Cape Evans, Scott Hut and Antarctic Gold
Yesterday morning I got a heads up that I made it into the Cape Evans trip that evening. The trips had been stopped a few weeks ago and nobody knew for how long, and somehow I lucked into the first trip after we found out they were back on.
Cape Evans is home to Scott's Hut, the base of operations for the 1910 Terra Nova Expedition and scheduled highlight of the tour. The building's threshold leads directly to a fatty, fishy smell that follows you to every nook and cranny in the joint. New Zealand's government takes the historical site quite seriously, so everything inside and outside is as close to the way it was left as possible. That means rations of anchovies, ketchup, and cocoa powder, caught penguins, and collected seal blubber are all right there as you walk by. There's even a skeleton of (what I believe) is one of the expedition's dogs. The low, but bright light of the polar sun cast perfectly warm shades across a portion of the hut, and hid the rest.
We loaded back up in the Delta and headed back toward base when we were faced with the true prize of any venture off-station: penguins. I was lucky enough to be riding up front when the driver shouted "There!" and pointed off to our right. A couple hundred yards in the distance were three black silhouettes, waddling toward us at top speed. The trio of Adelie penguins was just as curious about us as we were about them. They walked up and took stock of us, probably sniffed out the prospects for food, and when it was time for us to get back to base they even tried to follow us.
I've been describing life as "hum-drum" to a few people lately, as I'm sick again and am taking my turn at the customer service desk in our supply center (far less out and about work than when I'm not there). But yesterday? Yesterday was completely revitalizing; one of those experiences that brought me down here in the first place.