Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Race Around the World

A Christmas tradition at the South Pole is to hold a race on Christmas day called Race Around the World.

The race is 2 miles and consists of 3 laps around the actual pole. There is an inner track for walkers, runners, skiers, biking or whatever else you want to do, and there is an outer lap for vehicles to drive on (some of which play music or throw candy at the racers).

The race was a lot of fun! The approximate temperature was -18 with an approximate windchill of -30. Jeri, Kate, and I all went as a team and wore fleece ear bands with our initials attached in memory sticks on them.

The top male and female finishers (this year 15:41 and 21:07 respectively) get to go to McMurdo station to run a race there, which they usually win since they are already running really well at altitude.

Click here for some photos

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snow Stake Run

On Saturday, myself, Liz, Jill, and Glenn volunteered to go off-station via snowmobiles by 20 km to measure snow stake lenghths and angles. The snow stakes are placed every .5 km away from the station on 6 different lines. We were doing LIne B.

The purpose of the project is to characterize snow accumulation near the Pole. Since the stakes are spread out over a wide area, the data gives a better statistical picture of snow accumulation than if measurements were only taken near the station itself (structures and activity cause unnatural drifting and mess up the measurements).

The project is not actually funded anymore, and hasn't been for at least a couple years. Special permission had to be gained from the NSF to do these runs, and for most projects this would be too much trouble to go through, but in this case the South Pole Science Support and Meteorology think it's an interesting project. It's also a great project to get non-science crew directly involved in some science.

Driving the snowmobile out over the sea of snow and ice was lots of fun. We were following the line on a perpendicular route to the way the snow blows. This forced us to go a little slower as we were riding over the sustrugis (snow drifts) as if they were waves. The other best part of the day was that we got far enough out to not see the station anymore. It was just us and Antarctica. Also, I saw the moon for the first time in months as it's now hanging out over the horizon with the sun.

Click here for some photos

Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy Anniversary to the 1st South Pole Arrival

96 years ago today, on December 14, 1911, Roald Amundsen arrived at the Pole (90°00'S) beating out Robert F. Scott's fatal expedition by 35 days.

To read more about Amundsen, click here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Boss Gets Published in Computerworld

If you're interested, check out this article in Computerworld (don't forget to look at the pictures). My boss, Henry, who is here on the ice with me, answers a lot of interesting questions about IT and Antarctica.

The picture above is from Mohawk night when Jeri was shaving mohawks for people. Henry is the second guy from the right.

Click here for article

Sunday, December 9, 2007


South Pole Recreational Outdoor Camping Session

If someone is looking for a ridiculously insane way to experience Antarctica, I've recently learned that a good way to accomplish this is to go camping.

This is what I did on Saturday night.

The temperature was -25 degrees with a windchill of approximately -50. We left the station around 7:00 p.m. and drove out to our campsite. Once there, we set up camp which included erecting Scott and mountain tents, building snow walls, and building a quinzhee. I chose to eventually sleep in a mountain tent with my friend Jill (aka Pumpkin) and my fellow Portlander, Kate.

The hardest part for me was staying warm. Even people that are hardened by working outside were getting cold too. Staying outside in temps that low for 12 hours with no place to warm up is no easy feat. My actual lowest moment ended up being when I had to use the restroom and the pee tent was getting used to warm up water for hot water bottles to put in your sleeping bag. This meant that I had to brave the cold and go by the pee stick that designated the bathroom area. To actually go, I had to take off my parka, undo my Carhart bibs and drop drawer in the freezing cold. The worst part was that I was holding it so long that once I started going, it felt like an eternity before I was done. It took me a long, long time and some running around camp to warm up, but now I can say I've peed on Antarctica! In the future, a pee can or a funnel are definitely in order.

Overall, I definitely have a new appreciation for the early explorers and the people in expeditions who still brave the cold to venture onto the ice.

Click here for some photots

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cooking at the South Pole

It's a tradition at the South Pole that the Saturday after Thanksgiving, different departments in the station take on the task of cooking so the kitchen staff can have a day off. IT and Science cook lunch that usually consists of tomato soup, grilled cheese and some type of vegetable. This year, my fellow Portlander, Kate, and I took on the task of cooking asparagus for 250 people. It was a lot of fun to spend some time in the kitchen again, and the asparagus turned out decently well.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

...to all of you from the Pole. I hope everyone’s holiday was wonderful and that everyone had a lot to be thankful for!

