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Sunday, September 30, 2007: Flying to New Zealand
Today we leave for Antarctica! All the months of planning, designing, building, packing, and dreaming come into focus as we gradually converge at various airports. Like so many other things, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.
In the picture, Marcus is giving a big "Kia Ora" greeting to a Maori carving in the Aukland Airport in New Zealand. But to get to New Zealand...


My research associate, Kamille, drives with Bryan from the marine lab to meet Bob and I and our van loaded with our 12 pieces of luggage. She has made us delicious sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies, which we devour as we head to the airport an hour away. BUT - we find traffic on the notorious Highway 17 is dreadfully slow, an accident has closed it down to one lane. Nick calls; he and his mom are waiting for us at the San Jose airport and wondering why we are so late. We get a message from Mindy; her plane out of Flagstaff has been delayed and she is going to miss her flight out of Phoenix, but will still make it to LA in time for us to travel on together. As we crawl on, it gets less and less likely that we will make our plane. Bob starts a contingency plan, we can fly out of Monterey and still make it to LA in time for our international flight. But that would leave Nick with his single piece of luggage going out of San Jose, and we need him to carry 3 more pieces of excess baggage. We gamble that we can make it to San Jose in time, and call Nick and ask him to warn the check-in folks that we will be there – in a big hurry. We get another call from Mindy, her Flagstaff flight has now been cancelled and she is being driven to Phoenix where it is 104 degrees…in a taxi with no air conditioning. Fortunately, we have heard nothing from Marcus coming out of Philadelphia, which I take to mean that at least one of us is flying as scheduled!
Some of our luggage being explained to the customs man in New Zealand. In total, the six of us had 20 pieces, most of it boxes of electronics.

We roar up to the departure lane, explode out of the van, and start running. Nick has staged the huge porter’s carts for us, we fill two with our now 14 pieces of luggage (plus 6 carry-on). We have a truly amazing agent, Randy, whose fingers are flying over his computer keyboard as he races against the 30 minute lock-out for international flights. By some miracle our luggage gets checked, all our paperwork is in order, and we get through security with our 7 laptops (for 4 people) AND all our shoes. Bob calls Kamille to release her from her airport circling in case we needed to move to plan C.
The view of Monterey Bay as we leave on the first flight of 16 hours of flying time. Moss Landing is on the very right edge of the picture.

In LA, we find that our planned meeting point, the Encounter Restaurant, is closed for renovations. But we manage to redirect Marcus to meet us at another restaurant, though Mindy is still missing. A quick meal, and we go to the departure gate, and as they call us to board, Mindy rushes up – barely making it. Yay, we how have our full team of six! And we’re flying to New Zealand!

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This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ANT-0619622 ( Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.