Last moments on the ice

    This morning at 3:00 a.m., I watched the C-17 cargo jet land on the sea ice on the outskirts of McMurdo Station. The sun was hidden behind mountains and I tried to take in my last moments on the ice. After passengers arriving to McMurdo boarded the Terra Bus and cargo was unloaded, we boarded the plane and found seats along the walls of the plane.

    Loading cargo
    Cargo gets loaded into the rear of the C-17. Photo courtesy of Mr. Johnson.

    A picture of the C-17 that took us back to New Zealand. Photo courtesy of Mr. Johnson.

    Passengers boarding the C-17
    Passengers board the C-17 on their way back to New Zealand.Photo courtesy of Mr. Johnson

    A view out of the C-17
    A white wonderland covers miles of land and sea on the flight back to New Zealand .Photo courtesy of Mr. Johnson.

    We flew for a little over 5 hours, and then landed in ChristChurch, New Zealand. Stepping off the plane, I was struck at the sight of pavement and trees. It had been two months since I had last seen these things. The warm air made me wish I wasn't wearing my ECW(abbreviation) Extreme Cold Weather clothing gear, and after passing through customs, I eagerly walked towards the CDC(abbreviation) Clothing Distribution Center (or Centre as they spell it in New Zealand) (Clothing Distribution Center) to unload my gear.

    Where is the AGO team?

    While I write this, I think of Bob, Andy and Susan, whom I left at the remote AGO site 550 miles from the South Pole. Now that I am off of the continent, it is harder to keep track of where they are, but as far as I know, they are still there. It is hard to believe that they are camping in below freezing temperatures while I am in a temperate climate!

    Back at the AGO
    A picture of Michelle in front of AGO 4. Now Bob, Susan and Andy are there fixing the equipment.

    Botanical Gardens

    I found a friendly face on the flight back to New Zealand. Bridget Aylin and I were on the same flight to McMurdo and went to Happy Camper School together and now we're flying back to New Zealand together! We decided to have lunch and soak up some greenery in the Botanical Gardens in New Zealand. It was a wonderful way to transition between the wonder of Antarctica and the return to civilization.

    Botanical Gardens
    A rose stands at the entry of one of the botanical gardens.

    Botanical Gardens
    Lush greenery provides a drastic change from the scenery in Antarctica at the Botanical Gardens in ChristChurch.

    Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

    If all goes as planned, I will fly from New Zealand to Austin, Texas tomorrow evening. I am planning to see as much of New Zealand as I can before I have to leave, but am eager to return to my classes!

    Weather Summary
    Clear and sunny
    Wind Speed