10 October 2004
This is Bob.
A leisurely day dotted with mild preparations before the big trip - who could ask for more? I hope the rest of the team members are as fortunate as Stacy and I. We kiss the dogs goodbye, then hop in the previously loaded van for the 30 minute drive down to Moss Landing Marine Labs. About 10 min down the road during a lull in the chatter I jokingly ask “You’ve got your passport right?” She giggles and then laughs. And in a squeaky slightly hysterical voice admits that she actually has forgotten her passport at home. 45min later with the passport in hand we pull in to the lab in a much more hurried state. Some still-unidentified person has left us a cake with Bon Voyage scrolled into the lemon frosting. (Thank you whoever that was!! We suspect you Laurie?) With Kamille at the wheel the drive down the 101 was filled with a sort of over-laughter. Things that weren’t that funny generated a tremendous roar. We were a bit giddy with the elation of finally being on the road and the relief that comes from a narrowing of our responsibilities. We were leaving behind us the everyday trudge through life and before us may be our greatest challenges. But there was but one goal. Science with a healthy dose of survival.
Boarding the plane in San Jose with bulging checked bags and excess carry-ons went smoothly as long as you don’t count the 30 minutes spent in security stripped of my shoes with the blipping wand enticing the security officer to pat me down at every metal rivet in my pants. They don’t seem to appreciate it when you insist they hand inspect 30 rolls of film. Jennifer and Michael were frantically filling in their absentee ballots in the 10 minutes before boarding our already 30 min late flight. Then something called a “flow delay” added another 15 min as we sat on the tarmac and waited for permission from LAX air traffic control to take off. It seemed something akin to the metering lights on the freeway onramps during rush hour. We sat calmly not worrying about our mere 90 minute layover in LAX, now reduced to 50 minutes. LAX was punctuated with our arrival at the departure gate during the final boarding call. There we met our Teacher Experiencing Antarctica, Elizabeth Gibbs. You can find her Journal entries at http://tea.rice.edu/tea_gibbsfrontpage.html. The food was, well, airline food. I was posing as an undercover vegetarian so I would receive my food at the same time as Stacy who is a much more convincing vegetarian then me. The veggie meal was a mistake. Uncooked rice with one raisin and over cooked carrots was the main course. After rectifying the culinary mistake and assuring that my breakfast would contain bacon, we settled into the 12 hour flight and selected the new Harry Potter movie. Many hours later for no apparent reason I drift out of a good sound sleep just in time to witness the little icon that represented the position of our plane cross the International Date Line. That was it no big deal unless you really think about one whole day of your life flashing away in a nanosecond. I didn’t dwell on it for long but was glad to have experienced the moment. I often comfort myself on long trips with the thought that it’s more often the journey that makes a stronger impression than the destination. And with this comfort reducing my expectations of what was to come next I drifted back to sleep in the first few moments of October 12th 2004