Jen communicating with the locals (pic: Shane Mitchell)

Jen communicating with the locals (pic: Shane Mitchell)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jungle Jen and the First Adelie



He's saying....

"Jen! How I've missed you! Come here and give me a Cuddle!!!"






no... really.... I heard him....



I speak fluent penguin now.....



jjn

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Icy News...

So you know how I've been going on and on about that last weekend... the one I spent forever editting photos from- the one where so much happened it felt like four years not four days....


It was my turn to write an article for icy news that week... normally I have very little to say (ok, so none of us believe that, but when it comes to writing the station newsletter, often I struggle for inspiration)... but inspired by the sheer amount of photos and the remaining buzz from the weekend previous, I actually got off my pasty blue behind and submitted this...

Out and About in the Vestfolds (I didn't choose the title- lame as...)



You can find more info about Davis and the exhibitioners, what we've been up to, what its like here at
http://www.antarctica.gov.au/living-and-working/stations/davis 
There are photos and all the old icy news at "This Week At Davis" 



Oh... and....

Guess what....


THE PENGUINS ARE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!






Thursday, October 13, 2011

JJn Painting with Light


Yes. Winter was pretty long.

And I kind of disappeared off the face of the planet. Its not that I wasn't here, it was just that you couldn't see me because the majority of my world was dark. I was there, just lurking in the shadows, phantom style. Or was that Dick Tracey? I don't own a trenchcoat. Though I do like the idea of wearing my underpants on the outside of a purple jumpsuit. Lets run with the Phantom....

So let me explain. Winter here isn't actually ALL dark. At Davis we have 6 weeks where the sun doesn't clear the horizon, but thats not to say that its totally dark all day. You know that hour or so in the morning before sunrise (ok, lets be realistic here... mum knows that hour, most people I know don't.... unless it happens to have hungover from the previous evening's proceedings....) so... You know that hour after the sun goes down in the evening... after the sunset... (nice input there captain obvious)... how there is a bit of a glow and the light slowly drains from the sky? Well, imagine that hour, but elongated due to the sheer albedo of ... white...

Albedo: definition:

The fraction of solar energy (shortwave radiation) reflected from the Earth back into space. It is a measure of the reflectivity of the earth's surface. Ice, especially with snow on top of it, has a high albedo: most sunlight hitting the surface bounces back towards space.

So I'm a weather nerd. I can hear you judging me....
Even over midwinter - the peak of lightlessness (new word, I dig it) when the sun starts its gradual return to the antarctic, there is still a good three hours of what most would consider daylight. For example. You can see how cold the water that you are planning to jump into in only bikini and volleys (so your wet feet don't stick to the ice on quick exit from said cold water). You can also see the steam coming off the outdoor hottub set up for the occasion. It starts getting light at around 11am, and by 3pm is pretty much night. again. so...

(I'm working up to a point... just in case you were wondering)...

The clear nights this year have been. well. amazing.

We've had one of the most aurorally active years in memory. Almost every night.

Auroras are the drama of the heavens. They change every night, thoughout the night, peak around 3am, can light up the whole sky or just be a silver whisper in the ear of those sparkling pinpricks in the dark blanket of sky. Either way, they are exciting, they build and snake and ribbon and curl across the sky- they change in intensity, waning and sparking back up again on a whim.
And you know what?

We had them so frequently this year that a lot of the time, you couldn't even be bothered running back up the stairs to grab your camera.

Now the light is back 16 hours a day (14 of that sunshine above horizon) I miss night. The hours that Auroras might occur are becoming pretty unfriendly- especially to my shiftwork hours. But they still give me a buzz. Especially while looking through the camera lense.

Early on we were introduced to the idea of playing with light at night time. To shoot an Aurora, the camera must be on a tripod with the exposure around the 30sec mark, generally set to a timer to stop the camera shake as the shutter releases which blurs the stars and the foreground. It's art.
So first imagine standing there, shuddering in the icy cold (oh, literally, its not even a pun woooh!) flicking your torch light on and off and on and off... out of sight of the camera ofcourse so as not to ruin the shot. Until someone tells you that you can light up the foreground for a better shot using just your torch light.

Painting. Like with a brush, careful to stay within the lines.


... And then, after that you walk through the shot...


