Thursday, November 5, 2009

Final Post?

Well, Krissie and I made it into Christchurch a couple of nights ago. Our flight from the Pole to McMurdo was atrocious. Well that last 30 minutes of the flight was. We hit some insane turbulence. The veteran Herc flyers all said it was the worst they had ever seen in the many years they have been doing this ice gig. It was so bad at one point it picked me up out of my seat. The plane was rocking and swaying and bouncing. Oh it was terrible. There were four of us who ended up needing to use the motion sickness bags. Unfortunately I was one of them... Man that was terrible. Most people after we got off the flight said they were all trying so hard not to be sick. Many of us were sitting there contemplating which piece of clothing we wanted to vomit in. Thankfully, one of us, the first of the four, flagged down one of the aircraft personnel for a bag. The other 3 of us followed shortly after. Oy vay...

Then we hit the Ice runway in McMurdo, phew.

Thank the stars above that they did not set up Willie Field this year and instead set up the ice runway. If we had all had to ride in Ivan the forty minutes or whatever it is back, we would have had a bunch more folks sick. The short 8ish minute ride from the ice runway was almost too much for us. I really really loathe McMurdo. It is a filthy filthy miner town. Cigarette butts everywhere, trash everywhere. It's dirty, in the literal sense. Filthy dirty snow everywhere. Now don't get me wrong, the natural area around there is still breathtaking.

To look across the frozen sea ice and see the mountain ranges and the incredible sky, is something to experience for sure. Coming off the ice runway (or back out onto it), to see Erebus with its giant vertical column of steam is worth whatever the costs are to get down here. But staying true to every visit I've had, the majority of the people there are arrogant and incredibly rude. I can't tell you how many times I had people just stop and turn right in front of me cutting me off without saying a word. I eventually just stopped trying to be nice and fell into the rude behavior. When someone was stepping in my way or cutting me off I simply pushed through them, bumping into them. I had just spent a year at the South Pole. I have no fuse, I get really ticked off really quickly. Putting up with rude, inconsiderate people was not going to happen this trip. I was really looking for a fight to be honest with you. Not the best idea, I know, but I was fed up with these people. While sitting in the galley the night we got in, there was a reasonable sized group of us Polies just talking and drinking coffee, etc. We ended up being there so late that many of us decided to wait for Midrats which was available to anyone after 12:30. While sitting there you could tell we were in some folks' usual spot. We were getting dirty looks and had people obviously talking about us -- further ticking me off. We had a group of helicopter pilots or medics, of which I am not sure, sitting at a table beside us staring and muttering about us. Now this isn't just a paranoid feeling I was having. At one point one of them stood up, looked over at our tables, and then went back and told his table, that we're not even eating (we were waiting for the allowed 12:30). That really ticked me off, and well, I won't tell you what I ended up saying to their table. Brian had to pat me on the back and tell me to "Calm down, Jeremy." He could see I was getting ready to explode. Though after that, we both were just staring at the other table, giving them dirty looks every time they stopped and glared at our table. I'm kind of glad Brian was there to keep reminding me to calm down. He's a great guy -- glad to have met him and had the pleasure of spending the winter at the pole with him.

Now don't get me wrong, not everyone was rude. There were a few people who were nice and actually responded when I walked by and said hello, or held a door open for us while we were carrying bags. It's a weird thing. A simple act of saying hello seems to be too much for most people, though it's really a US thing rather than just a mactown thing. Sorry, another rant I know. Mactown just gets me riled up. So moving on; more complaining, but this time about a certain company I shall call Big R...Once we landed in mactown we got in the transport, which then proceeded to take us to Building 155 and dropped us off. We then had no direction, no one told us where to go, no one let us know what was going on. We were dropped off and left to fend for ourselves. Absolutely ridiculous. It will be hard to come back to this organization. I truly hope when the new contract happens there is a deep and thorough reworking of the current system of chaos that Big R has developed. So after getting in there we found housing and saw that most of the guys were staying in man-camp. Great, a year at pole to be ended by staying in a stinky man-filled room. There were a few of us that decided we would just find a lounge to crash in. And that's what Marc and I ended up doing actually. We hit up Building 208, threw in a movie, and passed out. We were woken by a few people wanting to watch T.V. which I was fine with. This was their little world. I was just passing through. We were finally woken up by Krissie and our friend Sarah, who had been working in Mactown awaiting her time to hit the Pole. It was really good to see her again. We'll definitely miss her!!

We then shortly had to get ready to fly out.

