Friday, November 6, 2015

Living in McMurdo





The sign we made for our office down here - it's the counterpart to " 'Lil Antarctica " back at BU.
Today is our third day in McMurdo, but we've been so busy it already feels like a week! Yesterday we spent most of the morning in briefings, and then most of the afternoon at the BFC (Berg Field Center or as it's lovingly called "Building Full of Chicks"). While there, we pulled all of the equipment out of our cage or storage space and sorted through it. There was a lot of picking things up... and putting them down. But it was also super useful because it gave me and Natalie a better idea of just exactly how we would be living out in the field.

We took the time to set up our individual sleeping packs. Each pack contains a wooden cot with a canvas mattress, a foam mat for keeping in warmth, a thermorest (small taut air mattress), a large Wiggle Bear sleeping bag (I chose fleecy), and a pillow. All of these things will combine to keep us warm, and comfortable in the field... hopefully they work! Also contained in our sleeping packs are our individual eating utensils. We each received a mug, plate, bowl, fork, knife, and spoon. The rest of the kitchen supplies were packed away into the kitchen crate. It should be very interesting to see what kind of meals we will create with such minimal supplies!

The door to our "cage". Purple is for biology, and yellow is for geology.
Inside the cage after some serious organization. All the tubs are for human waste...yayy.
My sleeping kit, nice and saw-dusty.
Drew and me failing at putting together a sleeping cot.

After that, we ate our dinner at the Galley, and had some "free time". Nat and I spent ours doing laundry and making ourselves at home in our new dorm room. Soon though, we had to meet back up with Drew to decide what food we would be taking into the field with us, a surprisingly long process. (I triumphed in the end with the addition of a few bags of frozen peas... my favorite!) By the time we finished it was nearly 10:30 and time for bed.

Natalie and I setting up our dorm room... it's even smaller than Towers!
This morning we woke up bright and early around 6 AM...ew. We spent the morning in our field training class. It taught us all about the potential dangers we would be facing, and how to prevent them. From frostbite to storms, to helicopters, the Antarctic can be very unforgiving. But now we know how to handle it - as well as some basic survival skills! We set up some tents, tied some knots and lit some stoves, Natalie and I overcame our fear of matches to become emergency stove pros. Drew was chosen as the hypothermic person our group had to save - unfortunately no one took off his shoes, so he probably would have lost his toes. But that's how you learn, right?? It's kinda crazy how everyday tasks here become so much more complicated. It's a harsh continent. Although, it's also a beautiful one! I never get tired of walking outside and seeing the beautiful landscape. No matter the time of day, the brisk air fills your lungs and the sun shines, lighting up both the odds and ends of Mactown and the majestic mountains in the distance. It's truly an experience to be here. I can't wait to see more of this gorgeous continent!
The view from behind Crary, the scientific lab building.

New arrivals trekking over to the people mover.

Mactown at night.
The other "MGH".

View from across the sound of our first field site, Mt. Discovery.
We will hopefully be leaving for the field next Wed, and as lovely as McMurdo is - I think I'm ready.
Although even though we've already gotten a lot of work done, there is still quite a lot more to go. Let the meetings begin!

-Emelia Chamberlain

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