Thursday, October 29, 2009

Soul sisters in DC

High today (DCA): 62 F
Low today (DCA): 56 F

I headed down to the DC area for the first time ever to see some of my best friends from growing up. Alexis and I met in Rockville MD to stay with Meg, my best bud from high school (who is now engaged!!!), for the first night, then the second night we headed over to Fairfax VA to meet up with our old roommate, Laura, and our friend, Armand, from college. A bajillion old friends live in DC nowadays but my time there was so limited I only was able to see a few. DC or Colorado it seems the majority of friends from college are living, though there are quite a few of us "loose screws" as well. Alexis and I explored DC during the day on Thurs while all the other normal people were at work. It was such a blast - I had this horrible image of DC in my head of crime and dirtiness and purse-grabbers but it was the opposite - nice clean city, so much interesting architecture and history, and I didn't feel like someone was going to snatch my purse from my arm. There's my lesson for pre-judging! I'm sure parts of town aren't great but that's with any city. We went to the Holocaust museum which has been recommended by friends for years and I will vouch for the same. It is a good eye-opener and a terrific reminder of history and the power of manipulation.
Meg and Alexis wandering the streets of Rockville.
Meg Al and I.
Little Bailey is a pretty funny little dog. She makes me like little dogs.. just a little bit.The White House.. I could not see the Obamas, bummer. I wonder how often they actually get to enjoy their home!
Al up by the Washington Monument.
Chinatown.Walking on water by the Capitol building!The colors were perfect.. unlike PA where everything was dead.
The WWII Memorial.
Wassup, Lincoln?Laura, Al, Armand and I out to dinner.
Two of my old roomies! Just like the good ol' days.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jennifer and Owen Visit Pittsburgh!

High today (PIT): 60 F
Low today (PIT): 37 FMy friend Jennifer drove up from Blacksburg VA with her son Owen, to come visit me and get the grand tour of Pittsburgh in a day and a half. They are friends from Fairbanks who moved to VA for Jennifer's job. We had a lot of fun being tourists and eating good food. It was great to have them and really appreciate the effort they took to come see me. Thanks guys!
One of these license plates is not like the other....Jennifer, Ryan and Matt up on Mt. Washington where the tornado ripped through on June 2, 1998.We took the Monongahela incline up and back down.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Maria and Bill's wedding

High today (PIT): 64 F
Low today (PIT): 43 FMy sister getting hitched brought me back to the 'burbs of Pittsburgh for a couple of weeks in this odd time of October. The celebration got all 7 of us (plus in-laws) together for the first time in over 3 years. It was an absolute blast and I have never seen so many people on a dance floor at the wedding. My 5 year old niece Rosalie was the best at the reception - she partied with us until the second to last song before passing out in her dad's arms. Rosalie and her little sister Gretchen were flower girls and were adorable in their princess outfits of which they were extremely proud of. My friend Matt drive from New Mexico to come to the wedding before relocating back to Happy Valley for a few months. I saw relatives whom I haven't seen in years. Chaos I tell you, chaos. I am going to be ready for a vacation after this. Some of these photos are mine, some of them I stole from friends/family.
Maria and Bill after the ceremony ready to party.
Gretchen and Rosalie in their princess outfits.Fa la cool and the gang... this is a professional shot of my immediate family, in-laws (or outlaws?), and niecelets.
My sisters and Rosalie. These girls are hysterical when all together.
There was dancing..More dancing..And even more dancing!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Aurora Lit Tolovana Hot Springs

High today: 36 F (FAI)
Low today: 14 F (FAI)
We're going on an adventure!!! To Tolovana Hot Springs!!!
Holy cow! My body feels like I just ran a marathon, but I didn't expect anything less for the weekend since I haven't carried a pack since May and picked a not-necessarily-easy hike to start back up. Nine of us hiked out 11 miles on a sheet of ice and dirt to Tolovana Hot Springs where winter is trying to stay... to enjoy good company, hot spring tubs, and the simplicities of life in a cabin. (ok, there was a radio, an OVEN and range top, and even a guitar in our cabin...) Friday night we didn't get to the cabins until 1am. The hike was very tricky in the dark being that it was in fact a sheet of ice. Moreso, I kept slowing down to turn off my headlamp and look at the crystal clear sky. What was even better is that what was just stars evolved into a faint green aurora straight ahead. It got brighter at one point too which made me hike reallly slowly. haha. Having a day to relax those muscles and enjoy fun friends was a good buffer before hiking the 11 miles back out.
Above is my buddy, Kristen. We have known each other for 3 years now after meeting when we both worked as summer interns in Anchorage! This was our first adventure together since... well, I think the first summer I was here, really!Josh, Melissa and Kristen hanging out in their cabin.Here's everybody except Shake who was taking the photo!

Later that night, we made the mistake of letting Joel take care of the fire. All of a sudden it was as hot as the hot springs in our cabin with the door open!!! I could not believe it.
Water, anyone? If we get giardia we are all going down together....Luckily by morning the cabin cooled down a little bit.Ashlee and Joel brought a smorgasbord of deliciousness for breakfast! Of course that meant we had to do the dishes. :-PWe had the log cabin.. it was a pretty fun place up on the hill.
Andy, Katie and Ashlee enjoying a morning soak before hitting the trail.Time to hit the trail again! Too bad we can't stay longer.Picture below is Joel's but it is my fav of everyone's hiking photos.Our way out seemed icier than coming in, but I was glad to be able to see more than 20 feet ahead!
The scenery was pretty awesome despite the lack of snow. It was very refreshing to just get out, and I am still breathing in a good high from the trip. It was very satisfying to know that I am pretty much back to normal and can do physical activity again. Time to live it up! Joel above on the ridgeline and Ashlee and Katie below coming down the trail.
The last mile or so of the trail was beautiful. There was hoar frost all over the trees and it actually looked like it should look this time of year! Big thanks to everyone who made the weekend! It was a blast and can't wait to do it again.

Time to get down to the lower 48.... so excited to see everyone. Are those wedding bells I hear????

(some photos are courtesy of Kristen and Andy and Joel/Ashlee!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My awesome job.

High today: 37 F
Low today: 17 F

A few photos from recent happenings.. been working a crapload lately to balance out the time I am about to take off but it is still easy to appreciate the little things...
I have been launching weather balloons for my research. I've gotten two out of three nights of launches out of my way and now do not need to stress out if I miss a clear night for a couple of weeks. Last spring was very tough trying to schedule anything because I would be basically "on call" for four months. The same is true now but it has all worked out very nicely. I am not concerned at all about scheduling trips on the weekends now because chances are we will get at least one more clear and calm night in November. This week's launches were fun because both nights I had some friends come down who wanted to see a wx balloon launch. Below is Adrienne launching one of my balloons.
Dani came down a couple of nights later with Bill and was having a blast.
The second night of launches the aurora decided to show its lovely face for me right outside the door. :-) I proceeded to call a bunch of people to let them know but was sad when the aurora quieted back down not even ten minutes later!! something more like this...... but hey, let's face it.. once upon a time this green glow would have been a crazy deal to me!!
Where I launch my weather instruments at, the NPS is testing a bunch of stations that will be going out in the field. Someone was a little bit freaked out by them because they are all sitting there staring you in the face. Another professor in my department also set up his sodar which makes music! The music gets pretty obnoxious after a little while.... I was hearing it in my sleep one night which did not make me very happy.
Below is a radiosonde, the instrument which is launched with each weather balloon.. it measures temperature, pressure, and relative humidity, and then a bajillion other variables can be calculated through those measurements. Pretty fun toy, huh?!