We would have preferred some more time to spend with Sarah but were not going to stay there any longer. We tried to find her the night before but just kept missing each other. Thankfully we left when we did, because the folks who left the day after us from the pole got stuck down in mactown until supposedly Monday, due to a fuel leak in the C-17 that took us into CHC. Poor them.

It was soooo nice to have finally landed in CHC. My goodness it smelt wonderful. There was some sort of flowery bush around there that was just wonderful. And the humidity, oh my the humidity!! That felt good! I think we all had smiles from ear to ear while we were walking into the immigration/customs. I still had all my gear on while walking in there, not fun let me tell you. The smarter folks did what I had planned on doing, and that was taking all of their gear off while they were on the plane and just tossing it into the bag. I was too busy sleeping. Oh well, lesson learned.

Once we did get into the customs place, we found out that many of us did not apparently have our visa extensions completed and were given some trouble by the people at the counter. So some of us were freaking out because this was supposed to have all been taken care of while we were down on the ice. It seemingly wasn't. (As it turns out we were actually all taken care of and it was done electronically. It's just that the folks didn't see our stamps so they were freakin out. So we hit the CDC, dropped off all of our gear, picked up our South Pole t-shirts that I designed, then we were dropped off at our respective hotels.

We all met up at Bailies that night, a local Irish bar/pub. It was so nice to have fresh made food to order, a fresh pulled Guinness. And to sit outside in that wonderful fresh air. It was an amazing feeling.

And that about sums up our exodus; well, sort of...Krissie left her wallet at the South Pole, and I left my passport at the CDC...not the best start ;}

This will be my final "live" update to this blog. I will add one official final blog entry when I get back home in the states to sum up the adventure for the random folks coming across the blog looking for info about the pole. All future blogging about Krissie and my travels will be found here.

Thanks again for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!

Oh and I'm adding this cause it's cool. Took me five minutes to figure out the controls again, then another 5 or so to do this while I was waiting for stuff to print while still at the pole the day before I left.

Pretty sad that I couldn't spell Antarctica...stupid thing needs a spell checker.

On another happy note, Pip was freed, and finally able to see the pole.
There was a re-trial, and the key witness failed to show up. Hmm, too bad. My good friend Pip is once again among the free, enjoying the good life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Second to last post


This will be the second to last post for this blog. I leave the South Pole today weather willing, the plane has left McMurdo and will be here in about 3 hours. I have almost everything packed and ready to go. I've mailed off the majority of the items I need to get back home, the rest of the little things that Krissie and I have we will be giving to Ben to send home once the Summer post office opens down here.

I'm not too sure how I feel about this, I am so ready to be out of here for my sanity's sake, but aside from that fact I don't want to leave. I love it here. I have had the greatest time of my life while down here. I met the girl of my dreams, I had an amazing job during the summer, in an insanely awesome location. My job during the winter was not the most fun, but it didn't matter I was spending the winter in Antarctica, the South Pole to boot! It was an absolutely surreal experience every time I stood outside and looked up at the sky. Something that can not be matched anywhere in the world, if you want to argue that point please come spend 6 months down at the south pole during the dark period. Then we'll talk. Only days ago I was lying in bed thinking about the past year of my life, how awesome it was and how much I will miss the place and people. I began to tear up. I've never been attached to any place like that before. I left family and friends without blinking an eye to come down here.

It didn't bother me at all that I would not see family or friends for potentially a year. But the thought of leaving this place, and potentially never seeing it again, or never seeing the people I spent the past 9 months with brought me to tears. I was pretty flabbergasted to see how much this place meant to me. I do hope that the people I would call friends keep in touch. Even if it's just an email here or there, or maybe just a facebook message (man I hate facebook). I hope I can keep it together when I get on the plane. You know gotta be manly and all (50's manly not the new age kind ;} )

The winter season is not for everyone. There was a group of people who would love to tell you how horrible it was down here, but they are wrong, and well whiney babies who just felt like pouting all winter when things didn't go how they felt they should go. Sorry but it's true. The majority of the people who were complaining and having such a horrible time down here were the folks who had either wintered before at the Pole or McMurdo or just worked at either location during a summer. They wanted it to be like "insert year of prior deployment here". I got so sick of hearing, well last year, or at McMurdo we did this. We didn't do it like that last year, etc. They apparently were unable to understand that this is not last year, this is not McMurdo. This is THIS year, this is South Pole Winter 2009. It can not and will not ever be the same as years before. You need to be able to accept that and move on. Enjoy the time, not dwell on how, possibly, better it was before. If you do that then you are setting yourself up for a large disappointment. You have to enjoy yourself now, and stop living in the past. And for those of us who did do that, well we had a good time. And that rant has gone on long enough, sorry.

