Rat Fest 2012 in Hut 10

This morning, after work, Michelle, the Midrats Dining Attendant (DA) Lead had arranged for a little “Happy Hour” for the Midrats Galley crew – DAs and cooks alike. We were to meet at 0830 at Hut 10 and bring movies, music, food, and drinks.

The DAs don’t get off their Midrat shift until 0800 but I’d been off since 0600 so I may have snuck home and napped for a few hours before stumbling over to Hut 10 with a bag of potato chips and a bottle of red wine, courtesy of McMurdo Station Store.

Hut 10 is a bit surreal – it’s located right next to the chapel and is primarily intended to house visiting dignitaries. Clinton and McCain have both stayed there, as has the son of Robert Scott when he was passing through last year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his father reaching the South Pole. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much but on the inside? It’s a house. Like, a normal house with cushy furniture, a big screen tv, and a dining room with wine glasses and real plates. There is also a fully kitted-out kitchen, two bathrooms, two guestrooms, and the “master bedroom” with a queen-size bed frame.

Apparently, they’ve hidden the mattress away in storage since Hut 10 has started being opened up to private parties. Anyone can reserve Hut 10 for birthdays or get-togethers and the Halloween After Party was here and featured quite a lot of debauchery so it’s just as well they limit the horizontal surfaces available. Anyway, it’s all a bit strange to be in this little cozy home that looks out over the Ross Ice Sheet. At one point, I was in the kitchen and I heard a scratching sound from down the hallway and I thought, “is that a squirrel?” before remembering, that no, no it couldn’t be a squirrel because I WAS IN ANTARCTICA. *rolls eyes* (It turned out to be Nolan, one of the DAs, coming back from the bathroom.)

So we hung out and watched The Princess Bride and talked about tattoos and traveling and drank wine. Again, I haven’t been drinking much since I got here – this is only the second drink I’d had since arriving – so it went to my head surprisingly quickly. The result was that when I went to get some food in the galley afterwards, I “forgot” to hang my Big Red in my default location (second alcove, far left corner, lower row – I realized the necessity of having a regular spot fairly quickly on the first day). This meant that after eating, I had to go through each and every jacket to find the one with my name tag on it since I could not, for the life of me, remember where I’d put it. At some point, I even wondered if I was brave (stupid?) enough to just run the couple hundred meters back to my dorm and return later after the alcove had cleared out post-lunch rush. I found it eventually of course, but I felt like an idiot. And of course, I felt even more dehydrated than usual when I woke up for work this evening. Yet more good reasons to avoid alcohol down here.

Picture this, twice as full during peak mealtimes, times four (there are four alcoves). Yeah, it is very necessary to have a regular place where you hang your coat and to STICK TO IT.


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