In true Antarctic fashion – I made it here but not quite as planned.
After what seemed like way too easy travel days, both my luggage and myself connected easily to all of my connections without extra long lay overs and I and my equipment arrived in Christchurch no worse for the wear.
Christchurch was a beautiful city. I have many fond memories of my early travels to the ice and the time there and one of the best parts of it is the botanical garden – in full bloom now as it is the height of summer. The rose garden was amazing but I am often most struck by the green leafs of plants I have not seen before, such as this one.
After a day getting settled I showed up at the Clothing Distribution Center to depart on Saturday. After checking my bags and watching safety videos about the antarctic, we got put on a hour mechanical delay (i.e. something wasn’t working on the plane). This turned into a 24 hour delay which unfortunately put us into a weather delay. McMurdo received something along the lines of 12 inches of snow in 24 hours.
However bright and early today, I re-watched those same safety videos and boarded one of the LC -130s. These are prop planes that can take off using skis or wheels and can land just about anywhere. The less good part of them is that they are quite a bit slower and instead of a rapid 4-5 hour flight south, in these it takes closer to 8 hours. Originally we were supposed to take a C-17 (one of the faster planes) but they require a better runway and while this was all set – a storm came in and blew volcanic dust all over the runway. The dark material on the surface of the snow made it melt and so the nice smooth runway became a crater field… hence the LC-130.
We landed with no problems and I found myself in a nice warm overcast day in the antarctic. The weather is a warm -2C, which is warmer than it was in Oregon when I left home a little less than a week ago.
I was thankfully able to skip many of the normal briefings and got right to setting up the lab.