Here at the Pole, Thanksgiving was awesome. We had three seatings of Thanksgiving dinner to accommodate the large population of the station (approximately 250). We had live music, and due to our excellent kitchen staff and some volunteers, the food was excellent.

The galley was given some ambiance for the meal. The sun was blocked out of the galley windows and the tables were set with candles and tablecloths. Everyone got a little dressed up, and people volunteered at different seatings to be wine stewards to serve wine (bought by managers), water, coffee, and dessert. It really was a great night.

Before the feast, BK (the station manager), read a the following, seemingly appropriate quote…

"I used to wonder sometimes whether the people who suffer from hunger in
the big cities of civilization felt as we were feeling, and I arrived at
the conclusion that they did not - for no barrier of law and order would
have been allowed to stand between us and any food that had been
Ernest Shackleton, The Heart of the Antarctic

Click here for some photos

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Living at the End of the Earth...

or call it 90 degrees south, the bottom of the globe or the South Pole. Life is definitely different here. So different in fact, that I thought I'd write a blog to give everyone an idea of the atmosphere and how I've finally settled into my new home.

Current Weather:
-36.6 F Temperature
-55.0 F Windchill
5.0 kts Wind
10,436' Barometric Pressure

To start, I work at the coolest place on Earth even if I do have to put in 54 hours over 6 days a week. When your team is already putting a plan for wireless connectivity together for a building that is 5 miles away and currently connected with a fiber line that is getting stretched and will eventually break because you're living and building on a moving glacier, you know it's a job with different dynamics.

I have hardly no idea what's going on in the "real" world. We have limited satellite time to check the internet for news and we have no tv. I'm usually working, talking to Donald or family, emailing friends, blogging or sleeping when the satellite is up so checking the news is not priority. A lot of people would rather not know what's going on anyway. I would say that I fall into that category most of the time, except when I have to stupidly ask my friends or family what day is Thanksgiving back in the States (we're celebrating on Saturday) or if the current topic at pub trivia is Current Events.

As most of you know, I get two showers a week at two minutes a piece. I thought this might be kind of hard for me but two showers a week is pretty easy. It only takes me about 10 to 15 minutes to get ready in the morning so now I know what it feels like to be a guy. The only bad thing is the bathrooms are cold and feel even more so when you keep turning the water off to soap up. I also feel liberated by the fact that I haven't shaved in weeks.

It's very, very, very dry here. Lotion and chapstick are my new best friends and never ever leave my side. People that work outside often get cracked skin, usually on their fingertips, no matter what they do. Static electricity runs amock here too. Often I will see the hair that has fallen into my chair sticking straight out, and I try to hang wet towels in my room daily to add some moisture to the air.

Going outside is a consious decision. I've found out that if I go a great distance (for instance, the RF building which is 1 km away), it's best to suit up. If it's only for a short time, I can go in jeans and hiking boots, with my parka, gloves, beanie and neck gaiter. I have managed to run from one building to another without any gear whatsoever to use the bathroom before, but regardless the cold air is always a shock to the lungs and I always cough a few times before they adjust. I made the mistake once and only once of closing a metal door when I went outside with my bare hands. It was so cold that it burned like I had touched a hot stove. I always carry hand and foot warmers in the pockets of my parka in case I need them. My gloves, even with liners, suck so this is quite a possibility. A very common affliction down here is frost nip or frost bite, especially for those working outside. Some of my friends already have it. Once I start doing active things outside, like cross-country skiing, I'll have to be careful as well.

We call scientists beakers and I'm a FNG (pronounced fengie and stands for f-ing new guy).

I walk up and down the steps in the silver side of the building (called the beer can) as much as I can since my colleague, Jeri, and I are in a stiff competition to see who can do it the most over the season.

I play Volleyball on Tuesdays, go to Yoga on Wednesdays and Pilates on Thursdays. Saturdays vary from bingo to film festivals to concerts to dancing. Sundays, my days off, are spent sleeping in, hanging out and playing games or watching movies, going to the science lecture and then to pub trivia. Team SPIT (South Pole IT) has won two weeks in a row!

