Latitude: 77.57 S
Longitude: 167.40 E
Temperature: -3 degrees C
Wind chill: -14 degrees C
We were informed on the 6th to be ready to leave the Oden between the 7th and the 8th. Everyone went into overdrive! There was last minute packing, cleaning, laundry, etc. that went on almost until departure time. I will try to summarize the events that seemed to overlap the last 24-48 hours. The evening of the 5th we had celebrated the end of the expedition with an exquisite meal and lots of reminiscing about the voyage that has carried this group of 50 through the western seas of Antarctica. Jacob Wegulis, the artist and my Swedish counterpart on this expedition, held a showing of the art work he created during the cruise.
Jacob's Art Show
Jacob discusses his artwork with Capt. Mattias*
Sample of Jacob's art work, with special permission from the artist.
During the day of the 6th the Oden had cut a double channel about 17km into McMurdo. This was to be the day we finally saw the Orcas! And what a show we had! An estimate of between 25-32 whales in pods of 3-4 brought everything to a stop as we lined the decks with cameras. I had given up on trying to photograph them and turned on the video cam instead. Others decided just to watch and enjoy. Sadly, I have no picture of the whales to post at this writing (this all happened during our crunch time and I could not get a picture downloaded before I left the ship). I hope to have one before I end my postings!
This has been a voyage rich in cultural exchange, stimulating in new adventures, extensive in science process and content, and special for forging new friendships. But the excitement of the journey now turns into the anticipation of going home!
Shortly after breakfast on the 7th, the word came! The helicopter would begin airlifting us by midmorning after a meeting with the disembarkment team from McMurdo. I was on the first helicopter out, and had 30 minutes to bring down my bags and be ready- I WAS!
I'm ready to go!
Helicopter to McMurdo
Leif heads to the waiting helicopter.*
The ride on the helicopter was short, only 10-15 minutes before we saw the town. I didn¡¯t realize we had been so close. It was quite a feeling to be on land again after so many weeks at sea!
Approach to McMurdo Station
First View of McMurdo from the helicopter*
The weather was on our side that day and we were able to get everyone off the ship by mid afternoon. After setting up bunks for the night, most of us walked around, taking in the sights. We only had until noon the next day before we left. I went to find a phone to call home. When I heard my husband¡¯s voice, I announced ¡°I¡¯m on terra firma!!¡± J Later as I toured around, I couldn¡¯t help but feel a sensory overload as I took in sounds, and colors, and people! It was truly the strangest feeling, shared by others from my group as well. In the evening we had our bag drag. This is the process where we take our luggage and carry-on and get weighed with it. Our issue orange bags stay with us with everything we need in case of a holdover. The day ended with a final get-together before we headed to the bunkroom. We were all exhausted!
Yipes! Will we make the weight limit??