Around Town

Trip Start Aug 16, 2007
1
10
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Trip End Apr 07, 2008


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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Tuesday, October 2, 2007

As you can tell it has taken us a bit to get this next entry out! A whirlwind of activity has been going on over the past few weeks and it has been an effort to keep up with it all!

Since this entry has been dedicated to describing the sights and activities around town we had to do a little research to make sure we didn't miss anything important! McMurdo is a fairly sizable town of which we haven't had the pleasure of completely exploring yet so it made describing it a bit tricky! We have tried to narrow down the description as to not make it so overwhelmingly boring, but at the same time give you a vivid picture of what we see everyday. So here it goes...

There are 17 dorms on station which house all of the staff as well as the scientists, research teams and the military personnel which fly the planes and bring in the vessels. All of the dorms have 2-person rooms with community restrooms and a lounge with a TV and game area or pool table. There is only one dorm that has 4-person rooms (Building 155) and that is where most of the new people are located (the dorms are based on seniority & position.) Our dorm, Hotel California, is nice because it is set away from the other dorms and is mostly all other married couples so we don't have to worry about it being too loud!

Building 155 is the "main building" on station mostly because it is where the Galley is. It also houses the laundry center (where they wash the bedding & large items such as our 'Big Red' coats), library (offers over 8,000 books, magazines, audio books and music CD's), television and radio studios (6 TV channels & 3 radio stations), newspaper, a general store (which sells souvenirs & toiletries and also includes a movie rental station and a liquor store), a barber shop, and several offices such as Housing, Finance & Recreation. Gear Issue, which rents out instruments, costumes, and sporting gear, is also located in this building.
 
Medical Clinic: Level 3 trauma medical facility with 4 patient rooms, a lab, x-ray room, pharmacy, physical therapy room, hyperbolic chamber (for the divers) and a dental office.
 
Fire House: 2-story building with bunkhouse & lounge. We have 40 full time Fire Fighters. The Fire House also houses the Dispatch Center and Telco, which is our telephone communication center.
 
Bars: Gallagher's (non-smoking) & Southern Exposure (smoking). Both bars include a lounging area with wet bar, pool table, arcade games, darts, and table shuffle board (I don't know the proper name of the game!) Gallagher's also has a burger/snack bar and an air hockey table.
 
Coffee House: Coffee and wine bar which includes a large open seating area for movie nights or small musical performances. Includes 2 computer kiosks and a large board game collection.
 
Aerobics & Exercise Room (aka Gerbil Gym): An exercise gym, housing aerobic and Nautilus equipment such as stair climbers and treadmills. 
 
Recreation Building: Contains craft shops (art room & ceramic studio) and a bouldering cave on the second floor and a weight room and two-lane bowling alley on the first floor. The only remaining manual pin setting bowling alley from its era in the world!
 
Gymnasium: Used for various indoor sports such as basketball, volleyball, dodge-ball, etc. and also includes a rock climbing wall. 
 
Chapel of the Snows: Brief History - It was built in 1956 with scrap lumber and materials and was originally called the Chapel of Dismas. This building was destroyed by a fire on August 22, 1978. The Chapel was rebuilt in 1979 again from salvaged materials and volunteer labor. It was then extended and reconstructed in 1989 to now be the Chapel of the Snows. The Chapel of the Snows is the only known house of worship on the continent of Antarctica and is the southernmost house of worship in the world. The Erebus Chalice, a commemorative chalice for the 75th anniversary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated 1911-1912 expedition to the South Pole, is displayed in the Chapel during the austral summer and returns to the Christ Church Cathedral in Christchurch during the austral winter. The Chapel of the Snows is a non-denominational house of worship that is supervised by the Air National Guard Chaplain Service and is led by volunteers.
 
Hut Ten: Used as a community center for parties and conferences. Includes living and dining rooms, a kitchen, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. It also provides special housing for distinguished visitors (DV's). Back in the Navy days this used to be the Station Commander's residence.

Skua Central: Used to hold items that are recycled within the community (similar to Good Will).  

Science Support Center: Conducts small engine repairs, storage of field machinery such as snowmobiles, and offices for lectures & outdoor training classes (FSTOP - Field Safety Training Operations Program)
 
FEMC (Facilities, Engineering, Maintenance and Construction Center): self explanatory!
 
Food Storage: There are 3 buildings used for food storage - Dry Food Storage, Frozen Food Storage & Refrigerated Food Storage. Attached to these storage buildings is the IT office, a band room, and an electrical supply room.

Greenhouse: We have a hydroponics greenhouse which is used primarily for the Winter Overs to have fresh veggies since there is no plane service during that time. The greenhouse is maintained during the summer and is used to add additional "freshies" to our regular deliveries. There is also a hammock in the greenhouse to offer a quite place to nap for those needing some humidity and the smell of greenery! We grow lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and various herbs and spices.

MCC (Movement Control Center) - Post Office - Central Supply: This building serves as a logistics office, office supply warehouse, aircraft passenger processing center, special cargo handling facility, and post office.
 