The food here is better than McMurdo, though not always great. We finally got fresh food in on Monday, and after going a few weeks on frozen food only, a nice ripe tomato was pure bliss in my mouth.

I'm super lucky to be living in the station versus the Jamesways. I don't have to walk outside to go to the bathroom or keep a pee can in my room for times I might not feel like it. I can wear pj's and socks up the stairs and down the hall to the galley for tea or snacks. Also, my floors are insulated so if I wanted to, I could leave a water bottle on the ground all night without it freezing, unlike the Jamesways.

Everyone here has an interesting background and interesting stories, and I already feel like I've made some connections with people that could turn into life-long friendships.

I do get homesick from time to time. I miss my friends and family, nighttime, rain, trees, skiing, broccoli dish, sushi, good wine, Thai food, singing at the top of my lungs in the car, and baths. However, this is the greatest adventure of my life so far, and I'm so thankful that I'm here.

South Pole - Not all who wander are lost. J. R. R. Tolkien

Click here for some photos

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Today Show Visits the South Pole

After trying for several days to get here (the planes didn't fly in for over a week due to weather), the Today show was finally able to come down for about an hour visit. They got in really late at 12:45 a.m. and left about 2:00 a.m.

Ann Curry seemed very nice. My friend Jill and I decided to go out and greet the plane. I was holding a sign saying "HI ANN" and Jill was wearing an orange pumpkin outfit over her extreme weather gear. When Ann got off the plane, she came right up to me, said thanks for the sign and that she hoped she didn't keep us waiting too long and gave me a hug.

As exciting as it was to have them visit, more essential was the fact that we got three planes in that night. This allowed the very anxious winterovers that had not gotten out yet to leave. It also allowed for a patient that needed more help than our facilities could provide to be medivaced out, and on a more selfish note, the planes brought our luggage that we had been 3 weeks without, mail, and fresh food (we were out and the greenhouse was fully harvested).

Click here for some photos

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ice Tunnels

I recently had an opportunity to go on a pretty interesting tour of the ice tunnels that run below and out from the station. The tunnels themselves are about 60 feet below the surface, maintain a temperature of around -66 and are just dug out of the ice with no supporting walls. Since the South Pole is an always-moving glacier, the tunnels are not expected to last forever but they’re hoping they’ll be around for a long while before they collapse (though it did look like one wall had started to bow).

The pipes in the tunnels carry sewage outflow and also carry water in from the Rodwells. The Rodwells are the wells that supply water to the station. They are already working on tunnels to the new Rodwells that are going to be built in the future, as they only last 6 or 7 years.

As you look at the pictures, you’ll see some interesting stuff that is a part of the tunnels or has been left behind by past Polies.

For example, one of the side tunnels carries the sewage outtake. The moisture coming off the pipes causes this tunnel to be one of the most moist, albeit smelly, places on station. This effect causes what is fondly referred to as “poopsicles” to form on the ceiling and ice to build up on the pipes.

Also, you’ll see a couple of pictures with a fish (odd, I know). The story behind this is some Russian trawlers traded the fish for alcohol, cigarettes or something they needed in McMurdo. However, an unnamed Polie took the fish on his way down to the Pole by wrapping it up in clothing and stuffing it in his carry-on. It has been here, frozen, ever since. Everyone says that if you go in the tunnels you HAVE to get your picture taken with the legendary fish.

Oh yeah, and the pig head isn’t the only one to be found on station. I’ll snap a picture of the other one sometime and post it.

Click here for some photos

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

From the South Pole IT Team

My first time out without a parka (-44 degrees). You can see the telescope in between Larry and Bobko.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Plane Gives Birth…to a Fire Truck

The first Herc (short for Hercules or LC130) of the season flew in tonight. On it was the South Pole fire truck. The truck is flown in every year in the summer and back out in the winter since they have no place to store it away from the harsh environment. As the truck emerged from the back, it really did look like the plane was giving birth.

The plane didn’t stay long. As soon as the truck was unloaded, they loaded up some cargo and approximately 30 winterovers to go home, including Dave, the cool guy that I’m replacing here on the ice. It was a short turnover but I think I learned enough that I feel pretty good about my upcoming job.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Weather Balloons - Don't Mistake Them for UFO's

Every day at 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. New Zealand Time, the meteorology team releases a balloon into the atmosphere to measure pressure, temperature, wind, and humidity. Today, I got to go with the met team and release that balloon.

