The last two days I have been in Christchurch, New Zealand, preparing for my flight down to Antarctica, or “the ice” as the lingo goes. There are a lot of other US Antarctic Program people in my hotel and others nearby so we have all been touring around and keeping each other company. Many of us (myself included) have never been to the ice before. We all went to get our extreme cold weather gear (ECW) at the clothing distribution center (CDC- there are a lot of abbreviations to remember) in Christchurch yesterday. One of the women that worked there told me that there is over $4 million worth of gear there. When I have all of it on, I look pretty ridiculous, but it is extremely warm.
Today is our flight to the ice. It will be in a US Air Force cargo plane (so no comfy seats for us) and will last about 5 hours assuming we don’t have to “boomerang,” which means that we’d have to turn around mid-flight because of unsafe landing conditions at McMurdo station. Despite the lack of cushy seats and flight attendants, they do treat you pretty well. The caterers already gave us a bag lunch for our flight (and somehow they knew I was vegetarian) and you get as many sets of earplugs as you could ever want. Once I get down to McMurdo station, I will spend about a week there doing snow safety school and snowmobile and helicopter training (no I don’t get to fly one) before I go out to the Dry Valleys to actually start doing fieldwork. Pretty exciting stuff.
At the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC)