The 20 Most Ridiculous Things I’ve Done in Antarctica

Yes, a lot of silliness goes on around here, and I’ve been a part of it, even completely sober. While I never did dye my hair purple as I toyed with doing last winter, I have, on occasion, engaged in some pretty goofy shenanigans. Tonight, for example:

(l. to r.) Me, Phil and Kyle. Oh, there’s an explanation. Keep reading.

20. Attempted a duet of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” at karaoke with a guy who was even more tone deaf than I am.

19. Ate part of the Ross Ice Shelf just to see what it tasted like. It tasted like, uhm, ice.

Tastes like Ross Ice Shelf.

18. Stumbled around outside with a bucket on my head as part of Snowcraft Survival Training. It’s allegedly supposed to simulate a white-out, but I’m pretty sure the instructors had us do it just to give them a good laugh.

17. Squawked nothing but “nevermore” an entire night as The Raven at a masquerade.

16. Talked my buddy Chad (he of the tone deafness of #20) into singing “Oh, Sheila” and dancing poorly on Ob Hill.

15. When a community member asked for a “tiny omelet” while I was working the egg line, I made her one. The size of my thumbnail.

14. Recited (dramatically, of course) the parts of both Sam and Frodo climbing Mt. Doom, loudly, one of the times I did Ob Hill Loop. Come on, tell me it doesn’t look like Mordor.

Ob Hill in summer, December 2010

13. Fashioned a pair of deliciously demonic devil wings for my Halloween succubus costume out of two garbage bags, electrical tape and wire hangers.

Halloween 2010, 10pm local time, Mt. Discovery on the horizon

12. Stretched out under the stars and sang “I Will Always Love You” to Antarctica. Because I will.

11. When my buddy Richard decided to dress like an elf and dance in front of the station webcam to film a Christmas greeting for his wife back in Seattle, I decided to film it.

10. Two words: Polar Plunge. Not once, but twice. Personally, I don’t see anything ridiculous about jumping into the coldest water on earth, but every time I tell people about it, they seem to think I’m not quite right in the head.

Yes, that’s me. Underwater in McMurdo Sound. June 2011.

9. Attempted LL Cool J’s “Mama Said (Knock You Out)” at karaoke–totally out of my league. After that debacle, I stuck to Metallica covers.

8. Every morning, setting up the breakfast line, I put out the serving utensils (tongs, spoons, etc.) and write what each item is on dry erase signs above each well. One morning last winter, in my favorite T3 polar madness moment, I reviewed the menu, set out the serving utensils and then, on the signs, wrote “SPOON” “SPOON” “TONGS” “SPOON” “TONGS” “LADLE.”

7. In perhaps my finest moment of T3 polar madness (so far), I tried to listen to music by putting one earbud headphone in one ear and the other in my mouth, then wondered why my netbook’s sound was in mono.

6. Transformed into Curtains the Cleaner for our Mafia Night-themed Final Sunset Dinner. Because there is nothing ridiculous about sporting a fake mustache made with eyeliner. Nope, nothing at all ridiculous about that.

Nothing odd about this. Nothing at all.

5. After spending 36 hours straight in survival training, I did a snow angel on the Ross Ice Shelf, for no other reason than, well…how many chances does one get to make a snow angel on the Ross Ice Shelf?

4. Happily climbed down an observation tube stuck into the sea ice with no clear idea how I was going to get back up.

Most people about to crawl down a dark, tight tunnel to sit under sea ice do not look this excited about it, but then I am not most people.

3. Indulged in some really bad dancing (I believe I was listening to the Black Eyed Peas on my MP3 player at the time) in the shadow of the world’s southernmost active volcano, Mt. Erebus (yes, that is smoke coming from its open caldera…it’s one of three open caldera volcanoes in the world). I used some of this footage for a video I made as a memorial to my friend Pat, who died suddenly while I was on the Ice for my first season, but this is a world premiere of the uncut version. For better or worse. Mostly worse. [I would like to note that a baggy Big Red parka adds about 80 pounds in photos. I’m jus’ sayin’.]

2. Sawed and shoveled a coffin-sized hole in the Ross Ice Shelf and then slept in it. (As part of Snowcraft Survival Training, aka Happy Camper, we were learning how to make an emergency shelter.)

Ross Ice Shelf, November 2010

1. Hot Doggin’ It. About a month ago, the galley crew decided that for our final “special dinner” of the winter season, we would do a “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” theme. Okay. I jokingly suggested that it would not be a ballgame without a sausage race. [Sidenote: when I was little, I loved the Yankees, particularly Bucky Dent, but the first player’s strike really disillusioned me. I pretty much ignored baseball until I moved to Milwaukee in 1998 and became acquainted with the Klement’s Sausage Races, arguably the finest show of athleticism since, I dunno, ever.] Fast forward to this morning, when I learned not one but two hot dog costumes had been procured from the magical repository of recycled costumes, ski boots and sombreros that is Gear Issue.

Do these buns make me look fat? Pre-race posing with Kyle (with bat).

The galley itself was turned into a concession stand and everyone was in some variation of baseball outfit.

No, there are no actual polar bears in Antarctica. That’s why our team name is funny.

Phil had turned himself into a human vending machine and agreed to join Kyle and me, the designated sausage products, in a race around the seating and service area.

Rachel tries to get a freebie…of, er, some sort, from Phil the human vending machine (he was distributing sodas and candy).

The official game kicked off with an outstanding version of the national anthem by galleymate Ryanne. Dang. The girl can sing.

Ryanne knocking it out of the park with her rendition of the national anthem.

The hot dogs/vending machine warmed up beside home plate before setting off on our lap of the entire front-of-house area. Sorry the photos a friend took are all blurry…we were just moving that fast.

Moments before the start of the race. You can cut the tension with a knife. Which you can then use to spread the mustard.

I like this shot of the finish line. Yes, I did the Klement’s Sausages and all of Milwaukee proud. I won.

Photofinish. That this is the only race I’ve ever won makes it even more ridiculous. Maybe I should wear a hot dog costume when I do triathlons.

I think we can all agree that’s pretty ridiculous.


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