My travel plans got rearranged Tuesday, big time. The original plan was to fly back to Christchurch on December 19th. Well, the C-17 flight got cancelled. So I was left with either December 14th or 21st. I chose the 21st because leaving today would be a bit hasty and I still have some work to do. Part of my trip report involves documenting model performance for selected cases while I'm here. Well, we've been under weak flow and unorganized weather since I've gotten here. It's made for very nice conditions, everyone is loving it, and the met. manager noted that no flight operations in/out of McMurdo were affected at all last week by weather, and he cannot remember that ever happening before. But its boring weather for me and it's hard to gauge model performance for this almost chaotic weather (scattered clouds and light snow).
Anyways, my original plan included two days/three nights in Christchurch on the way back, meaning I leave Christchurch and get back to Milwaukee on December 22nd. By leaving on the 21st, my choices were to keep my original commercial-carrier flight plan and head back on the 22nd (basically no time in New Zealand) or stay until the 25th, because they would not be able to book me on either the 23rd or 24th. I decided on the three days/four nights in Christchurch. Any delays leaving McMurdo could put a December 22nd departure for the U.S. in jeopardy, and I don't want to pass up a couple days vacation in New Zealand. Of course I'm missing Christmas with the family, which is tough because I've never not been home for Christmas before. But I think I got the best possible option out of what was available to me. It's disappointing that they cancelled that flight on the 19th, and surprising to me, with the mass exodus of beakers (scientists) from here before Christmas. The flights on Dec. 14th and 21st out of here are packed. But it's out of my control, all I can do is deal with it.
Pun City alerted me to the fact that there are two people from our hometown of Grafton, Wisconsin in Antarctica right now. Ryan Hammetter (Grafton H.S. class of 2001) is at the South Pole right now with UW's IceCube project. My guess is that he was here in McMurdo last Thursday between flights. I don't know him very well, the only connection I can possibly think of is 1998 Grafton JV baseball. I would need to go through my records to confirm this. But it's exciting that two people from a town of about 12,000 people are in Antarctica at the same time.
I've been trying to take in some of the area activities while I'm here. I've been to the Protestant service at the Chapel of the Snows:
both Sundays I've been here. Tuesday afternoon I went to New Zealand's Scott Base:
to visit their station store. It's a short, maybe 10-minute, shuttle ride from McMurdo. It's much smaller, I think it maxes out around 100 people. But it's a well-constructed base, it's very nice inside and it appears that most if not all of the buildings are interconnected. I went there last Thursday for "American Night", when their bar is open to us. Had a good time and the people there are very friendly. But the store was closed, so I needed to make a return visit. They had some really good candy there, I got a chocolate bar with pineapple-flavored filling and a pack of milk-flavored gummy pieces. Both were delicious. While I was waiting outside for the shuttle back, I was standing too close to their helicopter pad, because it almost hit me when it came in. I just got blasted with dust and dirt as I was moving away.
Tonight I went to Burger Bar at Gallaghers. Got a double cheeseburger, fries, and root beer. It costs money, but is a nice change of pace. The guy from Cudahy I met in Christchurch and attended happy camper school with was there, so I ate with him and one of his colleagues.
My roommate took off for New Zealand this morning, so we'll see if I get another roommate during the rest of my stay.