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December 21, 2009

Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peel

Yum..... An excellent use of otherwise discarded citrus peel.

 Peel of 5-7 oranges, lemons or grapefruit
 3 cups water
 2 cups sugar
 1/4 cup Grand Marnier (optional)
 3/4 cup granulated sugar for coating
   or melted chocolate for dipping (my recommendation)

  1. Slice citrus peel into 1/16" x 1 1/2" strips. Using a sharp paring knife,  cut away as much of the white pith as possible.
  2. Place strips into large saucepan. Add water to cover. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain. Dry and chill strips on a towel or parchment paper.
  3. Return strips to saucepan. Boil with 3 cups water and 2 cups sugar. Bring to a gentle boil for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and add the Grand Marnier. Leave strips in liquid and covered loosely for 12 hours.
  5. Remove from liquid. Lay out to dry. Dip in melted chocolate as desired.
  6. Enjoy!

December 11, 2009

High Summer

With temperatures hovering around freezing most days, the height of summer has arrived. The first trickles of melt lubricate and dissolve the frozen landscape resulting in an exponential increase of melt water each  day. Snow is melting, streams are running, small ponds are thawing and the locals are celebrating.

Our local pond affectionately known as Dirty Little Hoare.

Shoreline melt. Ice meets water meets earth.

An ephemeral polar desert stream.

Lake Brownworth.

An evening frisbee session on our glacial beach.

Ahh, the feeling of sand between your toes.

November 5, 2009

Sunday, Shower Day

With no running water, and environmental regulations requiring that all gray water be contained and shipped home to the states, developing a workable shower system was a formidable task. Fortunately.....
Sunday is shower day! Everyone in the field camp is allocated one shower per week. The limit is in place partially to cut down on the grey water produced, and partially to conserve on the resources that are required to create the showering system.

The singer Greg Brown sings about summer in a jar, this is my bliss in a box. The shower hut.

Originally used as a lab space, the shower hut is now exclusively used for showers. The setup takes 24 hours, and begins with me lighting the diesel preway heater on Saturday afternoon.

Over the course of 24 hours, the diesel heater warms the small space to near sauna temperatures. One large pot is left sitting atop the heater overnight and by the following morning the water temperature is nearly boiling. In addition, two smaller pots are left on the counter tops and left to reach room temperature. The third pot is used to make cold water and actually requires the addition of ice to cool it back down.

Water is drawn from each of the three posts and combined, to a temperature of one's liking, into a solar shower suspended from the ceiling. There are no drains in the floor, and no where for water to drain to, so we substitute with a small metal drip pan placed beneath the shower on the floor. The drip pan eventually fills up, and the water is transferred to a bucket. This process is repeated numerous times until one feels sufficiently scrubbed and clean. There is an unlimited amount of time allotted for each shower, so for many the process turns into a 45 min to 1 hour ritual, and includes copious amounts of time simply enjoying the hot humid air and the quiet private space.

Notice the temperature reading!

It is a time consuming process and a primitive means, but come Sunday afternoon the opportunity to have a private sauna and a decent rinse feels like a well deserved luxury.

October 28, 2009

Just some pretty pictures.....

Looking west toward evening light.

Home is where the Feathered Friends down sleeping bag is.

An evening stroll.


Mt. Rae and Lk Hoare field camp (hint- look for the tiny buildings just to the left of the glacier).

And encounters with natives.

October 24, 2009

A week in McMurdo

Welcome to McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Arrive on Station via the one of a kind, "Ivan, the Terra Bus". Lots of people and tiny seats, just like grade school again.

Report to the housing department to pick up your room key. Pray to the Ice gods that you will have a decent roommate. Fortunately for me, the quarter are tempoaray. I will arrive at my field camp in less than a two weeks.

Swing by the post office to check for mail, hint hint.

Admire the views and intersting clouds on the way to the galley.

Drop into the galley for a hot drink.

And take one last hike around town before the helicopter ride to Lake Hoare field camp tomorrow.

October 9, 2009

The Journey

This winter I will be traveling to Antarctica to work at a remote field camp. The camp is located about 70 miles from the main station and in one of the few snow free regions on the Antarctic continent. I will be sharing the camp duties with the camp's long time supervisor and together we will maintain all of the amenities of the field camp in addition to assisting resident scientists with various aspects of their research.
But, before we can be of any use to the researchers, we have to first get to Antarctica. This year, the journey from Bellingham to McMurdo lasted ten days....

Day 1- Fly from Bellingham to Denver and Raytheon Polar Services HQ for two days of orientation.

Day 2 and 3- Denver orientation: training, power points and too much coffee.

Day 3 cont.- Load the bus to Denver International Airport. Begin mental preparation for the almost 24 hours of travel that lies ahead. Denver to LA, LA to Sydney, Sydney to Christchurch, Christchurch International to hotel. Phew!

Day 6- Arrive Christchurch NZ. Get settled in cozy British B and B. Beware of persuasive resident Dachshund loitering at your feet during breakfast.

Day 7- Stretch out legs with a wander around the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. Spring in New Zealand is always a pleasure.

Day 7 cont.- Catch shuttle to Antarctic Center for more orientation and extreme cold weather gear issue. Every participant receives two orange bags filled with polar tested cold weather gear.

Day 8, 9, 10- Enjoy the fine weather in Christchurch compliments of poor weather in McMurdo and canceled ice flights. The small town behind me is Lyttelton harbor, the departure port for almost all of the early explorers to the Ross Sea and for all of the modern vessels that service McMurdo Station.

Day 11- Weather finally clears in McMurdo. 0500 alarm to board the C-17 military jet by 0800. Arrive Antarctic center, change into cold weather gear, show ID, check luggage, have breakfast, more briefings, pass through security and board plane.

Day 11 cont.- Five hour plane ride from Christchurch to McMurdo Station. Temperatures in the plane turn progressively cooler as we descend into Southern latitudes. Read, sleep, eat and eventually, arrive McMurdo.

To Be Continued.

October 3, 2009

On the road again...

I found myself wandering around Christchurch today, going store to store, searching for a pair of foam slippers, or better known as Crocs shoes. This particular piece of footware is especially handy in field settings, as they make a nice, lightweight and comfortable camp shoe. As I began to piece together my packing list for my season at the Lake Hoare field camp, I added a pair of Crocs to my list, but since I didn't already own a pair I decided I could easily pick some up during my stopover in New Zealand.

Much to my surprise, I could not find a pair of Crocs anywhere in the city. This was very unexpected, as only a year or two ago, Crocs were the shoes of the moment and you could find them for sale just about anywhere- at the gas station, the airport, in road side stands and at the drugs store. As I wandered around the city today, inquiring if the stores still carried this shoe, I was told time and again that, "We no longer carry that shoe, and we're not going to get any more." It made me wonder how something can be so necessary at one point, and then completely irrelevant the next. I had confirmed that Crocs, like many other bygone fashions, are officially a thing of the past.

And I can't help but compare the passing of Crocs, with what appears to be the simultaneous passing of the blog. I have seem innumerable blogs (including our own) maintained for a year or two, and then slowly abandoned to the great void of the internet. It makes me wonder if the blog has simply been overtaken by newer more interactive forms of communication, or if the format of blog is flawed and in need of new innovation.

However, despite the questionable relevance of the blog in today’s Facebook world, I plan to spend the winter posting regular updates and photos chronicling my four months spent at a remote research camp in Antarctica. Grandma, this is for you..........