November 29, 2005
As we flew away from McMurdo yesterday, the chorus to John Denver's song "Leaving on a Jet Plane" was playing over and over in my head (with some words alter, of course)....
So miss me and smile for me
And I really thought - I am going to miss this place. The friendliness everyone possesses, the "everyone has a job and does it well", and the wild beauty of the Antarctic is hard to come by everyday in The States. Everyone wanted to be in Antarctica, and that makes an enormous difference in attitude. Even though I loved working in Antarctica, I am so glad I love teaching; it makes going back to my job exciting and easy.
The Hurk (C-130 Hercules) we rode in was far from a jet plane. We sat on what looked like cots and our backs were supported with cargo straps - what different flight from the C-17 on which I flew down to Antarctica! After the 8-hr flight, we landed in Christchurch, NZ around 4:00 in the afternoon. We traveled through customs and walked to the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) building. There we checked our issued Extreme Weather Clothing (EWC) in and received our USAP patch for a job well done - a proud moment. I have a lot to put into a scrapbook.
I am now at the hotel in Christchurch, and the local temperature will reach a high of about 60 degrees F (17° C), much the same of Alexandria, LA - except it is summer in New Zealand and winter in Louisiana. As we rode in the taxi from the airport to the hotel, certain desires surfaced: I wanted to walk barefoot in the grass, I feel the rose petals on my cheek, I wanted to rub my hands in the dirt, and I wanted it to rain. After dinner the group and I were walking back to the hotel, and the sun began to set. I stayed at the window in my room for some time watching the sky change the clouds' colors - something I have not seen in 6 weeks! It was breathtaking. I have yet to see stars, as the sky was covered in clouds last night. Perhaps tonight I'll get my chance. Today, some friends from the ANDRILL group and I are going to Lyttelton, Port of Christchurch for the day. Lyttelton was the port of entry for English settlers coming to the new settlement of Canterbury. I plan to take the gondola to Mt Cavendish for a 360° view of the ocean and plains.
Tomorrow, I will travel to Sumner, a beach area about a 15-minute ride from Christchurch. Finally, I head home on Friday, and I will be back in Louisiana late Friday night/early Saturday morning. This is my last entry; Thank you ARMADA for selecting me, take care all, and have fun today! Cheers!