Antarctica 2013--2014 Part 3: Travel

Photo of Government House

Friday morning was a bit of a scramble. Newegg had failed to ship some urgently needed computer parts in one day as promised. Therefore we made a last-minute MicroCenter run before closing my boxes and heading to the airport. My excess baggage was surprisingly low: one 50 lb box and one 68 lb monster box. The airport experience was much better than last year. My bags were checked with minimal trouble, and the flight was actually on time. The only downside was that I was sick with a cold. I put a box of tissues in my backpack. This proved to be very fortunate.

In LAX I decided to get a second dinner, which ended up being delicious pancakes with not-so-delicious fake syrup. The LAX-Sydney flight was a nightmare. I was far from the only one sick, the person in front of me reclined his seat all the way the entire flight, and I was surrounded by crying babies. I didn't sleep.

In Sydney I had 10 hours so I went to see the city. The train goes straight from the airport to major tourist destinations downtown. I shopped, had the blandest possible lunch of eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms, saw the Opera House, Government House, and gardens, and found a malfunctioning public toilet. The gardens were especially beautiful, and I heartily recommend them as a rest spot.
I got an early dinner there too, bypassing another air meal.

I tried to sleep on the flight to Christchurch, but that mostly failed. We got in around 12:20 AM. With all my scientific baggage it took an hour to get through customs. By the time I checked into my hotel, it was 2 AM. I set my alarm for 7:15 and went to bed. In the morning, red light was shining through the hotel's stained glass window. I was momentarily disoriented. I got breakfast at the hotel and took the shuttle back to the airport/Antarctic Centre.

ECW issue went a lot more smoothly this year. Based on last year's experience I turned in some items that I knew I would not use (neck gaiter, mittens, scratchy long underwear) and requested two extra pairs of gloves. It wasn't a big group, and there was only 1 newcomer, so we got done fairly quickly. A few of us went to lunch at the highly-recommended Brewer's Arms. Then I showered and took a nap.

The flight check-in was at 7 AM the next day (December 10 New Zealand time). The hotel breakfast also opens at 7 so I was unable to get breakfast there. Usually they organize a flight breakfast from the Antarctic Centre cafe for such early flights. However, that somehow broke down this time, and I didn't get any food until the flight lunches were passed out around 9:30. I was not a happy camper. The good news was that there were only 10 or so people on the flight, making it much more spacious than my Ice flight last year. I am writing this post from the seat (a piece of canvas stretched across metal poles and some canvas webbing) of the LC-130.

Next time I'll cover my adventures in Mactown or the flight to Pole, depending on what happens...

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