Friday, February 27, 2009

zero day

Yesterday, Alex and I took our first zero day (no walking) of our backpacking honeymoon. A 20-year old German girl gave us a ride to the town we are in now on her way to her new job at a dairy farm. We catch a bus in an hour to the trailhead to start our next hike. It's beginning to rain as I write with forecast calling for heavy rains tomorrow. (Maybe another zero day on the trail?)

Hey Everybody! This is Alex writing now-- I want to wish my mother a happy happy birthday (our today--her tomorrow)! The last week and a half has been so so fun! It's been so great not being a dish washer and not having to wake up at five am every day... Antarctica feels like a dream now...
Our last hike, the St. James Way, was beautiful and right at my fitness level (easy walking--only 66 km. We spent the night yesterday with two Antarctic friends that picked us up from the trail head. We've been letting go and letting God when it comes to our transportation from town to town and it's working out pretty well so far. Lucas and I take five minute shifts standing out on the side of the road and trying to hitchhike. I get really bashful asking people for a ride; I think Lucas is a bit more of a natural, but he would disagree. Yesterday, it only took us eight minutes from first thumb out to getting in a car!

We are leaving soon for the Leslie-Karamea tramp that will surely kill me. It is seven to nine days of walking on some rough, mountainous terrain with a pretty intense river crossing (wet boots and hopefully not a wet pack). This hike will put us in a good spot to get up to the Abel Tasman region where we will do a lovely 5 day sea kayaking trip and we can get a tan and look healthy again.

We won't be able to blog for the next ten days or so (maybe twelve if the rain keeps up)--All our love, Alex

Thursday, February 26, 2009

back in town

Alex and I spent the last six days hiking our first trail in New Zealand. We finished the trail and hitched to the campground we're at now. Many thanks to Karen and DJ from Antarctica, who picked us up and brought us here. We enjoyed talking with them, they are considering the Peace Corps and they just got married on Christmas day on the ice this year.

We asked the DOC (department of conversation - the park service of New Zealand) for an easy hike to help us get in shape. The hike was exactly what we wanted. The trail stayed in the valley mostly the whole way, but super pretty with mountains surrounding us. Lots of cows. We met some nice folks and spent multiple nights with a couple who works at some huge industrial mines in Australia. Alex and I were feeling the few hills we walked, but we did alright. Hoping to get on the next trail tomorrow or the next day.

Feeling rushed with this blog entry as we are again paying by the minute...

Alex was able to get her polio booster shot in Christchurch, so we've gotten all the medical stuff taken care off for Peace Corps and we just have to wait for our contract offer.

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Zealand

Alex and I are safe and alive in rainy New Zealand. We are back in the world of paying for the internet by the minute and having to buy food. We are starting off our honeymoon with an easy 5-day trip. all our love alex and lucas 40 second and I pay more money----

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

it's time

It is our last morning in Antarctica, probably forever. Our flight is scheduled to leave the ice at 4:15pm. It's bitter and sweet. We are sad to say goodbye to so many fascinating and special people, but we are tired. Our bodies need humidity and rest and reasonable diets.

Before we met, Alex and I both dreamed of an extended honeymoon. We've worked hard for it. We've felt work days drag on forever, antarctic COLD and sore hands from washing too many dishes.

It's been amazing and exotic too. Our memories will be of our friends, our hiking trips, conversing/hanging with Alex while she knit, trips to the wine bar and the mountains.

The honeymoon will be the longest I've ever lived out of a backpack.

Hey everyone! This is Alex...Yesterday I washed my last dish and scrubbed my last pot. It was my last painful five am morning wake-up (no matter how much sleep I got the night before, every morning hurt), it was the last time I had to mop and sweep the floor and take out the trash. It was the last time I had to wear my ugly outfit and be on my feet for nine hours straight. My DA days are officially over. Lucas was a doll and came to volunteer on my last day of work since he had the day off and I still had to work (see picture)...

I've been waiting and wishing for this day to come. Some days more than others. And then my friends started leaving...and I realized how much I've grown to love these people; there's something about group trauma bonding...and now it's my time to go and I'm realizing how much I love this place, too... With everything and all of it, I would have to agree with Lucas that it IS a special place... It breaks my heart a little that we will probably never come back (maybe when our unborn children go to college...)

It's been a really great way to start our marriage. Lucas and I have had way more good times than bad...we lived happily in a tiny room the size of a matchbox. I think we'll be fine in the peace corps!

For those of you who have known me for a long time, living out of a backpack for five and a half months is a BIG LIFE DREAM!!!!! I can't believe I get to share that with the man I love.

We haven't heard anything yet from the Peace Corps. We will let you all know the second we hear something.

Thanks to everyone who sent us snail mail, e-mails, packages, and commented and read our blog. Thank you especially to our families who have been such a source of both logistical and emotional support. We could have never done all of this without you! Next time you read this blog, it will be all about our honeymoon! All our love and bye to Antarctica! Lucas and Alex

We plan to continue blogging at this address.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Alex's penguin

the supply vessel

Lucas' coworkers

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Penguins and computer screens

Alex is still working as hard as ever in the kitchen. The town population has decreased significantly but the number of dishwashers has as well.

Alex saw an Emperor penguin two days ago. I think it helped make this place feel more like Antarctica and little less like a giant kitchen full of dirty dishes.

