Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Palmer Station Bar

The station has a long history of people forming emotional bonds with it, much more so than with the larger bases on the other side of the continent.  It's a result of the small size and high degrees of personal autonomy and a strong emphasis on individual responsibility; if you treat people well, they'll reward you in spades.  There's hundreds of tiny bits of graffiti artwork everywhere, and often in the most out-of-the-way places you can find decorations and accessories that obviously had extensive time and effort put into them.

But nowhere is this caring for the station more apparent than the Palmer Station Bar; a decade long labor of love.

Every crew, from every season, has manged to add a little bit to the bar, to put a bit of themselves into it for future generations of Palmer-ites to enjoy.  There's no signatures, no plaques  proclaiming who it was build and added by, and when.  People have put their work, often extraordinary amounts of work done outside of work hours, turning whatever scrap materials they can find into beautiful works of craftsmanship for nothing more than the future enjoyment of station workers.

The bar operates on vaugly open bar, partially BYOB system.  Individuals buy bottles of whatever they like in our little store, or bring it down with them on deployment and add it to our shelves of stock.  And while sometimes people label their bottles, politely indicating that they'd like to save it for themselves, most of the bottles on our shelves have no names.  They are for communal usage; the rule is to just make sure to replace what you've used. 

This applies to the piles of snacks under the bar as well.  Help yourself, just be nice enough to run down to the galley for more if you finish the last of something.

 The closer you look at the bar, the more detail work stands out. .

As you would expect, almost all of the decorations are about the ice, or the animals that live in the vicinity of station.

The top shelf has the silhouettes of a mountain range carved into it; if you move all the bottles and glasses out of the way, you realize that it's the mountain range that can be seen on the eastern horizon on a clear day.

The amount of elbow grease that was put into many of the backings is extraordinary. 

People usually work on these projects outside of work time; in years past when there was a budget for such things, we might occasionally get nice hardwoods sent down as part of the "Recreation Budget", which would invariably get used in things like this.  But times are leaner now, and now we make do with whatever nice wood we can salvage out of the scrap bins. The foot rest is some lengths of leftover copper plumbing pipe from a building renovation years ago.

Around the walls of the bar hang flags and tokens of appreciation from other stations that we have visited, or ships that have stopped by over the years. 

This portrait of the Faraday Station crew was gifted to us in 1985; it's almost as old as I am and will likely be here for the rest of the life of the station.

Some of the additions to the bar are more functional; these can crushers were put in last season by our carpenter, who made them out of some scrap wood and leftover bits from our floating dock project.

We still don't know what our contribution is going to be; it's too early in the season to know how things will play out, and what we'll have to work with.  But in some small way, we'll leave it nicer and more functional than when we found it.


Jason said...

Very beautiful woodwork.

Bob Saget said...

I'm pretty dang impressed by that woodwork

J. Russell said...

Gorgeous woodwork! Thanks for sharing everything. I wouldn't have expected something so organized with such lovely attention to detail! -J

Kathryn said...

That is really cool to see such history!

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful craftsmanship! Is there a way for the public to send materials or care packages of goodies to you? Thanks for the AMA on Reddit.