March 24

Preparations for the expedition are fairly typical now. We are all quite used to our roles and to what needs to get packed. Last minute personal gear is usually the difficult part. "Do my field pants still fit?" or "Are my boots still waterproof?"

Mostly, though, we were all trying to spend a few moments of quality time with family before missing them for 2 weeks (see picture at right).

Mark ran around trying to find some field-socks and a travel bag for his clothing. Liz too was off buying last minute items. Mind you, unlike Chile, or Madagascar, we're pretty sure we can buy whatever we forget when in-country in Australia.

Gene wasn't sure what to take beyond shorts and t-shirts.

Each of us packed enough tubes for collecting, and ethanol for preservation. Technically, ethanol is not a permissable item for transport, which is odd given the the average galley on a long-distance trans Pacific flight has much more ethanol in those little 2 oz bottles than we could ever think of taking.

Gene too decided to pack a rack of tiny tubes for collecting oyster tissues for DNA analysis of parasites. This is work that Gene has been doing for years; some of it even with Mark when he was his postdoctoral fellow back in 1995.

Later it was just a matter of getting to the airports on time and hoping that all of the connections would pan out. Juli was to meet Liz and Mark at LAX for the Qantas flight to Sydney. Gene was flying United via Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Liz and Mark are not sure how the jet lag will be as they've never done the long haul from the East coast of the US to Australia. Gene is an old hat at this, and Juli's done it once before.

We'll probably not log any of this up for a couple of days after we get our bearings.