We have embarked on our expedition and taken the short jaunt from Corvallis, Oregon USA to Christchurch, New Zealand. There are a few routes to get here but we went by way of Sydney, Australia so from departure on the first flight until landing in New Zealand was ~28 hours. While that is a long time, our flights were easy and comfortable and we even caught some sleep. The time change is 20 hours between NZ and the west coast of the US so we are a bit confused by the day night cycle but its great to be on our way.
Christchurch is always a great place to be. The botanical garden is among the nicest places to go for a walk with the local birds singing and plants you see few other places. Plus, having left fall in the northern hemisphere and found spring in the southern hemisphere all the plants are happy and blooming.
After a day of getting fitted with our ECW gear (extreme condition weather gear) we were turned loose on the city to see the sites. However a scientist is rarely “done” and so part of that was sitting in our hotel rooms catching up on the myriad of work that doesn’t end just because you are not on the same continent that your job is.
Today, (Tuesday NZ time and Monday US time) we checked all of our gear in for the flight and just made the weight cut off. We are allowed (each) 85 lbs of checked luggage so needless to say, I had 85 lbs exactly and Sarah had 84 lbs. Thankfully they don’t weight our carry on since we both are essentially carrying bricks worth of scientific gear.
The next part of the day is waiting to take off. Now if you are used to being on a commercial airline this is a different beast entirely. We wait for the planes to show up and to get the OK from weather and in many cases this is not a quick processes. Currently we have been waiting at the terminal for four hours and have been bumped off the fast planes (C-17, C-5, or an Airbus) onto the slow plane (LC-130). The LC-130 is super cool since it has skis on it but it means instead of a 5 hour flight we are looking at 8 hours. This also bumps us into a forecast wind event and so might mean we don’t leave at all. We are just in limbo for the near future and at the moment… Ok – never mind. We just got told we are not flying today. Now we wait to find out where we are staying tonight and then we repeat tomorrow. Hopefully with an early flight to the ice but we won’t know that we made it until we land on the ice runway.