Boots on the Ground

Greetings from Antarctica!

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Well, I finally made it, or as they say here…”Boots on the ground.”  I got in 2 days ago and have been busy settling in, making friends and getting used to life in McMurdo.  But lets back up a bit and l’ll tell you all about the flight down which was way cool.  The US Air Force brought us down, maybe 50 people or so on a Hercules LC 130, which is a giant military plane.  Along with my new coworkers and friends, I piled into a bus in my big red coat and my orange duffle bag stuffed to the rim cause I thought I wasn’t going to make weight on my checked back and it turned out I was almost 20 lbs below the limit.  Some were on their first season like me and also excited, and some were well seasoned employee on there second, third or 10th season on the ice.  Though the latter try to act cool, I know they were feeling the energy the newbies were putting out there making them excited as well and they were definitely excited for us too.

We all shuffled out of the bus, grabbed our brown bagged lunch at the bottom of the metal staircase and climbed into this massive plane.  I found myself a seat along the perimeter of the plane, and settled in.  It probably didn’t help that I ate a huge sugary meringue right before I got on the plane, I could barely sit still.  I pulled out my iPhone and picked the soundtrack for liftoff… Guns N Roses, “Paradise City”.  My new friend next to me hooked into my earphone jack splitter.  This was her second season and she was just as excited as I was.  We rocked it out air guitar style as we took off.

I can think of  one word to describe the feeling of the air when I stepped off the plane…Crisp.  Yeah, a little cold but it wasn’t windy so it wasn’t bad at all, I had been anticipating unbearable cold.  The sun was bouncing off everything white, which is basically snow all around me as far as the eye can see, shockingly bright.  Around us were mountains, some far in the distance, so white and beautiful, it was like when you reach the top of a long hard trail and see the most beautiful scenery, but this was just all around me.

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We had only a short moment to get over the awe and onto the big red bus/truck vehicle that would take us across the bay (yup, driving over frozen bay) to Ross Island where McMurdo the main base is.  Towering over Ross Island is Mt. Erebus at 12,448 ft, a steaming volcano active for the past 1.3 million years.  It wasn’t that east to see all of it with its lenticular cloud hovering over it, I was only slightly homesick thinking about Mt. Rainier and how it never gets old seeing that amazing mountain also with it’s much smaller lenticular clouds.

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On the way to McMurdo we passed Scott Base, the New Zealand base around the corner and over the hill.  I arrived with a quick presentation/orientation and met both my field camp manager and the medical team (MD, PA and an RN who came to welcome me).  There is was, am I “medical” or am I “field camp”, two different entities there.

A little overwhelming to finally have my “boots on the ground” and excited for everything to come.  Sorry for the delay, I have much more to tell but wanted to get a quick post up with a few pics.   I have many more stories to share from my first few days.  Stay tuned…

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