3 October, 1998
I do not believe it. After two days of cancellations and two boomerang flights, I am finally standing in my cold weather gear in McMurdo Station, Antarctica. I guess I should explain the cold weather gear because it is a very important part of my clothes. Temperatures in Antarctica depending upon your location and time of the year can reach temperatures as low as 100 degrees fahrenheit. When the wind blows which is much of the time the wind chill can make those temperatures very dangerous to be in without the proper clothes. Several early explorers found out the hard way that without proper clothes and equipment, Antarctica can kill. When we boarded the plane we had to be in our cold weather gear. The gear includes: polyester thermal underwear designed to absorb and pass on moisture produced by sweating, a fleece bib designed to hold in heat, close weave cotton wind pants, a fleece jacket, thermal, gray polyester socks, heavy flexible boots called mukluks, thermal mittens and liner, a neck bibb, and a heavy hooded and insulated parka. I found out how important it was to have these things on as I got off the plane at McMurdo. You do not realize just how cold Antarctica is until you first experience it. I am telling it is cold. There is one other important piece of equipment, glacier sunglasses that block out UV rays. Without these the bright sun can blind you very quickly as it bounces off of the white snow and ice. The first thing I noticed as I got off of the plane was the endless stretch of white. The plane landed on the sea ice off the coast of McMurdo. The only things that were not white were not natural to Antarctica. The mountains in the distance were beautiful but white or gray where bare ground showed through the snow. We loaded up into big wheeled buses and were taken to the station cafeteria where we were briefed on all the safety schools and training we would need to properly prepare us for our stay in Antarctica. There seems to be about a week of schools that I need to take. Tomorrow I have to attend two days of cold weather survival school. We camp our for two days. This should be interesting. I did get a chance to walk around McMurdo a little. The station is built on a volcanic island. It reminds me of a western United States mining town in the winter time. The buildings are built for function not beauty so the place cannot be said to be pretty. In fact because of the volcanic rock and dust it is rather dirty. It looks very rugged as I would have expected. I will fill in more details of the base in future journal entries.
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