Howdy, Kelli —
The most difficult thing about coming to the ice is overcoming your preconceived notions about it. Yes, it can be a cold, and desolate place, but in the austral summertime, when the sun is shining 24 hours a day, it’s warm, and vibrant, and chock-ful of activity – indoor, and outdoor.
McMurdo was originally a Navy base, established in the 50s. It resembles a ramshackle mining town, and is comprised of approximately 85 buildings. Being outside is a big a part of being here.
We have hiking on a number of nearby trails, we have Scott Base a couple of miles away, crosscountry skiing, rugby, Frisbee golf, biking, and yes, sledding. In the summer the temperatures will typically be in the +30s. Quite warm by our standards.
If you find you like indoor activities better, we have bowling, ceramics, Stitch & Bitch, Gutz & Butz, belly dancing, aerobics, martial arts, volleyball, basketball, dodgeball, a weight room, and a gerbil gym.
If you’re more sedentary, there are two movie stations on the TV, an AFN Primetime feed, AFN Sports, and AFN News. There are also four radio feeds, including our own local Ice Radio 104.5. We also have 19 public use computers, located in bldg. 155, the Coffee House, and the Library.
If you inbibe, there are three bars – the aforementioned Coffee House, serving wine and coffee drinks; Gallagher’s, a non-smoking bar, and Southern Expoure, a smoking bar.
Basically, whatever you conceive McMurdo, and Antarctica, to be, reality will prove it incorrect.
Trust us when we say this place will get in your blood, because it will. I came down for three seasons, then took a three year break to live a ‘normal’ life. I couldn’t wait to get back down here…
You’ll love it, Kelli. And if you’re thinking of coming down, and the people you’re telling it about think you’re crazy, then welcome to the club. After a season or two, you’ll think they’re the crazy ones for staying where they’re at, working a 40-hour a week job.
Oh concerning your question about light and dark – mid-October to February is 24 hours of daylight. Late-April to late-August the sun is below the horizon, with much of that being in total darkness.
Funny thing is, you get used to all the sun, and you get used to all the dark. It’s a very strange place…
“We’re all here because we’re not all there.” – Frequent Ice quote.