The trip home was long, but just as amazing as the rest of my journey. I flew from WAIS Divide Camp to McMurdo on a C-130 military plane. I was the only passenger, so the pilots let me sit in the cockpit with them for the entire flight. They also let me roam around and take pictures throughout the flight. It was amazing to watch out the windows as we flew from the interior of the ice sheet out to the sea ice and ice shelf.
If you look closely in the photo to the left, you can see WAIS Divide Camp and the long ice runway as we leave the camp.
After a day in McMurdo giving science lectures, touring the ice caves, and hiking through the pressure ridges, I made my way to New Zealand. Going from the cold, white, dry Antarctic to New Zealand was actually a real shock. We have five senses - hear, smell, taste, touch, and see. All five of my senses were going crazy - I was hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, and even tasting things that I'd missed while in Antarctica. Here are a few of the things that amazed me upon leaving Antarctia:
See and Smell
The only colors we see a lot in Antarctica are white (the ice and snow), red (our coats), blue (the sky), and brown and black (the rocks). The colors I loved seeing again when we landed in New Zealand were green, purple and pink. I really missed green.
I also hadn't smelled flowers, grass, trees, or any other vegetation at all while in Antarctica. The smell of these gardens was really overwhelming after smelling nothing but snowmobile exhaust for so long.
While I did hear lots of wind while in Antarctica, it sounds very different blowing through the trees. I missed that sound. I also missed the sound of running water. The water in Antarctica is frozen solid. But the thing I missed most were the birds. There were no birds chirping out on the ice sheet. It was fun to hear all these things again when in New Zealand.
Feel and Taste
The three things I loved most about coming home were the feel of big hugs and kisses from my family, the feel of a real bed, and the taste of a home-cooked meal. I love being home!