week two random mash up

This is the hoar frost that coats everything. This happens when the white ice crystals, loosely deposited on the ground or exposed objects, that form on cold clear nights. This is when heat losses into the open skies cause objects to become colder than the surrounding air. Sceince aside, even the walls sparkle. I like it.
Lights of a plane through a plexi glass window. Too chilly for me to be outside.. not to mention into the blowing snow!
This is where I spend a large chunk of time... and I mean large. 1am until 3pm today large.
Looks like we have another visitor!
This is what happens when you toss a glass of boiling water into the cool -38 degree air.
I'm still smiling.



Alert Christmas

This Christmas for me was very different and my first one away from home. I never realized until now, how much I take the time with my family for granted. Overall though, it was a fun few days. On Friday, for our Christmas Dinner, it is military tradition for the youngest member to become the CO for the day. Surprise (not surprised) that was me.

My first order of business was everyone could finish work at 10am so we could go to "nap PT". This was totally necessary for me because on Thursday I worked a 22 hour day... I really needed the nap. Christmas Eve we all sang carols and had some "cheer" and I went to sleep fairly early. As for Christmas, I watched 9 Christmas classics, ate a whole Tolberone, had 4 cups of hot chocolate which soon switched to rum and root beer and we finished the day off by watching Elf. Boxing day? I got peer pressured into a ball hockey tourney and am covered in bruises.

I want to thank everyone who wished me a Merry Christmas and who were thinking of me. It meant a lot to me to be able to read your cards, emails and open some packages - there are return cards / pressies waiting to be mailed out! I really appreciate and love you all.


Winter Solstice

"December 21st is one of two days when the suns rays will strike one of the two tropical latitude lines. At precisely 12:30am (lcl) or 05:30 (utc) on the 22nd of December the winter solstice begins and we will have absolutely no light from the Sun in Alert. When the sun is 12° below the horizon, this means that the closest spot on Earth that's still bathed in direct sunlight is more than 800 miles away. All the light that you could see has struggled through 800 miles of air and around the curve of Earth's surface. It takes fully 1200 miles of air to fully extinguish the Sun's light and end astronomical twilight.

The Arctic gets just as many hours of sunlight as anywhere else on Earth — in fact, just a tad more. The reason the Arctic is cold is that the Sun never gets very high above the horizon, so its light always hits the ground at an oblique angle. The flip side is that the Sun also never gets very far below the horizon. Most of the time that the Sun's not up in the Arctic, it's skimming just below the horizon and yielding one or another flavour of twilight." (Sometimes invisible to the naked eye)

However, for today and the next few days there is no Astronomical Twilight effecting us here in Alert that means the best star viewing that I have ever seen. So awesome!



I have never felt as much excitement and fear at one single point in my life. I saw the wolves.

These Arctic Wolves (Canis lupus arctos) are one of the few natural inhabitants of this area. They have been native here for over two million years. This type of wolf is the only of its kind that is not threatened. This is due to the fact of rarely encountering humans. This means, instead of fearing to be hunted, they are more curious when they see us. Although inquisitive, a long drawn out yawn and one glimpse at their sharp teeth was enough to make me back away.

They are a perfect balance between scary and beautiful. I sat, crouched outside the door talking to this animal, that I know could tear me to shreds if it felt the need to. Swallowing my fear and trying to remain calm, my heart pulsed in my throat (again) but I tried not to let it show through to my exterior. We all know that animals sense your fear, he must have known how truly scared I was. Petrified.

It lied down and licked at the snow, rubbing its paws on its face like a puppy. It was in this moment that I wanted to run over, snuggle into its soft white fur and let him warm me up. I named him Snowy - original I know. He almost had a smile and looked friendly. Friendly enough to eat me, I quickly reminded myself. I will definitely be keeping my distance but it was such an amazing feeling to be so close to such an intriguing and wild animal.

Although Snowy was weary around us, flinching at my every move, we encountered the pack later on. The wolves behavior changed quite visibly to pack mentality. They became more aggressive and were quick to let you know that you were in their territory. I wasn't leaving the truck this time that's for sure. There were about 10 of them running in circles around our parked vehicle and it was in this moment that it reminded me we are invading their land and home, not vice versa.

Due to relatively little contact with this species, little is known about them. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to say I saw Snowy, six feet in front of me. It was an amazing experience I won't soon forget.


frost bitten

This is a corner of the Weather office. Looks so cozy doesn't it?

The neck warmer is 100% the best piece of kit going.

My cheeks before the frost bite. I now look like a raging alcoholic - blood red cheekies for me!

Road to the Weather Office and the air field.

A crimson flush blazed across my skin igniting a fiery sting that has lasted for hours.

So cold, the wind smoldered across my face leaving hot but icy patches that looked like raised welts. It is now day three in the -38 degree weather and my cheeks finally had enough. The frost bite and wind burn took their toll on my snow white complexion, leaving me sore and few shades of rouge. Not a look I am keen to try out again- I might add.

It wasn't just my face that suffered either, my tripod is made of an aluminium composite and not even thinking twice, I grabbed it with my bare hand. Had I not known it was cold I would have sworn I touched the red hot coals of a stove. It is so bizarre.

I'm not sure I'll ever get used to this.

Just to answer a few questions / statements from previous comments:

Jay - I have many face masks but you have to take them down to be able to see sometimes, I will be doing this less often now. I also have a truck, no tank with tracks for this gal!
Becca - I will accept anything you wish to mail me and I of course will be eager to write and send you a little something back!
Matt - I actually don't have any of those hand warmers! But great idea!
Mom & Dad - Thank you for your lovely comments and a hello to my mothers Science and Social Studies class who are also following along each day "Hi 6M!" 
Everyone else - thank you for the feedback! x


The Light in Darkness

The view of the stars from just outside my weather office. Note the lighter spots on the picture, this is caused by some ice crystals falling on the lens while the shutter was open.

