Antarctica 2013--2014 Part 2: Logistics

One day's worth of packages

My deployment date (the day I leave the U.S. for Antarctica) is this Friday! This time I'm writing about packing, flying, shipping, and related matters. The first thing to pack (although many leave it until the end) is personal luggage, everything you'll need for a few months away from civilization. The options for buying e.g. toiletries on the Ice are very limited so you need to bring anything you can't do without. This year I'm bringing a bunch more stuff to help me sleep--that was probably the hardest thing about being at South Pole last year. So far I've got nasal spray (it's really dry there), earplugs, a sleep mask, and various OTC sleep aids. Although it's always quiet and dark (unless you have a window) in the rooms at Pole, McMurdo dorms tend to be louder and have insufficiently shaded windows. Other new items this year are flip flops for the shower, better boot socks, and binoculars. Before I leave, I'm also reactivating my New Zealand SIM card and international calling card for making calls from Antarctica.

After your personal luggage, you usually need to take some scientific equipment. There is a cargo system to get such things to Antarctica; however, shipments can take weeks or months, and we often prepare custom apparati at the last minute. Moreover, because of the government shutdown this year we were concerned about the cargo system and didn't use it as much. The photo in this post is from just one day of packing. I've been packing boxes almost constantly over the last few weeks. I sometimes feel like I'm in an Amazon warehouse rather than a research lab. Currently I'm planning to check about five boxes of equipment in addition to my personal luggage.

My itinerary this year is about the same as last year, except with longer layovers. I leave Boston at 4:40 PM, have a short layover at LAX, spend 10 hours in Sydney, and take a final hop to Christchurch, arriving at 11:55 PM two days after I left (37 hours travel airport to airport). If you have any suggestions for things to do in Sydney, let me know ASAP. When I arrive in Christchurch, I'll need to get my hundreds of pounds of baggage/equipment from the airport to the hotel, halfway across the city. At, optimistically, 1 AM. I expect it to be interesting.

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