Saturday, January 03, 2009

First Leg of the Trip Home

With monitoring of the balloon performance handed off to the crews at Palestine and NASA/WFF, we can begin our long journeys home. We had a one-day delay of our flight because of a medical evacuation that obviously took priority over our return. Instead of the five hour flight on a C-17, we had an eight hour flight on an ski-equipped LC-130.
Here we are getting on the LC-130. Note the ski attached to the nose gear. Strange - when I looked at this picture today, I realized that stepping off of Antarctica was nowhere near the emotional experience as stepping on. I didn't give it a second thought. I just got on the plane.

I took a seat near a window so I got this great view of the Mt. Erebus area. Look at the huge crevasses at the bases of the glaciers. You can't see these from the ground.

Further into the flight, we saw huge ranges of snow covered mountains surrounded by pack ice.

About three hours before landing, we could see big ice bergs in the ocean. They did not look like much at this altitude, but these are big Titanic-sinking sized ice bergs. I'd love to see one of those up close some day. Click on the picture for a bigger view.
Here are some impressions from our arrival in Christchurch. When we were walking from customs over to the CDC, one of the ladies on the plane was running here hand through the shrubs planted along the walkway and feeling of the leaves. Henry and I asked her and she had not seen a shrub for three months. She stopped and felt of one of the leaves. I was on the ice for only a month, but I also felt compelled to stop and drink in the lush feel of all the living things that surrounded us. On the bus ride into town, we saw a guy running with his dog. She said "Look at that dog!" She had not seen a dog for three months. It was fascinating to think of the contrast between sterile Antarctica and green, lush New Zealand. It might take a little getting used to, but I'm sure I'll manage. I am scheduled for a flight home that will arrive DFW Monday evening. I'm ready to be home.

1 comment:

onceacaddy said...

Have a safe trip home. I'm sure there are many in SS that are ready for you to be home.