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Published: February 19th 2011
the Plane of Freedom approaches the Ice Runway, gonna take me to New Zealand!
One of the things that happen when youve been a 'castaway' in the Antarctic for a number of months is that you slowly forget the world to the North, the planet that is a warm blue, green and brown ball and not the stark white, black and grey you have come to see as your world. As spectacular a landscape as it is, and as interesting a place it can be, humans were never meant to be part of Antarcticas permanent history. It is a continent void of land animals, green plants, land birds and even insects. Cockroaches may be able to survive nuclear destruction and killer asteroids but they wont last 20 minutes here. We ice-people are sustained by technology, airplanes and ships- without supplies from the north we would have to leave or succumb to the cold. Yes, we could melt snow, burn seal blubber for light and heat and dine on penguins-ooooh Yummy! But eventually the ice would get us, physically and emotionaly, just as it did the early explorers.
I am never reminded of this as much as when Ive left the 'Ice' - you board a big, noisy gray flying tube and 5 hours later step
no terminal, no arrivals board, no ticket-just get on and go!
off into the never never land of New Zealand. Its a sudden but pleasant assault of smells, sounds, color and shapes not seen for months. From the snowbound claptrap shacks of the Pegasus Blue Ice Runway to the shiny warm Christchurch International Airport. You walk through the terminal with your big polar 'bunny boots' and huge, fluffy red parka -('Big Red')-, and a big orange survival bag draped over your shoulder. The wide stares from the waiting passengers stay with you, and you clear Customs coming from a place that is not a city, country or kingdom. And there are all those people!
Out of the terminal and into the warm night after not seeing the stars for 5 months. Smelling trees and moist air, hearing the amazingly loud roar of traffic. And then youre in a nice plush hotel, big screen TV, your own room and toilet! You shower, dress, walk out the lobby and there you see... the Golden Arches! KFC and Subway....and you think, 'What have I done!!
Just a few days before my Birthday I took my pre-winter Intermission -10 days in NZ, surfing, walking, sightseeing and having a few beers, relishing being able to wear
C17 flight deck
up on the flight deck, heading north to New Zealand.
flipflops and shorts, and going to a beach. Off to the North Island to a place called Raglan, a surfing mecca and beautifull laid back town. I surfed for hours, drove on the 'wrong side of the road' for miles, cut up by mussels, mauled by sandflies but Raglan is worth it. And then when the weather went to &^%$, back to lovely but earthquake battered South Island city Christchurch, for a few days of festivals, parks, movies and gorging on Thai food; A short respite from the Land of the Great Alone, before heading back for Winter, my mind and body refreshed and ready for the very very long Polar night-stay tuned ---should be Fun!!!
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