Sunday, December 29, 2013
Mother Nature decided to give me a going away present. This morning the clouds parted and I was able to see the crescent moon and a sky full of stars for just the third time in the last three months. When the sun rose at 10:30AM, it showed a cloudless sky with calm winds. By noon the temperature had shot into the high 30's.
What a nice way to end my tour on the island. Hopefully the island will look as kindly on my replacements.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
My planned departure in a few days has provided a break to the monotony and brought frenetic packing / tying up loose ends.
I made time to complete the tradition of leaving a set of prayer flags fluttering behind. This set is blowing in the breeze at the East end of the island where others have put up signs to point towards home. Years ago someone put up the 'Just Ahead, McDonalds - 1500 miles' sign during their free time.
This set will join the flags I've left behind at many previous postings. Perhaps my small attempt to leave a mark on the land. No kids, so I need something to remind people, "I was here, don't forget me"
Friday, December 27, 2013
It looks like my next posting may be Midway Island after a few months at home. As part of the Minor Outlying Islands of the US, it isn't a part of any state.
I've been told the C-130 flight to the island every two weeks has to fly in at night without any runway lights, so that the chances of a bird strike are minimized. Sounds like my kinda place.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
While pecking away at the keyboard this afternoon I had the sudden sensation that something was different. It took a few seconds to realize the sun shining in the window was the cause of my confusion; we haven't had direct sunlight in weeks.
Adding to my surprise was the limp flag out front. Sunshine and no wind! What a Christmas present!
I got in a nice half dozen mile run in before the clouds came marching back over the island. Along South Beach I found an old concrete structure [above] that has been artfully decorated. No idea what its original use was.
Monday, December 23, 2013
It's the start of winter here on Shemya, but hardly feels like it yet. The old timers here say that there's usually 4-5 feet of snow on the ground by Thanksgiving that lingers until April. As of today, we still have bare ground with the occasional dusting of snow. Temperatures are steadily in the 20's.
Oddly enough, I just checked the McMurdo webcam at the other end of the world. With the start of summer having recently arrived, they've still got a sprinkling of snow on the ground and daytime temperatures in the 20's.
Friday, December 20, 2013
Life on Shemya has been slow and monotonous over the past three months. For the last month and a half there has been little reason or opportunity to go outside. The days have strung together into a repetitive series of coming down to the first floor for work in the clinic and cafeteria visits, inter coupled with trips upstairs to the residence.
I'd been hoping for more opportunities to wander the deserted beaches and jog the perimeter roads, but the winds and short days have prevented any attempts recently.
Still it hasn't been all bad. The slow pace and isolation have allowed for some much needed introspection we rarely get these days. It's so easy to get caught up with the frenetic pace of modern living - its been incredibly cathartic to have a break from it all. You can keep the 24 hour news, text messages and animated freeway billboards. I'll take the lonely outpost at the end of the map.