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31 December, 1999

Bad news ! No, we did not crash into he Antarctic ocean or anything like that, but we've had a little delay. Our flight started out pretty normal, we all loaded up with our extreme gear on, buckled in, and settled in for the 8 hour flight. The noise of the two propellers was deafening; with earplugs bearable but strangely isolating. It was impossible to talk with anyone else over the constant buzz. I would have plenty of time to think about the upcoming trip. Each of us first timers to Antarctica trying to imagine what our adventure would hold. Having read numerous books on the original antarctic explorers, I sat wondering what it must have been like for the early ones. Though our flight would be long, it paled compared to the months of sailing it took the original explorers. It seemed that scarcely two days after leaving home I would be on the ice continent. In modern times, travel to Antarctica, and certainly within Antarctica was much easier. Yet the thrill of exploration and the unknown is still very much alive. My talks with some of the scientists in our group gave me insight into a different vision of the exploration of this continent. Though the classic era of exploration as practiced by the likes of Amundsen, Scott and Shackelton is perhaps gone, the modern explorers-the scientists- are still busy seeking answers to a vast number of fascinating questions.

Then over the intercom, I was rudely awakened from my thoughts. "Weather in McMurdo is NOT conducive to landing" Not conducive to landing ? How can this be. It seemed we had been flying all day. I looked at my watch, it had been four hours since take off. Like I had heard from others before me, the plane flys until just before the point of no return, checks the weather in McMurdo and decides if it is safe to continue. Apparently, not today. Our Herc then turned 180 degrees, and we began our 4 hour flight back to the start. Disappointment was apparent on everyone's faces. Nothing to do about it though. Perhaps tomorrow.

The Maori are the indiginous culture on the islands of New Zealand. This is one of their totems in a Christchurch park.

Fully clothed in our extreme weather gear, we board the "Herc". Unfortunately, we had the pleasure of the 8 hour flight on two consecutive days.

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