Saturday, January 26, 2008

January 27, 2008
Undisclosed secret location (on a beach) in New Zealand

Time: 5 am
Latitude: 43_ 31.742’ S
Longitude: 172_ 37.846’ E
Elevation: ~60 m (180’)
Temperature: 20_C (68 _F)
Wind speed: calm
Wind Chill: -
Visibility: forever
Clouds: very few strato-cumulus
Wind direction:
Relative Humidity: 70% ????
Barometric Pressure:-
Precipitation: -
Animals: gulls, bees, moths, spiders, cats, hundreds of black swans, and dolphins- hopefully later today
Breakfast: Tea, so far

I apologize for not getting to the blog yesterday and potentially keeping everyone in suspense at a critical moment when we were getting off the “ice”, but it could not have been helped. Our flight actually did leave McMurdo though a little later than scheduled – about 10 pm. For most of the time between 6 pm and 10 pm that day we were standing on the “tarmac” at the Pegasus airstrip on the seas ice outside McMurdo. We had to wait for a C-17 to land, off load people and cargo, and have us and our cargo loaded. A C-17 is much nicer than a C-130 with much more room to stretch out. We were even given a chance to go up to the cockpit as we were flying out to Christchurch. I was very lucky and managed to be in the cockpit as we flew over the ice margin and saw the transition from the terrestrial glaciers, the sea ice, and the open ocean. The ~5 hr trip was uneventful and we (~100 people) landed at 3 am in Christchurch. We then were taken to the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) where we returned our ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear, given our travel tickets back to the US, and allowed to leave for hotels in Christchurch. By the time I arrived at my hotel it was 5 am and I was in my bed asleep by 5:30.

I did not have any room reservations for the next few days in NZ, and there was a music concert going on in town which packed town, so I got up at 8 am for breakfast to try and find an available room for the next few nights. After a few phone calls and Internet searches I found that there was little available in Christchurch. I had looked at the map of NZ before leaving Antarctica and did see that there were a number of fantastic-looking spots to visit. So, I found a bus going to a secluded ocean front town located only a few hours form Christchurch and there I found a room available at a B & B (Bed & Breakfast). I did a quick walk around the outdoor arts festival also going on in Christchurch, had lunch, and made the bus in time for a very scenic drive through the NZ countryside. After having only 2 hours sleep in the last 36+ hours I was a little tired but managed to stay awake for most of the long bus ride. When we arrived I was thrilled to find this isolated beach-front community of ~500 people (without tourists) with a few shops and restaurants. The owner of the B & B picked me up in town at the bus drop-off and drove me to a cup of tea on the veranda of her home over looking the bay through a plethora of lovely garden flowers. After 2 months with few colors and aromas other than ourselves and hot cooked meals, I immediately fell in love with my new location and managed to sit in one place in a comfy chair on the veranda for hours until I made my way back down to town for some delicious fish and chips. I did wake up a couple times in the night but had a great sleep and enjoyed every bit of the darkness that I now realized I so missed. It is now before dawn and I am back on the veranda composing today’s blog with yet another cup of tea and the sights, sounds, and smells of an ocean community waking up to another day. It is also the first time I have seen the moon in months and I am sitting here waiting for Sunrise in shorts, a long sleeved shirt, and NO shoes.

Last night there was an evening gathering of any of our group still in Christchurch, which I am sorry I had to miss because of last minute travel arrangements, but I am very very content to be here, now. I met some wonderful people at WAIS Divide camp and I will be talking to and seeing many of them in the near future, so they are not lost to me. If any of them, especially those that I did not get a chance to say good-bye to are reading this, thanks and I wish you good travels - Via con Dios.

To them and you, I will continue to write this blog as often as possible until I get back to work at my job as program coordinator at the Wright Center for Science Education at Tufts University. We have plans to provide a workshop for teachers in Glacier Park Montana USA this July with information and classroom appropriate materials about the WAIS Divide ice coring project. Though we can not bring you to Antarctica and our ice core drilling project directly we can take you to the glaciers on the US and through them virtually bring you to Antarctica. International educators and individuals interested in applying for the workshop and/or more information about educational materials developed with the WAIS Divide ice coring project in mind should go to and available through links from the projects science web site at
New information will be added often. The ice core drilling program will continue for the next 3-5 years so please continue to check back as I return home back to the US and over the next few years. Each year there will be some returning people along with a new cast of “characters”.

For now, the Sun is about to rise over the ridge, the birds are in full chorus, birds are starting to fly, bees are buzzing at the nectar in the flowers, and I need another cup of tea. Thanks so much for following along with us. I have enjoyed writing this science travel log and talking with many of you on the blog, through my personal e-mail, and during direct calls from WAIS Divide camp to many school classrooms. Many more of you I will see at teacher, student, and community presentations/professional meetings over the next couple months. Enjoy wherever you are and help to keep it the fantastic corner of the world it is.

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