Sunday, January 13, 2008

Happy Camper School Continued

After reading my last long winded post about my night out on the ice, I realized I forgot one of the other cool things we were trained on: HF radios.  I guess these are basically the same thing that HAM radio operators use.  One of the things that I thought was really interesting is having tune the antenna by adjusting it's length.  Our assignment was to tune our antenna so we could call the South Pole (still over 600 miles away) and get a weather report.  I was amazed at how well it worked.  The geek in me could see why people really get into this.  Being able to talk to people that far away without wires is like a wireless predecessor to the Internet and was what the people at the South Pole had for communications before the Internet.  This may be old news to most of you, but I thought it was pretty cool.  Of course, we had to string out a 40-foot antenna, we would have really been a PITA had the weather been bad.  We also were trained on using the VHF radio and repeater system setup down here.  All very cool.  I guess its good that they use satellite phones here for the remote camps, but the old technology is still pretty neat.

I also meant to point out that I said we camped out on the ice, but it is not really ice in the usual sense.  It was on the McMurdo Ice Shelf.  I'm not sure if it is really ice down below but the part we were on was very, very dense snow.  It is just weird stuff.  You can cut it with a saw and use it to build structures, but you can 'sand' or rub it down to a sandy-like substance.  I'm trying to find an similar substance, but nothing comes to mind.  Anyway, we were on over a hundred feet of the stuff.  For those that don't know an ice shelf is basically a glacier that extends out across water.  My GPS said we were 47 ft above water.  This stuff is so thick and hard that a big plane C-17 can land on it like a ground runway.

I went to the Yank vs. Kiwi rugby game yesterday and it was a great game even though we lost by 2.  I had forgotten how brutal the game of rugby was.  It was a rough game but I guess we played a good game.  I don't really know, but that is what the others watching said.  On the way to the game, I happened to come up on one of the coolest snow machines I've ever seen.  I guess the mechanics and welders on station built a snow motorcycle out of old snow mobile and other parts.  I took some pictures that I'll upload in the next day or two.  The guys at OCC would be proud!

I still haven't been sleeping well at 'night' even though our room is almost completely dark.  The mattress and pillow are very hard and uncomfortable.  I'm going to go grab a beer at the Gallagher's (another of the three bars on station) and then call it a 'night'...if you can call it that.

No comments:

Post a Comment