22 November, 1998
Well, today's journal should actually be twice as long as the others because I went through two Sundays in the process of coming home!
I woke up this morning in Christchurch, ate breakfast at the hotel, and packed my things for the very last time. I knew that I had time to "kill" until I had to leave for the airport, so I walked to the Arts Centre street fair (a fair that is made up of local artisans, musicians, and entertainers). I browsed until 12 noon, picked up a sandwich at the Le Cafe, and returned to the hotel to await my shuttle to the airport. My shuttle picked me up at 1:00...the driver recognized me from several weeks before and wanted to hear all about my trip.
I checked in at the airport early (four hours early, to be exact) because there was a Christmas Parade happening today that my hotel manager thought for sure would mess up the transportation around the city. I bought a paperback to read while I waited. My flight to Auckland (and then on to LAX) left at about 5:30 in the evening (which back home is 10:30 in the evening on Sat. night). To make a long story short, the flight from Auckland to LAX took about 11-1/2 hours...a very uncomfortable flight if you don't have an exit seat (and if you're extremely tall...). I tried to sleep the whole time, with some difficulty. I was able to breeze through customs in L.A. but just made my next flight to Denver. My in-laws, Rich and Janice Elliott, met me at International Customs and walked me to my next flight's gate. We didn't have much time to talk, but it was fun getting to see them again. [Since we're in Minnesota, we don't get to see family in California very often.] I've included a picture of them below. I heard later that my family was there trying to locate me, but the flight information on the boards were wrong. They waited 2 hours for me...finally left...only to find out my flight was a little later than they thought. So, of course, I would have a picture of them, too, but I didn't see them. How frustrating!
I arrived in Minneapolis around 7:30 pm on Sunday evening (so you can see, I went through 2 Sundays). I had a flight to Rochester, but I was going to have about a 2-hour layover, so Dan came to pick me up in Minneapolis (which gave us more time to talk in the car on the way home). [I'll pick up my luggage in Rochester tomorrow].
So, I'm back at home...where the shadows get longer at 1:00 pm in the afternoon and there is darkness at night. It's been warmer here (in the 40s and 50s...how will I adjust?) It's practically t-shirt and shorts weather here!
As a postlude to my journey to Antarctica, I want to thank NSF for providing such a wonderful experience to both me and my students... A big thank-you to Wayne Sukow and Stephanie Shipp who both have facilitated the teachers' adventures and experiences on the ice...thank-you to my research team (Chris Fritsen, John Priscu, Ed Adams, Jim Raymond, Mark Sappington, and Nina Baum) for all of the great experiences in the Dry Valleys...a huge thank-you to Mac, who very willingly accepted my classroom responsibilities while I was gone...thank-you to Dan, my husband, who allowed me to go on such a long trip...and thank-you to my students who encouraged me to go and wrote me e-mails while I was gone.
For those of you interested in Antarctica and for those of you that want to continue following adventures in Antarctica, you can follow other teachers at this same web site, or you can go to http://www.icetrek.org to follow Peter Hillary and team's current expedition to the South Pole. Some of you may be interested in learning about the preservation of Antarctica. The Antarctica Project (http://www.asoc.org) is located in Washington, D.C. and supports a wide variety of protections regarding wildlife, wildlife habitat, pollution control, and area and waste management. I truly hope that you have been able to learn a little more about a continent that is almost twice the size of Australia and the USA and with one of the most inhospitable environments on earth. My pictures and words could never replace one's direct experience with Antarctica, but I hope that I gave you a glimpse into a beautiful, awesome world...one that has been visited and experienced by very few people.
If you have any questions at all, feel free to e-mail me at any time. I would like to answer any questions you might have about Antarctica.
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