Ice and Medicine at the end of the earth


–noun:  a bent or curved piece of tough wood used by the Australian Aborigines as a throwing club, one form of which can be thrown so as to return to the thrower.

–verb (used without object): to come back or return, as a boomerang.’

I began the journey back to McMurdo on Tuesday night, arriving in New Zealand on Thursday morning.  The International Date Line stole another day!  It was an uneventful journey to Christchurch.  We had plans to return to McMurdo today on a C-17 military jet.  But, just to make sure I get the complete Antarctica experience, our flight was cancelled after five hours of waiting at the airport.  According to the travel office, there are two large storms expected to hit McMurdo.  The first started dropping snow on the base this morning.  I am now checked back into the same hotel and the same room as last night.  Unlike my first time through CHC, I did not pack a “Boomerang” bag which is kept separate from checked luggage in case the flight does not leave.  This allows you to have clothes and shoes in Christchurch.  Who wants to walk around in Bunny Boots?  Luckily I did put shoes and a change of clothes in my carry on.

While this flight does not technically qualify as a “boomerang,”  I like the term.  Antarctic participants use the term “boomeranged” when a flight leaves Christchurch and only makes it partway to McMurdo before having to turn back secondary to weather concerns.  The worst boomerang I heard about was a flight during winfly that made it all the way to base, circled and had to fly back to Christchurch to refuel.  The weather improved and they re-boarded that night to make the trip back.  I guess five hours in the Clothing Distribution Center is not all bad.  We will try again tomorrow.   Hopefully they will let me sleep later than 4 AM!

The flight should be on a C-17.  With all of the flying I have done recently, I will experience all of the flying options between Christchurch and McMurdo.  The most luxurious was the Airbus!  First class, reclining seats and a window!

T.J. was lucky enough to experience this luxury as well!  Our next flight was on a C-130.  Generally civilians will fly these between camps on the continent.  I am grateful to have been able to leave the ice quickly when we needed to, but do not want to fly on one of these again.  It took double the time of the airbus and was loud, even with ear plugs in.  It is equipped with skis, which is pretty cool!!

I will be on a C-17 tomorrow.  It is a quieter plane because it is a jet rather than a prop plane.   Still won’t be the airbus, but I am excited for the experience.

Hopefully the next post will be from McMurdo!

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