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We’re in McMurdo for New Year’s Eve. We’ve been busy setting up the lab, collecting our gear and equipment, and getting ready for our field season. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time!

Every Year McMurdo puts on Icestock, a music festival and chili cook-off. Lots of bands performed this year. It was really cold, so the crowd was a bit small, but it was very festive! Byron’s pick for favorite chili was made by the McMurdo fire fighters. This is not entirely coincidental.
Icestock band
Byron's chili tasting

Happy New Year from Antarctica!!


We arrived at the CDC at 2:15 a.m. as scheduled, dressed in our ECW, went through security and waited for the plane. At 5:00 a.m. they allowed us to pile onto a bus, which drove us out to the C-17. We packed ourselves in and waited for the plane to take off.

And we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After 6:00 a.m. we were put back on the bus, shuttled back to the CDC and asked to wait. The plane was broken. They would know soon if we were going to go at all. So we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

At 8:30 a.m. we were told that the plane was definitely broken, and to come back tomorrow. So we left, a bit disappointed, but Byron and Breana were hopeful that they would have their luggage by December 30th. As we arrived at the hotel, the manager greeted us by shouting, “No! No! You’re all going back! If you’re not there in 10 minutes the plane leaves without you!” After much confusion we all pile back into the shuttle, desperate not to miss our flight. We returned to the CDC, dressed as quickly as possible, shoved things into our bags, and went through security a second time. Breana spotted her bag in a pile of things delivered from Qantas that afternoon. Byron was not so lucky.

We were on the plane and into the air within an hour. Five hours later, we were in McMurdo. From the ice runway we ride in a giant bus to McMurdo. The bus is called Ivan the Terra Bus, and it’s a large tire vehicle specifically for shuttling people to and from the runway on the ice road. Tracked vehicles are much more suitable for ice roads, but the terra bus has such large tires that it compensates for the weight of the vehicle. Unfortunately, Ivan is incredibly slow (joggers passed us!!) and it seems to take forever to get to McMurdo.

Here are Byron, Diana and Ed on the terra bus, happy to be in MacTown but also really, really tired. Here’s to an awesome season!!! Go Wormherders!

Byron, Diana and Ed on Ivan the Terra Bus

Diana, Breana and Ed left home on December 26th, met up with each other (and several other scientists in route to Antarctica!) in Los Angelos, California, and boarded a flight to Aukland, New Zealand. Unfortunately, Byron was delayed in Salt Lake City, Utah, and had to come on a later flight. We missed him very much! The flight takes approximately 14 hours, and it leaves L.A. at night, so that the flight staff can feed us and put us to bed. If you can’t sleep on the flight, each seat has it’s own television, and you can watch movies, television, listen to the radio, or even play video games!

We try to get as much sleep as possible on the flight, because we arrive in New Zealand at 6:00 a.m. (we skip a day, because we cross the international date line) and have to get our luggage, go through customs, walk to the other terminal, and board another plane. New Zealand is comprised of a north and south island, and we need to get to the south island in order to pick up our gear and fly to McMurdo.

New Zealand

Once we landed in Christchurch, we headed to the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) to try on our extreme cold weather (ECW) gear. All people flying to Antarctica are required to wear their ECW gear. We are issued thermal underwear, wool socks, various gloves, mittens, and hats, wind pants, fleece pants, a fleece jacket, a neck gator, goggles, bunny boots, a wind jacket (we call it “little red”) and a large parka (we call it “big red”). All of this gear will keep us warm in Antarctica, but it’s SUMMER in New Zealand right now, so waiting for a plane in your ECW gear can get VERY hot.

Our deployment time is 2:15 a.m. which we all think is fairly ridiculous. Why even bother going to sleep? Byron finally arrived this evening, but neither he nor Breana have received their luggage from Qantas. If it doesn’t get here by 2:00 a.m., the next scheduled flight is for January 2, 2008, so they will be without their luggage for a while! Neither of them are very happy about this.

But by tomorrow we will be in Antarctica! Hooray!

We’re gearing up for our next field season. Diana, Byron, Ed and Breana will all head down the day after Christmas to meet up with the Dartmouth crew. Then it will be field work lab work field work lab work with maybe a bit of eating and sleeping tossed in.

This year we have several new experiments on our list, so we’re really excited to get started. There should be lots of exciting updates, and we are pleased to announce our continued educational partnership with Froebel Alternative Education in Charlotte, Michigan. We hope to get some interesting questions from you!

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