This represents the combined travelogue and technical summary of my 1999-2000 sabbatical leave. The plan is to begin my sabbatical leave with a trip to Utrecht in the Netherlands, where I am scheduled to attend Stephan de Rhoode's PhD defense and give a seminar at Utrecht University on Friday 3 September. Returning from the Netherlands, I continue to Portland, OR, where I meet up with my wife, who has driven to Oregon in our pickup truck with camper, loaded with gear for a month including two kayaks on the roof, a folding kayak or "ducky" inside plus my bicycle, and backpacking gear. After visiting our friends, the Eads family in Albany,OR, we then head north to Bellingham, WA, to catch the ferry north to Alaska. We spend about three weeks visiting the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and return by ferry about 12 October.
In early November, Vollie and I fly down to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I present lectures on RAMS. In the second week in December I go to Kenya to serve as Chairman of the organizing committee on a WMO-sponsored meeting related to modeling on PCs. I attend the Annual Meeting of theAMS in mid-January, and early February I go to Puna, India, where I present lectures on RAMS to weather service scientists. I end the sabbatical by spending three weeks to a month at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where I plan on interacting with colleagues in atmospheric science and hydrology.
I intend this document to be both entertaining and educational. We will see what adventures await me!
Departure from DIA was on 11:20 8/31/99 when I fly to Atlanta on Delta and then on to Amsterdam. I am going light with carry-on, and have added a few items to use while renting bikes to get around, such as headlamp and leg-light, biking shorts, and a hip-pack for carrying gear. No helmet, though, since it didn't fit in my hand baggage and the Dutch always look at me funny, anyway, as they rarely use bike helmets-maybe they are hardheaded?
My flight to the Netherlands was uneventful except for a go-around just as the plane was flaring out to land at Atlanta. The pilot informed us another aircraft was taking too long to clear the runway. Our arrival in Amsterdam was about 0800, about 30 min ahead of schedule. After clearing customs and taking the train to Utrecht, I searched through the train station for a place to rent a bicycle. After asking about 5 people I finally found it at the lowest level in the building. I had to leave a deposit of 100 units of Dutch currency to rent the bike, which darn near took all my cash I had exchanged (no credit card!!). The bike was an English-style frame, single-speed, heavy, that one sits rather vertically erect. It reminds me of bikes about 50 years ago in the U.S. The frame was much too large for me. My feet couldn't touch the ground when I sat on the seat and I could barely clear the top tube. If I am speaking with a high squeaky voice when I return, you will know what happened! After asking many people directions, I finally found the hotel. It is an old hotel that is undergoing restoration.
After washing up, I tried to navigate to Utrecht University. With no mountains or sun for directional reference, and few orthogonal streets, navigating around Utrecht is a challenge, to say the least! I asked one couple directions, headed off and eventually came around and asked them again how to get there; they must have thought I was crazy. But somehow I made it and located Peter Duynkerke. He informed me of what to expect at Stephan's defense tomorrow. I then headed back to the hotel and found it with little difficulty. I read over Stephan's thesis briefly and took a jog along some canals with bike trails along them. I saw several cormorants and white/brown herons feeding in the canals. It was really quite pleasant.
I returned to shower and get on my bike again to go to a Javanese type restaurant. The food was very good and had a sweet, yet spicy taste to it. Now for early to bed to try to catch up on sleep I lost last night.
Sleeping in is not a possibility at this hotel as it is under construction, so by 7AM I awoke to hammering, saws cutting, and other construction-related activities. After a continental breakfast, I biked to campus and checked my e-mail. Then Peter and I biked to downtown, where we had a light lunch including a beer. Then began the defense. First the examiners assembled in a separate room, where we were given instructions and those of us that are full professors dressed in our caps and gowns. In a separate room assembled Stephan, in his long-tailed tux, with two of his friends, serving as his assistants/defenders? They were two of his buddies from high school days. It somehow resembled getting ready for a duel to the death rather than a defense. We then marched into a large, old hall (this all took place on the original campus center), where the examiners sat like judges in a line at the head of the room, the examinee stood at a podium to the side with his attendees standing by and the remainder of the room was filled with Stephan's extended family, graduate students, faculty, and KNMI scientists.
The exam finally began with everything proceeding in Dutch except for the questions I asked and Stephan's reply to me. So I really couldn't tell what the others asked or Stephan's responses were-yawn!! I could tell, however, that he was able to make extended discourses to every question. Whether or not he answered the questions during this discourses, I couldn't tell. This whole thing was under a precise time schedule, whereupon a woman-official entered in the midst of a question/answer session and pounded a staff announcing that we were to proceed to our chambers to decide Stephan's fate. There everyone agreed that Stephan did well in responding to the questions asked. The chairman raised a staff at that point and just then the bell rang at a neighboring church. I commented that they had things amazingly choreographed!! The group all broke out in laughter at that. We returned to the hall to announce that Stephan passed the exam and went to a lower, large hall where snack-type foods and drinks were served and everyone proceeded in a line to congratulate Stefan. It reminded me more of a wedding reception!
After this, with it being a nice sunny day, Peter and I walked along the canal with its hand-operated locks, with shops and restaurants lining the way above the canal level, and restaurants along the canal level. The restaurants are in front of and in, the old warehouses. The warehouses serve as the restaurants in the cold season. It reminds me a bit of the canal area in old downtown San Antonio. We then met up with Stephan and his defenders, still dressed in tuxes, and his friends to have a few beers while sitting outside of a cafe. Then off we went to the top floor of a large old restaurant. The restaurant had a plastic covering to resemble a castle. This was done as part of some celebration in Utrecht. Other buildings were so covered and over one was a large portrait of a man standing nude in a field with flowers covering appropriate locations. The banquet-style dinner/buffet was on the top floor of the restaurant with log beams showing. It was rather warm up there. Stephan's family, friends (and he has many!), and committee/faculty members, filled two dining rooms. Stephan's father appears to be typical Dutchman. His mother, grandmother (Oma) and the entire maternal side of the family are Indonesian. His mother is a very attractive woman. The meal was excellent. I left about 10PM, while Stephan and friends continued celebrating in a nearby pub, until, I am told, 3AM. But I succumbed to jet-lag.
Friday, I biked to Utrecht University in beautiful, sunny weather. There I checked my e-mail and then gave a seminar on our experiences simulating Arctic stratus clouds. I received two bottles of French, red wine with the institute label on them for a reward. After lunch and some "science" discussions, Stephan and I took a bike ride. Since he had heard that I am a kayak enthusiast, we biked to the river near campus, where we rented two single-place kayaks. They were heavy, pretty stable, but moved easily. The only problem is, they did not have backrests and did not supply life-vests, and so my back got quite sore. Nonetheless, we had a nice paddle up the slow-moving, meandering river. We paddled through forests, cow pastures, under bridges, and along mowed yards in front of castle-like estates. Stephan complained about not being able to keep up with the old man. But that is something I do regularly and I was certainly no match for him on a bicycle, as he is a bike-racer!
That evening we met downtown and went to a Mediterranean-type restaurant along the canal. As we ate, we watched tourist-type boats (some filled with cheering, inebriated Students) passing by, as well as some kayaks, some small motorboats, and paddleboats. After a few miss-turns, I pedaled my way back to the hotel again.
