Alright, here we go. It is currently 8:30 pm in Christchurch, NZ on Sunday the 14th. It is 12:30 am, also on Sunday the 14th, back home on the west coast. After 36 hours of travel, we arrived in Christchurch late last night and finally reached our wonderful beds and hotel at around 11:30 pm. I had never been so exhausted from travel before in my life. Markus (my advisor, boss, and one of the P.I.s or Principle Investigators on this project), Rachel (the veterinarian on the team), and I all looked like delirious zombies by the time we finally arrived. We got a full night of sleep, arose in the morning to pick up more anesthesia drugs for the seals, and went straight to the CDC to try on all of our ECW (Extreme Cold Weather Gear). All the essential gear you need in Antarctica is issued to you by the CDC, you must arrive the day before your flight to check in, receive a flu vaccination, receive the first of your training, and try on all of your gear. The weather has apparently been freezing in Christchurch the last few days, but right as we left the CDC the clouds parted and the sun graced us with its glorious and warm presence. We returned back at the hotel with just enough time for me to sit out on the beautiful patio enjoy a cold drink, journal, and read a bit in the sunshine.
We just had a fabulous “last meal” and now I’m going to try and get a few hours of sleep before leaving for my ice flight. Apparently the ice has been slow to form this season and thus the ice making up the airway we usually land on at the beginning of the season (the sea ice runway, which is located on the sea ice literally in front of McMurdo Station) has actually been too soft at times to land on. Which, is why they are having us fly at 6:00am in an attempt to land when the temperatures are a bit lower and when we might have a bit of a better chance at having stable ice to land on. Hopefully all goes well and we don’t have a “boomerang” flight. A boomerang, much like the name insinuates, entails turning around and coming back to Christchurch before reaching McMurdo because of bad weather conditions (low visibility or wind for example). So keep your fingers crossed for us!