6 October, 1997

Journal Entry: 6 October,1997

Thomas Geelan

I have finally arrived at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. This morning began my first full day here. It has taken me since 30 September and things have really piled up. My journey began at 2:30 PM when I left Buffalo bound for Washington, D.C and then Los Angeles. I flew directly from L.A. to Auckland, New Zealand. The flight left at 10:15 PM on 30 September and didn't arrive in Auckland until 5:40AM on October 2nd. These are local times and reflect crossing the International Date Line. In termms of Buffalo time I arrived in Auckland at 1:40PM on October 1st. I found the airport to be small but very cheerful and pleasant - a tonic after a long and crowded flight.

I flew to Christchurch after going through customs and changing planes. I arrived there at 10:15AM. My body was operating on Buffalo time (6:15 PM) and I desperately wanted sleep after my 28 hour flight. It was morning and I didn't want to miss an opportunity to see some of Christchurch. As a result, when I finally got to bed I had been up nearly 43 hours. I had a pretty serious case of jet lag but it was a small price to pay. Before I went to bed I reluctantly set my watch to New Zealand time. I felt it was a metaphor for leaving one life and beginning a new one.

The next day (Oct.4th) I was scheduled to go to the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) at the United States Antarctic Program Complex to be issued my extreme cold weather gear (ECW). I tried on lots of clothing including special boots, pants, gloves, hats, and parkas. Things had to be packed in special bags and loaded on the aircraft. The flight to Antarctica was scheduled for the following day. That evening I went to bed early because I needed to be at the CDC by 4:45 AM. After showering and dressing I learned that the flight had been canceled due to bad weather in Antarctica

After breakfast I walked to the Canterbury Museum where they have a very good Antarctic Exhibit. Most of the day , however, I spent reading over scientific papers concerning the work I would be doing at McMurdo. It was important to get a good night's sleep because that night the clocks needed to be set ahead one hour . In addition the new report time was 3:45 AM.

At 2:45AM (Oct. 5th) I dressed and caught a ride to the CCD. The flight to Antarctica did not leave until 7:10AM. Twenty minutes later the C-141 Starlifter had trouble with the landing gear, so it turned around and landed back in Christchurch. By 10:35AM another attempt was made and was successful. We landed on the ice at McMurdo Station just before 4:00PM. Vehicles were waiting to bring everyone into "town" where we would be briefed about life at McMurdo. After dinner I attended a special talk on the history of Antarctic exploration around the McMurdo area. There is a very famous historical site here at what is known as Hut Point. The hut used by the explorer, Robert Falcon Scott, is still standing and contains many of the things left behind after his first expedition of 1902-1904.

Scott returned to Antarctica in an attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole. He and 4 others reached the Pole on 17 January 1912 only to find that Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, had been there a month earlier. All died on the return journey. Scott and other members of his party froze to death in their tent just 11 miles from a depot camp.

Here are a few things for you to explore:

1. New Zealand is a country comprised of islands. What are they? 2. On which island do you find Auckland?

3. On which island do you find Christchurch?

4. Christchurch is used as a gateway to the Antarctic. Why does this make sense


5. On a map of Antarctica find the Ross Ice Self, Ross Island, and McMurdo Station

6. People in Antarctica wear special sunglasses to prevent snowblindness. What is snowblindness and what is it caused by?

7. Find out more about the history of Antarctic exploration, how these explorers survived, and different strategies for transporting supplies.

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