I’m still getting used to this crazy schedule. I’m undecided whether I want to simply treat it as an 0800-1800 job and thus stay up for several hours after I’m off work and then sleep or look at it as a restaurant job where I’m at work from, say, 1200-2200 and go immediately to bed after work and then wake up 7 hours later and do stuff until I have to go to work again. Either way, it’s my third night on the job so I have remember to be patient as I’m still adjusting! One thing that makes it easier to deal with is the fact that it’s always daylight. The galley dining room has giant windows and it’s quite obviously daylight the entire time. The sun does get a little lower on the horizon in the wee morning hours and the sky is gorgeous when it’s clear out over the ice shelf and you take the garbage out at 2am. Seriously, not a sentence I ever thought I’d have cause to write.
So I rolled in at 19:45 and started going through my prep list with Matt. As I was collecting what I would need to start, I popped into the “Freshies Box” – what would be called the Veg Walk-In in any normal kitchen and HOLY. CRAP. Freshies had arrived! The delivery came during the day and the pallets were stacked floor-to-ceiling with fresh produce. Granted, we’re expected to use it all in two weeks before anything goes bad but yowza, we were spoilt for choice that night!
Matt also informed me that night that Richard, our Exec Chef, had been fired that day – apparently only a few hours after my first and only conversation with him wherein he had told me I could come in late (which I hadn’t) to make up for having to go to the safety meeting. He was already on a plane back to Christchurch. I think Matt expected me to be more affected by it since apparently no one liked the guy much but what I don’t think he realized is that I wasn’t hired by either Rich or Todd (who is now taking over as Exec Chef). I was hired by the Exec Chef at the South Pole, a guy named James Brown. I was meant to be an alternate for the South Pole station (which it turns out they would have needed as someone just backed out, or so the rumor mill has it). At the last minute, James had called and offered me the position at McMurdo and I had taken it. So I hadn’t met or talked to any of my supervisors until I arrived on the Ice and neither of them knew anything about my background. Hmmm…
Anyway, as I got on with prep, Matt expressed concern that I wasn’t “urgent” enough with my prep and cooking, but I think he was just feeling angsty about the position shuffling amongst the higher-ups and fearing that would have a trickle down effect on our workload – which might well happen but let me tell you something, we were standing around for a good part of the night so if we got a little busier, it would certainly make time pass more quickly.
Our menu for the “day”:
Lunch: BBQ Brisket, Mac and Cheese, Mushrooms and Broccoli
Dinner: NY Steak, Gravy, Fried Polenta with Marinara, Mashed Potatoes, Snowpeas with Bell Peppers
Breakfast: Eggs, Bacon, Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, Potato Hash Oatmeal & Bran,
I was super excited for all the new fruit and grabbed a banana and an orange to take home with me. The biscuits and gravy were pretty darn good. I also sampled the bacon, which was fantastically disgusting. It was the single-ply toilet paper equivalent of bacon, when I’m used to Charmin Squeezably Soft. And now that I’ve written it, I’m wondering if using a toilet paper analogy to describe bacon is the best idea. Ah well, I’m too tired to care. And by the way, you can bet the only toilet paper available in the loos here is single-ply – anything else would be too hard on the waste processing.
When I came home, I was determined to stay awake until at least 10am so I put my feet up for a bit and read, then started writing this. Then I studied my station map and decided to walk out to Hut Point. The seals I saw yesterday were probably long gone and you have to book tours of Discovery Hut in advance but I could at least stretch my legs and look around. So I bundled up and off I went…
Although you are technically leaving Town, it doesn’t really feel like it because it’s road most of the way. Once you try to go past the hut though, you start to freak out a little bit – Am I walking on snow? Ice? Water? Is there a giant leopard seal around the corner that you’re going to startle? It’s kind of thrilling… I made my way cautiously up the ridge beyond Hut Point and there weren’t just two but 6 or 7 seals flopped all over the ice. I was quite a ways above them but there they all were, just chillin’, quite literally. The wind chill was INSANE now that I was out of Town. Although I had mittens on while I was taking pictures, the wind cut right through them and I started worrying about frostbite. Fortunately I had the CDC-issued giant leather cloves in my Big Red pockets so I slipped my hands in there and they warmed up very quickly. So I tromped around a bit more, then headed back to Town and was tucked in bed writing this by half ten in the morning, ready for my “night’s” sleep.