Sunday, November 26, 2006


As is often the case when flying to Antarctica, our flight from Christchurch to McMurdo Station was delayed. First by 24 hours and then by 3 hours. So we had 27 hours to kill in Christchurch, which wasn't a bad deal at all. We basically just hung out at cafes and bars and went kayaking through the botanical gardens. I have photos to prove it.

Eventually our real flight time came and we found ourselves at a Kiwi airfield, shuffling through security lines (much like you would in a standard airport), but while dressed head to toe in our extreme weather clothing (which was stiflingly hot in Christchurch, but required of us anyway). An hour later we were strapping down our seat belts on a US military jet, preparing for takeoff. All in all it was a very comfortable ride. The aisles were huge. We were given enormous brown bag lunches. Surprisingly friendly US Air Force personnel let us get up and walk around and look out the window at the ice floes we were flying over.

Only 5 hours later we touched down at McMurdo Station. The aircraft door opened, the cold air poured in, and we all shuffled onto the snow tarmac. Spinning around several times to take in the gorgeous mountains around us, I was floored. I am standing on Antarctica! I am up-side-down! This is actually happening!

McMurdo Sound was much more beautiful and mountainous than I had thought it would be. It was also pretty warm (about 30 F, 0 C), allowing for a pleasant walk outside after dinner. Tom, Jeff and I walked over to an old hut constructed in 1902 by the British explorer R.P. Scott and his men. There is even a frozen seal on the ground outside the hut, presumably killed by Scott and his men but never eaten. Although quite disgusting to look at up close, the 104-year-old seal has been remarkably well preserved by the cold temperatures at McMurdo. Check out photos.

And that's it for my trip in McMurdo. Tomorrow morning we should be on a plane to the South Pole!

1 comment:

April said...

where's the picture of the frozen seal?