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18 November, 1999


We are here! McMurdo, Antarctica, finally. Our flight left at 9:00 a.m., and touched down on the sea ice runway at 4:30. It's strange how much it seems I've been here before. Everything looks familiar, probably due to all the months I've spent thinking, talking, reading and dreaming about it.

First stop, Clothing Distribution Center. We put on all our gear, then had = over an hour to wait before flight time. Since the morning started out so = overcast, there was always the chance the flight might get canceled. Right = before departure, we were weighed in, had a safety briefing, then piled = into a bus that took us to the plane. Barb was thrilled to be on her way!

We flew on a New Zealand Air Force cargo plane called a Hercules, flown by = a congenial Kiwi flight crew. Five people at a time were escorted onto the = plane and shown their seats. =

John and Jack are demonstrating in-flight bleariness. The passengers on = their side of the plane are packed in tightly, even though we were only = nineteen, total.

On my side, however, I was the one who lucked out. The flight was SO much = more comfortable than the one from Los Angeles. Totally deluxe, as you can = see. I had a webbing bench to myself, and the benches on either side were = strapped up and out of service. Don't I look like I just woke up? I'm = sorry to report that my photos of the toilet facility (a bucket and urinal = aft and up a step behind a green plastic curtain) didn't turn out. =

I spent some time hanging out in the cockpit. Five crew members were = crammed in there, all focused on their tasks (lots of math here!), except = one who was reading in a tiny bunk overhead. I stayed forward until we = crossed the sea ice approaching Ross Island, and could see great jigsaw = patterns of cracks in the landscape below.

Here I am, moments after arriving at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. John = Priscu, to my right, is giving us a whirlwind tour of the Crary lab = building, which houses the station's scientific research facilities. Since = we just got off the plane, we're still wearing the under layers of our = Extreme Cold Weather gear. It was much too hot in the building to wear our = thick red parkas, so we've hung them on pegs in the hallway with all the = other identical parkas. Each one's got a name on it- that's how we can = find our own again.

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