On Saturday, I slept in until 8AM! That is one of advantages of the 8-hour time difference! Then I decided to pedal my way to near the town of Hilversum, where there is a gliderport. It was about a twelve-mile bike ride through mostly farmland and a few small villages. Arriving at the gliderport, I visited with a fellow putting his LS-8 glider together and helped him a bit. He did not complete assembling his glider, as an un-forecast alto-cumulus cloud layer was shutting down the insolation. He arranged for me to be put on the list for a flight in one of their twins. I met an American who was working in the Netherlands. He and his son were flying there. He showed me pictures of the various gliders and power-planes he had at various locations around the world. His 15- year-old son gave him a hard time about always getting out pictures of his airplanes instead of his kids! After several hours, it became evident that the alto-cu was turning to thickening alto-stratus, and since I was sandwiched in the schedule between a number of young students I decided to call it quits, since they needed the experience of a tow followed by a 5-minute sled ride back to landing more than me!
After biking back to my hotel, I decided to bike downtown with one of the wine bottles in my hip pack. I decided that two bottles in my hand-luggage was just too much to carry. I wanted to see if I could find a restaurant that would let me drink my own bottle with dinner, but found that it is not permitted by law. So, I decided to find a take-out restaurant and eat in the hotel room. Before that, I decided to check out where the bike-return place was located. I am so glad I did, as it took quite a while asking people and ending up at the wrong bike place before I found it. At 7AM on Sunday morning the place is quite empty of people to ask. I then stopped at an Indonesian restaurant and got take-out and proceeded back to the hotel with supper and my bottle of wine in tow. There I had a great supper and finished off the bottle of wine which was quite good. Then I took a walk in the twilight through a nearby park.
One thing I couldn't help notice is how fit the Dutch are. Very few people are overweight, with most being slim and tall. Some of that may be genes, but bicycling is undoubtedly a factor. Almost everyone does it. The slimness of the Dutch is especially noticeable compared to many places in the U.S. Biking is a lifestyle there. They bike to work, to school, and on holidays. Many like Stephan and his fiancee don't even own a car. You often see mothers or fathers with a couple of children on their bikes or following them on their own bikes. Finding a parking place for your bike can be a real challenge downtown, but still much easier than parking a car.
On Sunday, after a brief continental breakfast at the hotel, I biked to the train station with my hip pack and backpack-style suitcase including one bottle of wine. I returned my rental bike and took the train to Amsterdam. This began the long flight to rainy New York, then to Denver, and on to Portland-great fun squeezed in these torture machines!
As I stepped out of the Portland baggage claim area door, I spied our pickup truck with two kayaks on top. It was 11:30PM and both Vollie and I were quite tired, yet had to drive for an hour to Albany, where we visited our friends, the Eads'. After sleeping in until 8AM, I took a jog along the Willamette River. We loafed the rest of the day and I caught up on my e-mail. The next day while Vollie and her friend Florence toured Corvallis, I paddled the ducky, inflatable kayak downriver from Corvallis to Albany. I had about a 1kt current to help me along, but the winds were often right on my nose, and the gusts would stop me in my tracks. No whitewater here, so it was a lazy paddle. The shores were mostly forested, with occasional farmlands. I spied numerous blue herons, hawks and a couple osprey. It took me 2.5h to paddle what I estimate to be between 12 and 14 miles.
The next day we took a tour up the Willamette valley and visited several wineries. With temperatures in the 90's, golden-brown fields, it resembled Napa valley. The views off the decks of several of the wineries overlooked the hills covered in vineyards and forests. Most of the wines I tasked were so-so, but some were quite good.
On Thursday we headed north toward Bellingham. I had hoped to get underway about noon, but it was after 2PM before Florence and Vollie finished with laundry and lunch. My goal was to get north of Seattle to avoid morning rush hour on Friday morning. By 7PM we were in Seattle so I suggested we stop for a seafood dinner near the ferry docks. We had some very good fish and then headed further north to find a place to park our camper. Our first stop off I-5 about 20 miles north of Everett resulted in wild goose chases trying to find a campground open. Finally we found fishing camp-type of RV park on the Skagit River. Since it was quite dark, we weren't sure what were getting ourselves into. Also, as this was our first attempt to raise the poptop roof with two kayaks and one fully loaded with boating stuff, I wasn't sure if we could raise the roof. Well Vollie "raised-the-roof" when it became apparent that with her pushing on a broom outside and me lifting inside, we couldn't get it up. With her inside and me out, things weren't any better. Being tired, and not feeling well anyway, Vollie really got upset about all the stuff I brought along. After unloading Ray's kayak for Jerry and a bunch of stuff out of the kayak, we finally got the top up and went to bed.
In the morning we woke to find us next to the fast-moving Skagit River that was quite nice. We then headed north to Bellingham and did the old-town section (Fairhaven) near the ferry docks, after spending a fair amount of time finding the place. It was a nice, warm, sunny day and we set up our roll-up picnic table in a little grassy square. There we had some clam chowder purchased in a little restaurant and made sandwiches from the fresh tomato that Florence had given us.
After hours of waiting in the parking lot line, we got under way in the ferry. In the warm sunshine, we got spectacular views of snow-covered Mount Baker. Remnants of the one hundred feet of snow last winter were quite evident. After a pleasant night on the boat, and breakfast, Vollie and I walked the decks for about an hour. Most people got a kick out of us walking briskly around and around the decks. Once we spied the back of a whale and a few dolphins.
The weather on the boat ride was generally nice and sunny in the afternoons and foggy in the mornings. I thus spent the mornings working on proposals and things like that with my notebook computer and the afternoons taking in views on the afterdecks and reading. It is definitely a relaxing, slowdown process.
The Ketchikan stop was early in the morning, so our only choice was to take a walk. We headed straight up a fairly steep hill across from the ferry terminal, zigged and zagged with the residential streets in the fog until we actually emerged above it. The stop at Wrangell was only nine minutes of allowed wandering, so we had to stay right by the terminal. Even so, there was something interesting to do. There is a rock shelf containing garnets in Wrangell, which was originally owned by a corporation of women (the first). In time, they sold it to some fellow who eventually became mayor and, upon his death, left the ruby shelf to the children of the town. Some of these children set up tables near the ferry terminal and sell chunks of rock with garnets in them.
And yes, Bill had to buy one.
The Petersburg and Juneau stops were in the middle of the night and at 5AM, respectively, so we ignored them.
Compared to previous Alaskan ferry trips, we didn't see as much wildlife. We saw a couple of golden eagles, one bald eagle, a couple of humpbacked whales and dolphins, but nothing like the dozens of eagles and whales on other trips.
On Monday morning we arrived in Haines in foggy, cloudy, drizzling skies. We then headed east and as we got over the pass, the skies began to clear and the sun began shining through breaks in the clouds. Brush and shrubs in the alpine area of the pass were red and golden as fall was well under way. By the time we reached Haines Junction, the skies had cleared and we were in strong, downslope winds. The Kluane range was covered in bright yellow aspen on the lower slopes with streaks of red and gold scrub brush running up the steep slopes. This mountain range is beautiful any time of the year, but with the fall colors it was spectacular! About 60 miles from the Alaskan border in the Yukon we found a nice campground located next to a stream (Lake Creek). The trees were all bright yellow and orange, lining the meandering stream, and in the background were the snow-capped mountains. What a site! Temperatures over night dropped into the upper 20's as our top of the camper was very frosty.
