It's Thanksgiving weekend and I am at our field camp at Lake Hoare. It's a tradition that we host Thanksgiving dinner here for our LTER team and any other science groups in Taylor Valley. This year the whole LTER team got together on Thursday for a turkey dinner and we invited two other research groups who are out in Taylor Valley in tent camps. Lake Hoare camp is a fixed field camp with some buildings including small labs, a generator shed, tool shed, out houses. We have the main hut where we cook, eat, relax and work on our computers. We also have internet access (which is how I manage to post to my blog even while doing field work.) We have a full size oven, so we can cook a whole turkey. It's a regular size propane oven, similar to what you might have at home, so the day before Thanksgiving is reserved for all the baking of pies and side dishes to go along with the turkey.
One of my jobs is to help with pies. We made seven pies this year. It's was more than enough for the 22 people we had here for dinner, but isn't the best part of Thanksgiving the leftovers? Our guests could take pie home with them and there is still some left for us. (Sorry I did not take a "before" picture.) I made a mistake and grabbed the bag of chopped walnuts instead of pecans for the pecan pie. I did not realize my error until right before I poured the filling into the crust. I decided it would still be good, especially if I added some orange extract and cinnamon to make it extra special. It was a hit. I made a regular pecan pie for the traditionalists too.
This is the 15th year of the LTER project in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. When our project first started we did not have the nice camp that we have now. The new camp was built starting at the end of our first field season in 1994. Before that we had a simple camp with a Jamesway, generator hut, outhouse, and a small lab. The old camp is still here, by the shore, and the building are still used. The Jamesway, which used to be the main hut, is mostly used for storing boxes and for sleeping quarters in case people are stuck here without tents. It's hard to imagine having 10 people in there sitting around the table, working and eating together. The old lab is now used on Sundays for taking showers. Eventually these buildings will probably be moved as the lake level rises. For now, they are not too close to the shore and are in no immediate danger. Although, we have seen that one warm summer could change that. For now, they serve as a reminder of more simple times, before we had phones and email in Antarctica.