Saturday October 25, 2003
This is a great adventure so far! From when I stepped on the first flight out of Bangor, there have been so many fun moments, it's hard to keep track. I'll start with the flight to New Zealand and then our couple of days in Christchurch and finally the time here at McMurdo station, Antarctica.
The trip to New Zealand was long: four flights and more than twenty hours in airplanes. But we had a long layover in Los Angeles, so I got to break up the trip with a visit to my grandmother (96 years and going strong). A nice side trip for me, followed by a great cab ride with an Armenian Iranian American, where we discussed all the ways we could solve the world's problems. Next time I'm in LA, I'll be looking him up again...a nice guy.
Then on to the plane across the Pacific. Thankfully, the airlines have gotten smart, so I had my choice of several movies (I ended up watching Terminator III) and lots of games to play to keep myself amused. Then a short flight from Auckland, NZ down to Christchurch where we found our way to our B&B, dropped our stuff off and went out to check out the town.
Christchurch is a fantastic city. The people are VERY friendly and the phrase I will take home with me is "No worries", which I must have heard more than tentimes in the two days we were there. The scenery is awesome, with white sand beaches in front of green lush hillsides and snowcapped mountains (the New Zealand alps) in the background. The food varied from sushi to mutton and was great for the most part (all right, so mutton isn't my favorite). We were fortunate, in that the two days we wandered around Christchurch were beautiful spring days. I kept having to remind myself that it isn't fall in the southern hemisphere. Hard to remember that. The arboretum in Christchurch is a sightto see. Many trees I haven't seen before along with some familiar ones, butall truly spectacular.
Then on to the plane down to "the ice". Riding on a plane big enough to hold a tractor trailer comfortably is not an experience I will soon forget. We were fortunate and got the fast plane (a C-17), so the trip lasted only five hours, and we were pretty comfortable, sitting facing the cargo in the middle of theplane. We were also given enough food on the flight to last a long time (I am still going through it, actually) and earplugs to cut down the noise. A plane that big is just a BIT noisy, but the earplugs worked great, and we arrived without incident. Apparently that is not common, as usually either the flight is delayed or sometimes even turned around in mid-flight--boomeranged, they call it--because of the weather. We must be lucky!
Finally, McMurdo has been a great place. The weather has been alternately beautifully clear to mostly overcast, and it is cold: maybe between 10 andtwenty farenheit (-10 to -5 C). But in all cases, the air is dry enough that it is a pleasure, and we are certainly well dressed. The antarctic program makes sure that everyone is properly outfitted before we are allowed on the plane.
Today we returned from an overnight outdoor camping training class, and that is another unforgettable experience. Spending the night outside on the ice is quite an adventure, and everyone in our group was great, which turned the discomfort of an antarctic night into a fun time. I do still need to get used to antarctic summer nights, however, where the sun never goes down. When I woke up at 3am, I was treated to one of the most beautiful views of the surrounding scenery I have yet viewed here. And the sun was shining brightly. I will get used to sleeping in the sun, I am sure.
Anyway, now off to dinner (they feed us well here), and we will be preparing to get started on our way to the Dry Valley later this week, so we have lots of packing and preparing to do in the next few days. I'm glad that Karl and Erich have been sending pictures, because they will help to fill in the gaps that I can't put into words. I know I look forward to getting my film developed when I return! Until next time,
, because they will help to fill in the gaps
that I can't put into words. I know I look forward to getting my film
developed when I return! Until next time,