Honey, I’m Home!
The trip home started with the check in and pre-flight weigh-in to make sure that my luggage did not exceed 75 pounds. We all were required to wear our special ECW(abbreviation) Extreme Cold Weather clothing (extreme cold weather) clothing on the military flight from McMurdo Station to New Zealand and we then crammed our change of clothing, computers and other carry-on stuff into the orange ECW(abbreviation) Extreme Cold Weather clothing bag. After our 8-hour, cold and noisy flight in the Hercules C-130 cargo plane we arrived in Christchurch New Zealand where I learned that for some reason I had not been booked on any commercial flights to get home. The great folks at ARCUS solved the problem right away and the next afternoon I was on my way to Auckland and then onto a 12.5 hour flight across the Pacific (and the International Date Line) to land in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the Auckland flight was delayed and I arrived in LA about 3 minutes too late to make my connecting flight to Chicago. So……. The nice folks at Qantas Airlines booked me on a flight at 11:15 that evening (10 hours later) and they gave me a complimentary room in the Hilton Hotel where I could relax for the afternoon and evening. I took the "red-eye” to Chicago and caught my connecting flight (which was also delayed over an hour) to Syracuse where I arrived to the smiles and hugs of my wife Jan, our son Matt and our daughter Kelly. After 2 months away, it was great to be home. It was also great to know that the support of my family has no limit. They took me home, put me to bed and the next morning they woke me up to celebrate Christmas morning under the Christmas Tree that my daughter had insisted on keeping up until I returned.
In an upcoming journal I will reflect on what this adventure has meant to me and start to thank everyone that supported me including my school district, fellow teachers, the folks at ARCUS and everyone on the Oden. But, for now, I will follow the wisdom of my loving wife and take a couple of days to readjust to life in the Northern Hemisphere where the sun goes down and it gets dark each night. Where people sleep in their own beds and drive to work each day. In another day I will be ready and eager to jump back into my classroom and start to share with my students all the things that I have learned. But, for one more day, I will catch up with my life. Jeff Peneston