Well hello from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. I have arrived safely and was then promptly shuffled for one briefing to a training session, to meetings , to more meetings. The first day is always the roughest- tomorrow though- I have huge plans to go forth and um explore town.
Anyhow my journey was epic- or at least long, loud, and stinky.
It all began at the CDC- that is Clothing Distribution Center. However, since they wash and sanitize mountains of long under water, face protection, and fleece clothing that gets worked in, played in and slept in, they probably do have a role to play in disease control. At the CDC I was issued two enormous orange bags filled with ECW (Extreme cold weather gear).
Getting on the flight is a bit humbling. We are trying to transport as many people, supplies, and science equipment as possible on each and every flight. That means that all your checked bags are weighed (no biggie) and then you and all of your carry on gear is weighed- every time every flight
The 109th Air National Guard (from Schenectady, NY) fly us to Antarctica, and to South Pole Station, and to some of the deep field camps. No joke their motto is “You buy’em, we fly’em”. Last time I flew down on a C17, I did not realize how spoiled I was.
This year I flew down in an LC-130. The “L” means that it has skis. Right now the weather is so warm, that the runway is mushy. We can’t safely land the larger wheeled aircraft (like that now luxurious C17). So, we are all piling into the smaller slower ski-equipped Hercs (aka LC-130).
I am told that the plane wasn’t that crowded. But, I can tell you that it was really warm, very loud, stinky (petro products) and awkwardly cuddly ride for me. Also unlike the C-17, there was no easy access to a window We had a number of guardsmen who were old pros at this sort of travel. They knew how to make themselves comfortable.
After 8 and a half hours in flight flight we finally arrived. Being in the dark plane for so long meant that the sunlight was practically blinding. Also it was so stinking hot!
So we landed at the Pegasus blue Ice runway which was an 90 minute to two hour ride from McMurdo. Why so far away? Well the compacted blue ice of the permanent ice shelf is a much more stable and reliable runway than the sea ice- which can break up and blow out annually. Even though it has been warm, the snow/ice road to Pegasus was still in good enough condition for wheeled vehicles (yay!). We were lucky enough to get a lift from Ivan- the-Terra- Bus.
I am just so happy to be here. Actually most people are. The air is clean- our hair doesn’t frizz and things that look like slugs from a distance are actually Weddell seals. What more could you possibly need?