Krissie and I will soon be beginning a slue of adventures off ice, though I can't imagine anything EVER topping a winter at the South Pole. However, these adventures might get a bit more interesting since Krissie is now currently in bed sick and was most of yesterday...stinking new people getting my little lady sick before we start our vacation!!

Now, I also wanted to say to all of you who have taken the time to read this blog, THANK YOU! Thank you very much for finding my little story down here interesting, and for those of you who have left comments I GREATLY appreciate it. It was really nice to know that there were some people who were interested in what I was doing. I may not have responded to all of them (I didn't I've been horrible about it) but I did read them all, and they all meant a lot to me. Thank you from the bottom of my frozen heart; not frozen in the bad way but, you know South Pole, cold, alright not funny.

Oh and anonymous, your respects have been passed on.

gotta go finish packing now

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

7 days

7 days left, and counting! Our first Herc should be in today, hopefully.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Almost done

12 days until I am scheduled to leave Pole. Must not think about not having a job, must only think of my vacation. My vacation that will destroy my savings...nope can't think about that either.


Sunday, October 18, 2009


I just walked outside in a sweatshirt, shorts, and crocs with no socks on. Have I lost my little mind, or am I officially immune to the cold? I thought it was funny that I saw and walked past Logan who was in boots, carhartts, hat, and parka taking out trash as well. My feet did get a little cold when I was walking through snow drifts. Crocs, apparently are not meant for winter travels...

It was only -45F out there witha 15kt wind at -80F.

A bit worried about how I will handle the insanely warm weather of a New Zealand summer, followed by the hottest month in the Australian summer.

100F in no way sounds pleasing to me at this point. I think that -40F is warm...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Forgot to say that I won one of the flags that surrounded the ceremonial pole all last season the other day at the video teleconference . I didn't go to it, but my name was selected in the raffle afterward. It's a pretty cool flag, it's the Argentina flag. The cool thing about it is that it was the flag that I placed back outside around the ceremonial pole when we placed the new flags out when the sun came up.

Pretty cool flag.

That's me on the far right placing the flag. Lee took this photo from inside the station. Talk about irony...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Twin Otter

Well it's still here. It's a good thing that Krissie and I got moved out of our room when we did since the pilots had to spend the night here. The weather is not looking so hot right now, and I have no idea where they are in the repair process, so they may be here a while.

I finished a few photos from yesterday. They are watermarked like crazy and small because I don't want them walking off, if you know what I mean. I will eventually be putting them up on deviantart, sans the watermarks. until then, the couple of folks who read this thing will have to just suffer ;}

Here they are:

Robert, one of the science techs.

We had to tow the plane to the Otter Pits

Poor little plane :{

In my opinion, this is the best photo I have ever done down here. I absolutely love this thing!

Monday, October 12, 2009


First planes of the season!

Pics tonight, maybe. First plane in was a bassler. Second plane in twin otter (twotter). Number of planes having left 1, number of planes still here with engine problems 1... GET OFF MY CONTINENT!!

The twin otter is having engine issues currently and has tried 3 times to leave with no avail. It's not the weather, those things are rated to fly at -90F, so dunno. It would be weird to have guests...especially since there are supposed to be women on the plane. 6 months of no physical contact with the outside world, 30+ males who have not seen any other women-- this could get interesting...

Friday, October 9, 2009

More Pics

First off, let me say I've been having upload issues so I've made many of these smaller than normal, and I've compressed them far more than normal. So they may not look so hot, the colors are atrocious seen on a browser...Anyway moving on to the post.

More HDRs. I thought I would show an example of a real HDR. This image shows a normal exposed image next to the HDR. I like it.

You may notice that the HDR seems a bit blurry in many spots. That's because i didn't use a tripod and I ended up moving slightly between the three photos. Normally it would be very crisp.

Now this next "HDR" was made from a single raw file, so technically is not a true HDR, just like the majority of my other "HDR"s. I did no editing to touch this one up like I normally would to show a sort of default look. It's still pretty cool.

Notice Krissie's feet in the shot. How adorable can get she get? I mean seriously. She has to stand on her tippy-toes to shoot this shot. She's a keeper. Also notice that you can actually make out the yellow foosball players in the background in the HDR.

