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Sunday, October 14, 2007: Rest and Rec Antarctica Style
Sunday was our first day off since we got here, and we made good use of it running around to visit historical sites, take care of mail, read, and generally flop about. I can't say building SCINI really feels like work, but it's good to take a break and let our brains process through all the progress we've made.

This photo is from arrival heights looking north along Ross Island; it was a very windy spot, Nick could lean 45 degrees into the wind without falling over and we all slipped over the ground a bit when the wind gusted.


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The Hut Point structure is more than a hundred years old; it was originally constructed as storage space while explorers live on ships anchored nearby. Over the years it has hosted as many as 16 people at the same time and saved many lives by providing shelter and supplies for any one desperate in the region. Today it's a protected historical site within shouting distance from Mac Town, but several emergency huts are scattered around Ross Island, and many supply caches across the continent, to provide the same type of safe haven.


The dry climate and extreme temperatures generally keep the structure pristinely preserved, but with summer temperatures hitting 10c (50f) and around a thousand visitors a year walking through and raising the humidity, strange forms of fungus have cropped up in this an other historic structures. It's pretty amazing that there is a form of life that can hibernate for an entire year then wake up for a couple weeks when conditions are just right, but on the other hand it's pretty amazing there is any life here at all, and there are entire rich ecosystems. See this article from the Antarctic Sun for more information about the mold pro
blems.



The huts are still full of old food from the last inhabitants, including this half eaten pot of seal blubber... that's a lot of calories!


We had the day off, but the station is crawling with activity 24/7. Different groups of people have different free days, and at least a few hundred work the night shift. The sun won't be setting for much longer, and there's lots to do! Our lab is right next to the helo pad, where cargo was being hauled out to the field all day yesturday and empty flights coming back in for more. Things are pushing into high gear, we've got some milestone tests planned for monday, and long months of work back home are starting to pay off. Weee!



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This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ANT-0619622 (http://www.nsf.gov). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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