Saturday, March 3, 2012

Antarctica


Happy birthday Ileana!

Last year on her birthday I made her a comic book (with her own drawings, duh!). This year, we went to the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch (also known as the Gateway to Antarctica, due to its transporting most of the crews that go down there).

Just to refresh your memory (or, if you haven't learned about the South Pole yet, to teach you a bit):

- Antarctica is a continent. The North Pole is not, as it's only one big sheet of ice, whereas Antarctica has actual dirt and rock and such.

- It's the driest, coldest, windiest place on earth.

- There are no polar bears (think North Pole), but there are penguins!

I won't go farther because it would take too long and because you guys need to do some research on your own as well!

We headed out after waking Ileana up with the laptop (that was her preferred gift— 'unlimited' access to the laptop). This was at 9.

She said thank you and then 'good night,' so we enjoyed internet access for a while longer.

At 12:30, we headed off to find some warm clothing for the camper van, and then to the Antarctic Centre. After buying the tickets, we headed through. There was a simulated video with all sorts of conditions (sunup and sundown are six months each), a snow fall, etc.

We headed through Scott Base, New Zealand's research station.

They have. Golf. Rules. The rules probably differ from typical golf rules. For instance, you can move the ball one meter away in any direction if there are petrified seal droppings in its path. Or something like that.

A ball falling into dangerous terrain is bad. If a skua carries off the ball, you can replace it. All sorts of crazy things.

There is also a storm every half hour.

The general temperature in the small room covered in hard-packed snow and ice (and a slide… the first time I did it I managed to slide to my feet. The second and third times I completely failed at that. Beginner's luck sucks) is −8°C.

A wind machine allowed you to push a button and blast freezing cold air into your face. I didn't try it, as I like preserving neurons and all that stuff.

Then, the storm began. The temperature began to drop… the wind speed got up to 26km per hour… the room got darker… the wind howled.

My lips were frozen. I couldn't talk properly from the cold and when I tried to whistle (try it when your lips are frozen. It's almost impossible)… nada.

Luckily we got out to the warmth. We saw a 4D show as well (amazing were it not for sudden jerking and shooting of water), and a beautiful video of Antarctica on a huge floor-length HD screen.

The sunrise was. Beautiful. It probably takes a couple of days in real life, but in a matter of seconds the sky went from black to pink to fiery red to… blue.

A fantastic day in all!

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