Flying from Chicago to Christchurch, New Zealand, is quite an experience—and a rather long ordeal! We left on Monday, October 1st, but did not arrive until Wednesday, October 4, 2007. Although that looks like a two day flight, we had actually crossed the International Dateline and lost a day. Even so, we were in the air for almost 20 hours, but I’m happy to say that the flight was uneventful other than losing my luggage…again! Qantas anticipated my needs with an amazing overnight kit including PJs, but I had to make do with the same clothes for two more days.
Thursday night and Friday morning, the ARISE team participated in presentations for the adult community and for forty students ranging in age from 4-15. We talked about ANDRILL and the work that we will be doing in Antarctica, and then led five different hands-on activities. We had great fun and the children and parents were very enthusiastic about the experience.
It is spring in Christchurch—when I left home in Naperville, Illinois, the trees were just beginning to show signs of fall changes, so I find myself feeling quite off-center every time I round a corner and see baby ducks swimming or daffodils in bloom! On a beautiful, perfect spring afternoon, we visited the Botanical Gardens and breathed in fragrances and gazed on colors that we hope will remain in our memories for the next few months.
On Saturday, the ARISE team decided to rent a van and drive to the harbor town of Akaroa. We were thankful that Bob, our own Kiwi, did the driving, because he was exceedingly comfortable driving on the left side of the road over mountains with steep drop offs around every curve! In Akaroa, we took a harbor cruise and saw the highly endangered hector dolphins, the blue penguins, and the southern fur seals. The dolphins are very small and extremely quick with very interesting black markings on gray bodies. They were easy to find, because the terns would fly above the dolphins and pick off fish that the dolphins were hunting.
Hiking in Akaroa, we came across this tin horse and had to take a quick ride. From left: Louise Huffman (Naperville, IL), Kate Pound (St. Cloud, MN), Joanna Hubbard (Alaska), Julia Dooley (Newark, DE), and Robin Frisch-Gleason (Ann Arbor, MI).
Julia, Ken and Bob enjoy the perfect spring weather in Christchurch.
Yesterday, Sunday, we went to the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) for the US Antarctic Program and were given our two orange bags filled with ECW (extreme cold weather) gear. It was a chaotic experience because two groups were getting their clothing at the same time and there was very little space to lay out the items and try them all on. I found that nothing except Big Red (the large expedition parka) fit, so I had to stand in line to exchange everything. Once I made sure that all zippers zipped and Velcro hooked, I packed my clothes into the bags and weighed them all. If something doesn’t fit—no worries! There are plenty more items to choose from. It was a bit harried trying to make sure that I didn’t exceed the 75 pound weight limit! And oh my goodness--standing on the scale with my carry-on and ECW gear is a weight no one should see!
And now we have just heard that our flight is set to take off tomorrow morning after a 10 AM check-in. Antarctica, here we come!