Rookery Lake Apple, early one morning. That's the moon in the sky by the way, not the sun... jjn


and then you start drawing things- like you did as a kid with sparklers in the crisp night air at new years.. and then you start getting results in this....
Standard JJn tomfoolery... mouth open in photos... such finesse.... (c) J.Feast)

The boy (oh how he loves it when i call him that haha), getting in on the fun. This was his second attempt (the first the S was backwards as you have to write in mirrored), and wasn't quick enough with the light. I love this photo because the letters look like they have legs.... :D





The successful photo.... See the look of accomplishment on his face...

These two shots are great also to show how quickly the auroras ribbon and change. There can't have been more than a minute between these two photos....







The red scribbles came from a small LED light hanging off the back of my head torch...










You've seen this one before in colour... it makes me feel like I'm on the moon ... (c) J.Feast



You can use a flash, with some totally interesting and entertaining results... I could totally show you...

but a girl has to retain some mystery right........?




hehe, and one last one, for mum.....



jjn

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jungle Jen's White World in Black and Grey


So, While I work steadily through processing all the photos from last week in an effort to get them ready for the station DVD (along with all the other thousands and thousands of photos still yet to be processed- I know I'm prone to exaggeration but this actually may be an underestimation of my task ahead) I thought I would share some of my other photos (other photos?? I've only been here a year..)...

in black

 and

white.

These are some I like. Hope you like them too.

jjn
Aurora over L-Sat Radar Dome. Davis Station (c) J.Feast

Me? Making Noise? Neverrrrrr (Photo taken by Shane Mitchell)

I just love her curly whiskers. Cute huh! (Weddell Seal, (C) J.Feast )
Berg. No more needs to be said. (c) J.Feast

Bandit's Icebergs. In this light it makes them look like their sterling silver. I like that. (C) J.Feast







Monday, October 10, 2011

Jungle Jen Reflections


Well, We are officially into the last month..

or....

The last month until the ship is SUPPOSED to arrive to swap new people in and take us home to warm ground, warm weather and warm welcomes... but as we all know, schedules in Antarctica are all subject to the "Antarctic "A" Factor"....

its quite similar to Murphy's law.

but colder.


The penguins are due back this week, the seals are beginning to congregate, a little later than we expected, and we should start to see some seal pups around the traps looking soft and lovely and gorgeous, all ready to pose for our eager cameras desperate to capture that one last perfect portrait of an icy wilderness still striking out for it's solid significance in our lives and hearts.


for example.

Last weekend:

Blew my mind.

Deep Lake Reflections, Vestfold Hills, Antarctica (c) J.Feast
I took thousands of photos and felt like I lived three lifetimes in one four day trip out into the field. We (boy and I) visited Brooke's Hut, Deep Lake, Davis (for bread and birth control- two things you don't forget on a trip to the field...) Icebergs, Ace Lake, Every other single lake in Long Fjord, Tryne Fjord, Platcha Hut, Breid Basin, Lichen Lake, Stalker Hill, Lake Zvezda, Bandits Hut, Michelson's Cairn, Iceberg Alley... and you don't even know what all that means! We went ice climbing, ice skating, I practically crawled three km on my stomach over frozen fresh water lakes because I could not steal my eyes away from the amazing bubble formations captured in the ice as it froze. We saw sunsets, seals, we had picnics amongst icebergs.,.. And all of this, with clear blue skies and not a breath of wind.

I could have cried.


It is really easy when you live in an isolated place for a long time to forget the reasons for coming here, and become embroiled in the crap and politics that goes hand in hand with living in a small confined space (can of sardines) with the same people day in day out for 16 months. Some days, its hard to retain that positivity and awe at a place that changes subtley and often, and its really difficult to stop this version of reality becoming the "norm".

-15 degrees C is now classed as "Warm"

Rocks have become beautiful.

Nobody blinks an eyelid at spending 20mins of your evening infront of the heater defrosting the olive oil so you can cook dinner.

You know you're in Antarctica when you see grown men ... 
... ... ... ... ice skate.


But this "weekend" (Saturday night after work (10:30pm) driving through thick snow so we could wake up at Brookes Hut the following day- until Wednesday night, extended due to the most amazing blue skies, dimpled with the most sumptuous sunset bathing spectacular iceberg alley in soft light...oh!) I think this weekend may have changed my life.

For the first time in a long time I actually thought twice about wanting to go home.

Now I understand why people keep coming back to this place.


