October 31, 2011

McMurdo Station, Antarctica

I'm only passing through McMurdo Station but was lucky to have one day here with warm and windless weather so I was able to get out & about to take a few photos. 

I first tried shooting some Impossible Project films on my Polaroid camera but this is proving a little trickier than I thought it would be. A DIY engineered solution for keeping the whole system warm while outdoors is in order and it's top on my list of personal projects when I arrive at South Pole, which will hopefully be sometime this week.

These are just a few shots from around town. The station has all of the amenities and activities that you would find in a normal stateside town.


Coffee House & Wine Bar


Main road in town

Chapel of the Snows


Outdoor storage


Recycling bins

What do you think they do in the Spot Shop?

Looking across the sea ice

Looking around the point

Shackleton's Hut

Apple warming hut

McMurdo Station dorms

October 30, 2011

Antarctic Observation Tube

Last night, rather than join in the drunken madness surrounding the annual McMurdo Station Halloween party, I decided to go check out the 'observation tube' that was mentioned several times upon my arrival during the in-briefs. Mostly it was mentioned in the context of 'hey we have a great observation tube which no one is taking advantage of'. Who am I to ignore this call to action? Off to the observation tube I went! 

After checking a key out and getting a handheld emergency radio from the Fire Department, three of us made our way down the little dirt path to the sea ice walking out a few hundred yards to the orange & yellow warming huts and the small metal tube that we were looking to climb down. 

The observation tube was originally made to observe penguins swimming and doing whatever daily tasks  take them under the ice. The tube is perhaps 10 meters long and has a little glass room at the bottom big enough for just 1 person to stand at the bottom of the tube and observe the energetic life of the ocean in Antarctica under the sea ice.

Climbing down the tube was mildly claustrophobic as it's so small that you have to take your big down jacket off before going down and your elbows, knees & backside are constantly banging against the sides of the small metal tube as you descend. But it's well worth swallowing any minor mental distress over this in order to get to the bottom. 

Once in the little glass room at the bottom you can look out the windows and back up at the sea ice above.    The top of the sea ice is relatively flat and smooth from the sun and wind. But the bottom of the sea ice that hangs into the sea water is a garden of ice crystals in every possible geometry. 

The water was crowded with little krill, jelly fish- both miniature & large, and all kinds of other tiny little sea creatures. I was the only one in the group lucky enough to see any seals. Unfortunately, I only had a manual focusing lens with me (poor planning!) and couldn't get my act together fast enough to shoot them as they raced by just one time.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the whole experience were all the Star Trek sounds going on down there. It may have been the seals making so much noise, I'm not sure, but the water was filling with pinging, beeps and loud yawning noises.

View out onto the sea ice.

Warming hut near the observation tube.

The icy observation tube that you descend.

Looking up at the bottom of the sea ice and its crystal formations.

Dancing pair of krill.

October 29, 2011

Christchurch, New Zealand

After several days travel I finally made it to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. We're hoping to leave for South Pole tomorrow but there have been a lot of weather delays so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

I spent a day in Christchurch, New Zealand picking up my ECW (extreme cold weather gear). Christchurch has always been one of my favorite cities in the world and to see the devastation wrought by the earthquakes over the last year was a bit heart wrenching. I stood in places that I had been dozens of times before and had no idea where I was because it looked so different with the crumbling buildings, and in some cases empty lots that have already been cleared. The heart of the city is a ghost town and eerily quiet. Churches, houses and high rises are toppled. 

We wandered through the botanic gardens though and it was nice to see that one of the anchors of the city is virtually untouched by the quakes and continues to grace Christchurch with a beautiful, reflective place for people to go.

October 24, 2011

Destination Antarctica

With a bit of frantic packing, sorting out cameras, mailing extra clothes, running errands and fitting in last minute visits with friends, I somehow managed to pull my act together with the less than 3 days notice I received that I'm leaving for the ice today. There are a lot of things I'll miss while I'm gone but I'm a cold weather girl at heart and I love being in the middle of nowhere, so Antarctica has always been a favorite place for me.  

First stop is Christchurch, New Zealand to pick up extreme cold weather gear and have a last yummy meal of Thai or sushi.  I don't think I'm going to have time to get to the botanic gardens unless we get delayed though. Keeping fingers crossed that we do! 

Then a long flight to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. I don't know how long I'll be in McMurdo but hopefully long enough to catch up with old friends, catch a glimpse of a penguin or two if they're around and hike to Hut Point. I'd ideally like to take some polaroids while I'm there too.

Then it's off to South Pole for a fun summer of coordinating chaos! Temps will probably be somewhere between -40 to -50 when I arrive and by New Years, with any luck, we might hit zero, but it can't be counted on. In any case, it's going to be chilly, but a fun year with the 100th anniversary of Amundsen & Scott making it to the pole.

I'll post pictures as soon as I can. Stay tuned...

October 23, 2011

Fall Walkabout in Baker

This morning we took our cameras and went for a walk around our neighborhood on the way to our book club meeting at a wine bar/coffee shop a few blocks away. It's a fine fall day for walking around the Baker District...

Waning flowers...

The old neighborhood grocery.

Not always a good idea.

Can you believe we still have these? AND they get used. A lot.

Parked on my street- I'd like to steal it...

Sketch Wine Bar on 1st Ave

October 22, 2011

The Great & Mysterious Peanut Harvest of 2011

In the spring we bought some little peanut plants at the farmer's market around the corner from our house. We didn't really think you could grow peanuts in Colorado and I had the utmost skepticism for the woman's assurances that we could. 'In containers?' 'Of course!'

After 4 months of carefully tending these plants, discovering that they grow mysterious roots from the top of the plant down into the ground and have the prettiest little yellow flowers, we finally have peanuts! Granted, we don't have a LOT of peanuts (2nd photo is our entire harvest!), but we have perfect peanuts nonetheless. We roasted them and ate them in one day.

Peanuts will definitely be making a reappearance in our container gardens from here on out.

October 20, 2011

Madrid in Orange....

Madrid had some lovely fall oranges...

October 18, 2011

Lisbon in Yellow....

It's Fall Colour Week over at Poppytalk and the color today is yellow. One of the things that I loved most about Lisbon is that it is a town of yellows. I'm not quite prepared to post all of my yellow Lisbon photos just yet, but as today is yellow for Fall Colour Week, I thought I would post just a few...

October 16, 2011

A Wee Town by the Sea...

I spent a very short period of time by the sea in Portugal in a little town called Cascais. I could have stayed for a week wandering the streets and watching the little fishing boats in the harbor...