Monday, January 02, 2012


I'm in Christchurch! The trip here went off with only a minor hitch. The flight from Auckland to Christchurch was delayed about an hour and a half due to earthquake!

I heard there were several "minor" quakes overnight (in the 4.0-6.0 range), which somehow caused our flight to be delayed. While I certainly wasn't happy to hear about the quakes, the situation worked out well for me and two other Antarctic-bound passengers I had met because we couldn't get boarding passes for our Auckland-> Christchurch flight until after we cleared customs, and the huge line at the connecting airline's counter meant that didn't happen until after the original flight would have left.

Once we got to Christchurch, we met with a USAP (U.S. Antarctic Program) representative who briefed us on the situation, told us to pack a light bag and keep it and our shoes by the bed in case there were more quakes, and put us on a shuttle to our hotels.

After checking in I took a nice long shower (something which will be impossible at the South Pole), walked to a nearby mall to get my glasses fixed (boring story) and then wandered around the area, which is a typical suburban neighborhood with a New Zealand spin. It's a bit cool here, so there was a nice mix of people in shorts and sandals and those wearing jeans and puffy jackets.

I *think* there was a mild aftershock at around 8PM, but it could have been a large truck going by...

After 9 hours' sleep, I got up and ran to the city center. The place where the Devon stood is now several piles of rubble, and most of the remaining businesses downtown are fenced off and shored up, waiting to be destroyed or rebuilt.

Now I'm repacking and waiting until 5PM when a shuttle will take me to the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) where I'll get my ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear and, weather permitting, be back at McMurdo base in Antartica by around 2AM tomorrow!

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