Sunday, July 24, 2011

Midwinter Party

On Saturday, June 18, we celebrated Midwinter Day with a big dinner and dance in the dining hall. (The actual winter solstice took place four days later on June 22.) First there were appetizers and beverages, then we all ate a delicious meal, and finally ended with some dancing. Because this December will be the centennial anniversary of the first humans reaching the South Pole, our theme was historical. One hundred years ago this winter, there were two teams of explorers who had arrived at opposite ends of the Ross Ice Shelf, waiting for the sun to come up before heading south to the Pole. Roald Amundsen's team arrived on December 14, 1911 and everyone made it back to their ship alive; Robert Scott's team arrived a few weeks later on January 17, 1912 and he and his four companions all died on the return journey. Here's a map showing the routes taken be each team. Below are some pictures from the festivities.

Sean, Shondra, and Brett serve beverages while people enjoy appetizers.

Mmmm... chicken skewers, spiced nuts, and crackers with pesto cream cheese.

Chelsea and Larry

Me and Larry enjoying a drink. We both wore the kilts that Cassey made for us right before we came to Antarctica. Thanks Cassey! :)

An ice sculpture of the Terra Nova, the ship that took Robert Scott and his men to Antarctica for his South Pole expedition.

Details of the Terra Nova's history

Stephanie and Larry - Stephanie made her dress out of old firefighter gear.

Fresh greens from the greenhouse!! (Thanks Emily!)

An ice sculpture of a penguin decorated the serving line.

More fresh veggies from the greenhouse! Tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers! Brooks could hardly contain himself. In the background, DJ dressed up as Robert Scott for the party.

The head of the pig that was roasted for dinner.

Zachary and Chelsea after enjoying a wonderful meal.

A full spread of deserts, including truffles, cheescake, and caramels!

The chefs also made homemade chocolate and caramel ice cream and raspberry sorbet.

The centerpiece of each table was a candle made of ice.

Larry and Cara dancing after dinner

Posted on the wall outside the galley are all the midwinter greetings sent from the stations throughout Antarctica. Midwinter is a holiday celebrated by all research stations on the continent.

President Obama also sent a letter to the three American research stations in Antarctica wishing us a happy midwinter.

In one corner of the galley, a backdrop that looked like Scott's hut near McMurdo Station was set up for photos. Since the theme of the party was historical commemoration, the photos were taken in black and white.

My friends Kyle, Zachary, Larry, Chelsea, and Kenny

Several of the people who work in the Supply Department got together for a photo...

...until Nathan surprised all of us by lifting up his kilt... 

...leaving us all in fits of laughter. Fortunately, he was wearing something underneath.

Gareth and I take stock of the food in the hut. Gareth is the other food monkey and the person I work with most on station. (There will be an upcoming blog about our weekly food pulls.)

All in all, the midwinter party was a fantastic event. Four days later, the solstice came and since then the sky has been slowly brightening ever since.

In other news, Christchurch is still getting hit with earthquakes, even though it has yet to recover from all the previous ones. And an Emperor penguin wandered a bit too far north and was found on a beach in New Zealand, 2500 miles away from Antarctica. Fortunately he is recovering well and will be released back into the sea in the near future. And the NSF is having troubles procuring an icebreaker for next year's supply and fuel vessels. If these supplies are not able to be delivered, the scientific research planned for this upcoming summer will likely be postponed to the following year. I'll post more details as they become known. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that an icebreaker will be found.

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