Getting to Antarctica

For all of the images, we have made a thumbnail (small) image which you can click on to view the larger image if you wish. This is to help those around the world who may have slow modem connections. If you still experience unacceptable access delays, please send me email -- I will prepare some text-only pages (with links to the images).

Part Two: Waiting around in New Zealand

Journal Entry:
Christchurch, New Zealand
Tuesday Jan. 28

Went out to the airport where the Antarctic Operations base is. Checked in with them and went to the Clothing Distribution Center. Everyone is issued with two bags full of complete Extreme Cold Weather gear - from long underwear right through to the parka and wind trousers. Their premise is to assume that we didn't bring *anything* with us in terms of cold-weather clothing. So I signed out for a full set and tried it on for size. I had previously filled out a form with my clothing sizes, so it was all correct right from the start - a very efficient operation. The CDC is like a giant warehouse: in the back is a storage room with rows of parkas on hangers as far as the eye could see. At times they process as many as a hundred people at a time: today, it was just me. It was a little odd, almost as if this well-oiled operation was there just for me. But more odd was the lack of any buddies to comment to .. "How do I look?" ... "You put it on backwards" ... prompting the philosophical question: Is an adventure realized if it is not shared? Perhaps that is why I wanted to write this on-line journal, and (hopefully) interact with correspondents, lest I simply depart and then return three weeks later ... "Did you have a nice trip? now get back to the routine where you left off".

One bag contains the clothing that I MUST wear when boarding the plane: a full set of Antarctic-rated gear. Everyone has change before departure and then get on board in their parkas and bunny-boots, with their 'civvies' (civilian clothing) replaced into that bag. The rationale is that if the plane has to make a forced landing on an ice floe, you better all be dressed right: no rummaging around in bags when evacuating. So I shall trudge across the tarmac in 70-degree temperatures, wearing clothing rated for 50 below. I had not expected to worry about heat exhaustion on this trip.

Thence to the NSF Operations Center, where I logged in to e-mail and transmitted my first report + pictures. Yes, it is amazing, I am actually in New Zealand, but I simply type 'Telnet' or 'Mail' and it is as if I was in my own office. Al Gore was right, and Bill Gates is rich, exactly for these reasons. I'm here, I'm anywhere else, it doesn't matter any more. I hope the stuff gets received OK, Tod I appreciate all your efforts. I zipped 7 pictures into a 600-K file and it transmitted pretty quickly.

Thence to the Antarctic Centre (note spelling - it's a local organization). This is a tourist attraction at the Christchurch airport, with gift shop, dioramas, and a surround-vision theater. I bought postcards, as I was forewarned that by the end of the season the stocks may be depleted at the station stores on the ice. This evening I will stick address labels on them all and U.S. stamps, so that I can get everyone's card imprinted from the post office desk at the South Pole. It is absurd, that I buy postcards in New Zealand, stick US stamps onto them that I brought from the States, carry them all the way to the South Pole, get the stamps canceled and the cards get put into a sack, so they can be brought back to NZ, and thence via the USAP back to the States, and then mailed to you. Is this a great effort on my part? - yes, but it is atonement for not sending any Christmas cards this year.

My departure tomorrow morning just got re-scheduled: 9 AM pickup at the hotel, instead of 6 AM. Hurrah for the military, I can have breakfast.

Back to Tony's Antarctica Interactive Trip

Prepared by Tony Hansen and Tod Flak; last updated 30 Jan 1997