Tomorrow I'll start another journey back to the South Pole!
The preparation for this trip has been the more stressful of any of my trips due to various delays and bureaucratic mistakes.
There's an intensive physical qualification process for traveling to Antarctica, because medical facilities are somewhat limited. I started that process late because I fractured my left wrist and right shoulder on the sixth day of RAGBRAI and wanted to make sure there weren't any problems.
I completed and submitted the initial set of tests then found out that I needed to complete a few more tests because I'm over 50. By the time those test results were submitted, the government shutdown was in effect and the 2013-2014 Antarctic season was temporarily cancelled.
After the government reopened, I figured it would take a few days for them to get everything moving. I didn't hear anything for a full week so I finally contacted them a couple of weeks before I was supposed to leave and discovered they hadn't received any of the second set of tests! The process of getting all the paperwork submitted and evaluated took long enough that I missed my initial flight date.
After a few days of indecision and a day or so of email wrangling, I was rescheduled to leave on Nov. 16 (tomorrow) and return to Madison on Dec. 20. It's not all bad news, however. My original flight would have included an 11 hour layover in Los Angeles and a 96 hour layover in Sydney, but my new flight only has a 4 hour LA layover and a 2 hour Sydney layover.
I leave tomorrow at 1:30PM and land in Christchurch, New Zealand 31 hours later. I'll let you know how the trip goes!