Saturday, December 5, 2009

Southern rock


As roadhouses go, this one's a little out of the way. And, it doesn't have a road.
Yet you'll be hard-pressed on this continent, or any other, to find a place that combines raucous with cozy quite so well.
No slight intended to the Kansas City music scene, but I'll take open mic night at Palmer Station any time. Friday's first-of-the-summer jam went from folk to rock to poetry to rap.
I considered going Henny Youngman on the crowd (you know, "I saw this elephant seal the other day. Boy when he lies around the island, he lies around the island.") Thought better of it.
Instead, I just enjoyed the show.
Pictured here is the ad hoc and unnamed band of musicians who pulled off more than a few impressive licks and, for me, revived the power of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean."
The fact is that it's hard to be among the 35 souls isolated here at one of the most remote communities in the world and not have a good time.
It's easy to think living in Antarctic would be a hardship. Sure enough, the people who man this station are tough folks who kind find themselves in dangerous spots.
But Palmer Station is no gulag.
This time of year it's almost always light outside. The temperature seems to hover just above and below freezing. (My face has gotten cold a few times while tooling around in Zodiac boats -- so much for the insulating properties of lame excuse for a beard.) Seals and penguins and the occasional whale come by the shore of the compound.
We eat like kings. The daily fare is a sort of whole grain buffet. Hearty food cooked with imagination and sophistication -- breakfast, lunch and dinner. You scrub your own dishes and pitch in to clean up the kitchen once a week. That only adds to the camaraderie. Between meals you have access to a pantry that would make Aunt Bea drool. Fresh baked cookies seem to materialize on the hour.
The place has a bar. With a deck. And a disco ball. Serve yourself on an honor system out of stocks purchased at the station store twice a week. Irish car bombs were the drink of choice after open mic Friday  in celebration of the entertainment and a recent sci-tech success with remote-controlled submarines.
There's s a gym (couple of treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical machine, a full range of weights). A sauna. A hot tub.

Depending on how many people are here, half to all with bunk with another person in rooms on a par with a college dorm.

With a view like this.
But the defining quality is how a group of people living in close quarters for months at a time seem to enjoy each other so much. There's a sense of shared glee at being the special few who get to enjoy a spectacular place.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I AM envious.

The Patriarch

zoot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kentucky Bob said...

"almost heaven" quoth Bobby Banjo.

Anonymous said...

It is good to hear that the conditions are better than tolerable. Can you give us a little more on the research being conducted?
KCPL8R

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