Getting to Antarctica

The first step in the actual process is making sure you’re properly outfitted to hang out on the frozen tundra. That’s where the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) comes into play. Located next to the Antarctic Centre at the Christchurch Airport, the CDC issues all the clothing you might need except for socks and long-johns. You’re on your own there!

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Not every person is issued everything shown here. They customize it based on your job. For example, as a steward (aka dishwasher/janitor) I was issued:

  • Parka, Red (aka Big Red)
  • Pants, Wind, Bibbed
  • Jacket, Polar Fleece
  • Pants, Polar Fleece
  • Hat, Fleece
  • Balaclava, Windstopper
  • Gaiter, Neck
  • Glove, Leather
  • Liner, Glove, Thermax
  • Goggles, Snow
  • Boot, Thermal (aka Bunny Boots)

I denied the fleece hat, balaclava, and gaiter – the ones I purchased at Sun and Ski Sports in Cincinnati were MUCH better. And I’m definitely happy I’d purchased a pair of good mittens and some windproof pants from REI before I came.

They also issued me two janitorial jumpsuits, 6 pairs of kitchen pants, and 6 blue polos, aka my work uniforms.

All of the extra clothing threw my bag overweight a little (you’re allowed at the time of this writing 85lbs + anything you can fit in your carry-on/Big Red pockets). I walked next door to the post office center and mailed myself a box to the Ice. It won’t come over on this plane, but it should by the July flight. Note: the post office at the CDC is considered an APO address itself so it’s free to mail to McMurdo as it’s free mailing from APO to APO!

After sorting out gear issue we were able to head back to the hotel, or really, to wherever we wanted. We were given a tentative 4am call-back time. I was hungry but feeling too lazy to leave my room (plus it was dark outside by the time I returned from the post office) so I ordered delivery. I must say, Hell Pizza did not disappoint.

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One of these boxes is a salmon, cream cheese, and avocado pizza. OMG. One of these was a desert pizza with a bunch of fruit, berries, white chocolate and custard. Then of course some calamari and cajun potato wedges because why not?

After dinner I walked a few blocks to a local convenience store and picked up some snacks for the flight the next morning. We were told we’d be given a bag lunch but that if the flight had to boomerang (come back to Christchurch if inclement weather) we might be on the plane for a LONG time.

The next morning we were a go for 4am. The shuttles picked us up and took us to the Christchurch United States Antarctica Program Passenger Terminal.

The top left photo is David, me, and Glen outside the terminal. This will also be their first time down on the Ice. David is a refrigeration engineer or something and Glen is one of the new production cooks! The bottom photo is the 24(?) or so of us getting ready to deploy by watching some safety videos and listening to the Air Force fellas telling us what not to do on a C-17.

By the way, if you’re a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 user your phone isn’t allowed on the plane!

If you’re my Facebook friend you may have seen the video I posted walking/into the plane. The video is a little big so I am not going to reupload it here, but here’s some photos of the inside for those of you that don’t know me in the real-world:

I think you can click on those to see the full photo or such. As you can see, we’re all seated around the outside of the plane with cargo in the middle. I took the liberty of putting down a few seats and using them as a bed to nap!

Throughout the plane there are 3-4 small windows. I took a few photos from the holes including my first look at the continent and my last look at the sun:

Our pilot let us know that they were completing some training during our flight so we’d be “landing” more than once. So. That was fun. The landing process felt like it took AGES. Finally, we were out of the plane and walking to our awaiting Delta. I took a photo of this Delta vehicle bzut for some reason it didn’t transfer over from my phone. Oh well. In a post or two I’ll randomly insert the photo and you can see it then. In the meantime, here’s the plane we landed in!

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I’m a fantastic photographer. #sarcasm.

The rest of Day 1 and most of Day 2 was spent in the library of Crary Lab completing some trainings and lectures. We were supposed to do a walking tour of the station but it’s postponed to Monday due to some Condition 2 weather storms blowing in. In fact, last night it was Condition 2 at McMurdo and Scott Base but Condition 1 (the worst) everywhere else. Yay!

I was showing someone that my phone does photo spheres and quickly snapped this very badly done half sphere of the Crary Library:

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post images all taken by me!

3 responses to “Getting to Antarctica

  1. It’s awesome to read about your experience in Antarctica. I love to travel and this is definitely on the bucket list. I know you will cherish those memories for the rest of your life.

    Like

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