Fortunately/sadly the day has come again for me to leave Antarctica.
Last night was bag drag, dinner with my friends that are still on the ice and a couple drinks with one of my most favorite humans on this planet.
I wanted to watch natures tv, that’s happening right outside our dorm, one last time. We sat outside, drinking orange guava passion fruit juice with vodka, 7up and tonic, it’s one of my most favorite McMurdo concoctions. The orcas are spot hunting the seals that are in the sound and chilling on the ice. The whales have to eat too, I hope I get to see this happen. There are at least 8 of them out there, along with a few minkie whales, the don’t eat seals or penguins. The sun was slightly covered by clouds, the orange around the sun, that gave the slight color resemblance to a sunset. It reflects on the ice and open water of the sound and Royal Society mountain range and yet again, my breath is taken away by this place. The sun won’t set at McMurdo till 21 February.
We discussed the amazing season we’ve had and how fast it’s gone bye, it’s hard to believe it’s been almost 4 months since I’ve left Charleston.
I’ve experienced so many epic things this season, the South Pole and a helo trip to White Island are on the top of my adventures list.
Troy went on a fun trip, he flew to Allen Hills to pick ice cores, from one of glaciers, for the science group that is working out there, that are believed to be somewhere between 700,000 years old and 1.2 million years old. The ice core is about 3 feet long and about 6 inches in diameter and it was retrieved from about 150 meters down.
I tell you this because after about 45 minutes, we head back into the dorms and decide to sip on some whiskey and pour it over the ice that he brought back. Yes you read that correctly, our glass of whiskey had a piece of ice that is almost as old as time. The air trapped in the ice is starting to release almost immediately. There is fizzing, popping and zingers coming off from the ice. This is so unreal to witness. We thank Mother Earth and Mother Nature for this creation! We vow to protect her, we cheers to each other and this season and take a sip. It’s so cold, it tastes so good. No I’m not scared of anything that may be in the ice, it’s just so surreal. I keep smiling and I’m gitty like a little girl waiting to see Santa Claus. I never thought, in a million years, that I’d have ice the age of that statement. I take a little piece of the ice, let it melt in my mouth a little and eat it. It’s so pure tasting, indescribably delicious. It’s completely untouched by our destruction, that we’ve done to our planet.
We decide to play one last game of Yahtzee. I didn’t fair too well this season, I only won twice. Now last season, that was a different story, my shit talking was on my side, not this season, I’ve been humbled by this fun game of chance. We listen to some 80s and 90s rap and laugh and reminisce of “the old days”, it doesn’t really seem that long ago. We only play 1 game and as luck has it, that’s right, Troy wins. Its ok, I’m coming back for some wins next season, I let him win tonight, so don’t feel to bad for me 😉
I am now sitting on the Royal New Zealand LC-130, heading to Christchurch, there are about 30 of us on board. There are the Kiwi’s from Scott base, the BBC crew from England who have been on ice for the past 3 months filming for the next Frozen Planet episode and a handful of Americans. We are donned in our ECWs, (extreme cold weather gear) that’s been issued to us by USAP (United States Antarctic Program) in Christchurch. Slowly it’s starting to warm up and now it’s time to get comfy, I jest. We are sitting in jumpseats and we are knee to knee with another human and it’s official I feel like a sardine in this plane. It’s a 7 hour flight and we are estimated to get in about 4pm, clear customs, drop off my gear and check into the hotel.
I’m really looking forward to fresh food, unprocessed, clean food, food that gets my palate excited to eat. I haven’t had freshies in months. As of this moment, I’m craving Indian food, a great glass of New Zealand apple cider, mint chocolate ice cream and all of the fresh fruit and veggies. What do I want to do with my 24 hours in Christchurch? I want to lay in the grass, in the courtyard of the Commodore Hotel and smell the flowers and feel the grass on my feet. I haven’t smelt anything since I got to Antarctica, there are no trees and flowers, nothing can live there, except the ocean life. Ok I’m sorry, I’m lying to you, when I went to the South Pole, I spent a couple hours in their indoor greenhouse and smelt the soil that the fresh greens were growing in. They serve it on some Sundays, for brunch. But still, it’s been almost 4 months. Last season when we landed in Christchurch and the door opened, my nose was immediately overwhelmed with smell. I felt like a bunny who wanted to smell everything and my nose couldn’t stop sniffing. It was a fun but odd feeling. Also darkness, I have not experienced complete darkness since I arrived on the ice on October 10, 2019. Tonight I will, I really can’t wait.
I fly to the US tomorrow and I’ll arrive in Charleston wicked, wicked late on Wednesday. What do I want to do when I get there besides love on my daughter, dad and puppies, I want to cook and clean and go to the beach and smell the salt water. And run, I want to run in shorts and not have to wear a hat, a buff and gloves. I want to see my son, I’ll be going to NYC in a couple weeks to see him for 5 days and I’ll get to see my sisters and my cousin and there families. I can not wait