Is This Real Life?

This blog is an interesting mix of explaining the process to both strangers and my friends/family back home. If you’re the stranger-type, sorry you’ll have to deal with just not knowing the people I mention 🙂

In a world between clouds I sat and I wondered: who will I be 40 weeks from now? Because, I’m bound to come out of this experience a different person than when I went in, right? I feel like you don’t go spend almost 10 months living in Antarctica and not come out a little different after. Hell, I was different after only half a year in Ireland.

So now, sitting here on this airplane and watching the sunrise as we fly between two layers of poofy white swirly mist it’s just now starting to sink in what’s about to happen. I’m about to be in Antarctica. You know, that place I explored as a kid safe in my seat at the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Omnimax. The place in National Geographic that I oo’ed and awe’d over but never even thought for a second that I’d actually step foot onto.

Fast forward… I’m now currently sitting in my hotel room in Christchurch, New Zealand. Local time is about 2:30am. That means in 24 hours I’ll be heading towards the “harshest continent”. I fell asleep around 8:30pm local time and woke up to a telemarketer phone call just now from the US. It’s the only time I’ve been upset that Google’s Project Fi gives me service in New Zealand.

A lot has happened since my last post. I told you’d I’d give you my final packing list and all that jazz but that’s a lie. Just know that I way over packed and I’m in the process of remedying that. My yard sale went so well that the second day I made everything free. My brand new laptop is pretty bad-ass. Moving was a pain in the…back. I ended up leaving a lot of stuff at my mom’s house in her basement because I definitely should have gotten a bigger storage unit and didn’t. Oops.

Oh! And I spoke with a representative from The Antarctica Sun newspaper. I’m going to be their new correspondent for McMurdo Station so that’s neat. Don’t worry, I’ll definitely link you to my first article!

There were SO many goodbyes over the last few hectic weeks. I flew down to Florida to visit my paternal grandparents (and got to see my old friend, Jason!), I flew to Seattle to visit a few LARP friends. Both my mom’s family and my dad’s family threw me a round of going-away parties. The Tuesday before I flew out I sat up at Bar Louie and let anyone who wanted to stop in to say hi grab a drink with me. To top it all off, I attended Scorched Nuts (a regional burning man event, aka a lot of “glamping”) with almost every one of my closest friends.

I spent the entire weekend running around in the sun (and rain) with most of my favorite people. At sunrise on Sunday I walked around waking everyone up from their slumber. After saying goodbye to everyone else my two bfffffffs, Chailsea and Chuck, walked me to my car for more emotional goodbye whatevers. Oh, and I suppose Chuck and I are a “thing” now but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Here’s me and him with our eyes a little red from crying. Aren’t we adorable?

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We (I gave Willow a ride to the burn) drove from the burn to my mom’s where I showered, packed up the last of my things, and hopped into the car to head to the airport. We were supposed to meet my dad for breakfast but I was running mega late so we just met at the airport instead.

I flew from Cincinnati to Chicago: not too bad of a flight. In Chicago’s airport I ran into another guy moving down to Antarctica with me, Glen. He’s also brand new to the program and will be a production cook when we arrive. Once in LAX Glen and I grabbed pizza and met a couple more Antarctica adventurers… don’t ask me their names because everyone knows that’s not my strong suit. (Update: it was Drew and Jen, also both galley folks!) They walked up and stood around me staring me down until I looked up. Weirdos. Thank goodness.

The flight to New Zealand was soooo long. Luckily, our plane left late at night and everyone slept for the most part. I only really woke up for meal times (we had 3 of them on the almost 13-hour flight).

Landing in Auckland, New Zealand was fun. First we had to explain to staff that no, they were wrong, we could NOT use the e-Visa terminals. In fact, we’d been given explicit details on why not to do that (you don’t get a long enough visa). Then we had to declare all of our goods containing food, animal products, camping gear, etc. because New Zealand has super-strict import laws when it comes to things that could contaminate their environment. This meant I had to throw away the trail mix that Sweet T aka Teresa made me for the road. I was fine, however, with all of my bone/taxidermy/and wood jewelry so that made me happy. I was mentally prepared to have to toss some of it if I really had to but I didn’t want to.

After customs I was split from the group and not really sure where to go. I knew I needed to re-check my bags at the counter and it seemed like everyone in the airport was getting in the same line to do that so I hopped on in as well. Thank goodness for having blue hair and thus being easily recognizable to people I’ve never met. After a few minutes in line Addi (sp?) pulled me out and had me join her and two other Antarctica-bound lasses to walk to the domestic terminal… just follow the green line!

The flight to Christchurch was short. We grabbed our bags and met with two ASC reps who gave us our shuttle buses and led us to the hotel shuttles. We found out that they’re predicting some bad storms at McMurdo this week so our flight will be even earlier in the morning than usual to accommodate for them. After sorting my bags a bit and taking a shower I met up with a handful of the team and we went to a little Italian restaurant for a bite to eat. By 8pm I was back in my room and almost falling asleep.

I didn’t take too many photos… mostly just some SnapChat selfies. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll catch a few more for ya. See ya then!

post image: my first airplane… so tiny my seat was both the window AND the aisle seat!

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