Vehicle Maintenance Facility Information (VMF): Facility used for the maintenance and repair of all vehicles. A high-bay area includes nine repair bays, a welding bay, battery storage room and oil dispensing room. A low-bay area includes offices, a lounge, machine shop, engine repair shop, parts storage, and tool storage. 
 
Waste Barn: Used as a waste management sorting and processing facility.
 
Power Plant: Single-story building which houses the central power plant for the station. Includes six 800-900kW diesel-engine generators in a high-bay generator room, a control room, offices, and a parts storage mezzanine. 
*There are at least 4 fuel tanks that hold 2 million gallons of fuel each!

Water Plant: Functions as the primary water desalination plant and fresh water holding facility. Contains three 40,000 gallon per day reverse osmosis processors, three 50,000 gallon fresh water storage tanks, and one 18,000 gallon seawater surge tank. 

Waste Water Treatment Plant (Poo Plant):  Basically separates the water from the waste for recycling. The poo is used for fertilizer or is compacted & frozen for transport off of the ICE.

Supply Warehouse: This building is used as a warehouse for VXE-6 aircraft parts, weather balloons, and general materials. 
 
Helicopter Hanger/ Helo Pax Terminal: Holds 4-5 Helo's and offers a small waiting area for flights.
 
Berg Field Center (BFC), Field Equipment Warehouse: Two-story building used for the storage, maintenance, and repair of science field camp equipment such as tents, stoves, and sleds. 
 
BFC Field Safety Training Center: Originally constructed as an earth sciences and glaciology laboratory, for which it was used until 1992. It was converted in 1995 for use as a field training safety office and classroom. Adjacent building was constructed as an addition to the building in 1965, and houses two walk-in freezers used for the storage of ice cores and other scientific samples. 
 
Albert P. Crary Science and Engineering Center (CSEC): CSEC is a scientific research facility with offices, storage, library, an aquarium (with a 'touch tank'!), and laboratories for biology, atmospheric science and earth science research.
 
Ice Pier: A huge floating block of ice where the supply vessels dock in January to bring the next years supply of food and materials. These vessels also take all of the waste and recycling from the station and take it back to the states for proper disposal.
 
Hut Point: Where Scott's Discovery Hut is located. It is also one of the best places to see the sunset!  

Ice Runways: There are 3 ice runways that are used throughout the season: Pegasus, The Ice Runway & Williams Field. Pegasus is used during Winfly and then again towards the end of the austral summer. It is on the thickest area of ice, but is further away from the station. The Ice Runway is set up right outside of town and is used during the Main Body flights (Oct.-Nov.) and then is torn down when the ice begins to melt and it is not sturdy enough to hold the planes. Williams (Willy) Field is a Skiway and is used only for the LC130, Basler and Twin Otter aircrafts whereas Pegasus and The Ice Runway are used for the C-17 and LC 130 aircrafts.

As for entertainment we have a Recreation department that is in charge of keeping us energized and entertained! There is an array of activities such as yoga, ceramics, karaoke, crocheting/knitting groups, bowling, festivals/concerts, bingo, chess (and other games or cards) tournaments, basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, rock climbing, movies at the coffee house, visiting the library, Crary lab tours, science lectures, arts & crafts fairs, etc. Individuals can also volunteer to start a class to teach others how to do something such as photography, dancing, martial arts, knitting/sewing crafts, other languages, etc. We also have an evening (Thursdays) that we can go over to Scott Base and visit the Kiwi's at their bar! (We do also have mixed parties and share holidays with them.)

So as you can see there is a lot going here at the bottom of the World!

 
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Comments

lionking
lionking on

Wowww,....
now thats quite a place...Yaaa seeing iz believing.The pictures were just AWESOME,thanks for all that time you took to do all that.The information was most interesting too.But,....no matter how far you are away,...I still have a watchful eye on you.Ya,Yaa. Shell's Dad

gratefulgarcia
gratefulgarcia on

cheese wrinkle marmalade cactus punch !!!
What up folks, seems as though y'all are quiet occupied down in the land of snow and well - more snow! Myself and Lynn just finished getting a book published titled 'Midget tossing for Dummies'. The Magfest is coming up in 2 weeks, wish you lovely eskimos could accompany us. Isn't the 43rd annual 'Use a penguin as a soccer ball, and then cook his ass up and serve it with your favorite (red wine popsicle) fest' coming up down yonder? I checked out plane tix to possibly attend with you, but they were a smidge to pricey at $3,000,000,000,000,000 !!!

Higgin Hoggin Boygin Smoygin - Frank and Lynn

P.S. Try not to let your meat loaf !!!

cholland
cholland on

Terrific Update
Hi Michelle and Aaron:

What a wonderful narrative with photos of the great facilities available to you guys. You do a great job with all your details in making us feel like we are right there. Sounds like you are staying quite busy and enjoying the adventure. We are thinking of you both. Love Aunt Carol and Uncle Joe

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