So I've made it to New Zealand. Having a good time so far, I'll fill in the details since the last post:
I left Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon. The new C Concourse is very nice by the way, for those of you familiar with that airport. I knew it would be a tight turn-around in Cincinnati, and it was (I had about 30 minutes). I had to transfer terminals on a shuttle bus, and just had enough time to use the restroom before boarding the plane. The next flight to Los Angeles was not fun: old 757, middle seat, with a sleeper on the aisle, so I never got up to stretch. Plus it was an hour late, despite leaving on time. So I got to Los Angeles with an hour before my 12.5 hour flight to Auckland left. The signage to the international terminal is poor, and I navigated the circus in there to check in and get to the gate. I picked up a candy bar and some water and had to board the plane.
But it gets better from here. My ticketed seat was on the aisle, so I had some hope for this flight. Then, it never filled up! When they closed the door, the back section of this 747 was virtually empty! Saying the economy section was 20% full would be generous. So I ended up having an entire row to myself, no one in two rows behind or in front of me. Everyone got to lay down in an entire aisle and sleep. I watched some shows about rugby and news before going to sleep. After that flight got into Auckland, there was another 1.5 hour flight to Christchurch. As I was getting my baggage in customs, my name was announced to go to the airline desk. Sure enough, one of my bags got lost in Los Angeles. It had most of my clothing and toiletries. They said I would get it the next day.
In Christchurch, all of the Antarctic travelers on the flight (about 25-30 maybe) checked in with USAP staff and got shuttled to our respective lodging establishments. My hotel room was not ready, so I walked around and got lunch with another researcher, who happens to work for a research group at UW. He's been down there like 10 times. After I got my room and showered, I realized the first goof-up of the trip: I forgot the power cord for my laptop. Fantastic. I walked around looking for electronics stores, and found one that had a cord for about $100 US. I didn't get it, and decided to leave the laptop here in NZ. Very frustrating, but I should be able to get done what I need to with what is at McMurdo.
Otherwise, I walked around today looking inside stores in the vast downtown retail area. This afternoon we all went over to the CDC (clothing distribution center) to try on cold-weather gear for the trip.
Have had a good time for the short time I've been here. Weather has been great (sunny, mid 70's), and Christchurch is a beautiful city. Had both BK and KFC for dinner so far. When I went to Taiwan last year I was fascinated by the variance in menu items at fast food establishments, compared to the US. It's no different here. The double cheeseburger and fries at BK were familiar, but I ordered donuts for dessert (very reasonably priced at NZ $1.40). It had four small cinnamon-plain donuts. They should offer these in the US. Then at KFC tonight, the popcorn chicked and fries were also familiar, but they sold milkshakes for NZ $1! They were very good too.
Tomorrow I (hopefully) leave for McMurdo. Wake-up call is set for 4:30 AM. I'll have another update when I get settled there.