Hello from sunny (almost tropical, -11 F. this morning) McMurdo! It is just as beautiful (and cold) as I remember. Our plane left from Christchurch at 1:00 AM – which meant we had to be to the airport at 9:30 to get into gear, etc. etc. and load up. I barely slept on the flight – from the uncomfortable seating. I was amazed at how calm I was compared to last year’s flight. I had “newbies” on either side of me and they were literally jumping out of their skins in anticipation.
Once out of the plane – I followed ‘the herd’ towards the Deltas and Airporters. There stood “ol’ Shuttle Bill” – bag of Peanut M&M’s in hand – ready to greet me!!! He directed me to crawl into the cab of my old favorite – “Tina Marie” (Delta), along with one of the new Shuttle drivers. (Everyone else had to sit in the back (smile). I wondered where Ivan the Terra bus was. Turns out he had a severe radiator problem the previous morning. Not a good way to start the busy season! Since the sea ice is still frozen – we were able to take a “short cut” 45 minute ride back to McMurdo. I pointed out the landmarks and local history to the new driver. Bill pointed out that it is “customary for the new driver to buy his first driver on the ice a bottle of red wine from the Kiwi Base liquor supply.” (I was quick to note the benefit of partnering in this.) … yep – that’s the tradition!!!
My organization paid off – and all the boxes I shipped previously (in July) were sitting in the shuttle office waiting on me. I haven’t had time yet to empty them – but did dig out a few essentials to get me through the night – and morning shower.
Let’s see – to get started back into driving the vehicles, I had to quickly browse through some procedures to make sure I remembered. I and another returning driver then went out and checked out some vehicles (vans and airporters – followed by the Deltas) making sure they were ready for the big flight due in later. Our supervisor let us take a couple of hours off in the late afternoon to “nap” , eat supper and then return to work the flight. We headed out to the Pegasus airport (approx. 20 miles out of McMurdo on the ALWAYS frozen sea ice area.) I was kicking myself the whole way as I forgot my camera!!! When the plane was in site – I went to open the back of my Delta – in preparation for the arriving pax. Oh my – stuck. I whacked it a few times with a hammer. (Yes, that’s why those are carried in the vehicles!) but it wouldn’t give. Luckily a stronger person came along who, along with stronger ‘coaxing language’ than I used, was able to force it.
All in all – I ended up working until midnight – playing taxi – helping the people that had just arrived haul their luggage to their dorms. My final drive was to take my co-worker to her dorm. I then returned to the shuttles office. Closed up shop …. and walked to my dorm to CRASH.
I’m free (off duty) this morning. But have to attend a “Happy Camp Refresher Course” all afternoon. At least this time I will be sitting in a classroom type setting and not out in the snow! Right now I will head back to my room and work on settling into my little space.
Okay… NOW you may begin with questions! I’ll be happy to try and find the answers.