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Diary of the sleep deprived

I’m somewhere over Baffin Bay in a noisy but not very cramped LC-130 of New York Air National Guard (NYANG).

Up at 4am this morning, running around as usual in order to stop and wait. and wait and wait. The formalities at the Scotia Airbase were very much more relaxed than those at Christchurch. No Extreme Weather Gear to roast in in the middle of summer and no barked commands like I am used to on the flights to Antarctica.

We still got a cramped plane though. Instead of the ever-so-nice C17 Globemasters we take from “Cheech” to the ice, we got onto a ski-equipped Hercules with web seating to fly from Scotia to “Sondie” as the guard call it, or Kanger as pretty much everyone else seems to call it. We were told we were going to stop on the way there, and that one aircraft was going to Goose Bay in Labrador, a place I had always seen in my obsessive love for Arctic Maps, but never a place I ever thought I would go. We took off at about 10:30am and landed some time around 2pm. Goose Bay! Wow, what a wonderful day, a warm breeze, clear air and a view for miles.

“Where are we?” I was asked,
“Goose Bay” I replied confidently…
Nope. Two minutes later there was the signs, as big as life, “Welcome to St Johns, Nova Scotia”.
So we flew from Scotia to New Scotia and didn’t I feel a little let down?

The flight so far has been fairly uneventful, only one semi-aborted take-off. We think someone left their jacket in St Johns, we took off, flew a grand total of 7 minutes before landing again. Some of the folks not used to the military seemed a little put out, but most just dealt with it as you always have to.

There’s a bunch of people here I recognize from Antarctica, who have either “moved on” from “the ice” or are just getting a short seasonal change of scene. There’s also some media on board: ABC, Associated Press, the Oregonian and Technology Review are the ones I can put names to right now. Then there is the GNET “Crew” — Dr. E, Dana and Able (who named himself Donkey last night, but I can’t see it sticking) — otherwise known as Dr. Eric Kendrick, Dana Caccamise and Abel Brown. All are in various comatose states just now from the hum of the engines and the excessive heating that the plane seems to suffer from. I’ve only traveled with them for a day or two, and we go our separate ways in Greenland, and I must admit I am a little disappointed by that. It would have been nice to see these guys working in the field. Instead, Dr. E is flying north and west tomorrow to start installations around the Melville Bight area. Dana and “‘Donkey” are heading south on yet another “Herc” to Narsarssuaq, where they will meet up with a Dane and a Luxembourgian to work on stations there. I will wait an extra day with Thomas Nylen, from UNAVCO, before heading east to Kulusk and Tassiliq where we will meet another Dane, Abbas Kahn, in a couple of days.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I am looking forward to it. I haven’t seen a fully assembled system since all the new design changes have gone through. in the meantime we have to get maps and supplies and phones and everything else sorted out in the whirlwind of the next few hours, always good when you have only had an hour or two of sleep. Immediate needs are a printer, a phone and the internet. We have a lot of plans still to print out, a lot of messages to send saying we’re here safe (soon) and issues of lines of communication and call-in schedules to formalize.

Later.....

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Kanger is weird, nice but weird. There are kids playing around (nice) and a prison next door (weird), pick-up trucks are the main transportation (nice) and we’re in this huge glacially carved valley where there is nothing but a runway (weird), houses are all vibrant bright colours (nice), and did I mention we’re 20ft from a prison (weird). This is going to be an interesting stay!

Cheers. Now for some sleep!

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