Most of the time, the temps were around -30°F (-34°C) with little or no wind. We did have some white-outs, but because of low clouds, not massive amounts of blowing snow. Planes came and went, most days, but one or two had to turn back because of poor visiblity
The food was good, the work was interesting, and the people were great; it was one of the best weeks I spent on the Ice. For me, the defining moment was when I stepped under the dome for the first time and saw the cluster of orange buildings, huddling together, just like the display at the Museum of Natural History on 86th St, in Manhattan. I think I'd enjoy a year down here. I look forward to returning.
In the meantime, it's down to Kris, my boss, and myself, to take care of last minute issues cropping up before the end of the season. I have put in no less than three all-nighters per week since I got back from Pole, but if that's the price, it's well worth it. It'd be easier to stay the Winter than get all this stuff done in time.
We ended up leaving at 07:00 for our 08:00 flight. The ride took most of the hour. I'd never been out to Pegasus before; there's not much to recommend it. Its only redeeming feature (if you can even call it that) is the hard ice runway, used for a few weeks out of the year, that can accept wheeled planes to land and take off (all of the flights out of Willy are on skis). The actual runway complex is much more spartan than either Willy or the Ice Runway. There's a PAX terminal, a warm-up shack and a building with a U-Barrel.
I wasn't in the first few groups to board the plane. My waiting strategy paid off. The "seat" opposite me wasn't assembled; I had plenty of leg room. I still prefer the 8 hour flight in a Herc to a 5 hour flight in a C-141. It may take longer, but it's easier to sleep.
Landing wasn't as exciting as the other winter-overs told me it'd be. I don't think the air was as fresh and fragrant as it was when we landed in October, but, it was the middle of the night then. I think landing when the sun is up diminishes the intensity of the return to the green world to the North.
The view is flawless - thin wispy clouds turning shades of pink like the mountains in Antarctica, stars peeking one by one out of the slowly darkening sky. Two weeks hasn't been enough to erase the habits ingrained by four months of a never darkening sky. I still stare at the stars on clear nights, as if I've never seen them before.
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