For the last couple of days I have been preparing to leave for Christchurch and then enjoying civilization once I got here. My journey home started with bag drag. Bag drag is when you drag all of your stuff up to Building 140 to be weighed and palleted for the plane the next day. I even had to get weighed in. I had to put on all my ECW(abbreviation) Extreme Cold Weather clothing (extreme cold weather) gear and hop up on the scale to be weighed with my carry-on. With all my gear and my carry-on I weighed 185 lbs. I am hoping that all that weight is from my gear and carry-on. If not, I must have gained a lot of weight here (it's all muscle, right?). At bag drag we also found out that the plane coming down to pick us up the next day would be a haz-mat flight and would take a little longer. Most flights out of McMurdo leave around 3 or 4 pm and ours wouldn't leave until 6:30pm.

    Weighing In
    Before you can get on the plane everything needs to be weighed. My check-in bags got weighed separately and then I had to get weighed in wearing my ECW gear and carrying my carry-on bag.

    The next day, we just lounged around, said our good-byes, and waited for our flight. At 5pm we went to transport and loaded up on shuttle buses to take us out to the runway. Unfortunately, the hazardous cargo was a huge cylinder of liquid helium and it took a really long time to carefully offload it off of the plane. We waited on the runway for over an hour and a half and they finally let us on the plane at 7pm. The actually plane ride was wonderful. There were only about 50 people on the flight, so we had tons of leg room and we could get up and walk around. I slept the majority of the flight and when I opened my eyes and looked out the window I saw darkness for the first time in awhile. It was only a 5 hour flight, so it wasn't long before we were in Christchurch going through customs. After customs I returned my gear to the CDC(abbreviation) Clothing Distribution Center (or Centre as they spell it in New Zealand) (clothing distribution center) and I was back to my hotel and in bed by 2 am.

    Let Me On!
    As we waited for the plane to be ready, I took advantage of the photo op with the C-17.

    The C-130
    As we waited on the runway for our plane to be ready, several C-130's flew in and took off.

    Get Off My Plane!
    Our plane left late from McMurdo because it was carrying hazardous cargo and it took awhile to make sure that it was carefully off-loaded. This huge container is full of liquid helium and will be used by one of the science groups.

    Lots of Leg Room
    There wasn't too many people on my flight back to Christchurch, so we had lots of room for our legs and we got to walk around.

    Since being back in Christchurch, I have adjusted to civilization pretty well. It is springtime in New Zealand and everything is so green and the flowers are all blooming. It has been awhile since I have seen anything green or have smelled anything besides BO and fuel, so I am enjoying every minute of it. I have been for several walks through the botanical gardens here. I also went up to the hot springs in Hamner with Shawn and Amanda yesterday. It was so relaxing to just sit in the warm water and soak in the mineral pools. I can definitely handle this lifestyle.

    Something Living!
    I see ducks at home all the time, but I hadn't seen any animals in so long that I was so excited just to see a duck in Christchurch.

    It is springtime in New Zealand, so all the flowers in the gardens are in bloom and they are so pretty. After not smelling much besides fuel and BO for the past 5 weeks, it is nice to smell the flowers.

    Something Green!
    It has been awhile since I have seen plant life and this is definitely a big leaf.

    Spa Day
    It is funny to think that just over 24 hours ago I was bundled up in ECW (extreme cold weather) gear and now I am wearing a bikini and relaxing in a hot spring.

    As for my plans now, my husband is on his way to meet me. We are going to rent a car and see the South Island of New Zealand for just over a week. I am so excited to see him and to travel. I probably won't journal quite as often, but I will try to post some pictures of beautiful New Zealand on our journey. For all of you who have been following my expedition and reading my journals...Thank you and I hope that you learned something. Feel free to leave me questions on the "ask the researcher" page and I will get to them as soon as I can.

    Weather Summary
    warm and sunny :)
    Wind Speed