November 15th, 2009
New Zealand, McMurdo and South Pole - Current Time
The media had been hyping the snow storm for a couple of days. The first good snow of the season, and it was showing up the day I was departing.
The past few deployments I was starting from Glenwood Springs, and had taken the bus from home to Aspen, caught a flight to Denver, then a shuttle to the hotel. On the return in July it turned out that a rental car from the Denver airport was a better option. (All my travel to and from Antarctica is covered by the company).
So for this deployment I had started out asking for a rental car, figuring it would be quicker to do the 3 hour drive, than the bus, airport, airplane, airport, shuttle route.
The car rental office is only a 10 minute walk from my home, so I headed over there early on Wednesday morning, wanting to give myself plenty of time to deal with snow that had start falling pretty heavy. Departing Glenwood Springs it was a pretty good snow storm, with snow packed roads, and the visibility dropping. I figured it may be a long day. I actually lucked out and within 10 miles once I passed through the Hanging Lake tunnel in Glenwood Canyon conditions improved dramatically. Pretty decent roads until about ˝ way up Vail Pass, and I watch a semi that was spinning out start to jack knife as I passed him. Conditions were good again from Copper Mountain to ˝ way up the tunnel. Clear almost dry roads again by Georgetown, but since I was making better time than planned, and Floyd Hill had been closed for accidents for while, I decided to swing through Central City and give some money away. Traveling Clear Creek Canyon the roads were in good shape, and I didn’t hit any snow packed roads until the south side of Denver near the hotel. Made it there with time to spare, and watched the snow fall that night.
Since they had decided Thursday was a snow day at the Raytheon Polar Services office we got to do our first day of orientation at the hotel. I won’t comment on how thrilling the OSHA safety awareness of “Lock Out, Tag Out, Try”, “Fall Protection”, and “Scaffolding” was. Needless to say I just had to keep reminding myself it all pays the same.
A good friend came by and picked my up for dinner that night, we hit Red Lobster, and Friday night was at a Salad Buffet place (seeing lettuce doesn’t happen often at the south pole), might as well indulge while I could.
Friday was a bit hectic at the office since we had lost a few hours there on Thursday. Back again Saturday morning, and then we were off to the airport just before noon. The really good news out of orientation was that since they had an unusual routing for out airline tickets, our return from New Zealand would be via Sydney Australia, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Denver, and we could do a stop over at all of those without charge.