Okie dokie, now for another "How It's Made". The following three shots were used to make a true HDR.
Normally exposed shot, blech

Underexposed shot, kinda cool.

Overexposed shot, blech

Now combining the 3 exposures produce the following true HDR:

Very cool. Generally speaking it's a lame shot, but the balls sure look fancy-smancy!

Also, I've been playing around with textures in post processing of my photos. I've made a few photos of Krissie and I at the pool table. I hope you like em!

Look at that pool shark! Okay, Krissie stop reading here, move on to the next photo. Shh, don't tell Krissie but her face does not line up properly. I tried to blend in one of the normal photos to this one because she moved a bit during the 3 shots. Doing so made her forehead seem larger than it really is. Oh if you only knew how much time I spent on this photo you would understand why I just accepted it. Make sure she doesn't find out...

Oooh purdy


And to my favorite:

Absolutely love this photo. Probably going to make a print of it and frame it when I get home. I think I'll get the print done on canvas to boot!

That's it. I don't know how much more I will be posting. I have a ton of stuff to do in the next few weeks, and not much time to get it done in. I have huge problems sleeping. In fact I'm currently running on another 24 hour period so far, two days ago it was 36 hours. The sun has totally screwed my sleep cycle up. That and I'm quite anxious about all the things I've yet to do. The problem is I've pretty much stopped caring about this job, which makes getting the things I need done incredibly difficult. Only a few more weeks and my replacements will be here. Phew!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Winterover Photos

Yesterday we took a few more photos of the majority of the group for our winterover photo. We've never had everybody show up to the photos, which seems odd to me. But whatevs. If folks don't want to be in the photos then so be it. The final batch of photos we took I decided to bring my camera with me. We were going to be taking the photos on Dome Ridge; I don't know if it was named this prior to one of us naming it or if it's a unique name for this winter. It's just a nice spot behind the dome on a bit of a ridge that is nice for taking photos of both the dome an the station. One of my panos in the previous post was taken from there. Anywho, back on point. I decided to take the camera because I needed to take some photos inside the dome, and figured why not kill two birds with one stone. So while we were preparing for the photos I was taking the "Behind the Scenes" photos. I got some pretty nifty stuff, most of which I will be doing HDRs of, naturally. Here are a few I've completed thus far.

With this photo I feel like I'm getting closer to what an HDR typically looks like. I used the settings from this image and applied it to the others and it seems to have worked out pretty well, though I need to do a bunch more tweaking to see if I can improve upon this.

I hope to some day create images that are even half as good as the inspiration for my HDR photography, Stuck In Customs.

Every standing there looking purdy with Cully preparing to sprint over to join us for the photo. When I saw Cully run, I ran up to the line as well.

I LOVE this photo, the lens flare is insane and absolutely authentic. I couldn't photoshop something like this, I've tried and it always looks retarded. Such a cool effect.

Folks heading out.

Oh and I took a 360 degree pano while standing out in front of the dome. Kinda interesting I suppose.

The large corrugated? metal structure you see there in the middle is the LO Arch, the structure with the large T shape is the VMF Arch, and well the dome like structure is the dome!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunrise Photos

Well I still haven't completed the couple of photos I've been working on, though I may not get them finished. I'm far too much of a perfectionist, and as such I keep trashing the work I've done. I doubt I will be getting any more sunrise photos, as the sun is pretty high above the horizon right now, and since we've been in a freaking storm the past week again there hasn't been much to take a photo of.

Anywho here are some more photos for your pleasure. Cully and I were asked to get some photos of the dome since this will be the final sunrise it ever sees. If all goes according to plan the dome will be torn down this summer. Though things rarely go according to plan down here...

First I though I would show how the HDRs are made, well at least what the images that it is comprised of look like:

This is the "properly" exposed image. I'm sure it's nowhere near correct, but it is the base from where I start.

Now I need an underexposed image and an overexposed image.

This is the underexposed image, which brings out the sun and clouds as they should look.

This is the overexposed image that shows what the dome and snow should look like.

Combining the above images creates the following "HDR"

None of the photos I have made that I call HDRs are true HDRs, but they emulate them well. I don't take multiple shots, i just create the photos from a single RAW image. Though to make things easier I will continue to call these pseudo HDRs, simply an HDR image.

A decent image, I'm not too happy with it but i got sick of working on it.

Another HDR

now when creating HDRs you have to be careful that you don't over do it. Though sometimes you want to overdo it to give it a more artistic feel to it. The following HDR was created in an over the top manner that turned it into a pretty cool image imho.

