Sunday, January 18, 2004
Wow, it is so hard to believe that this is it! Time always speeds by when I'm here, and this trip has been no exception. Today was an excellent last day. The main part of the day I went walking with a friend, the Science Tech here, Dana Hrubes. A great guy, and we walked for about two and a half hours around to the various upper-atmospheric projects that he maintains and runs (and will do for the winter). I also finished up a clean-up of the AASTO and a few bits of running around. Next thing it was nearly four pm, and we wandered over to the Cargo Do Not Freeze Shack for the Cargo Party, an annual event. To say it was a hysterical amount of fun is an understatement!
First off there was the Bubble-Wrap Sumo Wrestling. Contenders climbed into entire suits of bubble wrap and had to sumo wrestle their opponent out of a rope circle. This was outdoors, and done pretty quickly as it was a 16 knot wind today, and about -55C with windchill. Inside again and in a central area was the cleverest game of tug-of-war I've seen. It was one-on-one and the opponents stand on 3ftx2ft wooden blocks. The aim is to unbalance your opponent off the block, or to get all the rope from them. It is clever as it isn't so much a matter of strength as tactics, as you can pull and then suddenly let go a little and unbalance your opponent backwards. I played against Angela, a carpenter, and it was a massive workout. I lost though - twice!
There was also a game of Pin The Gallstone on the Winterover (last year there was a medivac rescue during winter for a Polie suffering from it, and this year all winterovers had to have a test for this) and a very funny pie-eating contest. Lastly was the banana-sled relay, and our team of four was convinced we had the goods! Three people sit in the sled while the fourth pulls it to the first post, where you turn around and the next person gets up and pulls it back. I nearly died of exhaustion! The main tactic is cheating, and we upturned other sleds, held them back, tripped up the runners. I was very excited because on my leg we went really fast!!! Then someone told me that Bill on our team had hopped off the back and pushed! And with all that cheating we still didn't win. I am coughing pretty badly now, though, so I think my lungs are a bit frostbitten. All in good fun!
Finally after dinner, Angela and I found a frisbee and we went out near the Pole for a throw. We also (after several very painful attempts) succeeded in doing spectacular layouts (where you dive horizontally to catch the disc) right in front of the South Pole marker. This was quite painful as the ice is hardpacked there and we are now sporting some bruises, but as we can now claim the two southern-most layouts in frisbee history they don't hurt so much. :) I did (hopefully) get them on camera.
Tomorrow I head out to Mactown around 11:30am (NZ). I will give you a final report from there, I think. I am not getting my hopes too high to get out of McMurdo the next day. Once I was stuck in Mactown for nearly eight days. Eugh. Fingers crossed, eh?