Antarctic Diary: November 22, 2002

And then there was light

So today there's corporate politics, Antarctica style.

I asked for a hub. The four port kind. And I got sucked into a miasma of politics to rival any big company. Something happened, something prior to my arrival. It makes asking for hubs a big issue, apparently. People want to know whose side you're on, and at the time they ask you don't know what the sides are.

It's Antarctica. I'm on everyone's side.

I ran back down the hill to the Puzzle Palace to see what they had to say about it. It was going to take a couple of beers and a quiet place to explain. Doesn't involve me, but could involve me and my project if I step in the wrong place, and nobody's going to tell me where those places are.

So I went to the galley for lunch tisking and cursing under my breath. I thought I left the corporate life behind and here it was on the ice.

Had a nice lunch with the MegaDunes guys again. One of their guys has been working up to some kind of full-blown relationship with a cute lady biologist. They sat together like high-school kids, thigh to thigh, saying stupid lovey things to each other. I'd been watching this develop since Christchurch.

I was pretty grumpy because of the unforseen whacking I'd taken that morning, and now I had to watch two perfectly normal adults play almost-kissy-face in a fever of ice-borne libido when the love of my life was 10,000 miles north wishing I was home for Thanksgiving.

And for the first time I was completely homesick.

Ron, the MegaDunes mountaineer suggested a climb of Ob Hill and I was all over that like dust on a freshly varnished deck. The unattached MegaDunes guy stayed back with his new ice love while the rest of us met in front of 155 in multiple wind-proofed layers and hiking boots.

The Ob Hill climb takes about an hour. It's reasonably vertical, well worn trail to follow. The sides of the hill are a combination of volcanic dust, sharp breccias, and hardpacked snow. Climbing is not difficult, but you have to watch every footfall because the rocks are all loose.

We made the top in about an hour. I hadn't been paying attention to the landscape till we reached the top.

From the top of Ob Hill you see what Scott, Shackelton, and the rest of the men at McMurdo saw100 years ago. Mt. Erebus is a smoking god. Castle rock is dwarfed at its feet. Cape Armitage is off to the north east. Black Island and White Island to the a little further to the east with the Royal Society Range across the sound. Arrival Heights to west. Minna Bluff to the south--the way to the pole.

McMurdo below looking like some infernal oil cracking plant, belching steam rather than petrochemical pollutants. (We're all so so clean now.)

The weather was frosty, only about 0 degrees F. The wind was about 30 knots, and so we had a wind chill of somewhere around 30 below.

Sweat from my forehead froze instantly and fell from my face like snowflakes.

I was not cold in my gear even though I'd worked up a pretty good sweat. My boots performed well.

We all posed for pictures, and then looked around in silence.

And then no words to describe that feeling, except that perhaps for once in my life I was prepared to believe there was a God, and at that moment, he'd looked up from all his paperwork and saw me standing at the foot of his desk.

So he remembered me. Something like: "There you are, dude. What's up?"

When we got down I met my lady biologist friend on her way back from the dorm room where she'd just had her lunch-time tryst. She was in that smiley, glowy sort of mood one has after those moments of existence outside real life.

"How are you liking McMurdo?" I asked her.

"Oh, I like it a REAL lot," she answered, nearly giggling. There is no hiding anything in town. She knew I knew she knew I knew....

Then she said, "I know what you're going to say..."

"Well I don't," I replied.

I didn't wait around to hear her story. Don't need to.

She'd had her orgasms. I'd had mine.

So like I said to God on the top of Ob Hill.

Having a great time.

Wish you were here.