So. I thought, after beginning to sort through the 35GB of photos I took in four days (beat that!) I thought I would share a couple of the early photos of the trip. Just something to tide you over. And something to remind me why I am here, and why in four weeks time, its going to be really really difficult to say goodbye to this place.....


jjn


Reflections on Deep Lake behind the old weather station. Deep lake is a hypersaline lake which never freezes, not even in -40 degree temperatures. On days without wind, the mirrored reflections of the Vestfold Hills can be crystal clear. (c) J.Feast





Deep Lake Reflections



Weddell Seal Lazes in the sun out between some Icebergs off Davis Station, Antarctica (c) J.Feast


Its a tough life being a seal...   (c) J.Feast

Friday, September 30, 2011

Jungle Jen stepping off the Midwinter Night-Train

Ok so I should blog more.


I think that should become my catch-phrase for this blog. You know, like the ones they used to have on bad seventies sit-coms followed by canned laughter and raucous applause. Except I wouldn't really have the applause.... or laughter... maybe just a knowing groan from my fan base of ... one?...(my mum discovered blogger... Hi Mum!)



Life in Antarctica is... Cold...


So. We passed midwinter. a while back. I jumped in icy water- like literally- there was someone with a scoop net to break the ice that kept forming on the surface of our engineered swimming pool (engineered with a big chainsaw and a crane- go deisos!!). It was... umm.
cold?
And then it was dark.
We saw lots of Auroras.
And not many penguins.
And it has been a long long long winter.
But then ....                                                     the sun came back

Oh and I started seriously taking photos. Seriously.
Lots
of
Photos.

And I think thats actually the reason that I haven't updated this blog, because I've taken so many photos since the ship left in April that I don't know where to start. I have black and whites, icebergs, auroras, icebergs under Auroras...

oh and some amazing emperor penguins- which happen to be the reason I became interested in coming to antarctica at all... (yeah year 8 biology project- and I say I got nothing from highschool!)
I've seen some amazing sights. I've seen crevasse fields and glaciers that take your breath away and remind you that this....

this right here....
This is Antarctica.

 
So here's a couple of photos to prove that I am here... still... and that I have actually used that ridiculously expensive camera I just HAD to have to come to this place. this. place. wow.

 And to let you know, I'm still alive.... loving life!!



(only five weeks until the ship is due to arrive... best get plenty of photos on here before then huh??)
xxx jjn

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jungle Jen Vs the Silence

View over the seaice from the DavisMet office 27 April- with a sundog through diamond dust (c) jfeast


I'm not even sure the moon went down today.



As we speak (as I write) I am watching the sun descend below Anchorage Island to my left, scattering oranges and pinks and purples across the lightly clouded afternoon sky, as the full moonface watches on through the window on my right flanked by its unbiquitous purples and blues indicating that although it's only 4pm, night is falling. The tinted windows on the office do nothing for the photos, and the cold dusk air outside sends a burning sensation down your throat like you've run a marathon in the early morning frost.
Plus, by the time I've donned the required twelve thousand three hundred and forty seven layers, the moment would be passed. I'm not going outside...
The colours reflected off the sea ice today have been really lovely.


I write to you from the Met office at Davis, heading towards hour 12 of my shift (only five and a half to go woohooo) during another rather unremarkable day weather wise. The wind has dropped off and the cloud has finally cleared to affirm that

yes...

yes....


the sun DOES still exist..


apparently....

(you would think I would know better than to complain after two and a half straight months of 24 hour light.... how quickly I forget)



Its only a couple weeks now until the sun takes it's winter holidays from Antarctica and heads for warmer waters (probably feeling the absence of the seals, penguins and other assorted animal life who also declared it damn cold down here and staged a mass exodus), we will have almost six weeks where the sun does not come above the horizon beginning June 3rd... Not so good for tanning (that is if I could convince my freezing fingers to remove aforementioned layers of clothing to glimpse the sun in these temperatures).

It's going to be interesting.


Already a headtorch has become my best pal to and from work while negotiating the ever changing obstacle course of moving snow drifts. It's interesting to see the sprawl marks freezing solid into the drifts while the wind isn't blowing, you can see where people have misjudged the gradient over some sastrugi (picture small, steep sand dunes randomly appearing over what you recall being a flat, well worn road you tread multiple times each day) and landed face first in the snow.

They aren't all from me...

But it is definitely difficult to stifle the laughter when you see it happen.

I find it almost disappointing when I cop a faceful of snow and there is no-one to snicker.

But then I suppose I wouldn't be out of bed at 5:30 in the morning if they didn't pay me to either!



Anyway, the inspiration to post came from the prologue of a book I picked up in the wallow (station lounge/ recreation area) called:

Slicing the Silence;
Voyaging to Antarctica

By Tom Griffiths


I liked the cover.

