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2 November, 2001

We reported to the CDC, Clothing Distribution Center, at 5:45 a.m. to collect our gear, “weigh-in” with all of our gear, and learn about safety and rules for our stay in Antarctica. We were instructed on how to prevent hypothermia, frostbite, sunburn, dehydration, trench foot, and snow blindness, not to mention falling into crevasses or cracks in the sea ice. Our bags went through x-ray, and the dogs checked everyone for drugs. We were instructed that even nail clippers could not go into carry-on bags. We were allowed to take one orange bag and a laptop computer on the plane. The rest of our gear had to be stored in the cargo hold of the plane. It turned out to be a beautiful day for flying as we boarded the C-141 cargo plane flown by the New York Air National Guard. As we entered the plane, we were strapped into sling seats and given a sack lunch. The men were seated in the back, and the women were politely seated up front near the toilets. We were side by side with shoulders and knees touching. There were about 55 passengers on board today. We boarded the plane in full ECW gear, including the white bunny boots, which weighed about five pounds each. It only took one minute before the heat in the plane forced me to take off the outer jackets. It is almost summer in New Zealand, which is in the Southern Hemisphere. We each had to put on earplugs, due to the noise of the plane’ s engines. We left at 9:00 a.m. and arrived safely in Antarctica five hours later. As the plane landed on the ice runway, I felt a sense of awe and excitement that I had at last arrived in Antarctica. When the doors of the plane opened, I stepped through and saw the beautiful landscape that resembled pictures in a National Geographic magazine. The snow-covered Mt. Erebus, the southern-most volcano, had a plume of smoke hovering above it. Yet, despite the beauty, for me, it’s the science that draws me here. Because of its unique conditions, Antarctica is one of the best places on Earth to conduct science research. Dr. Sam Bowser, the principal investigator, leads a team to study the forams at the bottom of the ocean. Explorers’ Cove is one of the few places on Earth where divers have scuba access to creatures that usually inhabit the deepest reaches of the ocean.

Tina and Spike crammed inside the LC 141 military transport plane just before the flight to Antarctica.

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