01 December 2006

Indoor Living

I made it to McMurdo on Thursday. The plan was to wake up at 4:15 AM for the 5:30 AM shuttle to the airport in Christchurch, with a 9:00 AM departure to McMurdo. After I got out of the shower at 4:45, I got a call from hotel reception stating that the flight was delayed three hours and the shuttle would now leave at 8:30 AM. Cool, so I went back to bed. At 8:30 we left for the USAP facility in Christchurch, which is near the airport. I stashed the gear I was keeping in New Zealand, and got dressed in my ECW (extreme cold weather) gear. Here's a picture after the changing room was pretty much emptied:




After that it was off to the terminal to get screened and checked in. NZ customs checked everything out, mainly for hazardous materials and bag size. They give us two orange bags, one of which is checked and the other is carry-on. The carry-on needs to fit into a box, which no one's does, but I got drilled about that. So I "rearranged" it, and went through again with a different person checking it, and got through fine. Then we had time in the waiting room or around the facility. They played TV news and a movie (Oceans 11) while we were waiting (and sweating)...



Then our bags were screened, and we took buses to the plane. I wanted to pet the drug-sniffing dog (a nice black lab) but decided against it. The C-17 was actually a very comfortable ride down.

I took a center section ("economy") back row seat so I had some extra storage space. The side seats ("first class") can give me motion sickness in any vehicle, but I had plenty of room in the center. We got a big sack of food (Two sandwiches, two bags of potato chips, apple, orange, two different candy bars, a fruit bar, a bottle of water, and a bottle of juice). I ate everything except for a candy bar and the orange. The flight was five hours, and we got off at Pegasus Runway (here's a picture of the C-17 after arrival):



We then took shuttles through the snow (about 30 minute ride) to McMurdo. There we got dinner, briefed, and were let loose. I found my dorm, showered, got my luggage, and got settled. I have one roommate (some kind of researcher from Oregon, he works with seals) and have a bathroom that is shared with one other dorm room. I'm in a nice dorm, some have 4-5 people with communal bathrooms. Overall it reminds me of college (dorms, dining hall, mass sickness). Yesterday I met up with the forecaster in the weather office, and got familiarized with their operations. I'll observe and learn from their work, along with doing some of my own.


I have a pretty cushy job here. I work inside all of the time (even though it's not bad here, low 30's, light snow). I don't really have set hours, and am pretty much on my own. This morning I went for a run, and will take care of some errands before going to the office. It's not good for me to be there in the morning when they are busy with flight briefings, so I'll work a second-shift schedule. It doesn't really matter because it's light outside 24 hours a day (there's slightly less light and colder during the night-time hours, but it's a weak diurnal cycle).


I'll have more about my work and life here as the days go by...

8 comments:

Cooler Brian said...

Did your ECW gear have Rob Van Dam on it?

GoBrewersGo said...

No, it unfortunately did not. However, there are plenty of puddles/mudholes around here to do a five-star frogsplash in it.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful e mail, Dan. So intresting. We wait with baited breath for your stories. I hope you are staying healthy. Hope your roomate doesn't snore like a seal!!
Have you been outside much?
We read the articles by the MSNBC guys. Wonder if they are there now too. One of them really whined about his trip. But very intresting!! What an experience for you. Takecare We love you mom

Rob said...

I am glad to hear things have gone well so far...look forward to hearing more.
- Rob

Anonymous said...

Dan! I can't believe your in Antarctica. AND its warmer there than in Minnesota! Pure craziness. I see some "mountains" in the back ground of the plane picture. Does anyone snowboard there? Hope your enjoying yourself, do you get outside at all? Is it crazy bright off the snow? Have fun man.

~Ricky

Anonymous said...

WOW...how exciting for you. Doesn't look like we will be heading for McMurdo this trip. Weather's very cold in WI so it is preparing us for our trip to Antarctica. Hope Chile isn't as crazy about weight of luggage...i think Gary's boots weigh more than our weight limit. Wait in anticipation to hear more. Barbara and Gary

GoBrewersGo said...

Besides snow school, haven't been outside much. Just to walk between buildings. I'll write something about the MSNBC guys tomorrow. There are opportunities to ski (both downhill and cross country) and snowboard here, but I'm not sure where and to what extent. Getting to some of the areas is tricky or dangerous, due to weather and the fact that everything from here south is on ice sheet, parts of which can be unstable. The weight concerns should only be for USAP participants, anything for tourists should not be nearly as strict.

Brian Antarctica Winter Over 77 said...

Antarctica Winter Over 77 myself. Loved the "ice" Would go back again in a micro heart beat! Truly the last frontier.

Any openings?? email: briancgt@hotmail.com