I've finished couting things and now spend my working day entering the data into several different reports. I had the worst headache yesterday after staring at a computer screen for 10 hours.

We are both doing well and can count the number of days we have left on one hand. (We fly north on the 18th).

The temperature outside is 9F with heavy winds (-8F windchill). Looking forward to some sunny, humid days in New Zealand next week.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I've finished with the 12-hour shifts. The supply vessel is scheduled to leave sometime today and all of the Navy boys who flew down to unload the vessel were on the plane outta here this afternoon. For the next two weeks, we will be seeing planes flying folks home every other day until the last flight on February 23.

I have today and tomorrow off. I slept for about 20 hours today. Not sure what I'll do tomorrow, as the weather isn't so favorable for out-of-doors activities. The weather website isn't working, but I bet it's -10F at least.

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's the final countdown!

Hello everyone! There is a HUGE snow storm outside right now. My head hurt all day which usually means there is some sort of barometric pressure change.
So much is going on right now!
Lucas and I mailed out our Peace Corps medical packet a few days ago which means that we are done with the application process except for my polio booster that I will get in New Zealand. Once we send proof of vaccination in, we'll have to wait six to eight weeks and we'll know where we are going! Lucas and I hope it's Vanuatu, but we keep hearing that anything can happen-- for all we know we may be spending the next 27 months in Uzbekistan! Anyways, I'm excited to have work that is meaningful again.

Our time in Antarctica is coming to an end and I am having lots of mixed feelings. In so many ways I am really ready to get off this dead volcanic rock and ice block. I am tired of waking up at five in the morning six days a week and working ten hour days. I am tired of the sun always shining and having dry skin all the time.
Yet, the mountains in the far-off distance are so beautiful; i see them everyday on my way to work. I love walking to hut point after dinner and seeing seals and looking for whales and penguins with Lucas. Sometimes, I really like washing dishes and pots-- it's a great way to think and pray.
I've learned a lot about myself doing this type of work... It's been nice to laugh at myself--there are some things that are so very "me". I walk around the galley with the same cup of coffee all day and I raise my hand during stretch break to point out ways that our systems could run smoother even if I really don't want to care at all. I bring a backpack to work full of everything you can think of and I walk slow. My lunch lady friends can very easily believe that I drive a car slow too.

I've enjoyed my co-workers. Most of them are way younger than I am and it's kind of fun to be the old married lady that goes to bed at 8 p.m. Today I almost cried looking at their sweet faces--it will never be the same... not like this... ever again. Every ending always evokes every other ending for me... so bittersweet... I am so grateful for such a wonderful life.

Sometimes it's hard for me to be around all the different kinds of energy here. There are people who are lost and running from something either internally or externally; there are people who are bravely taking their lives into their own hands and having a big, wonderful adventure to the farthest corner of the world; there are people who are older tradespeople and journeymen making a living; there are orphans who no longer have families that they are attached to, and there is everybody in between. It's a like a bunch of peter pans and lost boys(girls) decided to come to Antarctica to see what it would be like . Every person here is transitory and outside of their every day lives... Lucas loves this-weird-antarctic-energy. He loves this community. Loves it. He likes that there are all these random people in such an isolated place...

It's the weirdest commune on the planet hands down.

I, on the other hand, don't love it. I don't love the culture--there's too much drinking and debauchery for my tastes... and I've met lots of people that I think are amazing and enjoy seeing everyday. There are so many of these contradictions that it makes my head hurt in the pot room.

I'm sad that Lucas and I probably won't come back. With all of it and everything, I would come back again. The amount of money we can save is fantastic and there is something special about this place... maybe because it is all about contradictions and hard edges... I don't quite know.

I'm so excited to see children and dogs. I can't wait to feel humidity and see trees and strangers. I can't wait for someone else to wash my dishes and to eat fresh food (most everything we eat expired in 2004)... and I might even miss this place... maybe a little. My love to everyone..Alex

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Vessel Offload

The supply vessel offload seems to be going slow. Mostly (as I understand) because one of the cranes is having some difficulties and all of the milvans (the big metal boxes they put everything in and load on the ship) froze together when vessel went through some nasty storms on the way here from New Zealand. I (like many) am working 12-hour days until the offload is finished, so it's sad.

Alex and I are sleeping a lot lately. It seems we are always tired when we wake up in the morning, no matter how much sleep we get. We slept 11 hours last night. We are looking forward to some serious sleeping-in in New Zealand. 1 before 1.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Supply Vessel

The supply vessel was scheduled to arrive about 4 hours ago. I haven't been out to see if it arrived, but it should be here. The supply ship is the final task that must happen before the season ends. Folks will start leaving in greater numbers pretty quickly after the supply vessel departs.

Campus has a bit of a different feel during offload, and this different feeling is a constant reminder that the end is near. There are lots and lots of folks (over 100) from the US Navy that were flown down here a couple of days ago to help unload the boat and a handful (~40) folks from the New Zealand Defense Forces. Many of the jobs on campus (including mine) require working longer hours help facilitate vessel offload. The bars on campus are closed down during offload and the store is only open for two hours each day.

With the constant reminder, I think it is nearly impossible not to start getting excited about returning to the land of trees, children and stars. Alex and I have started talking about what we want to eat when we arrive in New Zealand. I want to eat Avocados and expensive apples and ice cream that was made with milk, cream and sugar.

Gotta get to work.