Sign in

From South Pole:

Fresh Air and Bananas

Sunday, Nov. 20 2011 UTC

Nov. 20, 2011 12:49 NZDT B2 Science, Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Peek-a-boo with the Ceremonial Pole

Sunday here, so a light work day. Station has been pretty quiet all day. Slept a solid 8 hours, had a banana and oatmeal for breakfast, then suited up and went out for a walk. It’s funny, yesterday morning I had a dream about bananas, and then the first bananas showed up on-station. I’m eating one now (hi Dad!).

If you don’t go outside you forget how amazing it is out there. You get to feeling like you are living on a cross between a cruise ship (comfy and isolated) and an aircraft carrier (not so comfy but still isolated). We are indeed floating on an ocean… a solid one. But the solidity of the water doesn’t always make it easier to get out and about, if you’re sleeping on station and your duties don’t take you outside.

Get out, though, and it’s another story. The air is cold, yes (100 degrees colder than inside the station) but it is fresher than any most other air you could conceivably breathe — the cleanest air in the world, they say. When you walk, the snow squeaks like styrofoam. It actually sounds hollow and had me wondering if it was at all possible to encounter crevasses at this part of the Polar Plateau. After several days of crystal-clear skies, there are a few clouds, doing their usual it’s-so-cold-and-flat-here-let’s-also-do-the-flat-thing thing. Nearby, the power plant belches a steam cloud the size and speed of about one Graf Zeppelin flying away every ten seconds.

Went out to the Geographic and Ceremonial Poles just to say hi and look around. I have been noticing that the horizon here is not strictly flat — there is a slight rise between the end of the skiway and the Clean Air building, which is easy to see if you look for it from the Galley, and still noticeable from the Pole markers. What passes for terrain is a barely visible inflection of an otherwise perfect horizon.

Went to the gym and did some stretching, sat, and just got back from brunch. In short, between some fresh fruit, a couple of good night’s sleep, and a stroll, I’m in better spirits today. I know that getting outside is part of it and so I moved all my ECW gear to the coat room near Destination Zulu so I don’t have to drag it out of my room every time I feel like a stroll. I don’t think I want to do a lot of running outside (my co-worker Carlos regularly does 10k or more out on the skiway—he just passed in front of the window in front of my desk mere seconds ago, covered in frost), but will make more time for walks, and continue my runs on the treadmill.