So this blond woman comes up and looks at me with her green cat eyes and says:
"You need a bit of time out from the kitchen Hermann, why don’t you come up to Whoop Whoop with us for a bit of R&R?" Jenn made it sound like this little exclusive retreat up on the plateau that even has it’s own private airstrip (just in case we might get a plane coming by ...). How could I possibly resist? I started visualising getting to use all the recreational facilities and maybe even do some drifting on the runway in a groomer (that’s the impression the boys gave me anyway, thanks Ross, Steve and Kyle.)
So Friday after smoko our own personal helicopter service (with Dave and Hayden spinning the blades on their pretty red Squirrels) delivered us all (Tim and Codey came up too to do some servicing and maintenance work) safely at the destination after a very scenic and enjoyable flight over the Vestfold Hills.
After the customary familiarisation and welcome cup of tea, I started enquiring about the recreational facilities and equipment and that green eyed woman who also happens to be the program and activity manager at this retreat gave me a follow me smile and led me to a pallet with four pink drums on it. She handed me one of those funny looking black hoses which didn’t quite look like those long heavy ropes at the gym (you know the ones you hold in each hand, squat down and shake like hell until you either have a heart attack or a hernia). This apparatus had some kind of handle attached on one end and a steel shaft on the other and turned out to be a manual fuel pump. So the first warm up activity was pumping about 200 litres of diesel into the generator tank. After a quick demo by that multi skilled facilitator she handed me that thing and got me to do a bit of cardio and upper body workout until my tank and the pink tank were almost empty.
After that I was lead to a long row of mostly snow and ice covered pink humps, another 80-90 fuel drums as it turned out. In parts they were stacked three deep and had been there the last two winters due to the lack of tourists last season…..straight away that looked like a fun activity. Ross and Kyle proved to be pretty smooth operators in their machines, so smooth in fact that I would almost let them do a bikini line in their groomers (ok, I said almost and a bikini line, not mine!) Sorry Steve, you’re not quite there yet….
The rest of the digging had to be done by hand with a snow axe and shovel. My first shovel snapped in half after 4-5 hits and digs. With Tim lending a hand as well, the job got done in one day. All 123 drums stacked up in two lines on top of the ice and snow again, at least for the time being. After a quick runway inspection we settled down for a well-earned relaxing evening. My options for accommodation were to listen to Ross’s snoring (don’t know if he really does, could be just a rumour) or the humming of the generator outside. Since it was such a beautiful calm night I decided to bivvy out and found myself a good spot just behind Whoop Whoop’s Domestic Terminal. Was quite cosy and warm inside the bag and I managed about 6 hrs of good sleep, getting out in the morning in around -12 degrees which woke me up fairly quick!
After brekky a few more jobs had to be finished (yes, as in digging more snow, this time out of the Medical tent). After that I joined Steve in the groomer to give the runway a bit of a trim. The bugger didn’t want me to do any drifting on the runway as we were still anticipating a Basler to come in as the one single plane for the season on this particular runway.
After everything was packed up and securely locked (apparently it does get windy up there at times) we called our red taxis and got returned to the station safe and sound.
Thanks to Jenn and the AGSO team to let me prove once again that the chef is the hardest working one in the camp (just kidding; was just very lucky with the great weather we had, those guys have a tough gig up there when it turns). I had a great time (and the company was quite alright too!).