Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Some wheels turn faster than others

It still amazes me how convoluted the process of beginning employment in Antarctica is. Long gone are the days of Shackleton’s laconic {and possibly apocryphal} call to likely demise, but possible glory. For several weeks now I have been working on my physical qualification (PQ), and think I am drawing near to the end of that series of poking, prodding, imaging, sampling, and patience testing. However, there seems to always be some other document to fill out, notarize, and submit. Last week I was out in Colorado for the lovely ritual of the winterover: the psychological evaluation. I drove out early and spent a few days up in the Rockies, including a successful hike to the summit of Mt. Massive (14,421 feet). I also had the nice, if brief, opportunity to catch up with some family members I had not seen since returning to the States while I was in the Denver metro area.

On the drive home I finally managed to visit one of those little names marked on my Kansas road map that I had wanted to visit for so long. Monument Rocks/Chalk Pyramids in Gove County was where I stopped off on a welcome detour from the usual 9-hour meditation on I-70. Along the way there I espied a couple prairie chickens and a lone pronghorn antelope; the first one I have ever seen in Kansas. The rocks were totally deserted, and much larger than I expected. I liked how it was just out in somebody’s pasture, with little else around. There were no gates or tickets or parking restrictions or any of the usual complications with developed tourist destinations. Given all the convolutions of the bureaucracy I’m navigating again to just go do the same job, the simplicity was a welcome change of pace.



My 1994 Civic gave a commendable performance throughout the trip. El Civ averaged about 40 mpg, with one tank of mixed mountain and flatlands driving getting a high of 45 mpg. That is not too shabby for a vehicle I’ve had over half my life.

“It's like putting on crampons and trying to walk through a room full of puppies.”
~Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

6 comments:

Teacher said...

Winter over? Again? I will look forward to reading your adventures.

Rev Chong said...

I've passed that sign to those rocks many times and always wondered about them. I will definatelly make the stop there next time. If you ever find yourself in extream sw Kansas where it touches Oklahoma and Colorado, it is much the same. The marker is out in a pasture with a few mesas around it ......

Rachel B said...

Pretty pictures!

Have you seen this article?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nasa-needs-more-astronauts-report-says/2011/09/07/gIQAl98Z9J_story.html

Becky said...

Looks like a fascinating place. If you want mail at the Pole, I need your address, even if it's the same as last year-can't get to that info at the moment.

EthanG said...

[Participant's Name, Project # or RPSC]-WINTEROVER
South Pole Station
PSC 468 Box 400
APO AP 96598

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I haven't seen similar rocks when passing through SW KS, but will keep my eyes peeled if I pass through there again.

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Yes, I've seen the articles about the report on NASA's need for more astronauts. Whether NASA heeds that report or has the budget to staff up...that's another thing.

Rev Chong said...

I was thinking more about the non commercialism of the marker than the rock formations.....