As we continued our drive north to Fairbanks, the roads were practically void of traffic. Imagine driving with the trees at their peak in fall colors anywhere else in the U.S. with virtually no traffic? This is definitely a time to visit Alaska. Now we didn't see much in the way of wildlife, just a cow moose and two calves, so that is a downside of traveling up there during hunting season.
We arrived in Fairbanks about 4PM and I checked in at the Geophysics Institute (GI) of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF) and met with Jerry Harrington, my former PhD student. We did some apartment hunting and finally located one on the west side of town called Sophie-Plaza. Unfortunately, we can't move in until Thursday evening. So, we are literally camping out in our truck-camper in Jerry's yard.
Jerry and Debra have rented a nice house on a south-facing slope, to the north of town. The house is located in dense aspen and birch forest. It is a nice campsite.
I checked into the GI today and filled out paperwork to get keys to the building, a room, and things like that. I will be working out of Peter Olsson's old office in the new IARC building. It has a large window facing south overlooking the city. With the fall colors in the foreground, the view is very nice. Unfortunately, the angle of the view is too south to permit seeing Denali when it peeks its head out.
After getting started on our joint proposal to IARC, Jerry and I biked uphill to his house and then took a jog on roads and trails in his neighborhood. Then Vollie, Debra, Jerry, and I went to a Thai restaurant for supper. The food was excellent.
Jerry and I biked in to the office this morning. Temperatures were near freezing and since the ride was a mostly downhill ride, it was pretty cold. In typical Jerry fashion, Jerry remarked that it was a bit nippy-Great!!
I'm pretty happy with the progress on our proposal. We have established links to Bill Hibbler with his sea-ice modeling experience and to David Walsh, who is an experienced oceanographic modeler. This is just what I hoped for on my stay here. We expect to complete the proposal by tomorrow.
We have finally moved into an apartment about 2.5 miles from the GI. The bike ride is not as scenic as from Jerry's house but it is a bit easier, especially on the way home. The apartment is a one-bedroom with more than enough room with as little stuff as we have. It comes with TV but for such a short time, we have decided not to hook up the telephone.
On Friday Jerry and I finished up the IARC proposal. It is entitled: "Development of a Global, Interactive-nested Grid Model for Studying the Affects of Low-Latitude Aerosol Intrusions into the Arctic Basin". If we are successful in obtaining funding, it will be a model capable of doing some very unique studies of the interactions of CCN/IFN intrusions into the Arctic basin and their impacts on Arctic climate and the earth-system as a whole. I think it is pretty good and we should have a decent chance of getting it funded.
On Saturday, Debra, Jerry, Vollie, and I headed about 45 minutes south to Harding Lake, where we kayaked and Jerry and Debra paddled a borrowed canoe. The lake is almost perfectly circular with a diameter of roughly 3 miles. Except for a small State Park, cabins and private lands mostly surround the lake. It is very shallow near the shores, but much deeper in the center. It is so shallow near the shores that most people had their boats moored about 50 feet off shore. We paddled along the shores, over-taking a number of ducks and grebes. The day was sunny with temperatures in the 50's. At first the winds were light. Jerry and Debra continuously chatted how best to paddle their whitewater kayak. A whitewater kayak has high sides and no keel, so that it can be turned easily and not take water over the sides in waves. However, paddling in a lake, is a bit challenging, as the canoe has little directional stability. With Debra in the stern-steering position, they paddled in a circuitous pattern, while Vollie and I paddled straight along, loafing to keep with them. On the far side of the lake, while heading for an unpopulated shore to stop for lunch, a 15-20 kt wind came up. Vollie and I headed straight into it, heading for our planned stopover, while Debra and Jerry fought the wind and headed close to shore for safety.
Note that the lake temperature was in the low 40's and Vollie and I wore wetsuits, while Debra and Jerry did not. Survival time in that water was probably about 10 minutes, so it was probably a good thing they headed for shore. After lunch we continued around the lake, viewing rather ritzy cabins nested in the bright, yellow aspens. As we paddled along I began noticing this persistent chirping or krilling sound. It seemed like it came from the neighboring shores, but I couldn't see anything. It started getting louder and louder. Then I looked upwards and saw that the sky was filled with sandhill cranes flying in V-formation much like geese. Like geese that continued to talk to each other as they flew, but the sound they made was much different, more like a krilling sound.
The winds had abated for a while, so the paddling was relaxing. I gathered that the winds had been very strong a few days before because a couple of the moored boats had been swamped. About a mile from the put-in spot the winds came up again into the high teens. Progress became difficult because the winds were abeam (on the sides) and we were on a lee shore--that is, we were being driven onto the shore. Vollie and I had no problems as we paddled along and the 2-foot waves simply passed over the boat. The whitewater canoe, however, wanted to windvane. Jerry and Debra decided to go ashore and switch drivers. Even with Jerry steering they had difficulty making headway.
At the put-in, a narrow channel had been dredged and it was very shallow near the entrance. Vollie and I steered offshore until we were opposite the channel, and then headed straight in. Jerry couldn't make headway against the wind, and so they ran aground near the channel. Thus Jerry dragged the boat ashore and carried it over the bank of the channel to head into the put-in. Both Jerry and Debra were very tired after paddling that canoe around the lake and fighting the winds.
That evening we decided to get together for pizzas at their house. We agreed to pick up the pizzas at Pizza Bella's. Unfortunately, as I drove out of a parking space, I ran the kayak, which was on top of my camper, into an overhanging roof of the building, which I hadn't noticed. I took off the forward 4 inches of the bow of my nice, homebuilt, mahogany-decked kayak; I was not a happy camper!!
By 7:30AM on Sunday morning we headed to Denali National Park, where I was scheduled to attend an Alaska chapter of the AAAS conference. We met Jerry at the Princess Hotel and headed into Denali Park. We drove in as far as permitted (only 15 miles) and hiked a trail at the Savage River parking area. Just above the parking lot were a number of Dall sheep on a rock outcropping. At first the trail was nicely graveled and maintained, and meandered along the river. Then at a bridge crossing, the trail became a "social trail" or an un-maintained trail formed by people finding their way along the shore. As we progressed along the riverbank, the trail became more and more obscure and rose steeply along the rocky side hill. At one point, while Jerry was in the lead, he turned and indicated an animal was ahead. I caught up in time to spy the back of a wolverine loping up the steep hillside like he was on level ground. It all happened so fast that Vollie didn't get a chance to see it at all. Seeing these creatures is very rare, and Jerry was very excited about spotting it. He knew of people who frequented the Alaskan outback for over 10 years and had never seen one. In fact a book by the naturalist Adolf Murie, confirms the rarity of seeing them. All I could see of the animal was its black-brown back gleaming in the sunlight. I estimate its speed loping up the steep slope as being over 10mph.
After struggling through willows and brush, we found the trail eventually petered out altogether and we turned around. At one point we lost the trail and came to an impassable rock wall. Rather than turn back, we climbed up a steep hillside to intersect the trail again. Vollie complained all the way up. Eventually we found the trail again, and just around a bend we overtook three Dall sheep. This was just after crossing a bridge and so we backtracked to walk along the opposite shore. The sheep didn't mind us being only about 50 feet from them as we were on the other side of the river. The two white adults and lamb were situated on scenic rock outcroppings. I took numerous pictures that I hope came out well.
