4 January, 1999
January 4th - 7th, 1999, Christchurch, N.Z.
Good day to everybody,
On Monday, the 4th, I found out that my departure time was to be on the 5th. Sue, the other teacher, was lucky and her flight made it to the Antarctic. Bryan Johnson arrived from Boulder, Colorado. We were going to work together on a special ozone project at the South Pole. Just before dinner, I found out that Bryan's and my departure time was changed again from 1/5th to 1/6th. Good for Bryan because it gave him more time to rest after the long trip from the states.
On Tuesday, the 5th, I took advantage of the extra time and went to the Canterbury Museum. They had a very interesting section on Antarctic exploration and I was impressed with the display of some of the clothing and equipment of the early explorers. My admiration went to all of them: Amundson, Scott, Shackleton..., only to name a few and about whom I will write later. I can not imagine how they survived many months in ice and snow with the equipment they had and with no communication to the outside world. I also took a walk through the Botanical Garden, my favorite place in Christchurch -- the Central Rose Garden in parcticular. Looking at the roses, I could not imagine that I would be in ice and snow soon.
Wednesday, the 6th. I did not sleep well all night since I was anxious to leave for Antarctica. We were picked up from the hotel at 11:30 a.m. At the CDC, we received our clothing that we had packed up before and we changed into our EWC. Next: all of our "Hold" bags were weighted, then the weight was taken of each one of us together with our "Carry on "bag. All of it was recorded to calculate the overall weight of the plane that was to be a LC 130, a ski-equipped Hercules aircraft (Hercs). We received a passenger pass with a chain so we could hang it around our neck. It was very hot outside and it was most challenging not getting too hot in several layers of winter clothing!! I remembered the water bottle we received from the CDC and I made shure that I drank enough. Staying hydrated is a good health pass for the Antarctic! Anybody knows why?
All of us, about 30 passengers, waited for the next order. We were told that 3 people probably would have to be "bumped off" the plane in order to decrease its weight. The cargo had to stay, but the people could leave. I hoped it was not going to be me. No such luck!! My name was called first. I had to change clothing and packed up again (good that I remembered to pack my sneakers in the right bag)!. I thought I was the only one who had to leave, but Bryan was "bumped" 15 minutes later, so were 3 more people. I was sad but I learned later that we had the better deal than the rest of the passenger. The plane never made it to McMurdo, Antarctica, because of strong winds. It returned to Christchurch. I had heard about many returns like that while I was at the Windsor Hotel, the record for returns like that stands for 10 times.). The Hercs can only take enough fuel for the 8 hrs flight to McMurdo. During flight, the decision of return was made at the mid - point - flight time. This point is called " Point Of Return" (POR). Because of strong winds, the Hercs did not make it far enough for a safe arrival in McMurdo. I was glad they mad it back safely. Where in the Antarctic is McMurdo located?
So it was back to the Windsor were rooms were reserved for us already. My Principal Investigator, Dave Hofmann, arrived in Christchurch on this day and all three of us had a chance to go out to dinner. The word was that we would leave on the 8th, with a 10% chance to
leave on the 7th.
On the 7th, noon, we found out that we would not leave until the 8th and that we would hear about details in the evening. I had enough time to smell those beautiful roses one more time, to plan ozone research and to finish up a book on Shackleton. 6 p.m.: we saw that we made it on the list of passenger for the next flight! 10:45 p.m.: Flight departure time was announced: hotel-pick-up-time: 4:45am, flight check in time: 5:15 a.m.. I did not get much sleep.
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