Enroute - at cruise altitude, Denis informs me that we're 3 hours into the flight. Meaning, of course, there are 5 hours more. No mind - brought plenty of food and they give us chips, oranges, apples, juices, etc.
Morning started off early 530a, shuttle to the aerodrome was a bit late, but got to the center alright. Then we unpacked the mountain of clothes we had packed yesterday afternoon and got down to the business of dressing. 45 lbs of clothing later went to get a last coffee at the Antarctic centre - a wonderful little museum seeking to replicate the thrills of the land of explorers below. I decided not to take the tour including a ride on a snowcat motorized sledge in simulated Antarctic conditions -18C as I figured I'd get plenty of it on 'the Ice'. After the cheerful lads of the NZ air force screened us, and allowed me 35 extra lbs of cargo [kosher food]. Wonderful folks all 'round.
As stated, presently we're situated on a C-130 operated by the royal NZ air force. What a cramped, smelly, slave hold! Luckily I got one of the better seats on board. Across from Dr. Denis Barkats my experiment's 'winter over' meaning he's on the Ice for the next 11 months of his [young] life. Denis came down last year for 2 weeks so he knows what he's getting into. He spent the last 2 weeks tramping [= camping in Kiwi] with his new girlfriend from Caltech. Oh, l'amour!!!
We had a few films and pre flight briefings this morning that told us to prepare for the 'most exciting 48 hours of our lives' but so far we're just all bored. I've never been on a stranger flight. We don't have seats, we have, instead, cargo netting with old canvas 'seat belts' we're sitting in 4 benches, with a pair of benches facing each other. Denis and I are on the end of one bench meaning we're close to the 'toilet'. This toilet is quite the contraption. There is one standup one for the men and one sit down for the 10 ladies aboard. The rest of the passengers are strewn in the back along a big cargo ramp. Every 5 minutes someone walks by us to get to the toilet and it's quite a logistical problem to do so. There is one small window on the wall that I am facing. Outside it looks hazy, but the flight is wonderfully smooth. Other than that, I'm never complaining about southwest airlines again!
In addition to the personnel [only 3 of the 48 people aboard are going to the Pole] we are a big delivery van. Next to me is about 5000 lbs of bananas! Their fragrance is scarcely enough to perfume the air from hints of 'waste' from the 'honey pot' [=toilet]. Did I mention that we have to wear most of the Ex. Cold Weather clothing we were given. My feet and legs are boiling.
I think my dad would try to parachute out of this plane...
We should be out of trouble in a bit. I'm hoping to avoid a 'boomerang' which is when the weather is bad at Mc Murdo station [the US main base and home to about 900 people now in summer] in the Antarctic. A boomerang would mean effectively two 8 hours flights in this massive mess-machine...
Once we get past half way we'll probably be in good shape. Hopefully in the next hour we'll be below the Antarctic circle -66.5 deg below the equator and below which the sun never sets in summer.