Off Yonder – Adventure Travel Stories - Seeing the world for what it is

Pole Out
McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Returning to the vibrant land of color was a re-awaking process like I’ve never experienced before. It all started when I deplaned in Christchurch, New Zealand. I had stepped onto a massive C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft in the stillness of McMurdo Sound on the Antarctic coast and off it into a foreign world of warmth, darkness, sweet aromas and a light spattering of rain.

Knowing it would be warm when I arrived, I wore shorts under the heavy Antarctic clothing. Peeling off the layers as soon as I was on the tarmac waiting for the shuttle bus to the terminal felt glorious. The warm moist air enveloped me, light drops of rain tingled my skin and my sense of smell felt keener than ever. Even darkness took on a new fascination. The stars, having been hidden from me by 24 hours of sunlight a day at the pole, were partially obscured by scattered clouds and the light pollution of the city, but they were more beautiful than I could have imagined. It was approaching midnight but I was totally wired with all these sensory stimulations that had lain dormant since I flew south three months ago, all the way south.

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Buried Aircraft Found
South Pole Station, Antarctica

The wreckage of Skier 917 has been found. It took the effort of many, but we’ve reached the goal of crawling down through the escape hatch into the buried plane. Everyone who visited the wreck site took at least three hours of their free time per visit skiing or walking out to the site, climbing down into a five-meter snow hole and hauling out a few buckets of snow. That’s a true group achievement.

Two days before Christmas Kris from the meteorology department and I skied out there to check it out. No one had visited the site in some time so a few inches of snow drift had accumulated on the sheets of plywood covering the access hole.

After a little more digging and cleaning up around the edges, Kris handed up the hatch cover and disappeared into the perfectly round hole and entered the cockpit.

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