The winter is rapidly drawing to a close, and with our first visitors from the outside world expected tomorrow, the station has become a hive of activity. The crew is dashing madly about trying to breathe life back into all the sections that have been closed down, frozen, drifted over, and more or less mothballed since station close.
Over the past couple of weeks, summer camp - the array of tents used to house the excess summer population - has been dug out, warmed up, and about a quarter of the winter crew has even moved in over there. (Some people really like the peace and quiet of living off station, despite the walk through -60F temperatures to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night.)
A smooth, hard packed runway has sprung up in the middle of my commute to DSL - it's a refreshing change to solid ground between sections of 4' sastrugi and 20' snow drifts. From my path, it disappears into the distance, lined by dozens of heavy black flags to help guide in pilots.
As I mentioned above, we're expecting outsiders tomorrow. This crowd won't be staying, as they're on their way to McMurdo, but with any luck they'll have freshies. From Mactown (nobody on the ice calls it McMurdo - always Mactown), they'll begin ferrying people back here to help with station opening. Our new residents start arriving Thursday.
To prepare for new folks, the entire crew got half the day off today to give the station a good and thorough deep-cleaning. Everything - walls, floors, cielings, desks, washing machines, etc - is getting scrubbed down. By dinner, the station should be gleaming and as good as new. It's funny how much crud has accumulated, and how little we've noticed it.
Over the past 8 months, life on station has been so predictable, repetitive, and almost sleepy, that we simply haven't noticed the changes that have taken place. The station has started waking up from its long winter slumber, and it's a bit shocking to watch the transition.