A slightly cold journey

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?

3 thoughts on “A slightly cold journey

  1. Adrian!!! This is awesome, especially for those of us who prefer the equator to the ice. I am loving the photos of the trip and happy you made it in one piece. No air sickness in that heat and enclosed space to add to the fragrant petrol?

    Keep this going (or I will have to bug you about it) along with the pictures. Have a great time.

    Many hugs from Texas and (soon) Puerto Rico. Have an adventure. 🙂

  2. Love this! I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures when you return to DC (but not too soon, okay?).

    Don’t get eaten by a leopard seal and please take pics of any black and whites you see!!


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