Snowed in at WAIS again

Surrounding WAIS Divide is a frozen sea, but a frozen community we are not. The whiteness of the landscape reflects the solar rays allowing for a full 360 facial impact that results in red faces and pasty white bodies. When the storm breaks, the sun is warm and welcoming. We celebrate through exciting labour. May light radiate from above and within. As I told my mother the other day on the phone, before I go to sleep I eat beef jerky and a few candy bars to keep me warm throughout the night. Calories in the body produce thermal energy. Sometimes I wake at midnight in blinding daylight sweating and thus shed my covers. I watch my breath, feel the chill and kick a bit at the snow against my tent wall that my feet rest on. Soon I fall back into a deep slumber only to wake at 2:30 AM for work.

Four days ago the clouds lifted and I woke up to clarity. Inside and outside. The dreamwork that occurs down here is powerful. I sometimes attribute the powerful dreaming to the silence of Antarctica. I often dream about what and how I'm going to cook the following day. Those dreams become real and tasty. When the other cooks come in we all spell out what's in our heads and we're all, oddly, on the exact same page with the exact same ideas. This morning I was thinking that Chef Russ was going to come into work early. Sure enough he did come in 2 hours early. Anyways, back to what I was going to say, on Monday I could see for miles and when I got out of my tent I could see the generators and Arch crystal clear. The Arch is where the borehole is and where researchers drop in their loggers to record specific measurements... i.e., temperature, light and sound waves at various depths. In the pic below, the Arch is to the right and the two generator mods to the left.

Our power station that creates electricity, which powers our outside communications and this blog.

Here's our sat phone desk. Whenever the sky is clear and E.T. is calling home... this is where I be sitting.

The sat phone desk is in the wash mod and rec tent.

Inside the wash mod there is a giant water tank, water heater, two showers, two sinks, a washer and dryer and bunch of cubbies for us to store our stuff.

Before I depart the kitchen I make a pass through the wash mod as to complete my work day, then I trek to Tent City for sleep. Here's my print on the door to the wash mod. Ice is an interesting element to be surrounded by and view through a lense. Ice grows on your beard, freezes your eyelids together, hides beneath your bed, creates sun dogs in the sky and like mold in the tropics it tends to grow outside on everything that is warm and moist. It's everywhere at WAIS. I guess this is why many refer to Antarctica as the Ice.

I've shown pictures of the sun halos and dogs in the sky, but never explained how they form. I found this printed document in the galley and it explains the ice crystals interaction with sunlight: www.eos.ubc.ca/home/alumni/2011-Alumni%20Newsletter.pdf

Thank you to whoever put it there. Go to the link above for the sun dog scientific explaintion.

In through one door, out the other. A la cocina.

We keep plenty of food in the freezer cave to cook and eat happily, but now with more flights coming in the kitchen has much larger collection of food items stored in tri-walls and comparments around camp. After the last big storm our candy aisle was depleted and I decided to restock it. I grabbed a sled and headed out to the big red box and dried food tri-walls.

While pulling back to the kitchen someone asked me if I was heading to my tent with all the candy. No, I take better stuff to my tent.

The insides of cinnamon raisin and pecan sticky buns.

I'm saving this bad boy for Sunday's brunch. It's a sticky bun that weighs about 15 lbs., sits ontop a full sheet tray and the only challenge will be to invert it onto a platter in one piece.

White chocolate macademia monster cookies.

Hazelnut cookies.

Some day's breakfast line. Grilled hash, spinach and feta scramble, steak, sausage patties, french toast, maple bacon with mozo and blue cornmeal muffins, yogurt and a bunch of nuts and dried fruit. Side note: today I engineered an phyllo egg lasagna with phyllo, cooked eggs, pizza sauce, garlic white sauce and asiago cheese.

Another day. Scrambled eggs, duck fat seared sausage links, home fried kumara and potatoes, vanilla bread pudding, hard boiled eggs, cranberry muffins, apple quick bread with apple butter, and the last fresh apples and grapes we have until next freshy flight.

On Saturdays I work double fast and make a bunch of goods for Sunday morning. Cheese platter with fresh New Zealand cheeses, only the best of the best.

When in Panama last year I was the Chef at Hibiscus Garden Hotel for the Pacific high season and watched the German owners of the surfing school make their traditional homebread. I never wrote down the recipe but I remembered the process (at 85 deg F and high humidity with stone raw grains from the local farmers of Santa Catalina, Panama) and the ingredients. I recreated it with what seeds and nuts we have in our Antarctic camp kitchen and made this rustic country bread. It's packed with all the fiber, protein and carbs a WAISee needs to get the job done.

