So it’s ‘Take 3’ tomorrow morning for myself and the Scott Base crew’s 9am C17 flight to Antarctica, courtesy of the good ole USAF.
We were supposed to leave Friday, then Saturday, then Sunday…weather delays are part of the fun (unfortunately).
Disinfected buses collect us from our managed isolation facility at 6m and will shuttle us (secure in our flight cohort bubbles) to the airport, all grimly masked in our n95 covid protective shields and dressed in our orange and black Antarctica New Zealand Extreme Weather gear.
Not unlike astronauts I guess – sealed up against the outside world and securely shuttled to the capsule ahead of launch time.
So it’s T -10 and counting.
If all goes to plan, we’ll undergo a flight briefing first thing, hand over our check in bags and then board the C17 for the 5 hour flight to Antarctica.
IF it goes to plan. If not, we about face and go back to the quarantine hotel.
Weather and runway conditions are the enemy at the moment. There needs to be a perfect weather window of opportunity to fly, land, offload and take off again which is STILL complicated with the worsening condition of the ice runway, far out on the Ross Ice Shelf.
Oh yeah! I probably forgot to tell you about my past month or so. Soz.
I’ve been in New Zealand preparing for the next 14 month stint at Scott Base. Wintering science tech. The long haul. Bailing out of this Covid 19 infected wasteland and getting back to the ice.
Since arriving in early August, and just now completing my second stint of two weeks managed isolation, its high time to get the Hell out of here.
It’s been hectic and frustrating and also lots of fun : all systems go training wise but then stop and go bullshit along the way thats terribly frustrating.
From the NIWA atmospheric monitoring training, to the ANZAP training at Antarctica New Zealand to the week of Antarctic Fire Training, Covid has put spanner after spanner in the works, making simple things hard and difficult things almost impossible… it’s the nature of this kind of work tho but it still irks – all this stop/start and extremely reactive kneejerks to the world’s current situation.
You know, that f*cking pandemic thing that everyone talking about. Even Trump has it now!
My crazy crew can deal with it all though 🙂
Antarctica is Covid free presently and our aim (and thankfully every other science organisation) is to keep it that way, hence then crazy arsed quarantine and PPE requirements. It’ll be even crazier when we get to base for our handovers from the Winter crew, and worse when dealing with the Americans at McMurdo over the season.
So the past two and a bit weeks (due to flight delays) have been in a honeymoon destination (Merivale Manor in Christchurch) that’s serving as a managed isolation facility for the two crews heading to Scott Base this season. It’s been absolute bliss and a welcome last hurrah before the shared rooms and cramped quarters on base.
Prior to that, another few weeks in the good old Hagley on Park again (same room as last year), and before that a dodgy 3 star in Alexandra; before THAT two weeks quarantine in another resprt hotel in Auckland.
Man, am I over hotel living. Anyway, cant complain/won’t complain – I’m super lucky to be here and extra fortunate to be heading down South again with an awesome crew.
So where’s my head at…that’s usually what drives me to write.
My daughter is having a hard time of things lately, but it turned out its much harder that was expected. I’d known shed been having some troubles at home but had just thought it was conflict with her mother (as had been the case with all of her sisters before her). Just quietly her mum’s a total bitch.
She finally confided in me the night before I was originally due to leave that she is struggling with depression and layering on top of that an eating disorder thats gotten to the stage of her needing hospitalisation, as it is affecting her heart. Luckily she is receiving counselling and treatment for it and has been for a little while now, but it came as a total shock to me and to be honest my first instinct was to pull the pin on this contract and head home.
I’d had an inkling that something was wrong. She’d gone vegan for some reason, looked tired, and had gone through some extreme self makeovers that now I would have seen as a warning sign. Her moods (and weight) had gotten worse over the past few months, and she’d gone through the heartbreaking disappointment of having her planned semester living and studying in Italy cancelled (yes fuck you Covid). She had organised everything herself and had won a place in the program, her mum and I even had the money side all sorted out (a small miracle).
The Covid struck and the program, after months of stalling and delays, was cancelled. She was devastated and if i had to guess, Id say that was the final trigger.
The old me would have dropped everything and ran back and the Hell with the consequences – and I wanted to until we talked about it a bit more.
Theres little point.
I’d still have to quarantine, and even then, I couldn’t get into Queensland to see her. Being there wont make a lick of difference so I have to continue with my plan for the year.
Phone calls, email and letters will be our only contact for the next year at least and that the way it is.
It’s absolutely disabling for me to realise that I cant help or fix this. At best I could only make it worse by interfering. The only thing I can see to do is be available to her as much as she needs me to be, and just wait and watch from afar.
She has a new puppy and I’ve just bought her a new Macbook for school so hopefully a few new things in her life will bring some immediate short term joy and relief from the pain she’s feeling. Yes I know that not the way to deal with things like this but its all I have at the moment to give, other than my time and a sympathetic ear.
So there’s that…
I’m also extremely aware that I’m stepping away from society, friends and family for over a year this time. I’ll be going right when some things in my life had juuuusssttt started to take off….there are people that I will miss very very much now.
It’s bloody annoying. When the heck did I develop this particularly stupid emotional response? So I’m apprehensive about that and the future…
Anyway, I’m tired; haven’t been sleeping at all and all of these false starts are grinding down my nerve.
Hopefully we go tomorrow and I’ll get a decent nights sleep tonight.
Maybe I’ll fix this post tomorrow from Scott Base (or the hotel) assuming I can still get to WordPress like last year.
Who knows? My focus is still off and my writing bug hasn’t bitten yet : hopefully it’ll nip my arse soon so I can get all of the usual demons exorcised again this season.
Later…(either tomorrow or next November)