Thanksgiving and Alaska come to Palmer

A couple weeks after getting here, when my cohort had settled in and knew where to find and how to do most things as needed day-to-day, I decided that presently things would calm down, and that soon I would have nothing new to say in a blog post.

What the last month has shown me is that life will never become completely routine here. Sometimes a day is about big things, like the crew of HBO VICE visiting, or going to a new island for the first time, but the little things have a way of feeling every bit as significant: getting a new espresso machine that required multiple lessons, demonstrations, and interventions before the whole station became proficient and had thoroughly debated the difference between a latte and cappuccino; the station-wide obsession with the New York Times crossword puzzle, and the daily collaboration that results. Some days are about the unexpected: it is delightful to know I never could have anticipated I would try  waldorf salad, mead, and perogies for the first time in Antarctica; I never imagined before coming here I would walk with my eyes closed when I forgot my sunglasses, because the reflection of the sun off the snow truly is blinding.

This last week was chock-full of big things, little things, and unexpected things. On Tuesday, the Bruiser team sampled for the second time at both stations, and Conor and I set a new record by finishing our processing before midnight. On Wednesday, the National Geographic Explorer came for a visit, and invited us aboard for a Q&A session and a concert with their onboard band, the Spice Boys. I was thrilled to meet a few Alaskans, including two Fairbanksans who know my parents, one of whom has even been to my house! I also enjoyed talking with two people who work at Port Lockroy, a British station used for whaling between 1911 and 1931, research until 1962, and, beginning in 1996, a museum. During the summer season, when cruise ships come to visit, five people live there and take care of everything from building maintenance to cooking. Palmer, in comparison, is a luxurious hotel.

On Friday, we celebrated Thanksgiving, in the grand tradition of all holidays in Antarctica falling on Fridays so as not to interfere with the work week. We got dressed up and had a fantastic dinner (including my dad’s cranberry sauce!), and enjoyed our first two-day weekend of the summer season. On Saturday, the weather was grey and windy, perfect for playing cards, scrabble, working on the crossword, and having a dance party (because why not?). On Sunday, we had gorgeously clear weather, and I took my first trip to the site of Old Palmer Station, on Amsler Island. It was incredible to see different views and walk different topography.

We returned to station and finished out the day with a polar plunge in honor of the cook’s birthday. Each time I’ve jumped in, the same two thoughts occur simultaneously: that the water isn’t as bad as I’d expected, and that I’ve never been so cold in my life. Good thing summer is on its way.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend!


2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving and Alaska come to Palmer

  1. what a super post Rach!!! Uncle David, and many others, will be thrilled to read it, just as Dad and I are. Say, is that the Argentinian ship that was out in the bay this morning-early afternoon? xoxx Mom


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