Sullywan Kenobi has landed in Antarctica

Trip Start Oct 16, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So I finally realize the dream I was trying so many years to make a reality. It's funny how it still doesn't seem real. I landed on the Ross Ice shelf in the Ross Sea off the coast of Antarctica in a C-17 Airforce plane today after spending the last two days in Chistchurch, New Zealand (Cheech for short, in the McMurdo lingo).

In Cheech I had a surreal experience, I was looking over the hundreds of brochures and flyers that hang all over the walls and noticed one from the Kiwi experience. It's a bus tour company that caters to travelers who want to see the islands and facilitates trips. Much the same as my job back in the states this last summer with the Green tortoise. I took a 4 day trip on the Kiwi Experience the last time I was in New Zealand. So what do I see that catches my eye. A photo of me on one of their flyers. It's amazing, It was from the previously mentioned trip and my image repeated many times as I looked around the room and noticed all the stacks of them in the flyer holders on the wall. I wouldn't have even known this if I hadn't passed back through NZ for this job. As I probably wouldn't have ever come back to NZ because of all the other places in the world I want to see before repeating NZ.

The plane ride to Antarctica had to be one of the best I have ever been on. Smooth sailing and exciting. There were no windows on the plane except for two small peepholes about 8 inches in diameter. It's a strange feeling as you take off and land and your not able to see outside the plane. Somehow you can tell the plane is climbing or decending without your eyes as you sense it physically with your body through the G-forces.

When we reached the coast of Antarctica, the crew and pilots let people take turns going into the cockpit.and getting the real view. I snapped a couple of shots and was just in awe. Imagine seeing a stark white ocean, only decernable by a starke white valley leading to dark mountain peaks poking out through a giant sheet of Ice. I've never seen such huge glaciers. the entire continent is frozen in ice. WHAT? You got to see it to believe it. so here are a couple of  photos.

You exit the plane trying to see the forbidden continent through your foggy breath. It's something like Hoth in the Empire strikes back. No, it's exactly like Hoth. It's cold, but sunny. But the cold isn't that bad because it's a dry cold! ha ha.

All the red parkas issued by the National Science foundation are waddling like penguins in an uneven line to the transport vehicle, waiting to take us to the research station that we will call home for the next 4-6 months. As we board onto "Ivan" the Terra Bus the energy in the air is tangible, or is it the static electricity that is so abundant here. No it was the people. There were lots of first timers on this flight and we were infecting even the most seasoned veterans with smiles.

Ivan, whisked us away to our first briefing on the ice. One of many to come in my season here. The room is hot, and we immediately shed our ECW gear (extreme cold weather) in an orderly and easy fashion hoping to that our immediate compliance will help us get through the meeting faster.

After we were finished we had time to go and collect our luggage and move into our rooms in Building 150, which are less than comfy for the Fingees (Fucking New Guys). 4 adult males in a tiny room with bunk beds and a ton of gear to store. The beds are less than standard also, not what you would expect from a $23b company, but none of us care. We are here and we know we have to pay our dues if we want to come back next year and get a bigger room with less roomates. After all these building have been here since the 50's so you can't expect much at least for a Fingee.

Dinner was served promply at 5 in the galley. Flank steak and Chicken or Veggie option with rice, beans, and nut medely. A couple choices of salads, carrot, or Tuna, and either white cake with chocolate frosting, chocolate pudding or dry browines for desert. It's was tasty as far as I could tell. But my initial excitment from getting here had built up such a hunger that I may have lowered my standards. We will see.

So far I have cool roomates. Jim, and Lou, both from Cleveland and Bill, from Milwaukee,  who I will be working with in ATO (Antarctic transportation operations). Jim is cool, I already knew him, We met at the jobfair in Denver this year, then again at the hotel in Denver, as we boarded shuttle to the Raytheon Headquarters for orientation. And wouldn't luck have it, we got roomed together here on the Ice. Amazing how many weird syncrhonicities are happening now and many things just seem to be falling into play.

The rest of the night I spent going to a outdoor safety briefing about going on hikes and getting to do outdoorsey things while I am here. It's all about safety, safety, safety. I am very glad they push that hard around here. It's easy to get complacent.

After my third and final meeting for the day I went to Souther Exposure, one of the two bars here at McMurdo. It's a stinky, seedy bar for smokers, and the other is Gallaghers the dance club and for non-smokers. I am sure I will spend some of my time in both places as it's becomes a good past time for many of the folks here on the ice.

Well it's late now and I have to go to bed, more safety meeting and briefings in the AM.

This first week is gonna be a rough time of adjustment, and jet lag. I can't wait til I get more comfortable here and things seem more normal. Soon enough. I am sure. But for now, I must pay the dues for being lucky enough to even come here.
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