16 November, 1999
Morning Ice Flight
Taped to the front desk at the Windsor is the flight manifest for tomorrow. Finally, after days of seeing this abstraction, there's my name on the list. I initial it to indicate that I know I need to be ready for the shuttle transport to the CDC at 5:45 a.m. We're getting close! Time to go out for one last good dinner. Tonight's plan: a traditional Irish pub, then a Japanese meal.
There's a plastic bag full of breakfast treats on my bed when I return from dinner at 8:30. The folks at the Windsor take good care of us. Although nothing is ever certain with Antarctic travel, I take this offering as a sign we're actually leaving. It's way too late to be up the night before departure. I've been typing for hours when suddenly the computer turns itself off at midnight. I've been running off the battery without knowing it and now it's good and drained. My alarms are set for 5:00 and 5:10 a.m. and I've lost everything I've written in the past 45 minutes!
I don't feel very sleepy. I'm more than a bit wired at this point. I've been anticipating this trip south for so long that everything I thought I've prepared for seems slightly unreal. The actual Antarctica will soon be taking over my imagination and for the first time, I'm feeling kind of nervous. For days we've been in pre-deprivation mode- eating lots of fresh food, dressing lightly, having time away from other people in the relative isolation of our hotel rooms. Everyone seems happy and relaxed. Tomorrow morning we begin field season time- trying to get everything accomplished despite the weather, equipment breakdowns, schedules that will often be out of our control, and lack of enough sleep. Will our flight be cancelled? Will we have to turn around at the “point of safe return”, halfway there? Will I have to use the funky hanging toilet behind the curtain? Stay tuned...
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