The snow, torn by the wind, resembles the desert sand. The light box in the left of the picture is where we house the wet and dry bulb thermometers as well as the max and min. The red light is being reflected off the snow from the brake lights of my truck.

Invisible to the naked eye in darkness, the mountains lying beyond the horizon were visible to me today when I tried out some new settings on my camera. I raised the ISO value and left the shutter open for 11seconds to capture this photo. Again, the red lights is that of the brakes and the runway lighting illuminating the snow.

In these cold temperatures, your breath is always visible.

This is my view of the main station from my weather office. The view is lovely with the lights fading off in the distance.
 The stars today were spellbinding. Twinkling and sparkling throughout the afternoon. If it wasn't a cool -38 degrees Celsius I could have looked at them for hours but I had to settle for only a few minutes at a time. It's amazing how many things you can actually see in the darkness. I chased satellites and shooting stars for a few minutes, watching them dance across the tenebrous sky until the frost temporarily ceased my time outdoors.

I'm in a learning curve (aside from the climate adjustment / new job) with low-light photography, which has been burdened further by only being allowed to have my hands exposed for a few seconds. Without the pain of the icy air I'm sure I could learn more efficiently but as these photos were taken (and I'm happy with the outcome) it doesn't show me running inside 2 seconds after each shot was complete to warm my fingers. Arctic mitts aren't ideal for Cameras. But hot chocolate is ideal for the Arctic.

I feel like everyone is a present here. We are all wrapped up in so many layers it's almost hard to distinguish people from one another. After talking with some of the residents who have been here a lot longer than I, it shocked me that some literally only leave the main complex to get on the next plane to take them home. I go outside every hour... hardly fair.

I'm hoping that I will become immune to the bitter cold and learn to tolerate it a lot better. For now, I will continue to shiver with my frost bitten cheeks and absorb as much of the beauty I can find in the dark. So far, so good.


Alert, Nunavut

My first day on the ground was a blur. We left Thule at 0800hrs and I quickly fell asleep on the brief 1.5hr flight to Alert. The hum of the planes propellers quickly lulled me off into a deep sleep. As we landed, the plane caused a vast cloud of snow and ice crystals to be blown into the air and they hung there, looming, in the arctic inversion. Stepping off the C130J, I took a deep breath as every fibre in my body froze - including my nose and said "hello" to my new home;


I have been told that Alert is known to the Inuit people as "Inuit Nunangata Ungata" which means "The land beyond the land of the people". This doesn't surprise me because it was said that "it is easier to rescue people from the international space station than Alert in the winter". Comforting. I shuddered during my safety brief as they explained the dangers of exposure to the elements (right now it is a bone chilling -37 degrees Celsius) and the animals that are native to this area (polar bears, wolves, etc). The newly familiar feeling of my heart pounding in my throat happened as I came to the realization that I would be alone, 3kms away from the rest of the station, in the dark.

Going to work today for me, was a blessing. The beautiful thing about the weather is it is everywhere. The principles and the theory are the same and comforting. I say it's comforting in a sense because although I am thousands of miles away from real civilization, I am home here in my little office, learning more through experience about what fascinates me so much.

As I write, ice crystals are falling from a clear sky and coating the world in tiny sparkles that gleam in the days perpetual darkness. I take a large breath of chilly arctic air and close my eyes, it's wonderful.


Thule, Greenland

I sit, motionless, listening to the beat of my heart swell in the back of my throat. 

Thump. Thump. 

I've had less than an hours sleep but I feel as if I've been awake for days. I can't shake the feeling I'm forgetting something, someone. The empty terminal appears to be filled with nerves, anticipation, excitement, apprehension and exhaustion. I'm the only one here and my own tension could be easily severed with a butter knife. 

I can't believe it is truly hapening. Today. Right now. Butterflies are an understatement. Am I ready? Am I prepared for this? Have I got everything? Will I be okay? Too late. 

As advised by a good friend, I attempt to calm my knotted stomach by humming "every little thing" and for some reason, it is taking the gleaming edge off of my nerves. 

Every little thing, is gonna be alright. 

If I had to name today, I would call this the day of an endless morning and then an endless night. The sun, sitting neatly above the horizon, floating, yet remaining motionless. I waited hours upon hours for it to move but it didn't happen. The sky was a beautiful spectrum of light, fading from grey rolling stratocumulus into a vibrant pink and lastly into a soul calming yellow with darkened streaks of cirrus. I take a moment to absorb the last few rays of sunlight for the next few months. 

I could not think of a better final sight as we pushed forward into the darkness and kissed the light behind, it was beautiful.   


last weekend at home

Today is Thurs(ohmygoshIreallyhavetopacknow)day
  • winter gear
  • snacks
  • more winter gear
  • more snacks
  • camera
  • snacks
I'm wondering now am I even allowed to bring snacks? I'll just hold up flight security and eat them there, I have serious issues with throwing out good snacks. I think instead of packing I should be wandering outside enjoying and absorbing my last three days of sunshine for a while. Perhaps some snow bank tanning? The Darkness is the only thing I'm not looking forward to. Right, more things to add to list of what to get:
  • night lights (5 to 10)
  • flashlights (1 or 2)
  • fake tan (just kidding)
  • vitamin D (lots)
  • friends
  • a life
The anticipation is killing me! I have so much to do, so many people to hug, so much to say, so little time. My attention span is that of a 3 year old child so I start packing and when I am really getting into a groove I - SQUIRREL- I need to buckle down and do this. 

Over excited!