Departure Day — Let the Journey Begin

Departure Day – Let the Journey Begin


At long last, departure day has arrived.  After months (in some ways years) of planning and preparation, I’m off to Antarctica!  It’s not that simple though, and I have many planes to catch in the next few days!

I started my journey at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, which is about 50 minutes from our house. When I checked in at the American desk I had to do a little luggage/packing readjustment to balance the weight, and then those 2 heavy checked bags were out of my hands for now…on their way to New Zealand.  Here’s a re-cap of my LONG journey:

Flight #1:  4 hour flight to Los Angeles, CA and a 4-hour layover there

Flight #2  15 hour flight to Sydney, Australia on Quantas…which involved watching 3 movies, eating 2 meals and one snack, 6+ hours of sleep, finishing a book I was reading, and walking around whenever I could. That’s a long time to be on a plane!

Flight #3:  My 2-hour layover in Sydney was barely enough time to transfer between gates, check in at transfer desk and board my Emirates flight to Christchurch, New Zealand…that flight was 3 hours long.

Once in Christchurch I had to clear Immigration and have my passport stamped to enter New Zealand, pick up all of my baggage, and clear Customs. New Zealand has very strict rules about what you can bring into the country and they even double-checked my hiking boots to be sure they were clean.

When I finally came out of the Customs area, I was greeted by Max. He works for the U.S. Antarctic Program.  I was the only USAP person who arrived today, so I got the V.I.P. treatment and it was great to be met by such a friendly person after all of that traveling; thirty-one hours of traveling in all.

I walked 10 minutes to get to my hotel near the airport, and it was time to relax for a few minutes and enjoy a beautiful spring day here in Christchurch. This city is known as the “garden city” and since it’s spring here in the southern hemisphere there are flowers blooming all around and it’s quite colorful.  I have to relish that right now, because pretty soon I’ll be in Antarctica, with the majority of color being white or brown (or red parkas!).

I’m one step closer to getting to the ice!  I have a busy couple of days here before my flight to Antarctica.  I’ll keep you updated when I can!

  Ready to go at O’Hare International Airport

Our flight map on the way to New Zealand

Flying over the majestic Southern Alps on the South Island of New Zealand

6 responses to “Departure Day — Let the Journey Begin

  1. I cannot imagine 31 hours of traveling on planes… Glad its over and you are safe. We can’t wait to learn all about this once in a lifetime trip.
    -Natasha, William, & Jennifer

    • Hello Jennifer, Natasha, and Will…great to hear from you! I hope you’ll keep following the blog posts and spread the word to others. We all have a lot to learn about the exciting scientific research taking place here in Antarctica!

  2. Hi Betty,

    In 1979 I took a similar trip to New Zealand. I was in the Navy and was going to McMurdo Station to winter-over. I flew from (then) Point Mugu Naval Air Station in California to Christchurch by way of Honolulu and Pago Pago. I don’t remember how many hours we were on the plane, but it took a while. I was in Christchurch for a couple of days then flew to McMurdo. During my 14 months on the ice, I was lucky enough to be able to get to South Pole Station.

    The high point of my Navy career was at the bottom of the world! I know things have changed dramatically since I was there and I’m really looking forward to seeing lots of pictures.

    Good luck and have a great time. I envy you.

    Ken Perkins

    • Hi Ken,
      I really enjoyed your comment! I love to learn more about the people who worked in McMurdo Station during those Navy years. Share more stories when you can. I have not been to South Pole Station, but I have say that I’ve had some amazing experiences here in my two previous trips to the ice. I’m honored to be part of the educational outreach teams that bring the science and daily life of McMurdo Station “alive” for others through our journals and photographs. Stay in touch!

  3. oh man 31 hours must have been tiring well im glad you had a safe trip well i wish you good luck have a good time

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