The conference was a mixture of biological science, political science, atmospheric science and oceanography of Alaska and the Arctic. I attended talks ranging from climate studies, oceanography of the Arctic basin, to applications of fuel cell technology to small-disperse communities in Alaska. Just before lunch, Jerry and I took a jog up toward Mount Healy overlook, while Vollie walked the trail. The trail started out as a maintained trail and then again turned into a "social trail" that became steeper and steeper. Jerry's legs cramped up, but I continued on up and up. After about 1500ft of climbing, I turned around at the base of a scree area when I realized that it would take another 30 minutes to get to the top and back to where I was. I decided that if I was to make it back in time for my 2PM talk, I'd better head down.
I presented a talk summarizing our experience simulating Arctic stratus and my proposed influence of anthropogenic aerosol on Arctic climate. It went well.
Rising early, we drove into Teklanika in Denali National Park, hoping to see lots of wildlife. We did see a fox and three caribou, but that was about all. The Grizz have headed into the high country to dig their dens. Compared to late May of 1998, when we saw dozens of them, it was disappointing.
Returning to the meeting, I attended a poster session. Jerry showed results of simulations of the marginal ice zone in which cold air flowing off the ice pack formed vigorous cumulus. After the clouds developed appreciable water contents, they glaciated , and the loss of radiative-convective coupling, weakened turbulence in the ABL, reduced surface windstresses and heat fluxes, and resulted in a cloud-free region, and then the winds built up and the system went through a similar cycle. This is an interesting consequence of ice precipitation, as it didn't occur for a liquid cloud.
I also attended a couple of interesting oceanographic talks simulating the climate of the Arctic basin. Wieslaw Maslowski, from the Dept of Oceanography at the Naval Post Graduate School, described their coupled sea-ice/ocean model of the Arctic basin. If we are funded for our proposed Arctic work, I would like to see if we can develop some form of collaboration, either using their simulated data as initial conditions and perhaps boundary conditions for the ocean or by introducing their coupled sea-ice ocean model into RAMS.
It is back to work at UAF. The forecast for today is for a cooling trend with showers and the possibility of rain mixed with snow for the weekend. The forecasters said this marked the end to "Indian Summer". Now, I thought Indian summer began at least after the end of summer on the calendar. Since today is the equinox, this period of sunny, dry weather can hardly be called Indian summer. But in Alaska, the end of summer is considered Labor Day! What a bunch of dorks.
One of Glen Shaw’s former PhD's, who is in the weather service in Germany, gave a talk. He heads a group focusing on nowcasting, which they define from 1 to 12hrs. He said there are only two people in Germany that are responsible for now-casting research and development. I gather that most of their work is out-sourced to private companies or universities. He kept referring to their “customers” and I asked if they charged for their services. Except for aviation and a few other things, they charge other groups such as radio and TV stations, agriculture, etc. for the use of their forecasts. This brings in about 30% of their budget. Unfortunately all their income goes back into the central government and does not reside in the weather service. So much for incentives to improve forecast performance and provide better customer services! He showed an interesting graph in which the ratio of the forecast error variance produced by forecasters (people) to the error variance of the model guidance was displayed as a function of forecast period. It showed that for the first 9 hours, the forecasters did much better than the models, but by 12 hours they were a wash and after that the forecasters were better off sticking with the model guidance only. Interesting!
I biked home in light drizzle this evening. The ride I have found follows what I believe was Peter Olsson’s bike path at the beginning. It follows a gravel road that cuts through the farm buildings of the Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station and then cuts diagonally across a field with a well-worn bike path. Then it goes along the bike lane against travel on the on-ramp of the Parks Highway, crosses Geist Road, and follows a nice bike path that parallels the Parks Highway, crosses the river, and joins a bike lane next to Airport Way. I have only a block or so of riding along sidewalks or streets to get to the apartment. The way I had ridden before was mostly along streets and sidewalks with a lot of traffic turning in and out of the streets. This is much safer and more scenic. In the morning, I come in before sunrise in twilight. I don’t need a light to see but do use my leg-light to be seen.
Brenda reminded me to get the NSF ROCEW final report together. She had put contributions by Graham Feingold, Hongli Jiang, and Chris Golaz on my Notebook computer. So I assembled them into a single file, and edited the whole thing and got the report into a form I could send back to Brenda to finalize. The problem was how do I get the files to Brenda, since we never did get the notebook linked into the GI internet, nor did we get a ppp set up to dial into a modem here at the GI. I tried to use the dial-up modem connection directly into the CSU server using the CSU credit card, but I have only gotten that to work once so far and every time I tried it, it wouldn’t work. Sometimes Microsoft makes these things more complicated than necessary. Finally I tried via my AOL account. I set up an AOL account for the purpose of permitting me to access the internet by local calls almost anywhere in the U.S. It turns out Fairbanks is one exception because the closest AOL server is in Anchorage. I dialed in Anchorage anyway and connected just fine and sent the file to Brenda as an attachment. Peter Olsson’s old phone will get the charge and where that ends up nobody knows.
Jerry and I took a noon-hour jog around the ski trails near the University in 40ish weather with overcast skies. The leaves are nearly all down now in about one week; about the same time as it takes to green up in the spring! I attended the NWS 7:45AM shift-change weather briefing. The NWS is located in the IARC building just down the hall and at the same floor as the atmospheric science group. This is great, but I was the only non-NWS person attending and I expect that is the norm. The forecast was for snow mixed with rain for the Tanana valley for the weekend, turning cooler through next Tuesday with snow showers off and on for the period. This forecast plus, the rains we already had, squashed any attempt to pack into a BLM cabin for the weekend, as the trails for the lower elevation cabin that was available would be extremely muddy and any higher-elevation cabins would be in cloud. The women said no way-Jose! The forecast called for some clearing in the afternoon on Friday through Saturday morning with a short wave moving in early Saturday afternoon.
Friday afternoon we attended a FAC at the Pump House located a few miles from town on the Chena River. There, some of the younger atmospheric science faculty (where were the students?), a couple of former CSU and U of Wyoming students and new faculty in Forestry economics and EE, respectively, and a young philosophy professor from Argentina, assembled for some beers and bar-type supper snacks. I had a couple amber ales and a salmon burger-it was great! After leaving the Pump House, I took Vollie down the road to a park on the Tanana River, just below the confluence of the Chena. I’d been there last May, but this time it was much nicer, as the mosquitoes did not attack. As we drove back into town, at the spur of the moment I decided to stop in to the Wolf Run dessert and coffee house for dessert. It is located on the corner of Geist and University, but one has to access it via a winding back street. The building is an old split-level log cabin. Wolf pictures abound on the walls as well as paintings of Denali Park and other Alaska scenes. It is a rather funky place and the desserts were just terrific!
Vollie and I met up with Jerry about 9:30AM to go kayaking with Jerry along the middle Chena. Jerry wanted to go hiking in the afternoon on some of the ridge trails, but I said it would be snowing by 1:30 up there and clouded in. After my experience in Norway, getting lost and wet on similar ridges with a wave moving through, I didn’t want to take any chances here. Indeed, as we drove up the Chena Hot Springs Road, we encountered a few snow showers in the highest terrain at 10AM. We almost pooped out on our paddle but continued on. It was cool at the put-in site, in the lower thirties, but otherwise the weather was fine. The plan was to float about 2 hours down the river and Vollie drove the sagwagon to meet us at the take-out.