The balloon itself is filled with helium until it can lift a 500 gram weight. While the balloon is being filled, the met team prepares the module that is attached to the balloon to record and transmit data. This preparation consists of syncing it to a computer and activating the battery for 4 minutes with water. Apparently, they used to use 9 volt batteries but the battery would die way to early. Once the balloon is released, the antanae on the module connects to 12 satellites to report back data every 2 seconds.

I should mention that in winter they only release one balloon per day. However, with the extra flight activity in the summer, they release two per day to get more current and accurate readings.

Click here for some photos.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yay!!!! I’m at the South Pole!!

After being delayed 4+ days (even twice this morning), I have finally arrived and settled into my ultimate destination. I even have my own small room (I was sharing a room at McMurdo with 5 others). All I can say is that the South Pole is super cool, and I love the station. The community here is much smaller and more tight-knit. People even came out to greet us and help with our bags when we arrived…granted, most of them haven’t seen anyone new in approximately 8 months since they wintered-over, but it was all good

The flight here was very different than anything I’ve flown before, as you will see by the pictures. We flew in on a Basler that only went up to a cruising altitude of 17,000 feet. Since this flight has windows, we definitely had some very good mountainous views. However, since the windows would constantly freeze up, I had to use my drivers license to scrape it clean. The other interesting thing about the flight is that there was oxygen available for our use. Due to using the oxygen, I definitely felt good when I got off the plane. However, the altitude may be affecting me a little tonight as I run out of breath just climbing stairs, I have a minor headache and my head feels a little floaty. Even though, the elevation here is almost 10,000 feet, the atmospheric pressure causes it to feel like 12,000. I’m not taking Diomox so I’ve been sucking down the water so I don’t get dehydrated. I should also mention that if you read the previous blog, “Giving Myself Up to Science”, then it will make sense when I tell you that I’ll be wearing the sleep vest tonight since it’s my first night here.

The season here should be very busy as the station will be at capacity. I’ve heard upon arriving that the Today show is coming in November. Also, James Cameron, Buzz Aldrin, and Steve Wozniak will be showing up sometime after driving here in fuel-celled hummers (click here to see article). Not to mention, the station dedication in January that will have politicians flying in from DC (though they won’t say exactly who). In the meantime, I start my first day of real work tomorrow. I have 4 days to learn everything I need to know from the sys admin that wintered-over.

Click here for some photos

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cape Evans+Penguin Crossing=Love

Why did the penguin cross the road?
To get to the side that had the iceberg.
OK. That wasn't funny because it wasn't a joke. It was true. I got to see a true penguin crossing today.
Read below for more details...

So our Basler flight to the pole was delayed again today due to weather. Since it's Sunday, the official day off for most people, an outing was set up for the polies out to Cape Evans to visit Scott's Hut (built in 1910). During the 13 mile trek, we encountered seals and more amazingly, Emperor Penguins!! People have been down to Antarctica several, several times and have never seen an Emperor Penguin. This was a very lucky event for a first-timer such as myself.

The rule regarding wildlife is to not get too close. If you notice that the animal is reacting to your presence, then back off. However, with penguins, the rule still applies, but due to their inquisitive, unafraid nature it is okay if they approach or come close to you. Just don't interfere. In this case, we got down on our knees or our bellies on the road, and the penguins came pretty close as they crossed the road in between our vehicles. It was so awesome! I've always wanted to see a penguin in the wild and to see Emperors this close was a bonus.

After the penguins had meandered off, we continued on our trek to Cape Evans. I should mention that there were two groups of 17 riding in the back of 2 Deltas. Since the back of a Delta is unheated, it was pretty cold. I had accumulated ice in my water bottle by the time we returned. However, they don't give us our ECW gear for nothing so we wore it the whole way there and back. It was decently warm...enough so that I was able to take a nap on the way back (or was that really hypothermia setting in).

Once we got to the hut, the tour was really neat. Lots of stuff from almost a century ago that has been pretty well reserved. Look close at the pictures for all the cool stuff laying around. For some history, check out this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott's_Hut

Click here for some photos

McMurdo Satellites

To communicate with the outside world, McMurdo station uses the satellites seen in this picture. However, due to Mt. Erebus' gigantic presence, the satellites cannot communicate directly with the satellites in space. Therefore, they communicate with satellites on Black Island that then send the signal to space.

