The 5 people making up the rest of ANSMET's team for the start of our season are in Christchurch this evening, after a long, long session of travel. We gathered first in Los Angeles on Saturday from our various homes: Duck from Houston, Jani from Utah, Amy from Baltimore, Deon from Hawaii (yes, they made him fly from Honolulu to LA so he could fly back across the pacific to NZ) and Ralph from Cleveland. Then came the 12 hour flight to Auckland NZ, and customs, and a flight to Christchurch. We finally arrived in Christchurch about 11 am on Monday (Sunday disappeared when we crossed the international date line). Since then we've been doing a little repacking, shopping, and eating- basically struggling to stay awake until the sun sets tonight, with bodies screaming "IT'S 3 AM!" even though the clock says 9.
As we have done on many "opening nights" in recent years, we visited the Thai Orchid restaurant near our hotel, were we stuffed ourselves on curries, pad-thai, and a bunch of other excellent tidbits. Now it's a struggle to keep my eyes open..... 9 pm is my goal.... snort..... zzzzzzzz
Sorry, dozed off a bit. Tomorrow afternoon we get our expedition clothing from the Clothing Distribution Center (or CDC) and learn more about our flight to McMurdo, which is likely to be on Wednesday Dec. 3.
December 3, 2008
Today, we went to the Antarctic Terminal to catch a flight on a C-17 military aircraft down to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. The wake-up call came at 4:45 AM. I repeat, the wake-up call came at 4:45 AM. Are they serious? Unfortunately, yes. We had to be at the terminal at 6 AM. Hurriedly we got ready, hopped on the shuttle taxi, and made our way to get our gear and meet the flight. This is a familiar pattern for us veterans. For the newbies (people on their first trip to Antarctica), this is all, well, new.
As the time draws near to board the flight to Antarctica, newbies and veterans alike begin to feel the excitement of the adventure that awaits. Everyone, in her or his own way, exhibits the signs of this excitement differently.
Take for example seasoned veteran Jani Radebaugh. With adrenalin coursing through her veins, she can hardly contain the thrill she feels at once again going forth to battle the harsh climate at the bottom of the world, all for the advancement of science. The excitement can be seen in her face -- if only we COULD see her face. With a curt "Don't wake me till we board the plane" she settles in for a long nap.
OK. Maybe the veterans ARE able to hide their excitement. But surely, a newbie will show some signs?
Take for example Deon van Niekerk. He has never been to Antarctica. He lives in Hawaii. To him, cold means it is below 75 degrees. He must worry about how he will handle himself in the extreme cold. And, he must be excited at the chance to prove himself. He shows this excitement by hiding under his extreme cold weather (ECW) gear. Maybe, just maybe, the load master will miss that pile of clothes and he can return to the warmth of Hawaii?
Unfortunately for all of us, the flight is first delayed by an hour, and then postponed for 24 hours.
We go back to the Clothing Distribution Center, return our ECW gear to their bags, get into our street clothes, and head back to our hotel in Christchurch.
The good news is that we get to do it all over again tomorrow. But we get to sleep in to 5:45 AM.