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Back in Punta
(January 5, 2013)

Cycle South ExpeditionCurrent Position
Position Date: 2013-01-05 16:40:04
Position Lat: -79.5333
Position Long: -70.0148

The ALE van that relays passengers to the blue ice runway.I've heard it said that the US spent millions of dollars trying to develop a pen that would write in space. The Russians, simply used a pencil. One of the things I like about traveling so much is being able to interact with different people and philosophies. I find it interesting how different cultures have solved similar problems. No where is this more apparent than guts of ALE's Ilyushin 76, the jet that ferries people and cargo from Punta Arenas, Chile to the blue ice runway at Union Glacier. (Image: The ALE van that relays passengers to the blue ice runway).

Last year, I spent more than my fair share of time loading and unloading Ilyushins while working as a guide for ALE. Fuel barrels, vehicles, skis, fresh fruits and vegetables, scientific equipment, climbing gear, and more was mostly off loaded by hand. I was always impressed by the Russian crew's knowledge of how to best balance and sort loads - that is until after a few hours of hauling when it was simply. 'Time to be done'. In between loads, I tried to get a better look at the interior of the plane. Hydraulic lifts, levers and lights and more appeared bulky and heavy, but I'm guessing they also never broke. One of my favorite things was written above an small ax bolted to the side of the plane. 'Emergency Ax,' was written in English above the Cyrillic.

It was bitter sweet to watch the rest of the staff load everything. Not because I missed the back braking work of rolling 45 liter fuel barrels down the tail ramp and then stacking them two high on transport sleighs, either. Mostly because I would be leaving Antarctica and more quickly than I anticipated. By way of review, I had gotten picked up by a twin otter just two (one?) days ago. Basically, I arrived in Union Glacier, had a quick meal and was told that the Ilyushin would be coming in the next day and if I would need to pack up everything immediately. in order to make the flight.

You would think that after traveling with everything that I needed to live and survive on my bike for two weeks, the process would be easy. For some reason, I was up all night, finding my spares, disassembling the Moonlander (not before going for one last short ride) and sorting and drying gear. Then next day everything was labeled and loaded up... and... I left.

MapIt was weird to get off the plane in Punta Arenas and smell the warm earth and humidity. It was raining and all I could think about was Spring. It smells like spring. Of course, it's summer here so that's not much of a surprise. And it's not like I was gone that long to have forgotten all the sights, smells and sounds of 'normal' life, but it was nice nonetheless. As much as Antarctica is beautiful and expansive, traveling there is definitely an exercise in sensory deprivation. (View current position by clicking on map).

It was nearly 2 am when I got to my hotel, the Condor. I got on my computer and Skyped Maria and Merritt who, surprisingly even seemed to recognize my voice, but I was tired and it was dark (my first darkness in almost 3 weeks) and I crawled into bed still in my Core baselayer and went to sleep.

There are still a lot of components to the Cycle South story that needs to be told, but first I have to sort out my flights, etc. I'll write more later but I wanted to write a quick update, just to let you know I am still alive.
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