Friday, October 17, 2008

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

(from Kathi)

Greetings  from McMurdo!

My departure was separate from the rest of the group. I made it into McMurdo Station (MCM) last night after two days of practically continuous travel – left San Diego on the 13th, landed in Christchurch on the 15th (crossing the International Date Line going west can advance the date depending upon the time crossed), and flew to MCM on the 16th.

Christchurch in spring


The originally scheduled MCM flight was for the 17th, but an emergency med evac forced our flight to leave a day earlier. As a result,  none of us on this flight had the usual day to recover from the previous 24 hours of travel.

So, on very short notice, I caught a shuttle early in the morning, got my extreme cold weather (ecw) gear, received a flu shot, and had my computer security-checked. I have to hand it to the CDC staff. They managed to get us through everything with their usual good cheer.

We were shoved onto the military flight at about 1 PM. It was a mad dash all morning and to complicate matters we had to hang around in our ecw gear for a couple of hours in almost summer weather. None of us smelled very good after that.

The flight itself was mercifully short since the ambulance was waiting for the plane. The National Guard did not do its usual round of  touch-and-go practice upon arrival in MCM. That saved us 30 minutes of air time, for which I was extremely thankful, as all that banking up and down unsettles my stomach.

On the C-17 to McMurdo


It was 6:30 PM when I arrived in Mac Town. We were in time for dinner and then had to endure an hour of briefing when all we wanted to do was go to sleep. I sort of unpacked and finally made it to bed around 11 PM. Unfortunately, our dorm developed a heating problem, so I had to bundle up in most of my ecw clothes (with a hat) to sleep. The temps outside dropped to -24 C last night, although I suspect that our room was considerably warmer than that - certainly well above freezing.

Yup, back in Mac Town. What a long, strange trip it has been….

Our lab in McMurdo