Good morning, evening, afternoon… wherever you are.
So, dear readers, it’s been a while. A very long while. But now that I have a new computer, I’ll be able to write more. And post more pictures.
Right now, I’m currently in Christchurch, NZ. Specifically at the Breakfree Hotel on Cashel. I won’t post what room I’m in because that’s just creepy.
I left the states last Thursday, August 15th for my 6th season in Antarctica. I luckily was given the opportunity to deploy again at Winfly (again, for those of you who are not familiar, it’s the time of year between Winter and Mainbody) and I am so excited. In the past, it used to be that we’d only have three flights coming down during that time. However, things change and I believe we are having 4 flights in August (if we get out of here soon) and one flight in late September. That’s the biggest change. Between the August flights and the October start of Mainbody, we used to not have any flights.
When I left on 15 August, I flew from Jacksonville to Houston. In Houston, I met up with several of my firefighter friends and met some fantastic new people. From Houston, we flew 14 hours to Auckland NZ where we met up with even more people. Then it was onwards to Christchurch and our hotels.
The day we arrived in Christchurch, several of my friends and I who were booked at the Breakfree hotel caught the same shuttle. We arrived at the hotel fairly early, like around 1040. Of course, arriving that early meant that there were no rooms available. We all hung out around the lobby together talking and laughing, catching up on what we had been up to off ice. Now, mind you, this was Saturday, August 17th thanks to crossing the international date line and time traveling. I think my room was ready around 2 so I came up to this tiny shoebox of a room to shower and get ready to head out for a wander.
One of our new fire lieutenants decided that he wanted a new tattoo, so away we went to find a tattoo shop. After being there for a few hours, he had been successfully inked and we decided to head back to the hotel. I fought the urge to get a new tattoo but I think when I come back through Christchurch, I’ll end up giving in to that siren song.
That evening, a couple of my friends and I headed over to a place called Little High. It’s a collection of restaurants in one central location. The variety of food that one can order is most impressive. It’s kind of a food court of sorts. One of my friends, Steven, and I ordered a steak and split it. It was absolutely phenomenal. Then we meandered back to the hotel for an early bed time. It was just past 7pm.
The next morning, I woke up early and went in search of coffee only to find that the coffee bar in the hotel is closed. And there were no places around us that serve coffee at 4am. So I came back to the room and had freeze dried coffee which of course, is subpar in my book. Even for desperate times. bleh.
At 615 Sunday morning, we were all in the lobby and ready to be picked up by our shuttle to head to the Antarctic Center for orientation. There are going to be so many things going on this year, it’s going to be interesting to say the least. I’ll post things throughout the season as they occur.
One exciting thing for me personally is that the dispatchers for the Antarctic Fire Department are merging with the Mac Ops department (that’s who talks to field camps and does more science/remote related radio communications). Or it’s actually vice versa since the operators formerly known as MacOps will be working for AFD. Schedules and staffing is going to change. Operations are going to change. Safety and customer service will still be number one. Nothing changes there. I’m sure there will be some growing pains, but for those of you who know me, I love change. I thrive on it. That’s why I’ve been doing this job for 18 and a half years. That’s why I’m good at this job. It does make me sad that we won’t be physically located in the fire department any more, but that’s only because I like the interaction I have with the fire family. Because that’s what it is. Anyone in the fire service knows that those are some of the strongest bonds outside of biological family.
After our 10 hour orientation, we decided to go out to eat at the Rockpool. It was fantastic as always and my buddy Thomas met up with us there. Thomas works in a totally different department. He’s an electronics tech for a department now named NPP. Don’t ask me what it stands for because I’ve forgotten. But those guys are in charge of runway electronic stuff and things way above my pay grade. They make sure the planes have the right navaids on the ground side to land safely.
Days are starting to blend together for me so I’m having to count backwards, okay, that was Sunday… we were already aware we wouldn’t be flying Monday… Okay so we’re at Monday. Monday was a rough day for me. The first thing I read when I woke up was that my dog, Phoebe, had died. Granted, she’d lived most of her life with my fantastic, amazing, wonderful sister, but I still considered her my dog. She was 10 years old but had a heart condition. Hopefully, she’s chasing all of the armadillos on the other side of the rainbow bridge. I won’t write any more about it because I don’t want to start crying again.
Monday, my amazing friends were very gentle with me. They knew how badly I was hurting so they wandered with me through the botanic park and let me cry when I needed to. Damnnit Parker, you said you weren’t going to write any more about it. Long story short, a very emotional day. I’m grateful for my friends who let me cry as needed.
Tuesday! We were supposed to have a shuttle come pick us up to take us to the airport at 0815, however, shortly beforehand we were informed that we were being placed on a 24 hour weather delay. Oh, darn. After getting that information, I met up with friends for breakfast and then proceeded to go to the botanic park again afterwards. Even this time of year, when there are very few things blooming, it is still one of the loveliest places I’ve ever been. Plus, once you know what it’s like to go without smelling things for any amount of time, you embrace every chance you get to smell the green. So we meandered around a bit more and then I came back to the hotel for a nap. Because I like naps. I’m good at naps. Tuesday evening, we headed to the casino for some roulette action. I ended up with $25 less than I came in with, so I’m not terribly upset. Then it was back to the hotel for sleep at about 9.
Wednesday! We were supposed to have a shuttle come pick us…. yeah, you read that same line on Tuesday. And we are currently on another 24 hour weather delay. So far today, I’ve played on a playground, played a round of putt putt (came in 2 out of 4) and have managed to purchase a vacusealed bag of smoked brisket to take down to the ice. Oh, and start my 2019-2020 season blog.
Until next time, stay cool.