Quick and Dirty

Looking northwest across the main blue ice fields of Davis-Ward. Those are the Davis Nunataks in the distance; our camp is at the base of the largest of the nunataks.

So this was going to be my epic-rant-about-my-annoying-snowmobile blog. I took notes, I made an outline, I had big plans, and then I got lazy. To be fair, this isn’t just your garden variety lazy, this was epic-food-coma lazy (and yes, this will be the excessively-hyphenated blog). I challenge you to eat two tasty-tasty steaks and ½ a bag of mashed potato balls and not loose motivation. I’m just happy to be conscious. Oh, and for you judgmental people out there noting the lack of vegetables in our evening meal, I would point out to you that (1) potatoes are technically a vegetable (there were also dehydrated onions and mushrooms on the steak), and (2) you’re welcome to nibble on my posterior if you don’t like it!

Note: These mashed potato balls are a New Zealand thing and they are BRILLIANT. Imagine tater tots, only mashed potato balls. Heat them up in the skillet with butter and you have instant awesome. Someone needs to import these to the USA!

In any case, I’m now clinging to consciousness while sipping hot chocolate (definitely NOT liberally dosed with numerous adult beverages) and eating only slightly expired chocolate chip cookies. So instead, you’re getting a short summary of today’s events (well, short for me) and I’ll also pick a few of the nicer pictures I’ve taken over the past few days. And also, you will be liking it.

So today was a bimodal day for me. It was great because my ski-doo ran the whole day without me having to open the hood once, and this necessarily kept the swearing to a minimum. Unfortunately, I got skunked today (didn’t find a meteorite), so that was less good. At least I know what Jim feels like when he plays cribbage now!

In any case, we were supposed to get our 2nd resupply today, which would bring us more fuel for the ski-doos, a few odds and ends we are desperately missing (including coke!!!!!!!), and the groomer. Now the latter isn’t for personal hygiene (though lord knows some of us could use a groomer right now), but rather to groom a runway in the snow. You drag it behind a skidoo and it chops off the tops of the sastrugi, making a nice smooth snow runway.

The grooming is key because it would mean we could leave the field in 3 Basler (converted DC-3) flights direct to McMurdo on (or about) the 21st. Otherwise, we’ll pull out in 9 Twin Otter flights (over 2 days) back to the intermediary stop at CTAM, where we would have to repalletize all of our gear onto C-130 pallets, to then be shuttled back to McMurdo via C-130. This would obviously add days to our pull out scenarios, and a huge amount of extra work.

Since we didn’t get the resupply flight, that meant we went out to search for meteorites instead. Even though we got a bit of a late start (since we were waiting for word on the flight), we got about 7 hours of sweeping in. We’ve just about finished with the main blue ice field here at Davis-Ward, probably one more good day of work. Don’t worry, there are several other areas of blue ice to search…we’ll find ways to keep busy. We got 1/8 of an inch of new snow last night followed by an period of dead calm, this was not enough to hide the meteorites, but it was enough to make the ice nice and slippery, and to mess with our heads since we’re now searching for meteorites on a white background instead of a blue background. Okay, maybe I’m the only one that bothered, but since I’m the one writing this, I get to choose what’s important (again, if the others weren’t so selfish and cared more about you guys, they would be the ones writing the blog).

Still, all difficulties aside, we found another 21 meteorites today bringing our season total to just under 250. Now if we can just get a stretch of good snowmobile behavior and good weather, we’ll get that total up to a respectable number like 500. I’m not saying the last few seasons have been lazy or complacent with their measly totals in the mid-300s. Oh wait, yes, that’s exactly what I am saying.

As for my getting skunked, I’m pretty sure this was a grand conspiracy amongst my team mates to get even with me for all of the snowmobile issues over the past few days. My theory is that in the middle of the night (or a subset of them), they all went out and moved the meteorites off my line. Also, I think the sun was in my eyes today (and only in my eyes).

Okay, I have to go now, it’s time to head out to the science/party tent and listen to what Shackelton, Scott, and Amundsen were up to on their respective journeys to the pole on this date in the early 20th century (“Uncle Johnny” reads to us kids each night…it’s lots of fun).

Also, I have to leave the tent soon because my tent mate has finally unleashed his revenge for my attempts to drive him insane on the last tent day by humming/singing music he is listening to on his headphones, and releasing gas in such large quantities that I’m pretty sure it is now a fire hazard next to the open flame (I have the fire extinguisher handy…and I may use it even if not strictly necessary). I am also pretty sure he is directly contributing to the hole in the ozone layer down here.

P.S. Another thank you to my wife for all of the nice text messages, they break up the monotony out here! Also, congrats on almost being done with your English class. I’m sure the students will all miss you terribly, just like me!







Figure Caption 2: View looking north(ish) across the Millstream Glacier from the other side of the Davis Nunataks (in the previous picture). The mountains in the distance are the Dominion Range.







Figure Caption 3: I want to call this a sun dog, but Johnny told me it isn’t a sun dog. He gave it a very scientific sounding name (perihelion something-or-another), but I’m just calling it a circular-rainbow-sundog-thingy (patent pending on that name).







Figure Caption 4: Cool interplay of the sun and clouds in the sky on the way home last night.



































Figure Caption 5: Ice crystals that Johnny retrieved from inside a crevasse. These grow on the underside of the snow that clogs the small (few inches wide) crevasses. If I wasn’t so tired, I’d make up a BS (obviously that stands for “better science”) reason why they grow.

– written by Ryan Zeigler, Davis-Ward Antarctica, Thursday January 7 2015