The book explores the human history to Antarctica. Tom Griffiths spent some time at Casey a few years ago, and ties in stories from the early polar explorers and his own experiences travelling to the ice.The chef down here (I think) has been through and underlined a few sections that he found interesting, The final paragraph of the prologue is what immediately caught my eye....



" History down south, as in any society, is a practical and spiritual necessity, but especially so in a place where human generations are renewed every summer and the coordinates of space and time are warped by extremes. And on a continent claimed by various nations but shared by the world, history carries a special international obligations. It is the fundamental fabric of a common humanity.
Antarctica has become, in the words of Barry Lopez, 'a place from which to take the measure of the planet'. It is a global archive, a window on outer space and a scientific laboratory; it is also a political frontier, a social microcosm and a humbling human experiment. It offers us an oblique and revealing perspective on modern history, an icy mirror to the world. To voyage to Antarctica is to go beyond the boundary of one's biology towards a frightening and simplifying purity. It is a land of enveloping silence. How does life sustain itself in the face of such awesome indifference? In Earth's only true wilderness the fundamentals of existence are exposed.
To survive, you need food, you need warmth, and you need stories. "


I like that. With winter on the mind, more and more people taking advantage of the good weather and diminishing sunlight to get out into the field, and the lack of animals and movement as the sea ice has frozen the swaying icebergs into a relative stillness, I liked his summary of this place......

You haven't experienced silence until you have sat on a rock, on a still night, under a flickering aurora peppered with stars in antarctica, and realised that the only sound for thousands of kilometers around you is the rustle of your hood against your jacket, and the sound of your own breath.

It's another world
jj





(Altocumulus through Campbell Stokes Sunshine Recorder, earlier in the year at Davis 2011)
(photo Jenny Feast)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jungle Jen all consumed...

I thought it important to point out....


Fresh fruit and vegetables are SEVERELY UNDERRATED.

Just in case you were curious as to what is all consuming my world right now....


(I love antarctica, and i loved willis island, but the absence of a steady supply of cherry tomatoes is inhumane)



That is all.


jj

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jungle Jen Vs Windows 7



Current Standing:
Windows 7 - 2
JJ: - $2500
Two useless laptops in antarctica: priceless....



WINDOWS 7 WINS


bloodybloodybloodybloodygrrbloodycursecursebloodycusscurse

So,
Windows 7 claimed another computer, this time a brand new one, sent down on V3 (Voyage 3 to Antarctica in the 2010/11 season). The first one died due to the fact that I introduced the "incurable unscrupulous unimpressive undiscriminating (insert other adjectives here) disease" of Windows 7 (its a driver update from Vista/ XP etc yay for microsoft and yay for anyone who didn't know what it was that I had to explain... impressive!!) to said computer- which was feeling fantastic before the "upgrade" and took a spiralling turn for the worst, deleted all it's precious cargo on the hard drive, including expensive software (that's programs for you... mum hehe), and then the computer gave up the goat. entirely.
Decided it had had enough of life and self destructed, hard drive and all.

Yay for computers.

RIP Toshiba Satellite:
2008- 2010.

On the plus side, the computer died just in time to order a new one to come down on the next ship- with only moments to spare before the cargo cut off. Said computer arrived, intact, and joined the impressive leagues of JJ cutting edge technology including a hand cranked wireless, pedal powered car (flintstones style) and a 1980's walkman, which periodically devours bad eighties cassette tapes. I should have gone for the eight track player. (I exaggerate- i'm farrrrrrrr too young to still own an 8 track). It worked.
And then it didn't.

And my friendly Toshiba representative was very impressed that I was calling from Antarctica with a problem with their computer...

I however, was not so impressed.

So, new computer now has another very clean hard drive after being completely scoured of any worthy (expensive) software, again, and sits, taking pride of place amongst my dust gathering collectables until my fear of killing it wears off enough to replace the photo editting software...
again....

Hence. No photos.
And also. No blog.

And Hence. Because I felt like using that word again.

But there is really no excuse so I thought I would enlighten you to some interesting webpages with news from Davis and Surrounds, including and awesome timelapse of some Auroral Activity by the masterful Boj (Sparkie)

video


I was going to explain a little about what Aurora's are and how they occur, but Ray, our resident Atmospheric Scientist did a great write up in last week's Icy News... a newsletter produced each week at each station to give the general public, friends and family a run down of what is happening on the ice. Check out his explanation here:

Living and Working At Davis; This Week at the Station

And! The Antarctic Division website has lots of fun stuff about Davis like...