The foundation to something amazing.

I started with the Joy of Cooking's 'Danish wreath' recipe and tweaked the filling with apricots, apples, strawberries and silvered almonds reduced in strawberry and mandarin juice. Although it doesn't look uniform (why should it?) it was delish and the homemade sweet croissant dough wrapped around the filling was well worth all the work put into it.

I call it the Cody Poptart.

This my brothers and sisters is something for the gods and goddesses. A melt in your mouth 5-chocolate mocha cheesecake made with chocolates around the world, hinted with kahlua and espresso.

A couple weeks ago I watched a cargo onload to a LC-130 and I asked Dean, our station manager, if that was our food waste. He said something like, "There is no waste at WAIS." So today, when he mentioned that there are too many options for breakfast I said, "We don't waste waist bands at WAIS." We recycle all our goods at WAIS and have a variety of bins to separate our waste into. They should have a bin labeled 'diet'.

Before storm #3.

Russ recieved a package not to long ago from a continent far far away and for days he talked about the shofar that was brought to him. To breathe into the antler is part of his Jewish roots and a way to communicate his faith. To my knowledge, this is this first time a shofar has been used in Antarctica. We went outside and I listened to his call for pathways as the wind started to howl. Let it be said that when the sun dogs shine a storm is on the horizon, and we are, the riders on the storm. In search of a way he was and a way was brought to him yesterday, Palmer for winter eh? Seek and ye shall find.

Steph was out back checking the weather station.

A drop in pressure and rise in temperature meant the storm was beginning it's pass through camp. I grabbed my hand warmers and jerky and went to my tent.

Just by opening my tent door and crawling in I created a blizzard inside the Arctic oven. Not wanting to get too wet with melting snow before bed I told myself that I wouldn't leave the tent until I absolutely had to for work the following morning.

Next morning. A 4-foot snow wall at my gate and I had to dig myself out. Words don't describe the act of zipping your door down a bit to have a pile of snow, the softest snow I've ever felt, fall on your lap. Commonsense told me that if I zipped any further an avalanche may occor. Solution > zip a little and punch. Punch and kick until you get a foot of snow off the top of the wall.

With a small gap at the top I was able to place my camera out the door and film as I wiggled out the hole. I think I was born again. I had my big red on and that made things no more easy. After a couple minutes of wiggling and kicking I popped out onto a giant snow drift in 30 knot winds and whiteout. I turned around, reached in to grab my backpack and told myself I'd come back later to dig out the wall.

During break I went out into the storm to dig away the wall, which was now above my tent. If the snow builds up too much it will cause your tent to cave in, just as my Auntee Ann inquired about, and I think mine was almost there.

I got it dug down to where I could at least get in and have 6 or so hours before the door would be covered again.

Back to the kitchen to warm up in a CON 1.

Yesterday I woke to sunshine and once again, a giant snow wall at my door. That's it. Today is the day to dig deep and hard. All around station dozers and WAISees shoveled.

I took off work early to do some intense snow fort remodeling. I thought things over and drew the blueprints (do they still use those?). Mine were drawn in snow, so I guess it doesn't really matter now does it?. The only way I could fix the drifting problem was to build a giant snow wall, about 15 ft. in diameter around my tent and angle the walls in such a way as to divert the snow above and around. I'm working on an arrow-shaped drift at the windward face of the wall facing where the strongest wind comes from. Like my heart and soul, my shelter needs to be an arrow through wind and ice. Hours upon hours of digging are needed.

This is only the start of it. During the recent two-day CON CAN'T SEE strong-winded and big-drift buildling snow storm my tent was buried beneath a snow drift that stands 6- to 7-feet tall above ice level. After watching the snow blow like rivers across the ice and build on the leeward side of my tent I calculated that if I built the wall 5-feet out on the windward side at about 8-feet above ice level I would have adequate protection against blowing snow and drifting. As I was constructing the wall I could see the aerodynamics of the tent microenvironment change and snow was being redirected way off to the sides and above my tent. Success. I'm sorry if I'm boring you, but put a chef in a tent, an 'Arctic Oven' tent to say the least, on a 1000-mile wide ice sheet within three huge storms in the first month of living there and he will find a way to not wake up snowed-in when there's fresh coffee to be brewed for the early morning scientists. With that said, time for lunch and back to shoveling. Stay warm. Peace.