This was to be Jerry’s first float in the whitewater kayak that I brought up from the Fort. Ray McAnelly gave it to him and it is serviceable but not pretty. I, in turn, used the yellow ducky. The Chena was running surprisingly fast for this time of year. The water was quite cold, probably about 35F. For the most part, this part of (a few miles up from Rosehip Campground down to the campground) the river is flat water that could be easily run in any canoe, with only a few ripples. I estimate the current to be 4kts, so that we actually made the run in about an hour instead of Jerry’s estimate of two hours. The only animal we saw was a beaver attempting to cross the river with some twigs. Occasionally we encountered a snow shower, but otherwise it was uneventful; that is, except for Jerry’s learning how to handle the kayak. At first, he spun around more than going forward, but after a while he got the hang of it and I couldn’t keep up with him in my ducky. He did complain about sore abdominal muscles from trying to keep upright without a backrest.
On our way back we stopped at Tacks General Store for lunch. If you are ever on the Chena Hot Springs road, stop there. It is a real, old-time general store. It has a greenhouse, hardware, groceries, and real, home-cooked food. I had a huge grilled cheese and veggie sandwich on home-baked bread. Vollie had half of the same and that was plenty and Jerry had a cheese omelet with piles of home fries. I’d like to go back and try some of those fantastic looking pies.
It was Jerry’s Birthday, so Saturday evening we joined Jerry and Debra and some of their friends at a Thai food restaurant for the second time. It is the best place to eat out in Fairbanks. We then stopped at a party held by an economics professor, named Doug, a former neighbor of Jerry’s and Debra’s. He had a collection of drums from around the world and we all joined in on a drum jam for a while.
We woke to 1.5 inches of snow on the ground. It was very wet stuff as temperatures were about 30F. Vollie and I took a walk with full rain gear on through Creamers Farm, an old dairy farm converted to a wildlife preserve. Occasionally we would be bombarded with huge aggregates, but after a while it turned to steady rain. That evening we had Jerry and Debra over for dinner and watched a couple of TV shows on the Fox channel, which we get better than they do, as we have cable.
We woke to temperatures in the middle 20’s so all the puddles and some places on the roads were iced over. I heard there were several accidents on the highways. I had no problem riding my back way and, in fact, the trail part was nice and frozen, and so I didn’t have to deal with mud. On our noon-hour run, it was also nicer to have the muck on the trails frozen, except one spot where the trail was more a pond than the usual muck!
Again there was about an inch of fresh snow on the ground but it was warmer than yesterday. It is pretty darn dark as I ride in about 7:15AM. The loss of 7 minutes per day is quite noticeable. It gets tough dodging the puddles in the semi darkness!
After work Vollie and I took a drive around the back roads of Fairbanks and ended up by driving to the Birch Hill Nordic Ski Area. It is not open yet but is a nice place to take a walk along the trails. We could see the tracks where a couple of anxious skiers had skied the 1” of snow on the trails. I presume they were using their “rock skies”. Occasionally it was hard to walk as ice was hidden beneath the 1” of snow.
My bike ride in this morning was the coldest so far with temperatures in the upper teens. It is getting quite dark at 7:15AM but there is enough light that I can still see without a headlight, and only use my leg-light to be seen. Sunrise is about 8:00AM.
I attended the 7:45AM weather briefing at the NWS. Because of the fire in the Cray power supply at NCEP they are still not getting the 12Z runs in time for the briefing, if at all. I asked if they looked at the Navy NOGAPS model output. They said they did, but it does poorly in the interior because of its poor terrain resolution. It also tends to overdevelop low-pressure systems over the ocean.
My noon hour run today followed one of the Nordic ski trails behind the GI. The one I took meandered forever through the woods. It is easier to run it now that the ground has frozen. With about an inch of snow on the trail and only a few real icy patches, it is much better than the earlier muck! Eventually I came out on a gravel road and just across the road was a field with muskoxen in it. There also were a few caribou. I gather this is part of the university’s large-animal research station.
I attended two seminars this afternoon. One was by Walt Dabberdt, associate director at NCAR. He gave an overview of NCAR facilities and services NCAR provides to universities. The second was by one of the NWS forecasters, who talked about his experience forecasting in Puerto Rico. So much for getting new insights into Alaska/Arctic weather and climate!
Actually, I’ve learned quite a bit by attending the morning map discussions at the time of shift changes at the NWS. Unfortunately, in spite of being just down the hall, there is no participation by university faculty or students.
After work, Vollie and I took a short walk along some of the ski trails behind the GI. I wanted to show her the little lake that one of the trails go by. I was surprised that the lake already had a thin veneer of ice on it. A few days ago it was fully open water. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, as Bob Walko pointed out to me, the sun angle right now is 3 degrees lower than it gets in Colorado on 22 December. Thus the lake has probably had a negative energy budget for over a month and the cold nights and cool days are pushing it over the hump to freezing this shallow lake. That evening we attended a dinner party at Glen Shaw’s. We enjoyed hearing Glen tell “war stories” about his friends and colleagues in the field.
This was my last day at the University of Alaska. I finished up with my e-mail correspondences with my students, Brenda, and RA’s and then in the afternoon, Jerry, Debra, Vollie, and I headed up the Chena Lakes road to the Angel Creek trail. There we put on our backpacks and hiked to the lower Angel Creek cabin, about a 3.5-mile hike. We had originally planned to hike in there the previous weekend, but because it was so rainy, the women nixed that plan. It was a darn good thing! Because of the cold spell during the week, the ground was frozen in and so were most of the mud puddles. Had we gone the week before, we would have been slushing through knee-deep mud.
As it was, the puddles were frozen over but not so thick that you didn’t have to be careful where you stepped. In one stretch when I was leading with the heaviest load of the four of us, I broke through the ice and muck and totally soaked one of my boots. But, my feet didn’t get cold so I did just fine. So we marched along, jumping from one grassy tussock to the next whenever the ice became thin. Jerry carrying Peter Olsson’s lever-action 0.45 rifle, and his new backpack and long hair really looked the Alaskan! Debra on her first backpacking trip ever, armed with pepper spray hiked through the frozen muck just fine. Enough talking was going on that bear bells were not needed on this hike. After a while, the trail joined with an ATV trail, which compressed the snow/frozen muck so that it froze solid. Moreover, the ATVs had detoured around the deeper water holes making it easier going too. Of course, they were destroying the natural habitat over a large area in the process.
Early on in the trail, we saw some very large foot prints about 4 inches in maximum width. As there were no human footprints in the fresh dusting of snow from the previous night, we suspected that a wolf rather than a large dog made the prints.
