I apologize for not keeping up for the past few day. Good news; the helicopter was able to pick us up with our gear and get us back to McMurdo.
The last two days have been very busy packing up the lab and running errands. Since we were running so far behind, most of the departments were things needed to be inventoried were nice enough to do it for us. This break gave us enough extra time to finish processing samples and pack them up for shipping.
After everything was done, Hilary and I went outside to conduct an interview for the short movie that we are putting together about diving in Antarctica. The interview was fun and took about an hour. This night in particular, it was -10 out and there was a very strong breeze working. After an hour of answering questions and not moving, I was chilled to the bone. I decided to head to a small hang out place called the Coffee House. A bunch of our friends from different groups were all in town and it was great to see them and catch up on stories that happened throughout the season. Most of the groups were preparing for the flight back to New Zealand like we were.
Soon after we had our bag drag. This is when we take all our stuff to be weighed for the flight back. Our suit cases are palleted and we hang on to one small carry on. Then then stick us on the scale and weigh us in our Antarctic clothing. The good news is that I weigh the exact same now as I did when I first arrived in Antarctica. That night we stayed up and said good bye to the friends that we had met during the season. It was sad to say good bye to both them and Antarctica in general. I felt that I had really developed a bond with the continent while I was there and it has definitely left a mark. Just after midnight, we piled into Ivan, the transport bus, and started the hour and a half drive down to the ice runway.
Once we boarded the plane, I was utterly exhausted. Within 15 minutes, I was fast asleep in my big red. I slept for the entire 6 hour flight. Once we arrived in New Zealand, we collected our bags and made our way through customs. After we headed back to the Antarctic Clothing Distribution Center, from where we had taken off from 71 days before, and returned our Antarctic gear. It was sad to say good bye to Big Red. That jacket and I had been through a lot together.
After everything was returned, we jumped in a shuttle and headed to our hotel room. By this time, we were exhausted and starving. A small group of us headed to a little coffee house around the corner from the hotel. After a very satisfying burger, I went back to the hotel room and slept all afternoon. This trip, while very rewarding, was very physically and mentally exhausting.
Tomorrow I head back to Honolulu via Sydney. I am so excited to be heading home. I can’t wait to see palm trees and surf again. Mostly I’m excited to see Jamey. It has been just under four months since I saw him last. I cannot wait to be back home with him again. After a few days in the islands, I plan on heading to California for Christmas to see my friends and family there. Throughout this trip, everyone has been so supportive and excited for me. Thank you to everyone who got me here and has supported me while I was on the ice. This trip has really helped me grow and mature in a scientific way and has also helped me decide where I plan to take my life next. Where I’m going will be a whole new adventure.