Holy crap! I can’t believe we’re actually here…Well, we can now tell you first hand that it is indeed cold in Antarctica! We arrived in McMurdo sometime around 5pm New Zealand Time, which is more-or-less local time, and we weren’t attacked by an emperor penguin today. (For pictures, see: Christchurch to McMurdo Gallery)
So, are original schedule called for us to be at the CDC at 0600 to prepare for transport to the ice. At 0500, the phone rang just a few minutes after the alarm. There was silence on the other end. We decided it must have been a “Kiwi wake-up call” established by someone within the program. When we made our way downstairs a half hour later (fully dressed with bags), we learned that it had, in fact, been a call from the night manager letting us know that the flight had been delayed. We turned around and headed back for bed. It was great! Some extra zzz’s helped us feel quite a bit more refreshed. We made our way downstairs at 0830, the new departure time and headed for the CDC. There, we donned our ECW gear and checked into the flight. The check-in process was completed by military folks. It was a smooth process and very quick - a well-oiled machine in which we weighed our check-in luggage and then we were each weighed with our carry-on bags. From there, we watched a video on safety on the ice before lining up to take a bus over to the plane. As we got off the bus, we were handed a huge sack lunch with enough food for a potential boomarang (ice speak for departing CHC and having to turn around before reaching Mactown due to weather conditions there). There was fresh fruit, chips, water, juice, a couple of sandwiches, some rolos, and a cookie. The flight was tight for us (we were in one of the 2 rows with little to no leg room).? The flight crew was really nice - we were allowed up on the flight deck.? I waited until late into the flight for my opportunity.? I was able to see little thin strips of ice through the clouds.? The camera, unfortunately, couldn’t figure it out .? We did get some pictures and video?(to be posted later) of the cockpit, the view, and the flight computer, proving that we were below 60 degrees South latitude (62 degrees).
We finally landed in Mactown at about 5:30pm.? It was a weird feeling as we waited for the airplane door to open, half expecting to be blasted with cold air as soon as it did.? It?seemed impossible to know what to expect, but the winter site manager, Andy, told us that it would be -20 outside.??Turns out he meant Celsius,?it was about -5 F (-20 C; we will probably switch between F and C because there’s really no convention that we can tell, and people tend to talk about both).?
When we got off the plane, were greeted by a camera crew.? There are some folks that were on our flight that were heading out to the dry valleys for 2 months that were on our same flight.? Their efforts for geologic mapping and exploration there were being filmed for a documentary. From there, we hopped on a taxi (van that shuttled us) to Crary Science Lab.??After being bussed from the ice runway into Mactown, we had a basic orientation to the town by the onsite NSF representative and some key? Raytheon people.? The orientation concluded at about 7pm, we received our room keys and were told that the Galley (the grubbin’ location) was open until 730pm and our bags would be ready for pick-up at the Post Office at 8pm.? We soon realized that Mactown would not accommodate us as a married couple together.? Brad, the EH&S training manager for Polar Services met me after the meeting and handed me a flier - letting me know that I had the distinct pleasure of going to “Happy Camper” school tomorrow (I knew I should be worried when he apologized).
We tested out our room keys.? I am in building 155 in a room with 5 other women tightly crammed?- the main building housing the galley.? Jason is in “Hotel California” in a bunk room with somewhere around 30 beds. We got some grub, got our bags, checked our e-mails in the lab, and separately headed for bed.
Sunset will be at about 11:11pm tonight?and sunrise will be at 4:16am.??At about 930pm, it was still very bright and -6 F.? It feels much colder, and?we’re dissappointed with how wussy we both are….? I guess that’s what living in LA will do to you!?We’re pretty apprehensive about what the Pole will be like, where it’s likely to be nearly -60 F when we arrive.? We’ll just have to make sure I have a few more layers on.