These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ (around Observation Loop)
This is the city. McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
A view of McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
Well, not technically a city but as you can see from the photo below, all of the buildings are clustered together and in near proximity to each other, similar to the landscape of most cities. Although not the exclusive mode around McMurdo (as I will explain in future blogs), walking is a primary mode of transportation. In fact, all of the buildings and structures that comprise McMurdo Station are well within walking distance which limits the need for significant vehicle traffic along the streets or throughways but also minimizes the time outside for residents exposed to the often frigid temperatures and gusting winds.
Walking has become a part of the daily routine for me. The majority of my time is spent in transit between three buildings: my dorm room (203C), Crary Lab (the place where my office space is located) and the Galley (not hard to miss because it is a big blue building and prominently seen by every resident in McMurdo).
My dorm room building, 203C.
My office space is located in Crary Lab.
The Big Blue Galley where meals are served.
Visible from almost every vantage point in McMurdo Station, the Galley is the building where all of the meals are served. I have made it to other selected buildings in the area as a part of my job title and/or requirements but these three buildings are ones that I visit (and in some cases, sleep in) every day. This is the way of life for every day of the week, Monday through Saturday, except for Sunday. Sunday is a day of rest and virtually every building in McMurdo is closed with the exception of the dedicated workers in the Galley and those whose job it is to ensure that all routine services are provided to the residents of McMurdo.
On my first Sunday, I was invited for a short hike around Observation Loop in the late afternoon. The two members in my hiking party were Carol Costanza and Scott Landolt. Because I was anxious to explore the various sites and scenes around McMurdo Station, I jumped at the chance. And off we went.
The views were simply amazing. Although I had my cell phone camera as well as a Nikon Point-n-Shoot camera and was doing a fairly good job at taking pictures, Scott had a professional camera with a high-powered lens, making for some striking photos below. And off we went.
The hiking group... on our way to Observation Loop.
The views were simply amazing. Although I had my cell phone camera as well as a Nikon Point-n-Shoot camera and was doing a fairly good job at taking pictures, Scott had a professional camera with a high-powered lens, making for some striking photos below.
A captivating view of the Antarctic landscape.
A photo of Mt. Erebus, an active volcano!
One of the questions often posed of me is “Have you seen any seals yet?” From our vantage point during the hike, a string of dark blobs was apparent, as depicted in the photo below.
Antarctic landscape with a string of dark blobs.
It was immediately pointed out to me that those blobs were actually seals. Of course, one would have to take my word for it that these are seals. Using his camera, Scott took a photo of one of those blobs and this was the result.
A close up of one of the dark blobs!
In the end, we walked for approximately 4 miles. I wanted to somehow document this hike so I activated two of my GPS apps just to see what I would get. One stopped during the hike but the other app continued recording a GPS signal for the entire hike. I took the track file and opened it in Google Earth and this is what our hike looked like.
Our hike as recorded from GPS coordinates and displayed in Google Earth.
In a special feature of this blog, Kiwi, the curious penguin introduced in an earlier blog, will pose a question about Antarctica that I will respond to with an answer. Below is Kiwi’s first question.
Kiwi had a question... about colds!
Coming Up Next: In this journal, I spoke about walking as one mode of travel in Antarctica. But walking isn’t the only one. It is time that I expand my horizons… both literally and figuratively!