Sickness, burns, & bowling

It’s been a while, and for that I apologize. Things have been kind of hectic and crazy here. Summer is coming to an end and the sea ice is getting thinner and thinner as it melts away. As you all know I got booted out of the power plant, which was not the best thing that could have happened to me. I was really enjoying working there, and I felt like I was putting all of my energy into doing the best I could there so that I could get the pay increase only to be shot down and sent off to do pointless busy work for the rest of the season.

I may as well have just walked off the plane because I now had to do all new things in all new settings with all new people. I knew NOTHING. I was a sheet metal worker for a day, then a plumber for a few days, then an electrician with short stints in the sewage plant again (which felt so strangely home-y and familiar that I kind of enjoyed sucking up shit with a wet-vac).

And then, of course, I got sick. I felt horrible. I would be out of work for a day and then I would have to go to medical and check it. I got tested for the flu THREE times (which involves a nasal swab….strangely ticklish and painful at the same time) as well as a strep test. They just determined that I had a bad case of the “McMurdo Crud”. I ended being out of work for six days in a row. It was crazy. At least I was not quarentined. I ended up watching a LOT of television and movies, which was fine, but got boring after day three or four.

After finally healing, I headed back to work with Kevin the electrician. Kevin is a super awesome guy. He and I had to put in electrical meters and CTs. I learned a bit about electrical work, which is nice. And then I was told that I’d be going to Happy Camper!

Happy Camper is an over night camping trip out on the sea ice. You get to learn basic survival skills and have a great time with your team. Our group was nice and small (ten people), plus it was composed of almost all DAs and janitors (the two closest knit groups of workers on the station). Great people in my group including Moira, Eli, Severin, & Alice. We put up tents, built a quinzee (a kind of igloo type shelter), built wind walls, dug trenches, and just generally worked our asses off….which is good to stay warm. The helicopter pilots here on station like to buzz the happy campers and we were no exception. They flew over us at about 20 feet above the ground! It was so scary and exciting. Kind of felt like I was Rambo (in Rambo 4, you know, when he’s doing all of that winter snow training). Then it was time for dinner. We had to melt snow and boil the water to make our food. The next thing I know, someone has accidentally poured boiling water all over my left hand and I’m on the back of a snow mobile headed back to town & into medical. I ended up with second degree burns on my palm and thumb and was unable to go back and actually spend the night with everyone else. Bummer. And after I’d spent so much time shoveling.

The last few days have been easy though, because I am physically only able to do one hand-work (not “one hand-jobs”). So I did a bit of work for the electricians, but it’s basically been me standing around doing watching. And if everything goes as schedueled, I’ll be out of here on the 8th, which translates into two more working days! I’m so excited to get out of here. I can’t even put it into words. My travel plans (which as pretty loose) are as follows:

– about a month in New Zealand visiting old friends, meeting new ones, hanging out with my McMurdo friends in Wanaka, and sharing it all with my great buddy Shane who is coming down to meet me.
– one week in Australia hopefully feeding a baby kangaroo to a crocodile (you’d better be right, Taavo)
– one week in Hawaii getting more second degree burns from lava flows
– back home to beautiful rainy Portland, OR!

Oh, and the other night I FINALLY got to be a pin setter at the McMurdo bowling alley! I’ve wanted to do that since day one. The McMurdo bowling alley is, apparently, the last manual pin setting bowling alley on the whole planet. The Brunswick bowling pin company has tried to buy the equipment back from McMurdo, but they won’t sell it.

Wish me luck!

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3 Responses to “Sickness, burns, & bowling”

  1. Fricka Says:

    I know what you mean about the helicopter buzzing making you feel like Rambo. I was part of a group helping an injured person who needed a helicopter evac and the wind was scary as it maneuvered to get the stretcher up.

    Wishing you luck as requested! 🙂

    Can you shoot me an email by the way? I couldn’t get Dan’s email address to work (Re: the Antarctica shirts).

  2. DK Says:

    Ah, a case of the ol’ McMurdo Crud. I had that back in ’67 in Da Nang. It’s a real bastard, I tell ya.

    For real, though, that sounds terrible.

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