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Stauchy Blog » Blog Archive » Spring Break 2007 Begins – The Fabulous Beach Resort known as McMurdo – Monday, January 15th (JRS)

Spring Break 2007 Begins – The Fabulous Beach Resort known as McMurdo – Monday, January 15th (JRS)

Running on little to no sleep, we were scheduled to leave for MacTown for R&R on the first flight. We both had quite a bit to get finished up before leaving, so we were both rushing around all morning before heading out. For higher resolution pics, see the gallery: Pole to MacTown
Lynette got up at about 8am for her management meeting at 8:30. I was back from ARO by this time, and was in the lab taking care of some last minute stuff, including fixing a couple data transfer scripts that had been broken by in upgrade in our satellite data transfer system. I went over a few last-minute items with Glenn, the other science tech who was nice enough to take over my daily tasks while I was on R&R. Lynette and I met back in the room to throw together some last minute items, and before we knew it, we were off to the flight deck at about 11. We waited around for quite a while, as is usual, while cargo was offloaded and onloaded, and while the fuelies took fuel from the plane and fed it into our storage tanks.
We finally boarded the plane - Our buddies on R&R were Emrys, Kris, Bob, Jim, Karthik, and Terry. We were quickly in motion, taxing into position for takeoff. The cool thing about takeoff is that the plane does a wheelie as soon as possible in order to get the front ski off the skyway so that there’s less friction. So, we had both the acceleration of the plane, as well as the tilt of the plane pushing us towards the back of the plane, which wouldn’t be so bad except that our seats were sideways, so we were actually pushed up against the person next to us. After a few minutes we were allowed to get up and move around. Lynette took some footage of “Polies Gone Crazy” since we were all headed to the Beach for Spring Break (or really fall break). Before long several of us were napping, including me. I was exhausted after staying up all night. Lynette woke me up after about an hour because we were starting to fly over the Trans-Antarctic Mountians. We looked out the window and took some pictures, but before too long, clouds were covering the landscape below us.

Pole2MCM1

By this time, the plane was getting really cold because the heater had broken. So, we all bundled up and most people took naps for the rest of the way. When I next woke up, I could see the familiar mountains near McMurdo and we were descending for landing. After a smooth landing, we taxied around for a while. The load master lowered the cargo door before we stopped, and the spectacular view of Mount Erebus filled the rear of the plane. It felt like the plane warmed up about 10 degrees, almost immediately. It was downright hot outside!
We landed at Willy Field, which is quite a bit further from McMurdo than the ice runway that we landed on back in October. The sea ice was melting closer and closer to MacTown throughout the summer, and they have to change airfields to a spot further inward on the ice shelf because the ice close to town gets to thin to land on. The view from Willy is pretty amazing, and it was nice to see mountains again, after the barrenness of the Pole. We all piled on a shuttle for the 30-minute ride to MacTown where we were taken to the Chalet for our check-in.

Pole2MCM2
We were met there by a small welcoming committee including the Chalet staff, the housing coordinator, the recreation coordinator, and the dentist. As we walked in the door, one of the Chalet staff gave us each a Lai and passed out nice liquor filled chocolates. It was kind of cool to have such a nice welcome. They gave us a schedule of activities for the week, assigned us rooms and went through a low down of some simple rules and procedures for MacTown. Lynette and I were really happy to learn that we’d be rooming together, unlike on our way through before. On top of that, all the Polies were put close to each other in building 155, the main building where the computer lab and galley were located. Lynette was assigned as “Team Mom” and was given a beeper, in case anyone needed to get ahold of any of us during the week.
We all headed up to the post office, where we had bag-dragged our stuff so long ago (I can’t believe it’s only been two and a half months). Our bags hadn’t gotten there yet, so we went back to our room and gathered people up for a quick walk out to Hut Point to see if there was any wildlife out there (there were reports from a week earlier that there were 100’s of penguins hanging out down there). No such luck this week, although the view from Hut Point was still worth the walk out there. We could see the ice breakers, which were moving between the dock in MacTown and the ice edge, which was probably only about 10 miles away by this time. They were making a channel so that the cargo ship could dock and make its offload of tons and tons of supplies.
We checked for our bags again on the way back from the point, but they had still not been brought in. So, we headed back for 155 for dinner. On the way, we did manage to spot some wildlife… a skua (a big scavenger bird) was sitting in the road.

Skua

Dinner made us grateful for the food we get at the Pole. Not that I’m complaining, because I realize it’s much harder to cook for 1100 people than it is to cook for 250, but it made me grateful, none-the-less. After dinner, we made one last check for luggage, which had finally arrived in the terminal. We got back to our room, rearranged the furniture so that the two twins were next to each other, and hit the sack.

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