read various chapters of this autobiography by going to the Individual Stories menu to the right.

Thursday, August 24, 1995

My time in Antarctica and Alaska

In August 1995, maybe on the 24th if I recall correctly, I flew into Christchurch New Zealand. I was on my way to Antarctica. While in "Cheech" I, along with the others working for Antarctic Support Associates, had to wait for weather conditions to permit our 2400 mile flight to Mcmurdo Station. Every morning we would listen for word from the Navy, prepared to either gear up and board an airplane or spend another day as tourists. For five days I got $100 per diem, and had lots of fun hanging out at Caffiends 24 hour cafe and O' Reilly's Irish Pub. Once I made it to Kaikoura for some seaside hiking. Seals were along the shore, and is home to some of the world's most abrupt climbs in elevation from seashore to mountain peak.

Me in Crary Lab, McMurdo Station Antarctica Nov 1995
 When I did arrive in Antarctica, the temperature was around minus 30°(f). Chuck Gallagher told me it was considered a pleasant day. Within a week I saw a Condition 1. Winds over 100 mph, low visibility, sometimes have to use ropes to find one's way from building to building. After a Condition 1, a day with minus 30 ° is great. One night after work we noticed the wind was almost still. This had the effect of bringing the wind chill up to around 0°(f). It felt warm. A small group of us decided to walk along the road over to Hut Point. The walk to the hut was pleasant. When turned around to walk back into town, there was a wind. My eyes froze shut, walking along a drop off into the ocean. I got my eyes open in a minute or so, and found out it is a common occurrence.
McMurdo Station Antarctica

I spent 13 months in Antarctica. During that time I saw a lot of ice, mountains, and during the six months of night I saw a lot of the new HTML World Wide Web that was in its infancy. I learned to play bass and use Unix. It was on the WWW that I selected my next place to live, Seattle. In October 1996 I left the ice, spent some time in New Zealand and the US East Coast, and took a train from Pennsylvania to Seattle. I arrived in Seattle on November 1, 1996.

My first six months in Seattle were interesting. I met a set of friends, and was at a huge Thanksgiving dinner in Puyallup. I worked as a temp at the very young, and played my bass at their 1996 Christmas party. In 2004 I was still hearing people's accolades for that performance. But I was still burnt out from the Antarctica winter-over. I needed another adventure to undo the mental damage from the last one.

I stepped onto the processing boat P/B Neptune on March 15, 1997. I went from Seattle's ship canal to the Bering Sea, and lived on the vessel until August 15, 1997. During that voyage I first saw Alaska, including a week docked at Akutan Island. I loved Akutan from the first time I walked through the village.

Penn Air "Blue Goose" airplane that services Akutan AK. 
After my six month stay on a processing boat, I had a three day break in Seattle, then it was on to Akutan for me. I got there on August 20, 1997. I flew in on the only air service to Akutan, aboard the Pen Air "Goose" seaplane. By October I had started providing Internet-use consulting services to the village library and mayor's office. When the mayor's office called the superintendent of plant operations to request a day off for me to instruct the mayor, it got the attention of my bosses. They wanted me to go to work in the office, doing bookkeeping and payroll. I accepted after a third request. It is sort of funny that I was the one of the few people on the island with constant access to email, using the Juno email service which required no ISP.

There were many strange, horrible and wonderful events over the nine months I stayed on the island. There were two deaths within the first few weeks, including a gruesome murder in my dorm. In December I held the town bartender Ben Darling in my arms as we rushed him to the village medical nurse, he had been beaten and almost died as we talked. He survived. My efforts to save him, and then my participation in the village's Russian Christmas traditions, all contributed in my being accepted in the village. My only paying gig for playing bass was a performance at The Roadhouse village bar.

From August 1995 till May 1998 I spent twenty-two months in the cold, exotic Antarctica and Alaska. Coincidentally, in both Akutan and Mcmurdo Station I was at the base of the northernmost and southernmost active volcanoes on that side of the Earth. I became who I am at the base of these volcanoes.
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The author of this blog also has two books available on Amazon. Athena Techne uses some of the autobiographical content of this blog and adds a philosophical perspective utilizing the ancient Greek god Athena.

Athena Techne :: Page

Autistic Crow Computer is a fiction set in Seattle, about an autistic boy and two crows. The book was written for young autistic readers, although reviews by non-autistics have been positive.

Autistic Crow Computer :: Page

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