After we followed the ATV track, the trail rose a bit to higher ground and the walk became almost pleasant. About 6:00PM and after about 1.75 hours’ walk we finally spied the cabin. It was about ¼ mile from the stream facing southwest. The building was about 20’X14’ with a moderate -pitched roof. It was standard 2X4 construction with plywood siding painted gray, and a moderate- pitch, shingled roof. It had windows at the southwest corner on both walls, and two other windows on the remaining walls. The building was insulated and the windows were even thermal-pane type glass. Inside, it was unpainted, but contained two sets of double-berth bunks, with the lower bunks being wide enough to accommodate two adults. It had two tables and benches for seats, and a woodstove in the corner that was a very efficient type of stove. It also had a Coleman lantern with a gallon can of fuel. Outside the cabin under the porch was a full-size axe, and a hand saw hanging on the wall. I carried my full-size axed for nothing! There was even a metal, log-cutting stand in the yard. As it was sunny that afternoon, the cabin received enough solar heating to make it pleasant inside even without a fire.
But, knowing that a long night was ahead, I immediately began sawing up trees that were stored along side the cabin into logs small enough to fit into the stove. I then got a fire started, while Jerry and Vollie took my filter and water bag down to the creek to get water for the evening. Jerry also scavenged through the forest with his 0.45 at his side in search of deadfall trees to replace what we were to burn that night.
As the sun got lower, we searched the mountainsides for signs of wildlife but could not see any. We then heated water on the top of the wood stove-both Jerry and I carried our stoves for nothing. This is backpacking in luxury compared to what Vollie and I are used to. We prepared our packaged meals, opened our two bottles of wine and ate snacks and our prepared meals. We had a great time.
By this time the woodstove had heated up the cabin to 100F, and we opened the door to get it to a reasonable temperature. We would frequently go outside and stand on the porch or in the yard to cool off. I would howl like a wolf, which I learned from my huskies, trying to get a reply but never succeeded. At about 10:30PM I spied an aurora borealis arch and called the others out to view it. It extended from near the northern horizon to near the southern horizon in a band that was about 3 degrees wide at its maximum and varied in color from white to aqua-green. At times secondary and tertiary bands formed that were thinner but roughly paralleled the central arch. With time they varied in intensity, width, length, and position, a bit. We finally returned to the cabin, alias sauna, and tried to get to sleep with our sleeping bags open. By about 6:00AM, the cabin finally cooled to a pleasant sleeping temperature.
We woke to a dusting of fresh snow and still coming down lightly and temperatures about 32F. After breakfast of bagels and assorted cream cheeses we hit the trail about 8:00AM. Before doing so, we added our two cents’ worth to the logbook for the edification of future visitors. Vollie’s poem, for example is as follows:
The warm temperatures that night made the ice/muck somewhat slushy, and the puddles a bit slippery. As we walked back I proposed that we follow the ATV track where it diverted from the marked trail (with yellow diamonds) as the ATV track was easier to walk on. But the others worried it would end up too far from the parking lot, so that idea was nixed. As it turned out, with the fresh snow covering our outbound tracks, we inadvertently followed the ATV diversion anyway. This went fine and we started to notice that the trail was different. I didn’t complain as I wanted to go that way anyway, knowing that we were between the trail and the stream-how far could we get from the carpark as I remembered crossing the creek no far from it. But we came to a stream crossing with about 3 feet of water and only some logs placed across like a log road. The logs were snow covered and slippery and when I go half way across they began to sink! Vollie said, no way Jose-I’m not crossing that! So, we turned around and backtracked to pick up the marked foot trail through the muck. I figured out that where I had fallen in the day before was in the area where that stream had spread out over about 100ft of the trail.
Eventually we got back to the cars, loaded up our gear, and drove back to Tack’s for lunch and Bill’s purchase of yet another dorky hat and bush-pilot book. Thus fortified, we went to Jerry and Debra’s where Vollie and I showered and then hit the road south toward Haynes. As we drove south of North Pole, the road became less and less traveled; remember this was a weekend. Almost everything along the way was closed up. About 6:30PM we stopped at TOK to refuel, and put in 20 gallons of fuel in my 26-gallon tank. I was glad I didn’t run out of gas, as I would have had a long wait hitchhiking. We camped at a state campsite along a river about 5 miles south of Tok. It was essentially closed for the season, but they at least didn’t put a bar across the entrance. Normally I wouldn’t have selected a site so close to the road, but traffic was so little that I figured it wouldn’t awaken us and I was right. It was cool enough that night to run the catalytic heater all night. I suspect it got down to the upper teens.
We woke to a fresh dusting of snow again. By 0800AM we were on the road again. The road generally followed the Tanana river valley and as it rose to 2500ft or so, we encountered as much as 4 inches of wet snow on the road. Cars before us, racing south like us snowbirds, however, had left a wide enough worn track that the road was not slippery. We fueled just before entering Canada at a gas station run by a Colorado family who were getting ready to close up for the season and head south. Most of the way, the Alaskan Range was covered by clouds, but occasionally a few peaks would come out. We stopped for lunch at Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake. The town is named for a big windstorm that hit the area and destroyed most of the buildings in the settlement there. It was slightly overcast, so we decided to drive down to the beach, where we spied a lonely, weathered-looking picnic table. The beach is made up of a black pebbles/sand, firm enough for me to drive the pickup to the table. There in temperatures of about 40F and occasional drizzle, we sat at the picnic table, dressed in our Gortex parkas and had our lunch. No crowds here!
We continued south to Haines Junction, refueled and headed towards Haines. Compared to our drive eastward from Haines to Haines Junction in September, where the mountain peaks were all clouded in, we could see the mountains with their frosting of terminal snow all along the drive. Moreover, in stark contrast to the Fairbanks area, many of the trees retained their colorful leaves. Thus we had stunning views of those snow-crested mountains with foregrounds of colorful aspen and in one spot an old, decaying log cabin surrounded by yellow aspen and the mountains in the background.
We passed through U.S. customs and traveled down the Chilkat River Valley where the river was lined with yellow-leafed Cottonwoods and fishermen in waders were in the stream. Arriving in Haines about 4;30PM, we explored the place by car, and asked about possible campsites. I inquired about Chilkat State Park and Chilcoot State Park and a local recommended the former. Before we headed the 8 miles out of town, to the Park, we had a nice salmon dinner at a restaurant called the Lighthouse, appropriately located by the shore. We then drove along the windy and chuck-holed road to Chilkat State Park. Along the way we passed by relatively upscale, modern cabins in the woods, and, of course, typical Alaskan shacks with blue tarps covering “stuff”. Arriving at the park entrance gate, we found it closed-surprise-surprise! Just before the gate, there was a parking area with quite a slant to it. But, with a few well-placed rocks under the pickup tires, we made the camper sort of level, and setup for the night. Being the end of the road, I didn’t expect much traffic or even anyone to notice us there-I was right. Vollie was a little apprehensive about bears because there was a mess of scat in the parking lot with a lot of berries. If it was a bear, he/she had had a little too many berries as it had a case of diarrhea.
But we settled in for the night and weren’t bothered by much of anything. Well except for a porcupine, which attacked from the bushes as we walked after dinner along the road that descended into the park!
Today is Monday, which is my regular fast day, but it doesn’t stop me from taking a hike. So, we headed out down the winding road into the park. Along the way we got great views across Chilkat sound of the Chilkat Mountain range with many glaciers on it. Again the views were framed in yellow aspen! As we descended down the trail there was this loud crashing through the bushes, and this porcupine again attacked us! He must be the watchdog-a pig for the park. After about ¾ mile and 300ft of descent we came to a trailhead that went out to the end of the Chilkat Peninsula. The sign said the trail is 6 miles one way. The trail began by plunging into a very dark, rainforest. Trees were covered by moss, moss was everywhere on the ground, and mushrooms were abundant. It was so dark in the in interior that with my 100ASA film I still had to set my shutter down to 1/15s and F-4. Vollie was again apprehensive about encountering bears and jangled her bear bells to keep from surprising them. As leaves had recently fallen on the trail, it was often hard to identify the trail from the rest of the dark forest. But we managed to stay on it, as much by feel of the ground as its visual appearance.
