Mood Showers and Moa Skeletons

Trip Start Dec 18, 2008
Trip End Feb 17, 2009

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Friday, December 19, 2008

All American Deploys to the South Pole fly through the Antarctic Program Headquarters in Christchurch New Zealand.  Here, employees get a few days to acclimate, get their company issued gear, and have a bit of fun before settling into ice life.  I was given a room in Hotel So, which I would suggest to anyone ever in Christchurch.  

Fashioned almost entirely of what looks like plastic, glass and LED lights, So felt a bit like staying in a Hollywood space station.  The rooms are tiny, with a shelf bed as the only furniture, and a glass circular shower/bathroom about a foot away.  The LEDs can be set to different moods or random mode, so your shower can change from blue moody light to red sexy light to purple crazy light like magic.  Each morning I arose to a different nature scene on the TV/alarm clock with vaguely psychedelic music which crescendoed you into wakefulness.  

The second day I visited the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) and got my issued gear, which included but was definitely not limited to:

1 "Big Red" parka which makes you look like a big red marshmallow, no matter who you are
1 pair of "Bunny Boots" which are basically white moon boots and ridiculously warm.
Socks called Wigwams which rival the bunny boots in warmth
More layers of fleece and wool stuff then I thought I'd ever need.

The CDC is adjacent to the International Antarctic Center, which boasts penguin encounters and Hagglund All-Terrain vehicle rides for tourists.  Their snack bar boasts discounted ice cream and sandwiches for Raytheon employees, and that is really all I saw, though I heard the rest is kind of neat.  

 I was about to see the real thing, so after business was settled at the CDC,  I headed to the Canterbury Museum located off North Hagley park instead.  It was raining, and this free museum was a great way to kill a few hours, especially for a Science Artist (read incredible nerd) with a brand new camera.

 I came in alone because I was a replacement deploy, but Christchurch turns in to a bit of a playground for Ice workers at the beginning and end of seasons.  Some people come back every year for much of their lives, and unwinding before and after the sometimes lonely and claustrophobic life in Antarctica is tradition.  Bars like Dux de Lux and Bailies Bar & Restaurant usually house one or more drunk Ice person, which can be spotted easily by their vampire white skin and abnormally high instance of beards.
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