April 17/18, 2009
Here I go! Months of preparation, days of organizing logistics and hours of packing and the time has come to get on that plane and head south. At least, I thought I was! Got to the airport; ready to go to Chile and then Antarctica and the time printed on my boarding pass was two hours later than my itinerary had stated. The explanation from the ticket agent was my original flight had been cancelled due to hail and thunderstorms in Dallas, Texas - the first destination of my trip. Panic gripped me- "OMG, am I going to miss the flight to Chile, miss meeting the scientists in Dallas and then miss the boat to Antarctica?!" Wouldn't that be a kicker? All of this anticipation and excitement for the opportunity of a lifetime squashed by a thunderstorm? Yikes! After many telephone calls to the travel agents and harassing of the desk agents for minute-by-minute play calls of the plane en route, I received a call from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks lead scientist, Kristin O'Brien. She reassured me that the weather also delayed some of the scientists from the Duke University team and we would all be rescheduled for the flight leaving the next night (Saturday) for Chile and we will board the ship on Monday as scheduled. Phew!
I finally arrived in Dallas through a bumpy plane ride over the approaching thunderstorm at 9:45 p.m. Friday night. Missing the flight with Kristin and the others, but relieved to be one step closer to the destination. I checked into a hotel and crashed to sleep. Killed time on Saturday waiting until the flight at 9:00 p.m. I got to the airport early and made sure that my luggage would be on the flight. Then waited as this flight departure was delayed (cursed, I tell you what!) due to a hydraulic pump. Could that be for the wheels or a door? Somehow that was not a comforting thought, however I was glad it was being fixed. Met a few of the others headed to Punta Arenas and was elated to finally be moving toward Chile, set to arrive in Santiago at 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning. After receiving the dinner meal on the flight at 10:45 p.m., tried to get some shuteye in the airline seat.