Please note, this is a very low level explanation that was given on a tour of McMurdo. I just thought it was interesting. Since I am not staying here, there has been no official, more in-depth, IT training for me. In fact, I've been told that they weren't going to task me with anything and to enjoy my short stay here as much as possible.

Random McMurdo Pictures

So this may or may not be my last night in McMurdo. I was supposed to fly out to the pole this morning, but there was a 24 hour weather delay. If I do go out tomorrow, then these are probably my last pics from McMurdo. They are all random and didn't really warrant a separate blog. However, as some weather has moved in and it's snowing(!!), there may be another delay. If there is, then I'll stay in McMurdo tomorrow and go on a field trip to Cape Evans (meaning more pics). :)

Click here for some photos

Friday, October 19, 2007

Observation Hill Summit Hike

After a yoga class I went to last night, the wind died down so I rounded up a couple of people to do the Observation Hill Summit with me. I believe it's 1.5 miles round-trip with a 750' elevation gain. It was a lot of fun...especially sliding most of the way back down.

Click here for some photos

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bag Drag...It's Kind of a Drag

I'm scheduled to leave McMurdo station tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 8:00 a.m.! We're flying on a Basler...a plane that puts you in mind of an Indiana Jones transport option. Baslers can fly in a couple of degrees colder weather than the standard Hercules, but it's real advantage is that it can fly in less visibility. Instead of going over mountains, we're going through them. Also, it has windows! Flight time will be about 4 hours. It should be a really cool flight. However, as it's a smaller plane, there are more weight restrictions. As such, I had to give up all my luggage except for a carry-on today at the Bag Drag. To explain the bag drag (which is basically just toting your luggage all over the place), you bring all your luggage including carry-on to Building 140. With your ecw gear on, everything gets weighed and then you take your carry-on back to your room. The checked luggage will then be shipped down on a Hercules in a couple of weeks. Needless to say, a bunch of clothes, a couple of pairs of shoes, books, Eric's cool printouts, and some electronics got left behind. I guess that leaves me something to look forward to.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention there's no bathroom on the Basler. Well, there's a bucket and curtain if that counts, but my current and long-term plan will be to hold it.

So my new motto is "less is more" and I've traded a bathroom for windows!!

Giving Myself Up to Science

I have volunteered to participate in a scientific study here in Antarctica. The Mayo Clinic is trying to find a scientific basis for altitude sickness. Among other things like age and fitness level, they are trying to determine if some people are genetically predisposed to getting it. They ask people coming through McMurdo on their way to the pole to participate. You can do as much or as little as you want, but the basic test consists of a blood draw, some breathing tests, and some other stats taken here and then again at the pole pretty soon after arrival. You can also choose to wear an armband that records heartrate, calories burned, steps taken, etc. for two days here, on the plane, and then at pole. I decided to do the sleep vest that monitors you while you are sleeping. I did this last night here, and I'll do it again the night I arrive at the pole or the night after...not sure which but they'll tell me. The results won't probably won't be concluded for years, but if they do find a link or a cause, it will be cool to have participated in the research.

Fuel and Power

On a tour of McMurdo yesterday, I was informed by our guide that the program purchases around 8 to 9 million gallons of fuel every year for the Antarctic operations. The top user of fuel is aircraft, with the power plant at McMurdo being second, and the South Pole station coming in at third. This amount also goes to supply the kiwis and their station, Scott Base, with their needed fuel too. In McMurdo, the fuel is stored in the large, round containers seen in the picture.

