21 November, 1998

I dragged myself out of bed this morning at 4:30 am. Why did I stay up late last night?????

I dressed in my cold weather gear (the plane can be quite cold), double-checked to make sure I had everything with me, and headed back to the Crary Lab. I left last-minute notes for everyone, including Ed, John, and Nina who are returning to McMurdo today (from Lake Bonney). I left my room key for Nina and returned my card key (for after hours) to Crary Lab. I wrote a quick e-mail to Dan (my husband), telling him that I was on my way and nothing had been cancelled yet. Yes!

I reported to Building 140 at 5:30 am where they were to pick us up to drive us to the air field out on the sea ice. We arrived at the plane around 6:00 am, but since they weren't quite ready for us, we had to wait in the "terminal" (a small, makeshift terminal for passengers waiting to board the planes) for about 1/2 an hour. We boarded the plane about 6:45, were given our sack lunches, and were told to "spread out" a little because there were only 15 of us on this flight. [When there are few passengers like this, they are able to carry more cargo like mail, supplies, and equipment on the plane]. The seating was very much like flying on the C-141, but of course, there were fewer of us, so we had a lot more leg room. We sat on nylon seats facing each other...two rows of these going half the length of the plane. The back end of the plane was full of cargo. As soon as the plane was in the air, we were allowed to readjust and take up a little more space. Needless to say, I needed my rest and I was able to lay down on the bench-like nylon seats and "sack out." That made the flight go by very fast. A lot of the guys went to the back of the plane to lie across the cargo stacks...whatever works!

In case you're wondering, the restroom facilities on a flight like this are very rustic. There is a curtain and a makeshift toilet seat. The guys go through a hole...don't ask me where it goes...

We arrived in Christchurch at around 3:00 pm. They took us to the terminal where we had to pick up our luggage (our orange "hold" bag). They then took us over to the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) where we were to unpack our gear and turn in all issued clothing. We received an official U.S. Antarctica Program patch (the same one on our red jackets) and received our hotel/airline itinerary for the next couple of days.

I was scheduled to stay in Christchurch one night and catch the flight from Christchurch to LAX the next evening. I took a shuttle to the hotel, and since it was such a nice day (and warm compared to Antarctica), I decided to do some more exploring and find a place to eat dinner. I ate at Le Cafe again (where Nina and I had eaten the night before leaving for Antarctica)...great food and great mochas! I returned to the hotel and went to bed around 8:00 pm (I know it was early, but I was tired...and why was it dark out anyway?)

Tomorrow I would be able to go to the Canterbury Arts Centre market fair that Christchurch has every weekend, and then I'll be heading to the airport for my long journey home.

Me on the airfield, waiting to board the C-130 for Christchurch

The C-130 that we flew from McMurdo to Christchurch...pretty cool, huh?

This is how the cargo hold looked from where I was sitting near the front of the plane. The back loading ramp of the plane is open as we await takeoff. Note the cargo packs that the guys slept on, and note the fold-out bunk beds that the crew slept on.

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