Well we made Antarctica safe and sound and in one piece no less! It was quite the experience… Jenna and I were travel buddies and we left Dayton at 3pm on Thursday.. an hour flight later we were in Chicago. A 2 hour layover and a five hour flight later we were in Los Angeles. A three hour layover, a security check and a 15 hour flight consisting of 4 movies and 2 meals later we were in Sydney Australia. Exhausted by this point we went through security again and a 3 hour layover then a 5 hour flight later and another movie we were in Auckland New Zealand… We picked up our luggage went through customs and went to a domestic terminal and rechecked our luggage then an hourlater we were on our way to Christchurch… a puddle jump away we finally wete there and just in time to eat and pass out for the night. The next morning we headed to the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) to receive our ECW (extreme cold weather) gear. By the time we were all suited up it was afternoon so Jenna and I headed to the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch. Along the way we saw a photo diary of Scotts travel to the South Pole. It is incredible how many people helped him along the way and how many people perished in the journey… Now people go there every day and that just amazes me…. We also walked around Christchurch to see what some of the damage was done to the town due to the earthquake a few years back. It is crazy how much damage is still showing and how much of the town is still considered a “red zone” with no people allowed… Anyway Monday morning soon arrived and by 9am we were on our way to Antarctica via a C17 Airforce cargo plane… the thing was enormous and it was crazy to be in there and it was soooooo loud. 5 hours later we had touched down on the landing zone on the ice shelf. When the door opened all I could see was white…. White was everywhere and it was gorgeous with mountains and the terrain… Crazy beautiful… Check out facebook for the full photo journal. We were then loaded onto Ivan the terrabus and another new vehicle meant for snow and we were transported to McMurdo Station, the main base where we would reside for the next two weeks. Once in McMurdo we had a briefing and received our room keys and went to find our bedding and our luggage. Jenna is stuck with me as a roommate for the next two weeks and so far so good hahaha
Tuesday morning we were up early as I was to head off to “happy camper” school and Rachael and Jenna had a refresher course in survival. This was quite the experience let me tel l you… You and 19 fellow newbies are carted off into the middle of nowhere, dropped off onto the sea ice, and told to survive for 36 hours…. Ummm ok… Random side note: The population here was 800 when we arrive and only 25% of those people are female… SO anyway….. 3 girls and 17 guys are dropped off and we were taught how to run a podunk little stove, how to build a snow wall, how to build a trench, and how to boil snow… then the instructors just leave and the 20 of us are left to our own devices… We build our snow wall, put up some tents, built trenches, and boiled water so we could warm up our dehydrated food portions….. I attempted to eat the most appetizing one (rice and veggies) but I didn’t get very far haha. I didn’t get a lot of sleep either, My eyelashes froze together in the cold (It was -20 F by evening) and my sleeping even froze on the outside. My toe warmers gave out around 2am so I had to replace those so that I could retain my limbs haha. It is also daylight 24hours a day so sleeping is something to get used to. So the next day after having slept maybe an hour or so we tore down camp, the instructors came back for us, we played out a few scenerios and we headed back to base where I was finally able to get a real meal and some hot tea, talked to the love of my life, showered, brushed my teeth a couple times and was asleep by 8pm hahah I have been told the real camps aren’t like that at all. We do have to sleep in tents but it’s a lot warmer because we sleep on the ground not on the sea ice and there are warm huts where we conduct our research that you can go into to warm up or cook a real meal. (Thank goodness)
Today was a few more classes and then lab work for the rest of the day. We got our boxes that we had emailed to ourselves so we had to organize it and get set up and we also had to figure out what other training courses we needed to take. Jenna and I also went through the food list to see what we wanted to take into the field with us. There were a lot of awesome choices and I think I will spoil the gang with some Gravy and Biscuits, Spaghetti, Chili, Ritz Chicken, Fajitas, Mini Pizzas, cookies… etc…. There were so many options and I can’t wait to get cooking again!! Tonight is open mic night at the coffee shop so Jenna and I might go check it out which could be fun. Tomorrow is acid wash day where we have to essentially clean everything we want to take into the field hahaha. Oh and Wei should be joining us by Monday, he flys out tomorrow which is great news, It will be good to get him here before we head out to Lake Bonney.
Ill try to update again soon…
P.S. Prayers to Phil and his family for me if you could... They were in an accident and although all three are home now they are still recovering especially his parents so prayers are much appreciated... I thank everyone who is helping take care of him for me.... Love you all