I was sound asleep when the phone rang at 11:30 AM. The night before I was up late captuing the sunset and needed my beauty sleep. The lady on the phone says, "Cody, are you planning to leave Antarctica? The buses are waiting for you and everyone has already checked in." Huh? Two weeks I dreamt of missing the flight and flew off the ice on a rocket... which crashed at sea. Oh Geez. I told her I'd be there in 10 minutes. Hung the phone up, threw everything I really need in my bag, got dressed in my ECW gear and tried to run to the MCC for check-in in my big white bunny boots... I ran maybe 20 meters and realized there is no way I can run in these things. A taxi pulled up next me to and the guy waved me in, later telling me he went to my room to try and find me. We got the MCC, I gave them my bags, and made my way around back to the giant Terra-Bus where some 50 people were crammed it in, waiting for me.. I got on the bus and said, "The coolest kids always show up late for parties." They laughed and told me to make my way to the back of the bus where I belong.
The terra-bus drove us out to Pegasus runway, which is about an hour away from our station cruising at 10 MPH. When the Airbus, plane from Australia, arrived the door opened and several tourists came out. They spun around in circles, taking hundreds of pictures and waving to us. For 10 minutes all of us stood behind signs, watching the 8 tourists get their taste of Antarctica while we froze in -20 C. I found it quite amusing. Once on the plane the captain mentioned the future of comercial airline flights from Australia and said they there are planning to serve more tourists, as well station personal.
The aura of excitement was all around. Smiles and joy.
The last view of Erebus's smoke.
We cruised over glaciers, lakes of ice, and ice-capped mountains for at least two hours before hitting the blue ocean.
Four and a half hours after our departure we caught sight of land. Everyone clapped, some were yelling "land!"
Now that's what I'm talking about... beaches :)
For the most part farmland surrounds the shorelines of Christchurch.
Upon arrival we grabbed our bags and went to the CDC-USAP centre where we dumped all of our clothing given to us. After re-packing and stripping down to a tank-top and cut-off military camo shorts I made my way to the nearest green space and fell in peace. So much to take in... sweat, humidity, above freezing, grass, birds everywhere, bugs, cars, noise, smells, flowers, food we don't have to cook.
Later on a few of us went out around the block to the check out the club scene in downtown Christchurch. Prior to going to the clubs we sat down for some authentic Indian food. The field survival guide, who taught me how to make igloos two months ago, was sitting near me and we talked about the change from Ice to this. He goes, "People are always anxious and nervous about going into new environments, but really it's no big deal... I mean look at all of us sitting here in our shorts and sandles at the dinner table, already we have adjusted." I wiped the sweat from my forehead and noticed the sweat on all of our faces, welcome to humidity. Adaptation in the process.