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19 December, 2002


Our first view of Antarctica comes after about seven hours of flying from Christchurch, New Zealand. Everyone is perched near a window for that first glimpse of ice and mountains. The C-130 landed on a runway that has been cleared on the ice of the frozen McMurdo Sound! We arrive at roughly 10pm and it's still light out. In fact it could have just as easily been one o'clock in the afternoon because it's so bright. It's cold and a little windy. The crispy air is very fresh and the mountains in the background are absolutely majestic as they appear to rise from the sea ice. Even though we 've been flying so much in the last couple of days everyone is completely energized. Then it starts to sink in: you're in a strange place! An airport on ice? And what's up with all these mutant vehicles around here? They look like a cross between monster trucks and bulldozers. Our ride shows up. It's a big van with massive wheels.

There's a road that's been marked out on the ice that we'll follow to get to McMurdo Station. It used to be called McMurdo Base when the US Navy ran it but they've relinquished ownership a while back. Interestingly, much of the Navy jargon and acronyms are still used to describe many of the locations, buildings, and operations here. Our luggage will be delivered to the dorm in an hour or so. We head for the station and are dropped off at our new home: Building 155. The dormitory houses rooms that are much like college rooms. We have the added bonus of having the Galley (dining hall) in the same building. The Galley serves four meals a day, which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus "Mid-Rats" which are around midnight. Since that's about what time it is now (full sunlight outside, of course) we 're able to eat and then get our luggage.

Tomorrow we begin the check-in and get our bearings on this new place.

1. Our first view of Antarctica from the C-130

2. Welcome to Antarctica!

3. Taber reacts to his arrival

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