For the South Pole, the fuel has to be flown in. However, they have been testing out driving fuel to the South Pole instead. If this was to become a normal part of operation, then they could get more fuel there over land than air. They are testing it again this year. Brad, an Antarctic veteran who seems to know everyone, is one of the drivers. They will be driving tractors with a loads up to 100,000 pounds each from McMurdo to the South Pole in 40+ days. One of the tractors will be hauling their housing with them. They'll be able to go around 7-9 mph for the duration of the trip. However, if the trail was groomed, as it may be in future years, they could go up to speeds of 15 mph. While driving across, they'll have a sensor hanging out of the front of the tractor scanning for thin ice/crevasses, and they'll have a person dedicated to watching the display while they are driving along. Apparently, this is a boring but necessary job.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Antarctic Hiking

Yesterday, after lunch, I took my first Antarctic hike. Mary (another polie) and I went for a short hike to Hut Point. The trail is 1.4 miles and ends at a hut that was built in 1902 by Robert Falcon Scott. The hut was used for storage and emergency shelter by Scott’s crew and also used by Shackleton. You can’t go into the hut to look at all the old stuff left behind unless it’s a guided tour. I hope to be able to do that, but it just depends on timing.

Click here for some photos

Then, since I can never get enough, a group of 4 of us went and did the loop around Observation Hill after dinner. Observation Hill is a place I was told where early adventurers would climb to look for or signal ships. Also, there is a cross monument close to the top that has the names of Robert Falcon Scott’s party that perished. The loop was around 2.7 miles, and the views were amazing.

Click here for some photos

A note on hiking at McMurdo…
There are several hikes to do at or around McMurdo station. Some of the closer hikes you can do solo without checking out radios from the firehouse. There are longer hikes that require a foot plan to be filed, radios to be checked out and at least two people to do. Some of these hikes also have emergency phones and shelters along the routes. If you file a foot plan for one of these longer hikes, and you don’t return by the time you say, then they will definitely page a bunch of people and send someone out after you if they can’t get you on radio. Also, whether you are hiking close or further away, you are NOT supposed to stray from the flags that mark the trail. Some of the trails have crevasses that are pretty close along with other unforeseen dangers.

Ice Runways

So I found out the C17 I flew in on two days ago lands a on sea ice runway! Later in the season, after some dethawing, they’ll have to move the airfield to the Pegasus runway which is located on a blue ice glacier Also later in the season, barges will be able to come right up to McMurdo, with the initial help of a Swedish ice breaker. They will tie up to a pier made of ice that has been reinforced with steel beams.

Click here for some photos

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Journey of a Lifetime

Somewhere around a week ago, I set out for Antarctica and have finally arrived! After two days in Denver for boring orientation and safety training, we (meaning myself and other Antarctica bound folks) left out for Christchurch, New Zealand, the staging point for all flights to Antarctica. The travel itself was good with only minor delays. Once at Christchurch, I did a little sightseeing, lots of eating, and was issued my extreme weather gear. We were all there for two nights in total. For sightseeing, I had the pleasure to meander through the botanical gardens located close to downtown. I took my time there, knowing it would be the last time I saw a tree or grass or flowers for 4+ months. In the evenings, I went and met others at the "standard" Antarctica hangout bar, Dux de Lux, where the brewmaster, Paulie (also from Portland, OR), meets almost everyone going down to the ice. From there, people would decide what to do and where to go for dinner. The first night, I went to Two Fat Indians and the second night, I went to Ann's Thai. Hmmm...yumm!

The day after arrival in New Zealand, it was time to go get our gear. We get some options (like gloves/mittens and wind bibs/carhart bibs) and multiples of stuff like socks and base layers. The gear that I will normally be wearing when outside weighs a total of 18 lbs! Once that was settled, all that was left to do was pack my boomerang bag (a small bag that you will get back if the plane gets close to Antarctica and has to turn around due to weather), enjoy some more company and food, and turn in early as it was an early morning. We reported to the clothing depot center this morning at 6:00 a.m., changed our clothes for the flight, turned in our checked baggage, had breakfast, and then had a briefing before departure. We are required to wear/have on our person six items for the flight...goggles, balaclava, parka, boots, gloves, wind/carhart pants. The flight itself was like nothing I've flown before. First, I should mention that I flew on a C17 military plane that just so happened to be carrying more cargo than people. There are no windows, no flight attendants, and it's always a good idea to wear the earplugs they give you. The flight itself, though, was very nice, and they were cool enough let you come upstairs to the cockpit for views and pictures.

Arrival in Antarctica was amazing. Descending the stairs on the plane and stepping onto the sea ice for the first time is something I'll never forget. Somehow I managed not to cry. Yay!

You can check out pictures from Christchurch here: Click here for some photos

You can check out photos from my amazing, tiring, overwhelming but in a good way day here:
Click here for some photos