With all our scientific equipment staged with ANZ in Christchurch, ready to fly down to the Ice, all that remains for me and Alex is to pack a few good books, set our lives in order for the next nine and half months and bid farewell to those around us - the latter possibly being the hardest part of all. Last night, to mark our imminent departure, we met with friends and colleagues from the University of Otago at the Carey’s Bay Hotel, just outside Port Chalmers – the last port of call for many early Antarctic expedition including those of Scott and Shackleton. The hotel is reputedly the location Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s last meal before setting sail from New Zealand on his fateful journey to Antarctica in November, 1910. Although were unable to confirm this story, it did make for good conversation as we sampled the selection of local beverages.
It is difficult to imagine what went through the minds of those men during their last night before setting off on voyages to a hostile, uncharted part of the globe never before seen by a human being, leaving behind loved ones knowing their only companionship in the months to come would that of their shipmates. I cannot but marvel at their courage (and in some cases their naivety) and I feel privileged to be able to follow in their footsteps – although, of course, a lot has changed since then and hopefully we won’t be thawing our sleeping bags with our own body heat and we won’t be dining on oats and pemmican.
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Saturday, 31 January 2009 21:10
Following in Famous FootstepsWritten by McMurdo Sound Winter Sea Ice
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