Well here we are, friends! We’ve officially made it. I am reporting from THE ICE! I think today, this morning really, is when it started to feel real for a lot of us.
This morning, we hopped on a shuttle at 5:45 am and headed back to the USAP CDC. There, we changed into our issued gear, checked into the flight, grabbed breakfast, and then… you guessed it: watched another training/welcome video. This will be our lives for the next few days. After the video, we went through security and we were on our way! From security, we loaded up like sardines in a bus that shuttled us to a Hercules C-130. And then, again, we packed onto that plane so tight we could hardly breathe! I kid. But it was a tight squeeze. Luckily, everyone that goes to the ice is super friendly. So even when you kind of nudged your foot maybe a little too hard into someone’s leg, it was no big deal. Just a smile and a “Aw it’s ok” wave and all was well. Our flight was very fast for our particular aircraft – it only took us 7.5 hours! And we had some very important people on our plane. Some high ranking military personnel, the directors of NSF, and the Kiwis brought down a “Sir”! It was pretty neat.
Landing was smooth as a whistle. We stepped off the ice… and there they were: the Transantarctic Mountains. They’re huge. And go on forever. And it’s just totally and completely humbling. But then you get snapped right back into reality as another man with a red jacket says, “Alright, alright, load the bus. Get off the runway.” And we followed directions – loaded the bus, got off the runway. The bus took us past the Kiwi base which is all green, like kiwis, which made me smile pretty big. It’s just cute. And color out here can really change morale. Think: the yellow tents we use in the field. And how sad big grey buildings look in the winter. Anywho, we got to the main building where we were greeted with big smiles from Brian with a y and John S. It was good to see them. Really kind of felt like we were being welcomed back home. Brian with a y said it was pretty incredible that we made it here so fast, with no delays, and no lost bags. And I quote, “it’s kind of unprecedented.” I personally want to say it’s because we have such a rockstar team this year. After we met up with the boys, we had yet another NSF briefing . After the NSF briefing, we got briefed by Brian with a y and John S about our many many trainings throughout the week. It’ll be a busy time for us in McMurdo!
We went to dinner, checked out the gift shop, and then split up for the night to explore and relax. I think we’re all pretty tired. It was a long day. But now, it’s 22:04 and it’s as bright as mid-afternoon. I knew the sun wouldn’t set but it’s a pretty wild thing to experience.
I love it here. I feel lucky. I know Johnny Ringo does too. He talked about how he just keeps thinking of the first people that came down here. What they went through. He sounded pretty baffled and humbled by it all. Paul was annoyed by a sandwich he had in his pocket so I didn’t get his perspective aside from that.