10 December, 1998
Hello to all!!
It's amazing to think that just a few hours ago I was sitting in O'Hare waiting for a very delayed flight to Los Angeles. About half an hour after the plane was scheduled to depart, an attendant let us know that "the plane is broken and we can't fix it." We waited for another plane to land that we could use. By this time though, we were quite late and made it to LAX just in time to catch the flight to Aukland. The 747 is a huge plane, and it is certainly designed efficiently. There were many scientists aboard and many tourists, too since it is nearing the holidays and it is beautiful summer weather here in New Zealand.
We landed at 7:35 am(approximately 11 hours after leaving Los Angeles) at the international terminal in Aukland, NZ. As we waited for our baggage to come off the carousel, patrols of beagles sniffed baggage for fruit, meats or seeds. New Zealand is serious about protecting its
forestry and agriculutural resources from foreign pests. Evry once in a while the dogs would get excited over someone's luggage and then the person wuold have to let the beagle's handler check for any contraband.
They checked our bags for any signs of dirt-especially on used camping equipment or hiking boots. Brenda Hall had reminded me to make sure that everything was scrupiously clean before I left Chicago and that I could then avoid getting my gear sprayed with pesticides.
We then boarded another plane for the hour flight to Christchurch on South Island. We were met by the Antarctic Support Associates (ASA) representative who took good care of us - helping get our gear to the van and giving advice about what to see in town. There were 2 women and four men in this batch. The van brought us to the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC). My clothing isssue try on time was scheduled right away - at two, so I have little time yet here in Christchurch. The CDC manager explained our clothing options from a display mounted on a board. We then watched a video about the importance of proper fit and use of the clothing. The Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear will be all that stands between me and the elements while I am in the field, so I took my time making sure that everything fit properly. We were able to easily exchange sizes and we even had some options that we could exercise. After I made sure that everything fit, it was time to organize our two orange bags for the day of our Ice Flight.
One of the bags is labeled "hand carry" and in that one we were to pack everything that we will wear on the LC130. So our bunny boots, socks, long underwear, parka, pants, hat and gloves all go in there. That means on the day of your flight you will essentially end up with an empty bag, which I will be stuffing full of the things that I will be taking to the Dry Valleys. Yes this will include my kite, some books, some art supplies a student gave me and well really not much else!!
In many ways it is a relief to not have to decide what to bring, since we will be wearing the ECW in the field most of the agony of packing is dispensed with.
I've come over to the office of the US Antarctic Program to email you this. I found out that Betty Trummel - the other Illinois teacher is coming in on a flight tonight around 7 - so even though Betty and I did not get to see each other in Antarctica - we will get to see each other here.
My flight was originally scheduled for tomorrow - but now the next flight out is not until Saturday. That gives me some time to poke around Christchurch.
I'll write you tomorrow. The weather is lovely, bright summery sun, not hot with soft air like they had in Austin, Texas.
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