Antarctica
Go - The return Trip



After I arrived at the hotel in Denver Wednesday night, I took the opportunity to find some food I was likely to miss, while in New Zealand and on the Ice.

Bayou Bob's looked like a likely spot. Food was very good. Walked back to the hotel, and shuffled a couple of things amongst my bags. Ready to go.

After some confusion by the hotel staff about what time and where we were supposed to be in the morning, they took us over to the ASA Office about 7:30.

We started with paperwork. Travel arrangements, and paper work for the money and tickets. More paperwork with the Human Resources people. A quick lecture on what ASA does and who does what to whom. More lecture on some of the science projects going on this. A break for a box lunch, and then a thrilling lecture on waste management on the ice. A couple of more sessions on safety, and medical, and it was 2:30, time for the bus to DIA.

We had a small group, only about 17 of us in orientation. (Last year there were 70 in my session. There were about 6 of us that had been to the ice before, the rest were all new. This year instead of a FNG, I was an OAE (Old Antarctic Explorer). Answered a lot of questions during the breaks and bus trip out to the airport on what the new people could expect. All those details you wonder about on the first trip down, brought back the excitement from my first trip last year.

We got there a little after 3:30 pm, and after checking in had plenty of time to kill before our 5:58 Flight to LA. Our 747 was packed, and United had another 96 people waiting on standby. A quick flight (only 2 hours!) and we were at LAX. Turned out our departure gate was immediately next to the gate we arrived at. And three hours to get there before our flight left. Kill a couple of hours and a couple of drinks in the bar with a few of the others, and then it was about time to board.

Yet another full flight, I saw only one empty seat in the coach section. At least this time I had a window seat, it seamed like it had a little more room than last years seat in the middle of the middle section.

Another long night, didn't get much sleep along the way. It struck me as I was watching for the sunrise, that we had seen the sun set on the flight from Denver to LA, and the Sun had gone all the way around and caught us from behind before we finished flying. No wonder I was tired.

Yet another hour and a half lay over for our flight to Christchurch. The baggage, customs, and shuttle over to the domestic terminal went quickly. Ran into a few of the science people while we were waiting for the Air New Zealand flight. (They don't have to go to the orientation). They had been on the same LA-Auckland flight but hadn't even seen them.

We left the hotel in Denver a little before 3PM on Thursday and got into Christchurch a little after 10AM on Saturday - some 21 hours of traveling in one shot. (We crossed the international date line, and lost Friday in there somewhere).

We met Kate from the USAP Christchurch travel office, and as she handed out the paperwork with our hotel arrangements and clothing issue times, it became apparent that I wasn't on the list. They didn't know I was coming.

A quick trip over to the office, and they discovered that they had me down as arriving a couple of days later. They were able to make me a reservation at the YMCA as I had requested, and put me down for the clothing issue for that afternoon.

I caught a shuttle with back to the YMCA and had just enough time to get a quick shower before it was time to head back out to the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC), on the bus. Time to get my Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) Gear.


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10/17/99


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