The deployment team 2015/2016 is safely back in California and ready to enjoy the Christmas holidays. While -- as true scientists -- we are all eager to look at the data and how the stations are performing, there has to be time to relax and enjoy the warmth. Well, actually Southern California seems to be broken, I am wearing a sweater right now ...
I had been almost ready to write another blog in McMurdo, but the inertia of recovery had taken a hold of me and it never made it online, so here are some last thoughts from McMurdo:
You think you are done ... but you are actually not quite there yet. When back in McMurdo, you basically need to go through the whole trouble again, only backwards. Take all your stuff from the helopad to your storage area. Pack it up, separated by things that go on the vessel and things that go on the plane and then distribute it to science cargo. And don't forget the numerous pages of paperwork that need to be filled in, before something gets to leave the continent.
Also, gear return. Everything from sleeping bags, to tents, shovels, fire extinguishers, dish towels and forks, is inventoried and put back on the shelves. Of course, after everything has been cleaned and bleached. A nice and mind-numbing task after all that excitement from the field. The same goes for our dearly beloved pee-bottles. They get emptied, cleaned and bleached. Apparently, the most feared moment by all scientists. I don't really understand why. After all, you had this bottle in your sleeping bag for three weeks and you even get to wear gloves while cleaning it. Maybe I have cleaned up after too many student parties to be worried about this.
This year, we have been amazingly efficient with everything back in McMurdo. Even the fact that we have to put our large tent back up in order for it to dry went rather smoothly. If one takes into account that the least qualified people are doing this task -- namely those people that never got to set up one of the large tents before, we.
After indulging in McMurdo cuisine for a couple of days, also you portion size goes back to normal. It turns out that you do not need 5000 calories anymore, when you are sleeping in a warm bed and only do mild physical exercise every day. So now for the last couple of days, it is time to enjoy the McMurdo social live. Go to day bar (the bar for the night shift, happening from 7 am to 11 am), visit Scott Base (the neighbouring New Zealand station), take a tour of whatever is currently on offer, go to open mic night, go to the Coffee House to have some wine, go the annual masquerade ball, which requires you to also go to the craft room to make a mask for yourself, go to a movie night or watch a movie in the common room with whoever is around, go the gym, go to the sauna (I have done it, walking outside in Antarctica in my bikini!), practice for the 10k run happening next week, go for a hike, rent a bike, there is so much to do, when you don't have to work.
Unfortunately, we do not exclusively get to spent the time slacking off. We check daily whether our stations are still doing good -- which they are -- and whether there are some last minute tests that we can do from over here. I have to admit, things are going slower than they were before we left, but after a successful season a little down-time might be allowed.
And then we flew home:
That much about my last thoughts from McMurdo. This blog will not die once we get home. Entries might just be a little less frequent. But I will do my very best to announce any news on social media. And especially an updated website on which the comments function might actually work is foreseen in the near future.
Happy holidays and a successful 2016 to all of you from the ARIANNA team! May some neutrinos be with us ;)