6 October, 1996
We're getting pretty good at getting ready to deploy in the middle of the night. We got up at 3:30 A.M. and again got a shuttle to the CDC. We dressed in extreme cold weather gear and prepared to board the C141 Military transport. All the scientists were lined up in a corridor with their duffel bags. We waited until a drug dog arrived. His job was to sniff everyone's gear to be certain no drugs were being transported to Antarctica. The dog walked down the line stopping at each bag. It was an easy day for him, after about 10 minutes he gave his blessings to the group.
We had to have all the gear we were taking to the ice weighed to insure that we were under the 75 pound allotted limit. I was concerned because of my computer and cameras. My cold weather gear used about 40 pounds of the allotted weight and I knew my electronic gear weighed an additional 25 pounds. That only left 10 pounds for personal gear. I was over weight by about ten pounds but two others from the team had less than their allotment. I was able to keep everything I had packed. We were beginning to feel positive that this would be the day we would leave for the ice. Our hopes were shattered when an announcement was made that we were on hold for four hours because of weather. Our group was dressed in weather gear designed to protect them at -40o and we were stuck in a 50o room. We were dressed in two pairs of long underwear, a fleece body suit, heavy wind pants, a down parka, and expedition boots. Most people stripped to their fleece suits and fell asleep on the floor. At 10:00 we learned that the weather at McMurdo was not cooperating and we were given another 20-hour weather hold.
Tomorrow we'll start the same drill at 4:15 A.M. and hope for the best. In the meantime were stuck in beautiful Christchurch during the beginning of their spring season. New Zealand is about as far south of the Equator as New England is north. Because of the tilt of the earth's axis, our fall season coincides with their spring. All the flowers are in bloom and blossoms are on the trees. In spite of the beauty all around us, the team is anxious to get to the ice and start doing science. One of the challenges of doing science in Antarctica is contending with all the variables over which we have little control. I suspect we'll be working eighteen-hour days to make up for lost time.
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