So we sort of closed down the station. For the last few weeks, the plan had been for the last flight to be on Friday, February 13th. But like so many other things in this program, dates are flexible. Unfortunately, things had to change under less than optimal circumstances this year.
One of our winterover power plant mechanics had to leave three days before scheduled close. It being three days until there would be no more airplanes for nine months, we were unable to hire another mechanic to fill his spot. He was an extremely competent guy, and had been planning on completely rebuilding the #3 generator in the power plant over the course of winter. He'd started in on it before he had to go, and so we were down a generator. Fortunately, this continent is full of brilliant people, whether academically or in the trades. So here's what they did. Four mechanics flew in from McMurdo, and the summer mechanics didn't leave. They're currently down in the power plant working in shifts around the clock rebuilding #3. Estimated time to do the job? Two days. Ho lee cow.
Of course, station close was still scheduled for Friday, and the estimated time of completion was Saturday night. So we get to close station twice! Today was the first of our two "last flights." Everyone left except the winterovers and the power plant mechanics. It was surreal to have everyone leave and the station start to settle down, but to know that there are still six more planes to come in before the actual last flight. Oh, and being the only trained fuelie left on station, I get to play with the planes! So it's not all bad.
In other words, station closed. But not really.
Other winter tidbits:
The greenhouse is in full swing! Marissa (one of the research associates, and the youngest woman ever to winter at Pole) has been killing it all summer, and word is we'll have occasional salads throughout winter. I'm beyond stoked.
I've started experimenting with ways to keep my camera from freezing outside so I can take time lapses once it gets dark out. This was one of my first attempts. Tip: it pays to be friends with the meteorologists so they let you leave your camera on their observation deck on the roof.
The internet is getting better as more people leave the station, so I can do things like upload videos (and post here!).
And one more of the "last" herc, because why not.