It looks like a pretty cool painting to me, so I kept it in this form.

Okay that's enough HDRs for one post, onto some plain photos.

This is a shot of ARO

This is a shot of a random antenna, I have no idea what it is used for.

Simple sunrise, nothing special here.

Another simple sunrise photo.

Off of the ob deck, meh.

Now for some I do like...

Very purdy, but it's cut off on the bottom. I forgot to add the other pictures when I stitched this image, oh well. Some other time.

A picture of folks removing the Scott Tent. I really like this one.

I love the colors in this one.

This is probably my favorite 'sunrise" photo, even though the sun is not in the image at all.

The following picture is also pretty cool, it is freaking huge. It is a pano made from 62 images. Yes 62 images, it was a pain in the tush to take because my hand kept freezing while waiting on the frozen camera to process the photos. It kept blinking at me "busy". Grrr.

That's the entrance into the dome. This is actually the only photo I have thus far of the complete dome. I couldn't actually post the full size image it is just too big, and I won't be able to put it on my flickr page because the file size is too large (I think, I could be wrong on that one). So to give you an idea of the scale of this picture I have made two 100% crops from the original. You'll have to click on them to see the actual full size of the crop.

This is just one of the diamonds on the dome...

Try and find this in the full picture!

Well that's it, I'm working on a couple of other HDRs but they are becoming a pain and I am getting sick of working on them. So they may never make it up here. We'll see.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Well my grandparents should be just getting on the plane in Denver for their week long vacation in Hawaii I got them for their 50th anniversary. I hope they have fun!

I haven't completed the sunrise photos yet. Though after tonight they should be finished and put up tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


There sure is a lot of it around here, sheesh. I haven't finished processing the sunrise photos that I have thus far so I thought I would throw up some recent photos of the sastrugi (essentially snow drifts). I will eventually get to the sunrise photos...Speaking of sunrise that dang fiery ball is intense. It was up in full force two nights ago around 2am while Krissie and I were in the galley: holy cow it is bright. For whatever reason I couldn't stop staring at the sun. It was the first time I had seen the actual sun in months, and boy was it beautiful. It was really beginning to hurt though, all the constant staring. Later on in the evening I was even able to see the full circle of the sun through some clouds. It was just surreal.

Back to the sastrugi:

Very cool.

I love this photo, it doesn't look like snow to me. If i were to change the colors and turn this into a dark greyish black you would think it stone (well I would anyway). Notice the layering that occurs, I also like this photo because it reminds me of the huge 3-4" everlasting gobstoppers that looked like this with the colorful layering as you worked your way through it.

Just purdy.

Well that's all! Hopefull I'll get some of those sunrise pics finished and posted tonight during our test satellite passes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Sun Has Arrived!

We finally have the actual sun peeking its little head out, not just a refraction. Dang that thing's bright :} Photos tomorrow probably.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More purdies

Well the storm finally went away, thank goodness. I was getting sick of digging out 2-3ft of snow from the BIF's doors.

Here's some photos of the fun. All taken with my little point and shoot, a very painful thing to go back to...

This was the last day of the storm, after I had just finished un-burying the front door. There was a long sigh when I saw this...

This was after about 10 minutes of digging, I found the bottom. Again a long sigh.

I had Krissie sit in the hole, it was quite deep.

The fun part of this day was that I was a bit hungover. We had just had Dave and Jude's birthday party the night before. I sort of forgot about needing to shovel the next morning--so I called Marc in for some help.

This was after we finally got one door cleared. During the summer this is completely flat straight out the door. There's currently a 5ft wall there...

Our gansta pose

Well the storm did die down, and yesterday I was able to go get some shots. More HDRs cause I love em. The regular pics look pretty dang nice as well.

The Scott tent, ceremonial pole and ARO in the far background.

Getting closer to Scott tent

I was trying to remove ARO from the shots. This one is quite noisy, I will have to try again!

And what has become my favorite photo down here so far:

I love this photo because it is natural. She wasn't posing, she was just trying to catch her breath and stay warm. I hate posed shots. The best photos IMO are those when you catch folks off guard, when you catch them actually smiling and having a good time.

Then when I was heading to bed around 2:30 I decided to take a quick gander outside on the ob deck. And this is what I saw. I immediately ran to the room and grabbed my clothes to go and get some photos.

This isn't a full HDR it's just a blen of two photos. I couldn't get the photos to come out quite right. This photo just does not do the scene justice. It was beautiful.