Life at McMurdo - Part two

    Since we've tagged the last seal - 21 in all - I've had a 'wee bit of time' (that's what they say in New Zealand) to explore McMurdo.

    Join me on my tour.


    My first day on the 'Ice', I met Autumn who works in 'housing'. Let's find out what she does at McMurdo.

    Autumn in housing
    Autumn hard at work in the housing department.

    Throughout the summer season people are constantly coming and going through the station - and they all need a place to stay. Autumn helps make these arrangements. She - along with the entire housing team - have several important tasks.

    • They make living arrangements for everyone on station
    • Make key packets
    • Meet all 'new arrivals' and give them the McMurdo orientation (That's the one I missed twice)
    • Attend to any housing problems that may arise. For example: We had rusty water in the dorms a few days ago. I called Autumn - who quickly took care of the problem.
    • They also do room inspections when you leave. Unfortunately, there's no cleaning service (like at most hotels), so all grantee's (like myself) need to grab the cleaning supplies and get to work. Luckily, I passed my cleaning inspection! Whew!

    Key packet prep
    Preparing key packets. Wow! So many keys!

    Post Office/Mailroom

    The US post office and mailroom are located on the 1st floor of building 140. Since I had over 2,400 postcards to mail, one of the first things I did when I arrived at McMurdo was to meet the ladies in the post office. These ladies have a busy job. The mailroom hands out all incoming mail, and the post office sends out outgoing mail.

    The mail ladies
    The ladies who handled all of the postcards. Look at how many are in the tray. And we had two full trays!

    Not all of the postcards arrived in Antarctica with me - some were mailed directly to me here at the station. So I would check for new mail often. The post office flies a flag on building 140 when new mail arrives and they also maintain a 'mail list' in building 155 (where the galley is).

    Stephanie in the mailroom
    You've got mail! Stephanie handing me more student postcards that came through the mail.

    Stephanie has some spectacular travel plans when she leaves the 'Ice'. She and a friend will travel to New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, and India. Wow! I wonder how many miles they will travel?

    NSF Chalet

    The 'Chalet' - as it's more commonly called - is where the National Science Foundation administrators as well as the administrative staff can be found. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to NSF since they are the ones who are funding my trip! Thanks for the support of science education!

    The Chalet
    The NSF chalet. Photo by: Dominik Dirksen/National Science Foundation

    I had the pleasure of talking to a great group of ladies in the administrative offices. Liz, Anita and Meagan are the administrative assistance and handle all administrative functions. They also schedule travel (back home) for all grantees - which is why I went to go see them. While I was there, we realized we had some 'home state' connections:

    • Liz - lives in Morristown, TN (East TN)
    • Meagan is from Kankakee, IL (near my hometown of Chillicothe, IL)

    Liz, Anita and Meagan
    Liz, Anita and Meagan keep the Chalet running! These ladies are wonderful!

    The world sure is a small place!

    Anita (who was from TX, by the way) was working on a project that caught my eye. She is a member of the Ross Island Yacht Club of Antarctica and was laminating membership cards with the clubs burgee pictured on front. A burgee is a distinguishing flag of a recreational boating organization - like a yacht club. This was so unique; I thought you might be interested in the story.

    Here is a picture of their burgee and the burgee story - An Argentinean naval Ensign gave birth to their burgee.

    Ross Island Yacht Club of Antarctica (RIYCA) Burgee.

    • The Background Color reflects both the nautical heritage and proximal nation to our beloved Continent.
    • The White, representing the ice, symbolizes purity of both the waters we sail and the hearts of those who sail them.
    • The Blue represents the Sky and symbolizes the valor inherent in all who boat recreationally below the convergence.
    • The Silhouette depicts one of the earliest yachting endeavors honoring Shakelton’s efforts to reach those converted waters around Ross Island. He stands apart from his men to remind us of the many that must struggle so that we may sail.
    • Over their shoulders rises the southern Sun gloriously illuminating our letters for the entire world to see. Those letters are cut from the same cloth as the silhouette of Shackelton – namely the cloth of a Scott tent. For all foolish endeavor’s must acknowledge the foolishness that has preceded them.
    • Above it all, soars the Antarctic Skua, inspiring us towards freedom found in the South and free meal wherever it may be found.
    • The Bloodshot Red Bowsprit should always point due South reflecting our directional desires on Earth and on the Wheel of Life.


    Boyd Anderson

    Comment here. I am a member of RIYC but I sure don't have a membership card. Any idea on who I might contact ? Anita perhaps ?

    Boyd Anderson