The trail was often slippery either because of mud or because of the tree roots crossing the trail. The trail crossed marshy areas sometimes with wood bridges and often just going through the muck. At one place a sort of ladder/stair case was chopped out of a log to get up a steep slippery slope. Needless to say, progress along the trail was very slow and we gave up any hope of hiking to the end of the peninsula. Eventually the trail broke out into the open along the shore, where I gather it meandered along, sometimes in the forest and generally on the rocky beach. We beach-combed a bit, enjoyed the view, spied a couple of bald eagles in the trees and on the islands, and watched a couple of sea lions pop their heads out once in a while only to disappear if you looked or pointed at them. Viewing through my binoculars, I could see the main park facilities only about a mile down the beach and since the tide was out, it looked like an easy hike back that way. Vollie said, oh here we go again-referring to my tendency to not return the same way in on a trail and often bushwhacking my way back. But, with a choice of that dark forest with bears potentially lurking behind every tree and an open beach, if a bit rocky, she agreed to head that way. No problem, a little slow getting over the boulders in a few spots, but we made it to the boat launch site with no difficulty. We even found a serviceable outhouse-heh, this is civilization! We returned up the road and found what must be a visitor’s center log cabin with a large deck surrounding it. It was built of these mammoth logs, some three feet in diameter. From the deck, one could look though gaps in the aspens at the glacier-covered and snow-peaked mountains across the sound.
Vollie suggested that we have lunch on the deck; she cream cheese and crackeres and me a can of Kerns. As we prepared to eat/drink our lunches, Vollie said, Jeez, look at that! Not 50 feet from us in the dense woods was a young, but quite large bull moose. He generally ignored us, except when I “popped” open my can of Kerns, whereupon he stopped his grazing and looked our way. So we lunched and he lunched, he browsing on leaves of the trees 7 feet or so off the ground, and plants on the ground. Eventually we wandered on back up the hill with that moose totally ignoring us. After about a ¼ mile up the road, crash, boom, bang, the ferocious porcupine again attacked us. He would fan out his rear-end and then head back into the bush. He reminded me of armadillos in Florida that likewise crashed through the bushes and if you didn’t watch out they would walk across your feet as you sat around a campfire! That poor, little porcupine was so afraid of me (Vollie) that it ran into the bushes before I could get a picture!
Returning to the car, we broke camp and drove through town to Chillkoot State Park. The access road passed by the ferry terminal and then parallels coast winding along beside a very steep mountainside. At several places, I’d say at least six, the road had been totally washed out in the past and you could look up the hillside and see this tremendous erosion pass. I gather they had some very heavy rains in the September of 1998 and it must have closed off that road for some time. The road is very rough gravel now in each of these washout sites. About 8 miles from town the road turns along the Chilkoot river which was covered by sea gulls. At the same time our noses got strong scents of decaying fish. This is where the salmon come to spawn and die. The gulls wait anxiously by to pluck the eyeballs from the dead/dying fish. The shores are lined with dead fish, and in the water one can see hundreds of gross-looking salmon.
Chilkoot Lake, which feeds the river, is likewise full of these dying salmon. I gather there is some other salmon running in the lake that the fishermen like to catch as well as Dolly Varden trout. We saw one such 18” trout that a guy had just caught. He and his wife had just retired, and were embarking on a trip to Australia and New Zealand to escape the Alaskan winter. This state park was open including its campground situated in the dark, boreal forest. I considered taking down the kayak and paddling in the lake, but as it was my fast day and, being a bit cool and very lazy, I decided against it. Likewise, Vollie was not, how do you say, very enthusiastic about camping there in that dark drippy forest with lots of salmon to attract the bears. So we headed back to Haines and searched for an RV park, hopefully with a nice hot shower. Before we did so, however, we drove across the bridge to the end of the road. There we found a number of very up-scale cabins located within 50ft of high tide. It was a very pretty setting as long as you weren’t bothered with the smell of decaying fish!
When you really want to find one of those darn RV places, wouldn’t you know, they were all closed for the season. One place would let us park there for $10, no bath or showers, no hookups, just a picnic table and a place to park. We went with it as it allowed us to explore the town on foot. Of course our other choice was to go back to Chilkoot State Park and enjoy the decaying fish and bears they attract. Like most of Alaska this time of year, about 2/3 of the stores in Haines were closed. There were a couple of restaurants, two grocery stores, a couple of bars, a gas station, and a gift-shop/clothing store open and that was about it. They really roll up the carpet and close things down once October sets in.
About the time we headed back to our camper it began to rain. And did it rain! It never stopped all night and must have rained at least 0.25”/hour. We breakfasted in the camper in the rain, broke camp in the rain, and got in the queue at the ferry terminal in the rain. It finally stopped about the time we boarded the ferry. I was glad I didn’t have to worry about driving along that road with all the washed out sections. As the ferry headed south we enjoyed views of the coastal range and the Chilkat Range, which were only partially obstructed by clouds. Just before entering Juneau Harbor, the crew of the ferry had a man-overboard drill. They threw a life-vest into the sea, lowered a powered lifeboat, and 20 minutes later plucked the now deceased life-vest from the 40F water. Makes you want to be sure you stay in that boat!
Arriving in Juneau, we joined 4 young people to share the cost of a taxi for the 14-mile ride into Juneau as we had about 3 hours (would have been 4 if they didn’t take so long to save that life-vest!). There Vollie and I toured mostly closed shops in old-town, and just enjoyed walking about. On the way back the others wanted to stop by and tour the Alaskan Brewery, but surprise, surprise, they were not open for tours today.
We woke to the announcements that we had arrived in Wrangell. It was 5:00AM and we had until 9;00AM to “do” Wrangell. It was warm, in the 50’s, overcast, with light drizzle. Downtown is only about 3 blocks from the ferry terminal. So off we walked the streets of Wrangell and viewed its closed schools, museums, post office, gift shops, and hardware stores. One place was open since 5 a.m., however: the liquor store. Just as we were noting this, a local man and his black lab came by and pointed out that it was also the espresso bar. He steered us to the “locals” restaurant (the Diamond C Cafe) and had breakfast of fried eggs for Vollie and a Denver omelet minus the ham for me. The local gents were doing their morning socializing before setting off to work and we returned to the ferry reeking of smoke. As it began raining hard, we returned to the ferry about an hour before departure. Wrangell is definitely not the most scenic town in SE Alaska. They have not attempted to “tourist-ize” the place, as have Skagway and Ketchikan. There are few brightly painted, revitalized and new-but-old-looking, revitalized buildings as in those towns.
