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Today is my last day aboard the Icebreaker Oden, and it has been filled with many actvities. Besides my normal day-to-day responsibilities I have also been cleaning my cabin, doing laundry, and packing. Tomorrow morning at 8 I will be leaving the ship to prepare for my flight from McMurdo Station to Christchurch, New Zeland. My plane leaves McMurdo at approximately 2 pm tomorrow.
For the last few days we have been breaking a channel into McMurdo Station so that cargo ships will be able to come through the ice and bring supplies for the next year here. Today we have been circling in front of McMurdo in order to create a turning basin for ships to move around in. It has been very interesting watching through the window of my cabin, one minute I can look out and see the station and next I am looking back at the ice shelf.
On Saturday we were stopped to fix one of the engines, and we were able to go out on the ice and explore a bit. We walked out to some seals and got pictures with them. On the way back I tripped in a hole/crack and fell face-first into the snow. After that I was soaking wet and decided to head back onboard. Henric and some others stayed out on the ice in search of penguins. They eventually found some and were entertained for quite some time by their actions.
I was asked this morning if I will miss being on the ship, and it took me few minutes to realize that I will. Although being aboard the Oden has been a completely new experience, it has been my temporary home for the last month. It will be weird to leave, but it's time to go home.
Tonight after Henric and I back up the data for the day, I will be packing up an external hard drive to bring home with me. I am a little nervous about taking it through security at the airport, but I have been told not to worry. I just don't want anything to happen to it while it is in my possession.
The experiments have been running very nicely for the entire leg of this trip, and I hope that they continue to do so after I leave. Matthias has told Henric and I that we are the "good weather crew". He seemed slightly jealous of our mild journey because he and Drew had such a rough one. I wish Kyle and Matthias good luck for the third leg of the trip.
I will write again once I am back home!
For the last time; Goodbye from Antarctica,
Greetings from Antarctica!
Today so far has been a good day. The sun is shining!! I has been over two weeks since we have last seen pure daylight, as we have been in a constant fog/mist since reaching the colder antarctic waters. Our landscape has also drastically changed overnight. We are now close enough to see land on both port and starboard sides of the ship. The glaciers comming down the mountiansides into the sea are georgeous.
We will be reaching the ice edge nearest McMurdo Station in a few hours, and we are beginning to see more and more wildlife on the ice floats around the ship. It is very interesting to sit out on deck and watch the penguins as we pass by. They have very quirky personalities. Some run off as soon as the ship gets near, while others sit on the ice until they are almost run over. I have also seen a few seals out laying in the sun today. They look like big slugs laying lazily on the ice, they barely even notice that we are here.
Yesterday I had the best meal so far on this journey. The cook made Swedish pancakes, and they were great! Swedish pancakes are much thinner than American style ones. More like a crepe but not exactly. They put things on them such as jam and whipped cream. They were very good. Normally they are made every Thursday, but because of the holiday schedule this year this is the first time we have had them.
I am still looking forward to the icebreaking into McMurdo Station; and I am excited to be heading home soon. The experiments have been running very nicely lately, and Henric and I have been able to spend our free time up on the bridge scanning the sea for anything interesting.
Happy New Year!!
The days since I have last written have been filled with many different activities. To start, we had a very nice Christmas dinner celebration. There was a vast array of traditional Swedish dishes for everyone to enjoy. I liked the Swedish meatballs the best. Many of the crew were interested to learn what Americans do traditionally for Christmas; and they enjoyed hearing what my favorite things about Christmas back home were. Once the air settled from our Christmas dinner we were soon preparing for another holiday; New Year's Eve.
On New Years they pulled out the nice china and silverware. The mess hall was arranged into one large table and was set with candles and other decorations. We had a very nice New Years feast, and afterwards adjourned to the bar for drinks and conversation. Later in the evening everyone had a chance to call home and wish their relatives a Happy New Year. Then we all met up on the bridge. There we had champagne and rang in the new year with toasting, bell ringing, and the reading of a traditional Swedish poem (Ring Out Wild Bells, by Alfred Tennyson). It is tradition that a famous person; movie star, singer, read this poem at the dawn of the new year in Sweden.
Since New Years we have been busy adapting to our new time zone. On Jan. 2 we switched from Montevideo time to McMurdo/New Zeland time. This 15 hour time jump was quite strange; it was almost as if we had skipped an entire day. We have now all adapted to our new schedule, and things are back to normal. In the last few days Henric and I have cleaned out another science lab on the aft deck, and helped take down the Christmas decorations. I think that there are plans in our future to fashion a bucket holder for the science expedition in February. Henric and I will also be giving a small presentation to the crew explaining why we are here and what we are doing. Everyone has taken quite an interest in our experiments and we have decided to do a more formal presentation for everyone.
I am looking forward to the soon coming ice breaking. I am told that there will be much wildlife to watch as we are breaking through the ice; and I am excited to see a penguin in the wild. As our internet and emailing capabilities are lessening the further south we get, I will be unable to send any more pictures until I return to the states. I promise to send anything exciting through as soon as I get back home.
We are scheduled to start breaking into the ice within a couple days. It is said that we will be arriving at the ice edge in McMurdo approximately the 10th of January, and I will be departing from McMurdo station on the 12th as of right now. It is strange to think that I have been away for three weeks already and have only one week left to go aboard the icebreaker Oden. The trip so far has been very interesting and educational. There has not been a day on board that I have not learned something new.
The experiments are still doing fine. They have been running with little to no problems since I last wrote.
I hope everyone had an enjoyable and safe New Year's Eve!
