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December 11th, 2013

Goodbye Antarctica

by Terry Palmer

 

The day for us to depart Antarctica has finally come and we all have mixed emotions about leaving. On one hand, it has been so much fun here, but on the other, we are looking forward to getting back to seeing loved ones and seeing things like plants and darkness at night again.

We departed on a LC-130 Hercules with skis from Pegasus Field, which meant an early departure from McMurdo Station and a 1.5 hr drive to the air field. The C-130s are a lot smaller, noisier and slower than the C-17 that we flew down on.  While we were on the plane, we ate our lunches we packed in the morning and work/played on our laptops.  The flight took about 8 hrs; 3 hrs more than in a C-17.  We were scheduled to stop in Dunedin to refuel on the way to Christchurch, but luckily there wasn't too much cargo and we had favorable tail winds so the fuel we had lasted until Christchurch and we didn't have to stop.

Andrew and our transport vehicle that we took to Pegasus Field

McMurdo Station and Mt. Erebus from Pegasus

Looking through the airfield toward the Antarctic continent

Our LC-130

Steve, Mary and I standing in front of the LC-130

The view inside the LC-130

Another view inside the LC-130

Arriving in Christchurch was weird for a few reasons.  The temperature was around 22 °C (72 °F) and there was moisture in the air.  The greenery and traffic also affected our olfactory and visual senses.

After going through customs and turning in all our ECW gear, we all got split up to different hotels for some unknown reason. We then met for one last meal together at the Brewer's Arms, a restaurant known for its steaks.  We didn't last too long because the three of us guys have to leave our hotels by 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning (Mary is staying in NZ for a few weeks). We did have time to reflect on a successful and exciting season in Antarctica.

We had a lot of fun and hope that some people enjoyed reading about our adventures as we wrote them.  Tomorrow will be a bit of a marathon of flying back to Texas but we will survive. I will sign off now and wish everyone a happy festive season.

Cheers!

Terry and the rest of the team.