Monday, February 14, 2011
Journey to McMurdo
Greetings from the far south! (BTW, the time line of the pictures is backwards; start from the bottom up). We finally made it to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. I awoke at 5:30am to catch the continental breakfast our B&B provided before our shuttle arrived at 6:45am. At the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) we picked up our extreme cold weather (ECW) gear, went through customs and checked into our flight. We were limited to 150lbs for baggage, including a boomerang bag. The boomerang bag is essentially an overnight bag that contains the items we would need if we had to return to New Zealand because of bad weather (i.e. boomerang back to NZ). Rules for the flight are somewhat similar. We have to go through the same screening process as normal airports except we don't have to take off our shoes and liquids are not limited to 3oz. We are also required to wear the ECW gear that consists of a large red parka, bib wind pants, fleece pants and goggles on the flight, just in case we crash land I guess.
The flight left New Zealand at about 10:00am. We were given a very plentiful bagged lunch (just in case we had to boomerang). It was a very uneventful flight 5 hour flight (operated by the U.S. Air Force) on an C-17 and a smooth landing on the ice runway (Pegasus) here in Antarctica, arrival time at about 3pm. We arrived on a very beautiful, sunny day (-11 degrees F, though). It took about an hour or so to ride in 'Ivan the Terrabus' from the runway to McMurdo station, passing the New Zealand station (Scott Base) on the way. The rest of the day consisted of safety briefings, collecting our bedding for the dorms, dinner at the station and a walk up to Observation Hill. I will save that for a separate post.