In the days since Christmas the landscape around the boat has changed dramatically. We now are seeing more and more wildlife. Birds and seals have been the main subjects so far, but we are waiting patiently for penquins and whales once we start ice breaking. We have also been surrounded by icebergs for the last couple of days. It really is a georgeous view! It has been interesting sitting in the bridge and watching how they navigate through the field of bergs. The really really small ones are of no worry, the boat just runs them over or pushes them aside. But, the larger ones must be gone around.
Along with the change in landscape we have experienced a change in weather as well. It is much much colder now; no more hanging out on deck in a t-shirt and shorts. It is even snowing a bit the other day. We have also reached the point where it is daytime all day long. This has been a little strange to get used to. There are blackout shades in our cabins that allow for easily keeping the light out while we are sleeping, but it is different to be able to walk outside and see the sun at midnight.
Yesterday we pulled out the Christmas tree and decorations and had "tree trimming"
party. It was a just a little get-together, but it was nice to hang out in a
relaxing atmosphere. Tonight we will have our official Christmas dinner. It is
much nicer on the boat now that there is barely any rocking, and it will be much
After New Years we will be switching the clocks to match the time in McMurdo. This will be a big change for us. McMurdo is 15 hours ahead of Montevideo time (which we are currently running on). I am hoping that this change will be easy to adjust to.
We had a slight problem with the experiment over the weekend as well. The dor card in the DOMHub wasn't working properly, and we ended up having to take apart the Hub to pull out the card and put it back in order to reset it. This took us a while to do. First we had to disconnect everything from the Hub and pull it away from the wall. We then had to find tools so that we could remove the DOMHub from the cart and open it up. After all of this we then had to unscrew the card and its supports in order to pull it out. Eventually we got everything back together and connected again. Now everything is working as well as it was before. We think that with the rocking from before, along with the Drake Passage, the card was just slightly loose and not behaving properly.
Wishing everyone a happy New Year,
The week so far has been busy getting ready for Christmas and the Drake Passage. This passage is one of the worst passages known to sailors, and has been nicknamed the "shake" passage. We were told in the beginning of the week that approximately 7 meter waves were expected, but now we are relieved to hear that there should be waves of only 4 to 5 meters.
It is expected that we will reach the passage tomorrow and be in it through Christmas Day. Because of this, the captain has pushed back the Christmas Eve dinner until we reach the ice edge. I am glad of this; it would be very hard to enjoy Christmas dinner while being thrown about the mess hall.
In preparation of Christmas, we have helped with a little bit of Christmas cleaning. We spent two days fighting off the wind while cleaning out the science labs. This task was a little difficult at times; the doors into the labs were very heavy and the locks were hard to open on a few. Once we got into them though, all went well.
We are currently at the tip of South America. Our path takes us slightly around the bottom of the continent and then blazes south-west towards McMurdo. I won't be long before the ice-breaking begins!
Tomorrow afternoon there will be a small celebration for Christmas Eve. We are all to gather in the bridge and drink a spiced Swedish wine. This is a tradition for the Swedes; and I am excited to participate in it this year. Tomorrow for lunch there is also the option to dine on Lutfisk. Unfortunately I will not be partaking in this Swedish tradition. Lutfisk is a fish that is soaked in lye until it has turned almost clear and is gelatin-like. Yummy...
The experiments so far have been behaving themselves quite nicely. There are still a few java crashes affecting the DOM Hub, but they have not been happening very often; once or twice a day at most. It seems that these crashes happen mostly in the late-evening/early-morning after we have gone to bed. We have taken to getting up periodically throughout the night to check and make sure everything is running smoothing. This way there isn't much time lost after it crashes.
Wishing everyone a joyful holiday season!!,
Yesterday Henric and I boarded the Oden in the late morning. After having Drew and Matthias show us around and refresh our minds on how things worked, we ate lunch and spent some time catching them up on what was happening in the outside world. The old crew, along with Drew and Matthias, departed shortly after that. There was some hassle getting the Uruguayan customs to let us leave, so we didn't begin moving until evening.
During our time at anchor, we had safety drills; and learned where to go in case of fire or emergency evacuation. As part of these safety drills we also had to practice putting on an immersion suit. As Drew had stated before, these are very difficult to get into. I had a particularly hard time getting my hands all the way
Once the ship started moving it took a while to get used to being on a moving vessel. I still don't think that I've fully obtained my "sea legs" yet. The constant rocking is something that takes a bit of time to get used to. Right now we are headed down the coast of South America. Later today there will be an information session for the crew and passengers. Here we will find out the expected schedule of the trip, and approximately when we will arrive in McMurdo.
So far the experiments have been running pretty smoothly, and we have been able to fix all problems we have come across. I'm hoping that it stays this way. I am just waiting to see how things will make it through the Drake Passage. Hopefully the entire trip will be as smooth going as it is now.
So here it is... the first of the blog posts! So far I have made it down to Montevideo, Uruguay with little trouble. I will be staying down here in a hotel until Friday morning when me and the rest of the new crew get to board the ship. I am looking forward to a good night's rest tonight, and am excited to go out and see a little of the city tomorrow. Henric had mentioned doing some sight seeing, and I feel it might be a good idea to be out in the fresh air after being couped up on an airplane for the last day. The weather is great. Comming from negative temps in Wisconsin, down here to tank-top and shorts weather is nice. Sorry to all of you who are still stuck in the arctic environment known as the Wisconsin winter. I'm sure it will cool off quickly though once we get under way on Friday.