The sun set in McMurdo Station , Antarctica for the last time in the Austral fall on April 25th. Twenty four hours of darkness continuously every day. That's kind of how I felt when I got the e-mail on August 5th telling me that I had been NPQ'd. I was deemed, "Not Physically Qualified." I wouldn't be going to Antarctica. My diabetes, in conjunction with my weird allergy to both kiwi and duck eggs, was going to keep me from going. I was devastated. So much work, so much planning down the drain. I took a morning off to feel sorry for myself. The next day, I talked to my husband, my family, friends, and Polar TREC peeps... and I decided I needed to try to DO something about it. I needed to get my act together and start on an appeal. I was totally overwhelmed by all of the support. My friends flooded social media with condolences, good wishes, and even joking offers to break a few legs to make my appeal happen. My doctor wrote a letter that said I not only wouldn't die in Antarctica, but I would likely have a coronary if they didn't let me go! I truly appreciate all of the support. You guys kept me going when I couldn't dare to hope. So, I filled out the forms, got the required signatures, had allergy testing done, and waited. And waited. And waited. Not very many appeals are successful, but you all helped me stay positive. In Antarctica, the first sunrise of the Austral spring happened on August 19th. My sun rose in Lockwood on September 4th. That's the morning my e-mail read, "Dear Denise Hardoy, Congratulations. Your request for waivers has been approved." I screamed. I jumped up and down. I ran around school proclaiming to everyone, " I'M GOING!!!"
Yikes---T minus 5 weeks
Suddenly, I was in a rush. I had put my preparation, my plans, and my life on hold while I was waiting to hear if the appeal would go through. With a deployment date of October 10th, time was short. So, I started organizing my packing. I am using my daughter's bed to organize all of my stuff. I have six pairs of various thicknesses of base layers. These are the first layer I'll put on. I'll need a few light weight ones and my puffy down jacket for working in the Crary Lab, eating meals at the cafeteria, and hanging out in my room. If the weather is good, I'll probably just need two base layers, with bib overalls and the Big Red parka for field work. If its really cold, I have two base layers, a extra warm layer of fleece, and then the bibs and Parka. You can only use synthetic blends or wool for your layers. Cotton could get wet and doesn't dry out. The wrong clothes would not only be uncomfortable, but potentially dangerous. Socks are super important. Again, I have to prepare for many possible conditions. I have many regular weight wool socks, and several super thick ones with liners. I even threw in a few short socks to wear in New Zealand. I will be provided with most of the outer extreme weather gear that I need- Boots, Bibs, and the Big Red parka, along with neck gaiters, mittens and a few other warm necessities. I am bringing my own ski gloves and a cool pair of thin warm waterproof gloves. I need these to help pull up wet divers from the dive hole and still take pictures with my camera. Other necessities include two water bottles, a plastic coffee mug- stainless steel would freeze my lips! Also- foot powder, sunscreen, lip balm, an alarm clock, stamps, calling card, sunglasses and flashdrives. Apparently, trading movies and books on flashdrives is really a thing at McMurdo. I've made my lists and am checking them more than twice! Any words of packing wisdom from you all would be apprecieated! I'm only allowed 85 lbs including the gear I pick up in Christchurch, so I have to be careful not to overpack.
I Don't Want to be the Weak Link!
Not the most flattering picture, but I guess its reality. At 54 years old, I'm the oldest and roundest member of my team. I need to do my best to get in shape. Antarctica is not for sissies. I don't want to slow my team down, so I've been working out daily. I'm hoping between my treadmill, stationary bike and free weights, I can be ready for October 10th! So, I'm killing two birds with one stone. It's a horrible metaphor, but it applies. I am wearing my hiking books while working out on the treadmill. It helps break them in, and gets me used to them. And when its 100 degrees outside, the shorts with boots is Lockwood glamour at its best. Quite the look! It also helps keep my boots clean while breaking them in. There are super strict rules so that no contaminants are introduced to the pristine Antarctic environment. I can't have any dirt or plant debris stuck to my boots. They even check all the velcro to be sure that you don't have seeds stuck in it. These rules apply to New Zealand, as well as Antarctic. This is my cheering section. My dog Darbie helps me workout by cheering me on and holding my feet doing sit-ups.
More to Come!
So, now that I finally am assured that I am actually going to Antarctica, I will start journaling on a regular basis. Stay tuned to learn more about Antarctica, the science we are doing, and my journey to the coldest, windiest, highest, driest, and emptiest continent on Earth. Until next time....Stay Cool!