Antarctica 2012--2013 Part 4

People here work in shifts so the dorms are permanent quiet hours to allow everyone to sleep. So I got up (Dec. 7) quiet as a mouse in the dark. After breakfast I tried to visit the balloon facility, but apparently I walked right past the pickup location and missed the bus. So that plan was a bust. Instead I hung around town and played tourist.

In the afternoon the wind started picking up so I cut short my photography expedition. The best shots were the landscapes, I think. The only really attractive building is the chapel on the coast.

I got a phone card and can make limited phone calls (also when I'm at the South Pole, but only when satellites are up).

We were on standby for a flight the next day so I prepared for "bag drag." This was like check-in for the McMurdo flight, except without the boomerang bag. Anything you need between bag drag and the flight (even if it's delayed multiple days) has to go in your carry on. Traditionally, one drags everything from the dorm to the Movement Control Center, but a nice driver gave my luggage a ride. Also at bag drag we were informed that the flight could be as early as 6:45, but time not guaranteed.

After bag drag I walked around town some more and took pictures of a helicopter that took off almost in front of me. I went to bed early.

The next morning (Dec. 8) I checked the flight monitors. Nothing. I went to breakfast. Back from breakfast I checked again. This time our flight was listed with a 6:45 transport! I finished packing and walked over. With 15 minutes left, I walked back to wake up my roommate who was on the same flight. Driving out in a big van with monster wheels was an even bumpier ride than on Ivan. Then we had to wait at the airfield for the plane to be ready. Around 9 we actually boarded the plane, and it took off shortly thereafter.

The flight was only 3 hours. I got a few more pictures, but nothing as spectacular on the flight in to McMurdo. Or perhaps I was getting accustomed to Ice in every direction. On landing, to unload the cargo, they lowered the ramp while the plane was still moving and just slid the pallet off! Someone must have picked it up later because I did get my luggage. Getting off the plane, we followed the line past the South Pole Station sign to find the current residents greeting us.

The satellite is setting so I'll save my first day at Pole for the next segment.

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