After one night in McMurdo it was time to leave. (It was actually November 9th when I left McMurdo.) I spent the evening walking around with some new friends in McMurdo and I was amazed by how much the scenery had changed in three weeks--almost all of the ice and snow in town had melted completely. I met some new people who had just arrived to stay a month in McMurdo and felt bad that they had missed the Antarctic experience. The temperature hovered around 32 F which felt like a sauna for me. I walked around in just a fleece jacket and tennis shoes instead of bunny boots convinced that it wasn't even cold there.

The Ross Ice Shelf is still frozen, but the airfield is about to move off of it.
The Ross Ice Shelf is still frozen, but the airfield is about to move off of it.
McMurdo with it's melt on.
McMurdo with it's melt on.
The Ob Tube is now off limits because the ice is melting too much.
The Ob Tube is now off limits because the ice is melting too much.

I found out more about the population at McMurdo. Here are the facts:

Official McMurdo station stats.
Official McMurdo station stats.

I checked my blood oxygen at McMurdo and was delighted to see it had returned to normal saturation.

Normal 98% saturation.
Normal 98% saturation.

Finally it was time to load up and leave. We climbed onto "Ivan the Terra Bus" and rolled out to the airfield.

loading Ivan
loading Ivan
Our bird awaits.
Our bird awaits.
I'm very sad to leave Antarctica.
I'm very sad to leave Antarctica.
My last picture on the ice.
My last picture on the ice.
Inside the crew does a quick-change of the plane's equipment.
Inside the crew does a quick-change of the plane's equipment. Note the bright light from the door.

We flew without event to New Zealand. We made great time and landed in under five hours. Passengers dozed, read, listened to music and changed into their warmer weather clothes. When we landed I was surprised that light didn't rush in the open doorways--it was dark out! I had become so accustomed to 24-hours of light that I really didn't expect to see darkness. The smells of land were overwhelming too. Antarctica has no smells, really, apart from oil and fuel burning. The smells flooded in when the back tail opened.

When the tail opened I was surprised to see darkness.
When the tail opened I was surprised to see darkness.
The moon over the Christchurch Airport.
The moon over the Christchurch Airport.

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