The ride from the Phoenix Airfield to McMurdo took us 45 minutes. The transport had very high windows that quickly got foggy. It was not a particularly exciting ride. Nevertheless I could feel my heart racing. We got out near the center of the station. It resembles a small town with key buildings like dorms, sports facilities, a galley (where we have our meals), a small hospital, etc. We were received by our Science Implementer responsible, Kaija Webster, and were given a small welcome briefing. We received our dorm keys and instructions of where to get our linens and pick our luggage.
As we walked to the dorm, me and Geoff came across Steve, another APL team member. He greeted us cheerfully and helped us find our way. Soon enough we were in our dorm. Our rooms consist of a 2 person room which includes 2 beds, 2 closets, a couch, a fridge and a sink. Between our and another room is a shared toilet and shower. In my case I end up sharing my room with Bryan Douglas, a engineer deployed to work on the other balloon project to be launched this year.
After dropping our things, me and Geoff went to meet the team for dinner. In McMurdo all meals happen in building 155. A large blue coloured building which is the heart of the station. There are 3 hot meals served per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. It works like a buffet with different types of food, so you can simply help yourself. If you are hungry after these times, there is always food available which includes snacks, a fridge with previous leftovers that you can warm up, or a corner where you can make sandwiches. Oh and cookies, delicious cookies.
It was great to have dinner together with the rest of the folks. We were the last to arrive at McMurdo and now the team was finally complete. Unfortunately for those that arrived early, despite the observatory being already there, the containers with ground support equipment had not yet arrived. Without these we couldn’t start any operations. It would take us until the 8th of November to actually get the first container and actually start the operations.
The gap we had in the first days was used to catch up with the rest of the team and get to know the base. There is an overwhelming amount of information to unpack on how everything works. I will do my best to cover many of those items in the next few weeks!