I know some of you may have a lot of questions about how what why etc I am going to Antarctica. Or maybe you don’t but I’m going to tell you anyway!
Who? me, duh
What? Working as a vehicle operator at McMurdo, the biggest of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic bases
When? October 2017 – end of Feb/early March 2018
Where? a tiny piece of ice you’ve probably never heard of called Antarctica. McMurdo is pretty much due south of New Zealand
Why? why not is a better question! Ever since I started traveling I’ve wanted to visit the Ice continent, partly because penguins, partly because it’s mysterious and mostly because it is one of our seven continents and I plan on visiting all of them (after this, it’s just Africa!).
How? My amazing and awesome from Lizzy, who I worked with tour guiding, worked at McMurdo last year and put me in touch with her boss. Did I mention she’s awesome? She’s also going back this year so I have one guaranteed friend.
Are you going to see polar bears? No, they only live in the arctic.
Are you going to see narwhals? No, see above.
Are you going to see penguins? They DO live in the antarctic but I don’t think there are any colonies near base. But Lizzy said she saw 3 penguins last year so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Isn’t is cold? Yes, yes it is. It’s going into the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere, but temperatures in the summer can range from 40 below to 40 above, I just hope we fall in the above category for the majority of the time.
Are you bringing all the snow clothes you own? No they issue us huge parkas and carharts so I’m just bringing a bunch of layers and a onesie.
How do you get there? Since McMurdo is closest to New Zealand, I flew to Christchurch first. I had a day of training here for a few days and then we hopefully fly down to the ice today! (weather depending)
But my boss/friend/aunt/uncle/long lost cousin/cat got there from Argentina/Chile! Yes South America is closer to that weird arm of ice/land that shoots out from the continent, so the ships leave from there and cross the Drake Passage. But that’s not where McMurdo is.
What’s your flight path? DC > LA > Auckland > Christchurch. And then another 5 hours from here down to McMurdo.
How are you going to drive on the ice? Very carefully.
Where are you driving? Mostly back and forth between base and the airfield.
What are you driving? Mostly passenger shuttles, terra buses, deltas…I don’t remember the other names. Some of the big boys require a commercial license which I don’t have.
Why do they trust you to drive down there? Well, I just finished a second season of driving commercially. I literally drove all across the U.S. with human beings, usually 12 of them, and a trailer in tow. I drove cross-country twice last year and twice this year (have you noticed how big the country is?) and have managed to not get any tickets or into any accidents (knock on wood) so they seemed to think I could drive on ice.
Are there towns in Antarctica? No, but the and bases kind of seem to be like small towns. McMurdo is a cluster of buildings with everything from a fire station to a gym and in the summers over 1000 live and work there, so it won’t just be me living in an igloo with the penguins.
What time is it there? We go off New Zealand time which is 17 hours ahead of the east coast. So for example if it’s 630 am in McMurdo it’s 130 pm back home.