McMurdo –

I am slowly getting used to the layout and pace of the station.  I have been walking around jetlagged and sleep deprived, so all of the new information is going in slowly, most of it dropping all around me.  The folks who work here know this and remind me to take it easy.  There is a wonderful spirit of kindness here.  Though the USAP staff can’t make the weather cooperate, they do everything else in their power to get grantees what they need to accomplish their project.  For me that means coordinating all of my training, helping me gather the necessary gear for field camp and getting me to the middle of West Antarctica at the WAIS deep field camp.

discovery-hutYesterday I had time to draw for a few hours, a very grounding experience.  I also took a short walk around the base and finally got a full nights sleep so am much sharper today.  Discovery Hut is on the edge of “town”, down one of the dirt roads that crisscross (higglety pigglety comes to mind) the collection of buildings that comprise McMurdo Station.  It was nice to get away to Hut Point; it is kept unaltered from the days it was occupied by the Scott and Shackleton expeditions.  It is corny, but I felt a bit spooked – my overly active imagination “felt” their presence – a product of too much explorer reading, no doubt.

It was about 10pm and the sun was low in the southeast.  McMurdo sits at approximately 77° S, 166°E, so the sun turns around us, rising higher during the day and lower at “night”.  I haven’t allowed myself to stay up late to see how low it gets.  As I am a short-timer in McMurdo, my dorm is interior in the building, with no windows.  It’s convenient for sleeping, but disorienting.  Tomorrow I go out onto the Ross Ice Shelf to attend the two day Happy Camper Course.  I will no doubt stay up late then and get a better sense of the light. _MG_7295

Here is a shot looking almost directly south.  Observation Hill is on the left and in the distance is the edge of Black Island.

I am offline for two days while out on the ice at school.  See you on Sunday (Saturday in the USA).


  1. Linda on December 11, 2009 at 8:58 am

    I am so in awe of you and this undertaking. I look forward to your blogs and hope this trip turns out to be everthing you hoped it would be. Good luck at Happy Camper Camp. XXOX

  2. Rabbit on December 13, 2009 at 6:19 am

    I am sitting herein Santa Cruz the rain has been just dumping but last night was clear and warmish even and now I’m staring at a photo I can’t even IMAGINE being in! I like the part about why the Hut Point is creepy, and the picture of you in a windowless room sleeping while the sun gets lower and lower and lower…
    Don’t forget to do the things that are grounding, since so much of it promises to be the opposite!
    Big love from
    Music for this post: Dandy Warhols, Minnesoter

    • Anna McKee on December 13, 2009 at 6:40 am

      Yes, it is so strange to be in this place that has been looming in my imagination for decades. So far my experience has been: disorienting, due to the nature of the place that is McMurdo; amazing, due to the land, the people and the penguins (I saw 5 adelies wandering who knows where, how can they be cuter??); uneventful, due to the luck with the weather so far; and surprisingly normal; due to the familiarity of my surroundings, cubicle office, flush toilets, North Face tents, etc.
      Yes the grounding things are key – drawing and walking. I do some everyday and am almost obsessively careful with my health (enough sleep, low coffee, no alcohol) because I know once on the plateau, I will need all of my physical and mental strength.
      Your words are so wonderful (I struggle to create a coherent sentence. . .) and right on – keep them coming – love to all my family there!

  3. Mom and Dad on December 20, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Fascinating! We are so proud of you and happy for you and look forward to your sketches.

    Talked to Paul just now; he’s lonsome and will enjoy New Zealand with you

    love, mom and dad