Since arriving in Cape Town on Monday we have been making our final preparations for the trip. There were a few logistical issues that we needed to get sorted. First of all was our cold weather gear. Under the blazing sun and in hot temperatures (30C) weather we tried on our insulated layers. The International Polar Foundation has supplied us with cold weather insulated boots, insulated wind proof pants, fleece jackets, down jacket, wind proof jacket, balaclava and insulated gloves. Then we also were issued a large duffel bag to carry the gear. Buddy, the dog, lives were the gear is stored and he helped us try on our clothing!
After our clothing was sorted, it was time to hit the grocery store! Last week, those who currently are at the station contacted requested some additional items. It was fascinating to see how similar and, at the same time, foreign the items were on the shelves. Prices were not that different either. This trip to the store was mostly to get almond milk for the non-dairy drinkers, crackers, cookies and treats (chips, candy, chocolate). Steffi and I keep on hearing about how good the food is at the station, which is always what you like to hear when you are headed to a remote place!
Yesterday we had the briefing for our flight to Antarctica. ALCI is a company that charters a Russian IL-76 plane each Antarctic summer for flying scientists and logistical equipment to East Antarctica. ALCI is part of the DROMLAN Air Network that is an international cooperative for countries that do not have their own air support. Some member nations include Belgium, Finland, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and the UK. At our briefing yesterday we dropped off our luggage that we were not going to take in the main cabin with us and then headed off for a briefing about the flight. On our flight of less than 50 people, there will be passengers from 13 nations. We learned that our flight from South Africa would be landing at Troll, a Norwegian Station, rather than Novo, a Russian Station, as originally planned. The weather at Novo has been warm lately, with temperatures above freezing. Since the plane lands on the blue ice, having a water free runway is pretty important for such a heavy plane. Troll is colder than Novo. After we get to Troll, we will wait for a small plane to pick take us first to Novo (to drop some people off) and then on the Princess Elisabeth Station. We leave Cape Town tonight at 10pm, land at Troll at 4am and are expected to leave Troll by 11am. We are expected to arrive at Princess Elisabeth Station by mid-afternoon tomorrow. It will be great to finally arrive at our destination and for the science to begin!