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23 December, 2002

The Adventure Begins!

I headed into Logan Airport about 8:00 am for a noon flight. I left early to allow for traffic and to be sure I would have plenty of time to clear security with all my equipment. I passed through security without a catch and met up with my team at the gate around 10:00. Let me introduce part of the team I will be working with for the next 6 weeks.

Five members of the team are from the University of Maine and they include the following:

Amber and Aaron who are field assistants and Sean and Tom who are graduate students working towards a masters of science. The Principal Investigator of this group, Dr. Brenda Hall, was not at the airport, as she has been doing research in the South Shetland Islands and will meet us in Christchurch, New Zealand.

We flew out on American Airlines. The ride was not bad and the seats were fairly comfortable. I cannot say the showing of "Scooby Doo" was much of a hit for anyone, but it worked out for the best since I wanted to get some much needed sleep anyway.

We arrived in Los Angeles with a five hour lay over ahead of us, so we decided to head for the beach. Check out the photos of Flat Stanley with the life guard and surfer we met at Manhattan Beach! It was parcticularly nice that we were able to go as it was the first time Amber had seen the Pacific Ocean. We were all glad to be able to walk around a bit in the fresh air and California sun, before the next dreaded 12 hour flight to N.Z.

We caught an 8:30pm flight. The Quantus 747 aircraft was VERY uncomfortable. The seats on American were much more spacious and for 6 foot, 4 inch Aaron it was like being forced to compress yourself into the smallest possible size and then having to hold that position for 12 hours. Since I felt that I could hardy move the entire flight, I am still baffled as to how he managed to survive at all! Maybe that is why I was able to catch some sleep, while the guys seemed to get almost none.

We arrived in Auckland, located on the North Island of N.Z., at 8:30 a.m. on Christmas Day and had to pick up our checked baggage so that we could clear customs. They are very parcticular in NZ about soil and such because a disease could infect their sheep and these animals are a major part of the economy for the country. Aaron had a tent and some camping gear that he brought from Maine because he plans to travel and camp throughout NZ when we leave the ice. They had to fumigate his equipment as a precaution because of soil and bacteria that may have collected on his tent and gear. They were also very concerned about our dirt in our shoes and boots. Having known this before we left, I brought new hiking boots that I had been breaking in by wearing around the house rather than on hiking trails as I would normally do. Also, all of us had been careful to stamp out the sand and rinse our sneakers from our trip to the beach in L.A.

From Aukland to Christchurch on the South Island was a short trip. As we made our approach into Christchurch, I think the reality of what we were doing helped revive us from our long journey. It was a sunny Christmas morning and although we all felt sad not to be with our families, we were happy to be finally starting our adventure!

1. Aaron fall asleep with Pink Flat Stanley in Los Angeles Airport.

2. Tom will use his British passport to help get Pink Flat Stanley and Dighton Middle School's Penguin Paul through security.

3. Amber has become quite fond of Colorful Flat Stanley and Fleece Flat Stanley.

4. Sean enjoys the view just before sunset at Manhattan Beach in L.A.

5. Pink Flat Stanley auditions for a part in Bay Watch 2003.

6. Colorful Flat Stanley sets off with a California surfer looking for the perfect big wave!

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