Thursday, November 5, 2009

Final Post?

Well, Krissie and I made it into Christchurch a couple of nights ago. Our flight from the Pole to McMurdo was atrocious. Well that last 30 minutes of the flight was. We hit some insane turbulence. The veteran Herc flyers all said it was the worst they had ever seen in the many years they have been doing this ice gig. It was so bad at one point it picked me up out of my seat. The plane was rocking and swaying and bouncing. Oh it was terrible. There were four of us who ended up needing to use the motion sickness bags. Unfortunately I was one of them... Man that was terrible. Most people after we got off the flight said they were all trying so hard not to be sick. Many of us were sitting there contemplating which piece of clothing we wanted to vomit in. Thankfully, one of us, the first of the four, flagged down one of the aircraft personnel for a bag. The other 3 of us followed shortly after. Oy vay...

Then we hit the Ice runway in McMurdo, phew.

Thank the stars above that they did not set up Willie Field this year and instead set up the ice runway. If we had all had to ride in Ivan the forty minutes or whatever it is back, we would have had a bunch more folks sick. The short 8ish minute ride from the ice runway was almost too much for us. I really really loathe McMurdo. It is a filthy filthy miner town. Cigarette butts everywhere, trash everywhere. It's dirty, in the literal sense. Filthy dirty snow everywhere. Now don't get me wrong, the natural area around there is still breathtaking.

To look across the frozen sea ice and see the mountain ranges and the incredible sky, is something to experience for sure. Coming off the ice runway (or back out onto it), to see Erebus with its giant vertical column of steam is worth whatever the costs are to get down here. But staying true to every visit I've had, the majority of the people there are arrogant and incredibly rude. I can't tell you how many times I had people just stop and turn right in front of me cutting me off without saying a word. I eventually just stopped trying to be nice and fell into the rude behavior. When someone was stepping in my way or cutting me off I simply pushed through them, bumping into them. I had just spent a year at the South Pole. I have no fuse, I get really ticked off really quickly. Putting up with rude, inconsiderate people was not going to happen this trip. I was really looking for a fight to be honest with you. Not the best idea, I know, but I was fed up with these people. While sitting in the galley the night we got in, there was a reasonable sized group of us Polies just talking and drinking coffee, etc. We ended up being there so late that many of us decided to wait for Midrats which was available to anyone after 12:30. While sitting there you could tell we were in some folks' usual spot. We were getting dirty looks and had people obviously talking about us -- further ticking me off. We had a group of helicopter pilots or medics, of which I am not sure, sitting at a table beside us staring and muttering about us. Now this isn't just a paranoid feeling I was having. At one point one of them stood up, looked over at our tables, and then went back and told his table, that we're not even eating (we were waiting for the allowed 12:30). That really ticked me off, and well, I won't tell you what I ended up saying to their table. Brian had to pat me on the back and tell me to "Calm down, Jeremy." He could see I was getting ready to explode. Though after that, we both were just staring at the other table, giving them dirty looks every time they stopped and glared at our table. I'm kind of glad Brian was there to keep reminding me to calm down. He's a great guy -- glad to have met him and had the pleasure of spending the winter at the pole with him.

Now don't get me wrong, not everyone was rude. There were a few people who were nice and actually responded when I walked by and said hello, or held a door open for us while we were carrying bags. It's a weird thing. A simple act of saying hello seems to be too much for most people, though it's really a US thing rather than just a mactown thing. Sorry, another rant I know. Mactown just gets me riled up. So moving on; more complaining, but this time about a certain company I shall call Big R...Once we landed in mactown we got in the transport, which then proceeded to take us to Building 155 and dropped us off. We then had no direction, no one told us where to go, no one let us know what was going on. We were dropped off and left to fend for ourselves. Absolutely ridiculous. It will be hard to come back to this organization. I truly hope when the new contract happens there is a deep and thorough reworking of the current system of chaos that Big R has developed. So after getting in there we found housing and saw that most of the guys were staying in man-camp. Great, a year at pole to be ended by staying in a stinky man-filled room. There were a few of us that decided we would just find a lounge to crash in. And that's what Marc and I ended up doing actually. We hit up Building 208, threw in a movie, and passed out. We were woken by a few people wanting to watch T.V. which I was fine with. This was their little world. I was just passing through. We were finally woken up by Krissie and our friend Sarah, who had been working in Mactown awaiting her time to hit the Pole. It was really good to see her again. We'll definitely miss her!!

We then shortly had to get ready to fly out.

We would have preferred some more time to spend with Sarah but were not going to stay there any longer. We tried to find her the night before but just kept missing each other. Thankfully we left when we did, because the folks who left the day after us from the pole got stuck down in mactown until supposedly Monday, due to a fuel leak in the C-17 that took us into CHC. Poor them.

It was soooo nice to have finally landed in CHC. My goodness it smelt wonderful. There was some sort of flowery bush around there that was just wonderful. And the humidity, oh my the humidity!! That felt good! I think we all had smiles from ear to ear while we were walking into the immigration/customs. I still had all my gear on while walking in there, not fun let me tell you. The smarter folks did what I had planned on doing, and that was taking all of their gear off while they were on the plane and just tossing it into the bag. I was too busy sleeping. Oh well, lesson learned.

Once we did get into the customs place, we found out that many of us did not apparently have our visa extensions completed and were given some trouble by the people at the counter. So some of us were freaking out because this was supposed to have all been taken care of while we were down on the ice. It seemingly wasn't. (As it turns out we were actually all taken care of and it was done electronically. It's just that the folks didn't see our stamps so they were freakin out. So we hit the CDC, dropped off all of our gear, picked up our South Pole t-shirts that I designed, then we were dropped off at our respective hotels.

We all met up at Bailies that night, a local Irish bar/pub. It was so nice to have fresh made food to order, a fresh pulled Guinness. And to sit outside in that wonderful fresh air. It was an amazing feeling.

And that about sums up our exodus; well, sort of...Krissie left her wallet at the South Pole, and I left my passport at the CDC...not the best start ;}

This will be my final "live" update to this blog. I will add one official final blog entry when I get back home in the states to sum up the adventure for the random folks coming across the blog looking for info about the pole. All future blogging about Krissie and my travels will be found here.

Thanks again for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!

Oh and I'm adding this cause it's cool. Took me five minutes to figure out the controls again, then another 5 or so to do this while I was waiting for stuff to print while still at the pole the day before I left.

Pretty sad that I couldn't spell Antarctica...stupid thing needs a spell checker.

On another happy note, Pip was freed, and finally able to see the pole.
There was a re-trial, and the key witness failed to show up. Hmm, too bad. My good friend Pip is once again among the free, enjoying the good life.


Slartibartfast said...

It's probably just not time to close the Ice Runway yet - Willy will be open once IRW gets too thin to land planes on, it's on a bay, assuming they're doing things the same as years past.

Pablo (yo) said...

Great blog!!!
If you like, come back and visit mine:

Pablo from Argentina

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