Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey Trot 5K

Got to have something to train for.  First objective: Thanksgiving Turkey Trot.  Warmed up on the treadmill listening to Rocky music.  It's always a fun race, so much character in this little town!  More snow than usual for this time of year so I wore yak tracks over my running shoes for extra traction. 

The starting line, marked by the three turkeys was the shadow of a power line.  The Chapel in the background.

Ob Hill in the background: The sight of the x-mas day race, Up Ob Hill.

My customary NOLS wind pants and 11 year old wind jacket.

The turkeys leading me flying in to the finish with me.

The Rocky warm up worked and I was the first to cross the finish line with a time of around 20:17.  This had the extra bonus of being first in line for a free post-race massage!  Overall, Thanksgiving was wonderful.  A fun race, later a beautiful skate ski out to the ice runway and then some good food with lots of friends.  We haven't had a C-17 flight in about a week, so there were less freshies than normal but it was still very good.  And to have a second day off to look forward to was also wonderful.  The evening activities included some live music as well as FREEZING MAN, McMurdo's redition of the Burning Man festival.  Very interesting. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lake Fryxell!

Back to Lake Fryxell to trouble shoot some autogenerator start issues and confirm the wind gen was working properly.  All was well, climbed the tower to re-torque the blades and everything worked properly after the main cut-off switch was cycled.   The trick of it all seems to be how everything interacts.  Setting after setting concerning the inverter, charger, wind generator, solar panels, batteries.  There must be more than 50 settings to check and they all have to be coordinated to work together.  It was a beautiful day so I took my time up on the tower.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves - such a beautiful day there, and then a beautiful ride back to town near the open water and many icebergs! 

Mt. Erebus!

Up to Mt. Erebus last week to replace 12 batteries that did not survive the wintertime.  They were left connected to power some science experiments at 12,000 feet but something went amis.  (Strange, unexpected things happen in the wintertime...).  So from sea level to 12,000 feet we go in about half an hour.  It is an amazing helicopter ride with Mt. Erebus looming larger and larger through the front windows. 

It is typically cold and windy up there so we had tried for many days to get up there.  The first day was out due to weather.  The second day we went to the helo pad and then were put on a two hour delay.  Then it was too "warm" at the camp on the third day so the density altitude for the helo to land safely, so I was bumped to save some weight.  The helo was going to come back for me but Nick, my partner in crime who went up, discovered that all batteries had not survived the winter, so I went back to the shop to grab and test and package 12 new batteries.  On the fourth day, I think it was,  I made it up. 

The camp is awesome.  Stunning views and cold and high.  Solar panels, two of my favorite types of "wind birds" the Air X type we had on the top of Crazy Horse's mizzen mast! 

The camp solar/wind system was put in many years ago and now resembles some sort of rats nest that we are trying to improve.  There is only so much that can be done though in the 4-6 hours that they'll let us work up here before altitude sickness starts to threaten.  But the views are fabulous looking over McMurdo Sound and out into the Ross Sea.  It is especially exciting to be climbing the towers to check out one wind bird in a cold wind at 12,000 feet.  Feels kind of extreme, like a spacewalk.  (Naturally I love it.)  Maybe someday I'll be able to do that sort of things 200 miles up!

Lots to do...

 Once our work was done, it was time to do a little exploring of the surrounding area.  Beautiful formations called fumerols, where warm vents from the inside of the mountain reach the surface and condense and create amazing structures with the snow.  There is also a helicopter crash site from some time in the 50's or 60's that is still there.  Amazing history of this place. 

Where's my Ton Ton.

On the way home we could see the end of the beautiful peninsula where McMurdo Station sits.  I had the helo-tech take a picture for me as we meandered back down to sea level and oxygen rich air.

The peninsula.

A little closer to town.

Town, looking very industrial as it always does.

My shop desk in a state of disrepair.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shackleton's Cape Royd

Out to Cape Royds a week and a half ago.  This is where Shackleton had his hut more than 100 years ago.  Craziness!  It was a beautiful day and as we flew over the peninsula, we could see Castle Rock in front of Mt. Erebus, both frequently mentioned in the writings of the explorers who were here around the turn of the last century.

Big Razorback Island.  Another one mentioned in the old books.
 The inverter and charger were set in a box for the winter outside.  Snow finds a way through any hole and our box was no exception.  We had to set the thing by the heater to melt out all the snow - making sure none to the electronics were going to short out when we turned everything on. 

The inverter and charger and such are somewhere buried in this box.  Snow always finds a way in...

The science hut (with panels on the left!)
 Otherwise a routine day.  Panels got mounted, batteries tested and connected to each other, inverter and charger checked and tested, and the system is ready for scientists!  It is amazing to be where Shackleton and all his men had been.  Such history! 

Shackleton's hut!