So I know I promised Christchurch photos yesterday, but those will have to wait another day (and hopefully be accompanied by some initial Antarctica photos).
I was woken up by a group of tourists either arriving or leaving the hotel at 4am, and again by an argument in Korean outside my door* at 6:30 and 7 and 7:30am. Around 8 I went down to have breakfast with Thomas and Sean. Sean had arrived late last night, but had a chance to go downtown in Sydney during his layover.
*Thomas insists it was outside his door; in either event, it was loud enough that we both heard way too much of it.
At 9am, we got into a shuttle to head to the Clothing Distribution Centre (CDC), where we would be issued our gear. We sat through a series of videos for our orientation to the US Antarctic Program before we got a chance to switch out the gear we'd been issued with other gear. To streamline things, the CDC keeps records of the gear everyone needed on previous trips to Antarctica, which meant that Thomas and Sean had only a few things they needed to change. Since I wasn't previously slated to do recovery, I had to get a lot more stuff, including an extra Carhart jacket and overalls. I'll post a photo later of the full inventory of gear that I was issued.
After clothing issue, we waited around for a while for a shuttle back to the hotel. Initially, we were planning to get lunch at a small walk-up restaurant built out of a shipping container near our hotel, named Pedro's House of Lamb (because Pedro's House of Lamb sounded really delicious). Once we realized that the only thing on the menu was a NZ$35 Lamb Shoulder (even though it sounded really delicious), we decided to walk down to a food truck next to where Thomas and I had gone the night before. We had lunch there, then walked back to the hotel, where we split up. Thomas had some last-minute shopping to do, and Sean wanted to take a nap, so I went out into Christchurch on my own.
I walked through a nearby park to the Botanical Gardens. It was a nice, sunny day, so I ended up wandering around the park and gardens for about an hour and a half (I took a lot of pictures of flowers and stuff). Eventually, I walked past the Canterbury Museum and walked back into downtown. I walked all the way around the cathedral, which was severely damaged by the 2011 earthquake. Then I walked back to the hotel, stopping at the gas station across the way to pick up some snacks for the plane ride tomorrow.
Back at the hotel, I finished up packing everything for tomorrow. One bag will be checked all the way through; the other, my "boomerang" bag, will be available if our plane gets delayed or turned around in the air for some reason.
I met Sean and Thomas around 6 for dinner at the Brewer's Arms, the restaurant that two years ago we went to the night before flying down to the ice. Once again, I had the kangaroo meat (and pork and steak and lamb), served/cooked on a hot stone in front of me. The meat was very good, and the side of garlic butter made everything taste a lot better. We had a drink or two after dinner and then went back to the hotel.
Tomorrow, we're supposed to be picked up at 6am for a 6:30 check-in for our flight to the ice. Hopefully, the next blog update will be from the ice (with the long-promised photos!).