"It's the final countdown" -Europe
Los Angeles...the stars, the lights, the traffic! I knew there was a reason I moved away from this place 19 years ago. I sat in the front seat of my friend, Mike's, mini-van as he navigated his way through the dense traffic. It was my final day in the U.S. and Mike was trying to get me to Kaiser Permanente on Sunset Blvd. for my flu shot. (I should note this was the 3rd thing that day Mike did to help me get to Antarctica!) The flu shot was the final thing on the long list of things I had to do before being allowed to go to Antarctica and with everything else going on I had waited until the last minute to do it. As Mike and I sat in a traffic jam watching the clock tick past closing time at the clinic, my friend Lori, Mike's wife, was buying time with the nurse telling her stories of my upcoming adventure to Antarctica. As the minutes ticked, Lori and Mike's 4 year old twins sat in the backseat complaining about the L.A. traffic as I tried to get them to sing repeat after me songs about Antarctic animals. Finally, We made it! As soon as I dashed in the office the nurse gave me a "I got my flu shot" sticker, handed me her address and said, "I want a postcard from Antarctica". Then, she poked me with the needle.
These final hours in the States paralleled the emotions of the weeks leading up to my journey. Despite feeling frantic, slightly stressed, and wondering if I would get everything done I needed to do, in the end it all seemed to come together.
In the past week, I've traveled from Ohio to Los Angeles. Along the way I stopped in Denver to pick up my car and share my upcoming adventure with students at The Logan School. My dad, friend Elizabeth, and I roadtripped from Denver to Santa Fe, New Mexico where I officiated the wedding of Jonathan Garoza and Bekah Hallberg (Congratulations you two!) during Balloon Fiesta weekend. I said an early happy birthday and goodbye to my Dad. I left Santa Fe bound for Flagstaff, Arizona where I camped with some old friends, did some PolarTREC work in a beautiful space, and met a new 10 day old friend. I, also, talked to some 8th graders from Mount Elden Middle School. And, on October 9th, one day before my flight was leaving for New Zealand, I drove from Flagstaff to LA, where I packed up my Antarctica gear and gathered some last minute things.
On October 10th, my dad's birthday, my friends and I dodged LA traffic, ate some tacos and I just made my flight to New Zealand. Whew! I'm exhausted! I had fun but I am tired. As my friend Carol once said, "You never do things the easy way, do you Amy?" Luckily, the 13 hour flight from LA to Auckland, New Zealand provided some much needed sleep and it feels good to be in the land of the All Blacks rugby team and meat pies!
Tomorrow I'm off to get my Extreme Cold Weather gear and some training at the United States Antarctic Program base in New Zealand. I'm excited to get down to the ice and start studying sea spiders and nudibranchs! Only 2 more days until I head to the icy continent!