31 December, 1996

I've decided to write my last entry on my redeployment to New Zealand. It's actually January 10th and I'm on my way home. The nine hour flight from McMurdo is in a C-130 Navy transport with only eighteen of us on board. The plane isn't carrying much cargo so it's reasonably comfortable. Most people have claimed a spot where they can lay down and are either reading or sleeping. One of the reasons for the extra room is the deterioration of the ice runway at McMurdo Sound as the weather warmed. Since mid December all planes had to land on the firmer permanent ice, which is more like packed snow than blue ice. To accomplish this the planes had to be equipped with wheels to take off from New Zealand and skis to land in Antarctica. This special fitting reduced the amount of weight the planes could carry by 8000 pounds and ended up giving us more room for the long trip.

When I get to New Zealand it will be summer. I'm in my ECW gear and I'm expecting cultural shock. I haven't seen the sun set nor smelled a flower in over three months. No matter, I'll miss the ice and McMurdo. I can't imagine a project that would have given me the opportunity to do and see so many interesting and unique things. I'll miss Pat, Jenni, and Chris. We've spent the last three holidays together and worked as a team after the rest of the group left in early December. I'll miss the focused yet very simple life style of the past months.

I'm indebted to Bill for helping me extend my stay and for the offer to return next year, I hope I'll be able to make it back. Antarctica is unlike any place I've been, it can't really be described, it needs to be experienced.

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