Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mac Town

After arrival, we were taken directly to a series of briefing, covering health and safety, environmental issues, housing, and our return flights. Thorsten and I are in Bldg. 155, which also houses the cafeteria, store, a crafts room, etc. We are both in rather crowded 5-person rooms; there is not a lot of room for storage (or anything else) in the rooms. One nice thing about this place is that everyone is friendly, and most have very interesting life stories.

The weather here is quite balmy – sunny and only a few degrees below freezing. Unfortunately, it was also pretty windy the first day. On-base, the ground has a pretty thin layer of snow/ice on it. During the day (the sun never goes down, but it is higher in the sky during the day), much of this melts, and there are pools of water, and small streamlets running down the roads. You have to be careful where to step.

Mac Town is a medium sized settlement, with a current population of about 1,100, dropping to around 200 in the winter. The architecture is low-budget mining town; unattractive buildings with dirt/gravel/snow streets. Although there is a push to reduce energy consumption, many of the buildings are quite old, and not exactly energy efficient.

Meals are cafeteria style. At dinner, the main dishes were brisket, thai style catfish, or a chili, plus soup, vegetables, potatoes, deserts, ice cream, etc. Plus a wide selection of drinks. After dinner, Laura, Thorsten and I walked down Discovery Hut (commonly known as Scott’s hut), where the Scott party wintered over in 1902. The top photo shows Discovery hut in the foreground, with the modern McMurdo base in the background – the ultimate in suburban sprawl. The bottom photo, taken from near the hut, shows the Sea Ice “Airport,” with 3 LC130’s. The LC130s can take off and land on both wheels and on skis; the skis are used in softer snow.


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