Ahoy from New Zealand -
Its 9am on Monday Oct 5th and I go to the CDC, Clothing Distribution Center, for my gear today! My appointment is at 13:00 hours (1pm). So it is starting to fully sink in that I'm going to Antarctica tomorrow (if the flights start to leave!!)
The goodbyes were hard... I left Chicago, my house, around 5pm on Friday for my flight to LAX. I had an empty seat next to me on the flight to LA and was sitting in the window seat. So I settled in, and inflated the inflatable neck pillow my mom got me, and took a short nap. I needed it... when I got to O'hare, my parents stayed within my sight and waved to me the whole time I was going through security. But when I finally had to leave security and wave and blow a kiss goodbye one last time, it was really hard. I made it only a few feet before the tears came. So when I got on my flight, I needed to take some time to relax and desensitize. A few hours later and looked out the window. It was dark, and cloudy, but as the clouds cleared I saw dark hills and stretches of white and gray. As the snow and ice stretched out further and the hills became clearer and bigger, I realized we were flying over the Rocky Mountains. The sight of the Rockies from the sky was amazing, I could not stop looking, even though I was exhausted. I saw the peaks and valleys covered in the beginnings of this seasons snow along with the constant snow cover. There were cracks and crevasses criss-crossing through the snow. This view reminded me that there would be so many unbelievable things, views, and place I would be getting to see on this trip. The was delayed, but I made my international flight with time to spare (few minutes).
My international flight was not as bad as I expected. I had dinner, then slept for 5 or 6 hours, then watched Flight of the Concords and a bunch of other things on the extensive collection of available material on the TV. Next was breakfast, a light nap and then we were beginning our descent. I arrived in Auckland to the delightful news that my bags did not make the flight I just had. Yep, they had lost my luggage on the way to Antarctica. But they assured they would be at my hotel the next day in the afternoon, and gave me $100 NZdollars to make up for it! I used that money to go downtown and see Auckland during the 6hrs I had between flights. I loved Auckland! It was raining but the main street downtown had a ton of shops, American fast food, book stores and photo ops to keep me happy and busy. It reminded me of Seattle, not just the rain, but the climate, size, location near pacific ocean, plant life and atmosphere. I loved it there and was sad but willing and excited to head back to the Auckland Airport to get to CHC!
In CHC, I found Maciek and Jim in the small airport and was excited to be there! I settled in at the hotel and then we went for dinner. Where I met Loralee, a 20year old, also an Undergrad, from Bard college! We all bonded and explored CHC together. The Windsor B&B was an adorable little place, very welcoming and knowledgeable. Obviously very used to its Antarctic clientele.
New Zealand has an extremely varying climate and different ecosystems from fjords, to beaches, to rain forest and temperate cliamtes. The New Zealanders are all very fun, outgoing, and welcoming! The accents are strange, and definitely different from Aussies. I loved it there! Strange to get used to the wrong side of the road though, and glad I was not driving! I cannot wait to be back in December to see more of NZ and the unique places here and have more fun exploring!
Having a wonderful trip so far and missing home as well...
More from Antarctica soon!!!