As the days get colder after the new years, even during this minor storm that has blown through, big red has returned to our lives and life after the ice is often a topic of discussion. New Years weekend was our last two day weekend, but more then that and more then symbolizing our last major holiday it is a shift in attitude for the entire station. This is the home stretch for the season, after 10 weeks or 16 weeks we are on our last 6. Plans for home come to mind. Thoughts of vacation are tantalizing. Redeployment becomes more then a distant question.
Tomorrow I’m going to my redeployment meeting, hopefully. Hopefully soon after my meeting I’ll get my redeployment date (otherwise known as the date I’m leaving the ice). I’m shooting for February 17th, which is close to my contract date of February 18th. For many there’s little choice in this matter, your supervisor picks it for you or your job defines it for you. If your not needed, they kick you off sooner rather then later (the flights start at the end of January). Right now they are calling season end on February 24th (I think) and that depends as much on what flights make it as anything else. The are talking to the Air National Guard about extending their stay for a month (these guys fly the LC-130 ski planes, which fly all over continent) for resupply reason. The C-17’s will probably stick to the February 24th date, but until you leave the ice you never count on anything.
Life is busy with the end of season projects as well. I’ll be helping to shoot the last of the training videos before we leave. Others are setting up the town for the winter projects like the power plant/water plant change they’ve been working on or preparing to ship the helos off on the C-17s or preparing to shut down buildings or generally winterizing this place. Indeed our last day of guard mail packages (aka free mail between bases) is January 14th and our last day for regular mail is January 28th so we are packing ourselves up and preparing to get going.
Key thoughts that have swirled again lately are those things that I will bring down for next season. Life at summer camp is sort of a strange amalgamation between a harsh continent where you can be deprived of some of your civilized sense and yet you can make this place more comfortable then home if you want to ship it down. Already life is a preparation for next time for the next place.
Many have been applying for Kwajalein atoll as a contractor or some have occasionally talked about Afghanistan or Iraq. Just two days ago I got an email from someone at Halliburton who’s likely stationed somewhere else in this world, and who’s looking for info on work down here. The discussion of if your are coming back is much more prevalent now as it’s getting close to trying to find a contract for next year. Yesterday we had our on Ice job fair. Many are trying to move up from being a dining assistant or general assistant to being something else. Some are looking at trying to go to palmer or Pol’ing for a summer or winter. Still others are ready to leave and never come back. Sick of this place after a single year or 15 years many have decided that it’s time to call it quits.
Even amisted the end of this season, life goes on. The hustle and bustle around this place is something that is more timeless then a single season. Not long before Christmas the South Pole Traverse finally made it to the South Pole after 4 years and 4 tries at it. This is the year the Helos go home for rebidding after being on the ice for 10 years. On a personal level I’ve mad friends and learned of people that I’ll likely never forget. I’ve discovered new truths about life and living that won’t stop. I’ll now know what it’s like to live in a land where the darkness doesn’t set for half the year.
What a place to ponder…