12 December, 1999
Sunday December 12, 1999
Woke up at 0005 hours, of course I slept most of yesterday away. It was worth it, for I do feel much better. I spent the entire morning from 0045 hours until 1045 hours getting caught up on my journals. As it now stands I am scheduled to redeploy on Tuesday December 14. That is when I am scheduled to leave the continent. I am suppose to leave Christchurch on December 17. I was given this information this morning with the following concluding remark. "Flights are backed up from last Thursday so make sure you keep some clean clothes and personal needs products in your hand held bag. Even though you will probably bag drag tomorrow night (that means they have all my belonging except one small orange bag carry on) you will probably be bumped back at least that many days". To me that sound like four days, but all that remains to be seen. I hope I get to Christchurch by the 17th, for if not I will then be put on "as available status" and that could mean a long stay in Christchurch, and I am ready to go home.
I walked over to the galley about 12000 hours an ran into one of the parcticipants in our program ad a friend. We talked for a while and I got invited to take a quick trip to the Penguin Ranch. My friend's friend had to go out their, by snowmobile, and repair something and he invited me along. This is the place I talked about in an earlier journal where they study thermal regulation, blood chemistry and diving behavior of the emperor penguin. What an opportunity. Wow.
The penguins were all tagged and are monitored constantly. There is an enclosure and also a tube in the ice where you can go and watch these torpedoes of the sea do their thing. It was awesome. We were only there a few minutes, but at least I had the chance to see it and get some pictures. On my last trip to the ice I saw thousands of adelie penguins and hundreds of emperors. This time if it wasn't for my friend I would have probably seen none. We were gone not much more then an hour and a half; but it was worth it. These little guys, actually the emperor is the biggest of all penguins averaging between 66 and 100 pounds in weight and standing any where from 39" to 48" in height (almost as tall as me), are amazing. They waddle as penguins do to move around "slowly", they toboggan, slide on their bellies, when they are in a hurry; but man if you want to see them move real fast, just put them in the water. They look and move as fast as torpedoes. By the time we returned the wind was blowing real hard in our faces and it was starting to snow lightly. The week I was in the dry valley they tell me it was 100% sunshine 24 hours a day for a week straight. Truly an amazing place.
When I got home I showered and started to go through my gear so that I can pack it up in the morning. As I said we will in all likelihood have a bag drag tomorrow night and probably not leave until Friday. However the air force will keep all of our belongings safely bundled up on a cargo pallet. Makes no sense to me, but they are the one's who will take me home so I will definitely play by their rules.
I may go for a final walk up observation hill tonight although right now the wind is hollowing outside my window. It need to say my good byes to the ice.
Tomorrow's will be my final journal for I will have to turn in my email account by tomorrow night. So until then, sleep well and peace.
Penguin Pete the Polar Man
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