic Tartan.  She  found the source at  the British Antarctic Heritage Trust, and had some shipped over to made me a beautiful scarf (above) for Christmas.
 The tartan is woven with colours inspired by the two penguins on the front of this tag. Below explains where some of those other colours from.  The South Pole, Antarctic Circle, mountain ranges, coastal rocks, ocean deeps, dark winters, The Southern Cross and heaps more detail of the continent are all incorporated in this intelligent fabric! It makes the trip even more exciting to know there will be these subtle colours emerging across the 'white' at times. Apparently we may be late enough in the season to be able to see a bit of twilight when we are there.  Will definitely be keeping you posted.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My first mobile blog

This was dinner tonite. Completely harvested from the garden apart from the cow.