I am writing to you from McMurdo Field Station, Antarctica! After a long couple of days, I have arrived safely at the bottom of the Earth. Let me tell you about it.
Sunday, November 4
On Sunday, myself and other Antarctic bound travelers were taken to the Antarctic Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) in Christchurch, NZ. Here, we were greeted by enthusiastic Kiwi USAP staff, who got us all geared up with our Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear. My ECW includes…
- 2 pars of light long underwear & 2 pairs of heavy long underwear
- 2 light base layer tops & 2 heavy base layer tops
- insulated Carhartt bibs
- “Bunny boots” & two pairs of socks
- 2 paris of mittens and 1 pair of insulated leather work gloves
- balaclava, fleece hat, fleece scarf, & ski goggles
- “Little red” – a light parka
- “Big red” – a big red goose down parka… very warm
We departed the CDC, after making sure that all of our gear was well fit and comfortable. Our check in for the next days flight to the Ice was scheduled for 6:30 am. I headed back to my hotel for a good night of sleep.
Monday, November 05
This morning we were taken back to the CDC, where we compiled our gear and caught the next flight to Antarctica. Flying to Antarctica is no ordinary flight. Around 8:10, myself and approximately 52 other southbound scientists and support contractors boarded a C17 operated by a crew from McChord AFB, Washington.
Along with scientists and other southbound travelers, the C17 was well packed with southbound cargo, essential to operations at McMurdo Station. Our flight contained a Kiwi R44 helo, which sat directly in the middle of the cargo bay. Southbound human cargo was situated in seats on the side walls of the jet. I was lucky enough to be one of the last people to board. Turns out, all the seats on the side of the plane were taken, so I snagged a sweet first-class-esque seat in the front of the aircraft, sitting besides some important looking US Air Force gents.
We were in the air by 8:45, beginning our 5.5 hr haul south. Unlike typical airline flights, you can do what you please during the flight. I spent much of the time milling about the cabin and catching views of sea ice. It was fascinating to observed the gradual change of scenery along the ride. First the green New Zealand country side, then the blue ocean, then sea ice, and finally our first glimpse of Antarctic mountains – all observed through one of four tiny windows located throughout the aircraft.
I am currently all situated in my temporary home, here at McMurdo Station. Tomorrow I will be going to “Snow School,” where I’ll learn the basic survival techniques I’ll need for working in remote field locations (should be very fun!). Today has been fantastic. Getting to the continent has been quite the journey. However, the best part is knowing that this is only the beginning. I am very excited to get out in the Dry Valleys and do some big science! Keep tuned – much more to come!