16 January, 1998

Hello Everyone!  I am writing from aboard the Research Vessel Nathaniel 
B. Palmer.

 We finally made it to Antarctica!!! We packed up in Christchurch, New 
Zealand on Thursday morning, so that we would be at the airport by 8:00 
am. When we got to the airport, we found out the plane was delayed for a 
little while, so we had breakfast at the International Antarctic Center.  
I got to tour the Antarctic Center.  They have displays about what it is 
like to work in Antarctica.  They also have a snow room, so you can find 
out what it feels like to be at the South Pole.  The snow room has a 
large fan, so you can feel how strong winds make you feel colder - this 
is called wind chill.  We turned the fan on so high, I was blown over!

Later we went back to the CDC, the Clothing Distribution Center, where we 
got our clothing issued.  We put on all our layers of clothes.....long 
underwear, fuzzy polar fleece pants and jacket, wind pants, big "bunny" 
boots, and finally our bright red Polar Parkas!  I was really warm, but I 
could not move very well in all those clothes! We carried our bags to the 
airport and checked in.  We then waited...and waited...and waited!   The 
plane was being repaired and it took several hours to fix it completely.  
The Navy flight team is very careful with their equipment and wanted to 
make sure everything was in working order before we made our long journey 
south.   The plane finally was repaired and we boarded at  1:00 IN THE 
MORNING!  It was a long wait!  The plane is a LC-130 - it is especially 
prepared for working in cold weather conditions (that's why it has skis). 
 The plane carries lots of people (and bears) and cargo to and from 

The plane ride was beautiful. Even in the early hours of the morning it 
was light outside.  I visited the pilots on the flight deck.  We flew 
over the Transantarctic Mountains and followed a glacier!  The glacier 
looks like a big river of ice.  As we got closer to Ross Island, you 
could see huge tabular glaciers floating in the water - some were several 
miles across!  Tabular glaciers are flat topped.  They break off, or 
calve, from the Ross Ice Shelf.  You can see where Ross Island and the 
Ross Ice Shelf are located on a map of Antarctica.

We landed on a snow and ice runway using skis!  The landing was really 
smooth.  We got off at Willie Field and rode in a big red bus to McMurdo 
Station. As soon as we got to McMurdo, we collected our luggage and 
equipment and were helicoptered to the ship!  The ship was about a mile 
from McMurdo Station,  anchored in thin sea ice. The helicopters landed 
on the sea ice beside the ship (the helicopter pilot watched the ice 
carefully for cracks) and we hopped out and tromped through the snow to 
the ladder to the Palmer.

I just got settled into my cabin and am going to dinner and then to 
sleep.  Tomorrow I will tell you all about what it is like to live on the 

Thank you for so many questions - please stay in touch!

E. Shackleton Bear

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