Back in Town. I am sitting in the coffeehouse writing this. As it turns out someone made a mistake and realized that we needed to pulled out before the twin Otters leave the continent on the 7th of February. We arrived at Williams Field last night around 8 PM on the Twin Otter SJB after a bit of an ordeal during our pullout.
Phase two of I-205 got settled in after their arrival on the Herc that took out our old Tucker. Then SJB arrived to take them out to their GPS sites so that they could retrieve all of them and begin processing the data. But soon after their arrival the weather went down for ten days. So the three I-205 guys and the three Twin Otter crew were hanging around with nothing to do. Because of our anticipated pullout we were busy trying to get the camp ready for closure. We spent the week doing final maintenance on the machinery and making inventory lists. Our final Herc was scheduled to fly out all of I-205ís gear and whatever was and retro we had to fly out from the camp. They were scheduled for Monday but because of the Twin Otter weather delay their arrival kept getting pushed forward later in the week. On Wednesday They finally got out to their GPS sites and retrieved their equipment. They worked through the night backing up their data and tearing down their work-tent. The next morning we started building their air force palettes of equipment to be loaded on the Herc. By late afternoon, the Herc was finally on the ground and we had them turned around in an hour.
Now that the camp was mostly empty of people other than the three of us and a carpenter who flew in to help us close up the structures we had to dedicate all our time to closing up the camp an putting everything up on berms so they donít get buried during the winter. It was really difficult to build berms with the tiny blade of the tucker but somehow we managed.
SJB was scheduled to turn back around and pick us up on Friday to fly us back to McMurdo. Friday morning we woke up to sun and calm winds; perfect weather for tying up all the loose ends. We spent the morning closing up the fueling system and cleaning out the Jamesway. SJB arrived on schedule and we got it all loaded with our remaining gear and took off for Mactown. About an not even an hour into the flight they picked up so traffic on the radio. Apparently the weather a McMurdo had gone down and they heard a Herc returning from the South Pole request a weather observation from Siple Dome for a potential divert for fuel. SJB chimed in saying that they had the camp staff onboard enroute for McMrudo at the moment and the camp had officially closed for the season. But, the Herc was already en route to Siple and could not make it back to McMurdo without fuel. So we had to turn around and go back to Siple where we unpacked the whole fueling system and got prepared to fuel the Herc. What a hassle. Everything went smoothly though and we got up in time and torn back down in a couple of hours. There was a bonus though. On the flight back to McMurdo I got to fly the plane for a bit. Exciting. I guess I did a good job of it because the captain asked if I had flown before. I have never even been in the cockpit of a plane before. For some reason I was reminded of the time I took my brother Joel driving for the first time when he was about 13. When I finally got him out of first gear he found driving so amusing that he began to laugh uncontrollably. So much so that he stopped paying attention to the driving and we almost wound up in the ditch. It didnít happen to us in the air though, thank god. I was able to control my laughter and we made it safely back to Willy Field.
So here we are back in Mactown. We have our own room this time which is nice. It is kind of overwhelming having so many people around. Today we are showering, doing laundry and getting ourselves presentable for the general public. Tomorrow is Sunday and we are off. On Monday weíll start putting everything away, finish our inventories and start getting ready for NZ. We are scheduled for the C-17 flight North on the 3rd.