With our scheduled departure for Wednesday, January 30, JohnE, Thomas, and I had our last day in McMurdo today. Thomas and Sean went out to LDB as usual for last-minute packing and preparations for shipping (and delicious lunch). In McMurdo, I went to the store before lunch (last-minute shopping!) and then hiked out to Hut Point after lunch. I spent most of the afternoon packing up all of my stuff and forcing everything to fit into the two bags I brought with me. I also cleaned up my half of the room and made sure everything was ready to go.
Just before dinner, I got an email with details about our flight and the "Bag Drag" operation. I walked over for dinner and to double-check the manifest. After dinner, I headed back to my dorm to make sure everything was packed up. At 8:00pm, I was supposed to be up in the McMurdo Movement Control Center to check in for my flight tomorrow morning. Since I wasn't sure how easily I'd be able to get all of my stuff over there, I left my room at 7:45.
I got outside my dorm to find two pickup trucks waiting to ferry people and their luggage up to bag drag, and was offered a ride, so I threw my bags up on the truck and rode in the bed with a few other people the 200ft or so up the hill to the MCC. Once inside, I had to label all of my bags with my name and flight number (GCH063). Then, we waited in line until it was our turn to check in.
First, they checked my passport and gave me my arrival card for immigration and customs in New Zealand, and double-checked that I had the appropriate Emergency Cold Weather (ECW) gear with me. Then, they weighed all of my checked bags to make sure they were below the 150lb limit (when I weighed them earlier, I had about 80lbs of stuff). Then, I had to climb on the scale and be weighed along with my ECW gear and carry-on bag. I'll have to be weighed again tomorrow when we leave.
With our transport out to the airfield scheduled for 7:15am, we went out to Southern Exposure for one last night out with the friends we've made in the last few months in McMurdo. We said goodbye to Elio from BLAST, Asad, Michele, and Chappy from EBEX, Jessa the cook, who was responsible for our food, especially the delicious prepared salads, Pat, one of the technicians out at Pegasus Field, Lee the Packers fan (who I begrudgingly wished the best and that the Packers win one fewer game than the Vikings next year), and others. After that, I walked out to Hut Point one last time. There weren't any penguins, and the wind was pretty strong, so I went back in shortly thereafter. Then it was time to take a shower (I'm not making the same mistake as Richard, who packed away his towel, and then was stuck for 3 days, but I also don't want a wet towel in my carry-on bag tomorrow morning), check email, update the blog, and then I'll get to sleep soon.
I'll keep updating the blog through our trip home and the rest of our flight (and whatever recovery operations Sean gets up to). I'm not sure yet how long I'll have in New Zealand (flights out aren't confirmed yet), but I'll keep things posted.
The last few months have been an amazing experience, and I'm surprised at the number of people that have told me they've been keeping up to date with the blog. Thank you, everyone, for reading and all your support.