It is Sunday morning, and I have a few minutes AT WORK to catch you up on McMurdo happenings. We’ll start with yesterday and some really thick Ice Fog that lasted about 24 hours. Driving is bad enough since the roads are soft and we have all these HOLES to miss, without adding visibility issues!
The sky was clear and blue over McMurdo – until you reached the top of Scott Base Hill. The downhill drive was directly into the fog. Normally, we look over the edge to see who’s coming. So at the top, we shuttle drivers would radio to the ‘fog’ that we were about to descend – that would give whoever might be close to entering the transition area a chance to get onto dry land and a wider space of road before we met.
The fog was incredibly thick and the same color as the snow roads! You could barely make out in front of you, the LARGE – SOFT – hole that was approaching. Sometimes you simply dove into it before realizing an ‘Uh-ho’ moment had arrived! Everyone was getting stuck. (Including me in Ivan the Terra Bus.) What added to the troubles (and very late schedules) was the lane we were using was narrow and once someone became stuck – no one could drive around and continue their route! (My 30 minute drive turned into a 3 hour one.)
Back to the “Transition”. Fleet Ops did attempt to pack down a lot of snow to fill in the water holes. This worked to a certain degree. However, they didn’t gradually decrease the packed snow. It simply STOPS – creating a big drop off – and even worse – a HUGE wall that you have to climb onto. (I might mention the WATER-FILLED deep HOLES right at this drop off location!!) Going out – is not so bad. We warn our pax that it’s coming. It’s the RETURN trip where each time is different. The Deltas and Ivan slide around through the holes prior to reaching “the wall” so you never know at what angle you’re going to hit. This creates a lot of tipping and rolling and worry of flipping onto the side. This morning during my 5:30 run in a delta – I hit the wall and my delta did not ‘jump’ it. I had to back (again – through random holes filled with water.) and try again. ALMOST…. I backed further and went for another angle. This time the delta jumped it – however I was flung about like a rag doll inside the cab. It was one of those ‘careening moments’ that I don’t care to do again! Seatbelts save lives. Everybody wear them!!!!
I will be stiff and sore tomorrow – but still have a few more of those runs to make today! No wonder I sleep so well down here. I’m completely exhausted at the end of my 12 hour shift! At least the fog lifted – AND – it’s cooler. Any day now – the weather should turn colder and STAY cold!!!