Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Journey Is The Destination - Part II

We are in Christchurch. The sun is shining and it's spring down here. That's one of the joys of traveling to McMurdo via New Zealand; we get a second spring. Daffodils are everywhere. Birds are in amorous song. You know, spring is the season of hope.

Having recovered overnight (sort of), we go to the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) this morning to try on our extreme cold weather gear that the NSF (National Science Foundation) issues to each of us. I always hate this part. First of all, the NSF thinks that women are merely small men, so a lot of the equipment is geared towards male proportions and doesn't fit exactly right. That's a small annoyance. The sad part is that the U.S. Antarctic Program, which has the unfortunate abbreviation of USAP, is strapped for cash. A number of the clothing items are simply worn out or unavailable. It hurts me to see the Antarctic program so hobbled by the budget cuts. (Write your local Congressman, please.)

This is a really old photo of the clothing that we are issued. (I have to remember to take a new photo the next time I pass through the CDC.) A lot of the stuff that you see is no longer issued, like the buffalo plaid wool shirt. In fact, I think that this photo is roughly 20 years old, so many of the wool items are now made out of polartec fleece, which is a superior fabric for the extreme cold.

Once we have gone through our clothing issue we are free for the day and head downtown. We stopped to pose in front of the memorial to Scott. Maybe that wasn't such a good idea. After all, Scott never came back from the Antarctic, did he?

This is Penguin Ranch 2007. Ooops! I forgot! I'm taking the photo. This is me below.

We are ordered to report to the Antarctic Terminal tomorrow at 6 AM. Our shuttle will pick us up at 5:30 AM. Remember the time difference that I talked about in the previous blog? It's working in our favor. Our wake up time might be 5 AM, but our bodies think it is 9AM.

Before we can board the military jet to McMurdo, we have to change into our extreme cold weather gear. Of course, as with all group events, it is a slow process. Believe it or not, we are bound by the same security restrictions as passengers on a commercial airline. No sharps, toiletries in a quart size bag with no liquid volume over 3 oz, carry on size limitation, etc. It's understandable, but a pain. Sigh....

Anyway, some preflight photos. This is Jessica, Cory, and Cass. They are GS1, GS3, and GS2, respectively (GS = graduate student)

Here's Matt (MD2) our Anesthesiology Resident from the U.S. Navy.

Here's fearless leader, Paul (PI, also MD1, and a host of other things :-) )

This is how we flight down to McMurdo. Trust me, it is WAY more comfortable than Qantas cattle car. Yay for the U.S. Air Force!!!

We've made it! I'm 8 for 8 on no boomerangs. A boomerang is a flight down to McMurdo that gets turned back because of bad weather or other complications. A couple of years ago our flight "broke" the ice runaway and the flight behind us had to return to Christchurch after almost reaching McMurdo. I think that McMurdo Station is about 1700 miles away from Christchurch. That must have been extremely disappointing for those folks and also an extremely long day.

That's Jessica in front of our plane, a C-17.

Who is that masked woman? (Me, of course)

This is our transportation into town. Ivan, the Terra Bus. It's a venerable machine since I think that it hauled Paul and me into McMurdo back in 1987, too.