2/20/2009 – Friday
Well things started out just “FINE.” . . Rain throughout the day!
The first thing on my agenda was to “McGiver” a way to charge the battery on my MacBook computer. My first attempt involved the “international voltage adapter” I brought from home. Bummer that the adapter needed an adapter to work in NZ. Try number two, was to scavenge an adapter for my adapter from Dick’s adapter while he was off taking a shower. HA!!! Success, or so I thought. There I was thinking I was done with the battery charging challenge when Alison said “what’s that smell?” I learned two very interesting facts about international voltage adapters in the next few minutes: 1. My 55-watt-rated International voltage adapter isn’t quite big enough to power my 85-watt MacBook battery charger. 2. The “fuse” in my 55-watt-rated international voltage adapter is set up not to blow until just after the adapter’s plastic case begins to melt (lucky thing they engineered the plastic case to melt and smell bad so you know when the fuse is about to blow). So there I was, still no way to charge the mac, battery power down to 54%, yikes! So It was back to the field-engineering drawing board. Rummaging through the MH’s drawers I found the 12 to 120 Volt battery power inverter that I had also packed from home. One problemo, the only known 12-volt outlet in the motor home is in the dashboard. A mere 24 feet from the table in the rear of the MH (where it would be most convenient to work on the computer) . . . Hummmm, what to do. . . Well turns out that our MH was once equipped with a TV (TV? What’s that all about, we’re supposed to be “camping?”). Hidden away in the cabinet, just above where the TV was once bolted to the MH’s wall, I found a secret 12 volt outlet for my 12 to 120 inverter. So I shoved, (ummmm, adjusted), Alison’s clothes over just enough to accommodate the Michener novel-sized unit and I was back in business. Battery power at 86% and still charging!!!
Breakfast completed, and still raining. We decided to pop on up to the office to see if they had any rainy-day activity suggestions for we Americans. “Antartic Center?” Well O.K., It’s not too far away.
“You have to drive there?” Well O.K., I think we can find it.
So off we went. Driving was not so bad mostly because we were able to connect our Garmin GPS (hearinafter referred to as “Jill”). An amazing little device that senses where we are, knows where we are going, and calls out directions in a soothing female “Aussie” voice called “Jill” in the units menu. How appropriate- good thing Jill doesn’t have a horn to honk ant me!
I’m catching on to the driving stuff. I only thought about turning left into oncoming traffic a couple of times on the three plus mile drive to the Antarctic Center, and I didn’t get honked at once.
The center was really pretty interesting. I learned that the Antarctic is the coldest, driest, highest place on earth (Matt Madison take note!). Of course there was plenty of people watching to be done too. Of note was the high school aged, Japanese girl taking pictures of her 4 friends who were piled on the defunct smowmobile built to carry one or two. She had positioned herself strategically so as to take her photos and block the exit. Thus capturing the remainder of the exhibit’s inhabitants behind her as she shouted “wun!. . . thew!. . . treeee!. . . cheeeeee!” in her ultra-soprano voice as she giggled and clicked away.
The finale to our tour was a ride in the “Haggland”, an amazing little truck/tractor build for traveling across the frozen south. If you can imagine a vehicle that’s a cross between a tracked military personnel transport vehicle, a monster truck and a sports car, that’s the Haggland! Lucky us, our driver (a fellow named Barry), announced that it was his last day on the job before retirement. Barry loaded us up, telling us which handle not to pull while we were “Hagglanding” and off we went. Seeing as how it was Barrys final hours in his beloved Haggland I can’t help but think we really got the e-ticket ride! Over the giant mounds of dirt piled high just like the antarctic snows, across the simulated cravasse and through the pond. Yes, through the pond! The dang Haggland floats! Heck, not only does it float, it actually maneuvers pretty darn well in the water. I must Say that my first thought, after Barry announced that we were floating in a pond in 4-ton Haggland was “Alison, don’t pull on that handle that Barry told you not to touch pull”. She must have been reading my mind as I glanced over to seethat “Alison smile” you see in all her childhood pictures.