30 November, 2001
Today's the day! We rise at 4:30am to be at CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) by 5:45am. We actually arrive before they open!
Once inside, we all change into our required ECW (extremely cold weather) gear: long underwear, socks, bunny boots, windpants, parka, mittens, and hat. We are also required to have an extra pair of socks and an extra set of underwear--just in case. Sunglasses must also be worn anytime we are out on the ice.
Before boarding the bus for the plane we must be weighed in with our carry-on luggage. I weigh in at 204 pounds! How did my bag suddenly get so heavy?!
We are "packed" inside the C-130 five at a time--just like sardines. Cargo is strapped down throughout the rest of the plane. There is little room to walk or sit. The "facilities" are located behind a shower curtain and actually aren't too bad.
Once the plane is in the air, the "experienced" passengers scramble to find a spot on the cargo to sleep. That leaves us more room on the benches. Because I took some cold medication before boarding the plane, I spend the next three hours sleeping--along with everyone else.
Four hours (and one bag lunch of pickle sandwiches) later, we're still on our way. It looks like we will reach Antarctica on our first try. They had given us a 50-50 chance of making it out today. Weather conditions or mechanical difficulties often make planes return to New Zealand for another attempt on the next "good" day. Looks like all our "positive thinking" paid off for us!
Seven hours into the flight we are already seeing a lot of frozen ice--blue ice and crevasses, too.
***Note: Today marks the 100th anniversary of Scott and Shackelton docking in New Zealand to begin the race to the South Pole.
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