Fun Stuff about Davis!!

And in case you were wondering, There are two Jenn's on station- the roving/raving reporter is not this jenn, but another far more entertaining form of Jenn- for now we'll refer to her as Jolly Queen!

(JJ and Jolly Queen comparing notes at Nina's Bar, Davis)







So yeah, each week the station does a little write up with some photos to show what's been going on, its a good way to get a gauge on how it is living down here, what the vehicles and station look like, and follow along with the escapades of the local tribe of davisites- a strange looking, highly irrelevant group of people who for strange reason's choose to congregate in very cold places.

Other than icy news, Davis has been cold and windy for the last couple of weeks. The days are getting shorter and shorter (we are losing about ten minutes per day now)
(check out the Davis Sun Rise and Set Times here)
And soon we'll have total darkness for about six weeks. It's messing with my sleep patterns, but lucky for me, I work shiftwork, 5:30am until 10:30pm when i'm on- yay! That means that atleast three days a week I'm out of bed before it gets light (at 11am at the moment..... i KNOW!!!) . Its tough! Even having lived in miserable england, this 5 hours of daylight thing is odd! I think I preferred the 24 hours of sunlight! Not helped by the fact that the sun has been hiding behind a thick layer of cloud for the last couple of weeks, so it's actual existance is questionable in the least.

Bring on Winter! Give us some Blizzards!!

It's getting cold down here, and the wind gave rise to a very interesting quad trip up the sea ice to Bandit's Hut- one of the furthest field huts from station- in 60kt (110km/hr) winds. It was... interesting. The ride back through the icebergs with the wind at our backs was pretty glorious (photos to come), but vaguely interesting as soon as you felt the need to turn the quad- getting blow sideways down blue ice alleys makes for some interesting body positions.

Other than the jollies out in the field, there's plenty of time to join the gym, spa, sauna and private zumba classes ( for one, run by competent confident american instructors via DVD- saving all humiliation for participant (singular haha) administered by those who happen to open the door to the yoga/pilates/zumba room wondering what all the banging, crashing and cursing is about)... There's sewing projects, art projects, carpentry projects, and a whole lot of TV series on the go- including weekly station viewing of Airwolf, Season 1.
Although we haven't got as far as seeing them in purple flight suits. Something to look forward to!
Yay for bad eighties TV Box Sets.
You can thank my brother Stephen.


I mean really. Who can resist a TV show with a lead character whose name is Hawk and flies a helictoper and plays a mean cello to woo a bird- (a hawk can you believe)
AND
All the good guys wear all white.

Dramatic Gold


and.
stuff....

jj

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jungle Jen Revisited

So...


I stopped blogging...


Which suprises, well... none of you (yess, all two of you reading this).

I've been talking about getting back on to update this pretty much all year (and last year)... only six months in to the most recent adventure, not a bad effort right? (See previous post re:procrastination).


So I left Willis Is, headed for what was supposed to be Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean for a stint chasing penguins and seals around in the rain, only to get sideswiped, and low and behold, I find myself as Office In Charge of the Obs Program at Davis Station, Antarctica.


Population: 23


For anyone who remains with any doubt;

1) No. I don't like people, and

2) Yes. I am a glutton for punishment.


Six months in, summer has ended and the beginning of what is to be the darkest, coldest winter fathomable by this intrepid explorer has crept up with freight train like stealth. Summer consisted of up to 90 people on station, ridiculous penguins, some very smelly seals, forays in the field of huts, rocks, hills, and devine little melt lakes (which- after a quick dip to investigate the feasibility of an outdoor natural swimming pool, I concluded was VERY VERY cold!), helicopter rides, boat trips, more awesome penguins, laughs, tears and endless sunshine.
For a while...
And then it got cold...



Last week the mean orange bathtub VNAA Aurora Australis finally arrived to retrieve the summer personnel and leave but a few stragglers on base for the winter. For now there are 24 of us; including station leader, chef, doc, some tradies, some other tradies, a couple of science boffins and ofcourse, Met.


The idea of this blog is to get some photos out there, particularly for those keen to live vicariously through antarctic expeditioners, and to keep me vaguely entertained for the amount of time I finally find to update this throughout winter. Comments welcome, sorry for the slackivity (new word, I'm trying it out).



I'll keep you posted.

so to speak....


jj