We arrived in Ketchican about 4:00PM but had to wait about an hour until the dock was clear, due to the off-loading of another ferry. Since they delayed our departure to 6:30PM, we decided to head downtown. We took the local bus system, which cost $1 per person. Although the ferry was only 2 miles from town, the bus meandered through the back streets and seemed to take forever to get there. But once we go downtown, and began to walk around in places like the famous Creek St., we found it was almost totally shut down, much like the rest of southeast Alaska. We had visited the Creek St area in June of 1998 and enjoyed the shops and had lunch, eating outside in the sunshine. The weather today was overcast but not all that bad, and we would have probably been willing to eat outside even today, but alas, nothing was open. Then again, the stench of rotting salmon in the creek beneath the boardwalk was so bad that we probably would not have had much appetite anyway. So we boarded the bus and headed back to the ferry. We stopped in a liquor shop and bought a bottle of wine, which Vollie and I shared in our cabin after dinner.
After a relaxing sleep on the rocking boat, we awoke to patches of fog and overcast skies in Canadian waters. Winds were light, and temperatures were in the upper 40’s. The day remained overcast and we often experienced periods of light to moderate rain. About ¾ of the way across Queen Charlotte Sound, I decided to put on my long johns and wind- breakers and head outside on the afterdeck. Just as I got out there I spied one of what became the largest pod of porpoises I had ever seen. There must have been close to 100 hundred of them! These sleek, black creatures with white stripes along their side are great to see singly, but to see several dozen leap into the air simultaneously, as if choreographed, is simply awesome. It must have taken us a good 5 minutes to pass through the entire pod.
The remainder of the ferry trip was anticlimactic after seeing the large pod of porpoises. Occasionally I would spy an Orca blowing near shore, but they were all quite some distance from the ship. An hour and half later than our scheduled docking, we finally arrived in Bellingham, WA, at 8:30AM Alaska time, which was 9:30 AM Pacific time. After refueling, we finally headed east about 11:00AM PDT in light rain. We decided to return by a different route than we have ever tried before; Route 20 that bypasses Seattle and heads directly eastward across the northern Cascades. As we headed up the west slope, the rainfall increased in intensity, and the forest got thicker and thicker with lush plants, large ferns, and large conifers up to 3.5’ in diameter. Once we crossed the crest of the Cascades, the forests thinned out and by the time we reached the tourist town of Winthrop, we could have been in the Colorado high country in its full fall colors by its appearance.
Then we entered orchard country in the Columbia River valley, where the sweet smell of apples pervaded the air. As we headed east towards Spokane, the vegetation turned to desert scrub, and then in Spokane, ponderosa forests became prevalent. I decided to call it quits at Coeur d’Alene just into Idaho. We popped the camper in steady rain to find the camper upper bunk was quit wet from the heavy rains in Haines, with no chance to dry out on the ferry. I put my backpacking pad on it to keep my sleeping bag dry. It was rather warm relative to what we had experienced in Alaska, with temperatures in the 50s.
We got an early start and headed to Hamilton, Montana, to visit the Caughy’s. Winslow Caughy is a retired professor of biochemistry from Colorado State and his wife, Helen, is an artist/writer that Vollie became friends with in the Tuesday sketch group in Fort Collins. We had a nice veggie lunch and then took a walk along the Bitterroot River. The cottonwoods were all bright yellow, as were the aspens in the mountains. We have been fortunate to track autumn at its peak for the last month! Winslow had hoped to show us a young moose, which had wandered up to him close enough to pet his snout; something I really don’t recommend as moose can get pretty darn nasty.
After a nice veggie supper following wine and cheese, we went to a play at the restored old tick research lab in town. Local players, including a retired teacher/principal, presented “See How They Run,” a comedy taken place at a vicarage in England. It was quite farcical and very well enacted.
The next day we visited after a breakfast of Winlow’s famous pancakes filled with nuts, bananas, and other goodies. They suggested that we have a mid-afternoon dinner at a restaurant located about 40 minutes’ drive to the south; we could continue heading southeast from there. The restaurant is located in the countryside along a dead-end, winding road. Winslow wanted to show us the bighorn sheep that frequented the hillsides near the restaurant and can often seen from the restaurant. Along the way, a young moose crossed the road in front of us. About a mile from the restaurant we encountered this large flock of bighorns. A dozen or so of them were on the hillside on the left side and a couple dozen were in a meadow on the right side of the road. As we stood there watching them, the group on the right side decided to join the rest on the left and we had the good fortune of watching many of them leaping over fences on each side of the road. I hope my photographs came out.
After a delicious salmon dinner (for three of us) and Vollie’s shrimp scampi, we said our farewells and headed into Idaho and made our way to near Tetonia at a view pull-out at 10:00PM. Before sunrise, we drove along the west side of the Tetons and drove over Teton Pass into Jackson, WY. This is definitely a drive I recommend. Again we were fortunate to experience it in fall colors. From there we headed north to Moran Junction and passed another moose along the way. The Tetons were a disappointment compared to the snow covered-mountains in Alaska. Then we headed southeast through Lander, Rawlins, Laramie, and into Colorado. The Colorado Front Range was in the 70’s, which felt like a heat wave after Alaska. It was also drier than anything we had experienced in a long time. Finally the camper will get dried out!
While this has been a fun trip and rewarding professionally as well, it is good to be home. By the way, the fall colors are peaking out on the plains, but at home most of the aspen have lost their leaves. We can’t complain, though, as we have experienced a month of trees at their prime fall colors when you include interior Oregon, Alaska, coastal Alaska, eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, respectively, and now the lower elevations of Colorado.
Vollie and I are now in Buenos Aires, Argentina. From 10 October until now it has been catch-up time at the office. This involved catching up on all my mail, catching up with the research progress of my students and research associates, making project written reports and giving oral presentations of research progress for our extreme precipitation project, and attending thesis proposal meetings and preliminary exams for my students. In addition, I had to prepare transparencies for my lectures here in A rgentina as well as the upcoming Joanne Simpson Symposium and a workshop in Kenya. I even served as substitute teacher for Scott Denning who is teaching one of the classes I often teach. Besides compressing about 9 weeks of work at the office into 3 week s, at home I had to catch up on all the normal fall projects such as splitting this winters firewood, cutting all the firewood for the following year, varnishing doors and frames, and helping Vollie prepare for our annual fall project party. Who said sabb aticals were relaxing?
Loaded with 9 folders of transparencies for my lectures at the University of Buenos Aires in my carry-on luggage, Vollie and I headed to DIA after lunch in the sunny warm November weather. It is a bit amazing to be able to sit outside on our deck at th is late in the season and be comfortable eating lunch. Our flight to Miami got off on time about 4:45PM and we arrived in Miami with 30 minutes for our connection to Buenos Aires. We basically walked out one gate and across the hall and into the plane! Ge tting all our carry-on luggage stowed in the plane was a challenge but we settled in for a long nights flight way south. We arrived about 9:15AM, ahead of schedule, to overcast skies and temperatures in the upper 50's. My hostess Matilde Nicolini and stud ent, Celeste, with a car met us at the airport and took us to our apartment. It is in the main part of the city, but that is all I can say at the moment because I don't know much more that. It is a bed and breakfast sort of place on the fifth floor of an old building. We have a large room with oldish furnishings and a semi-private bath. I say semi-private because we are not sure if we share it with the landlady and one of the two doors doesn't stay closed and it doesn't have a lock. Vollie propped it clos ed with her suitcase. The landlady, Carol, appears to be in her 50's and seems very pleasant. We have access to a sitting room and a kitchen where it is do-it-yourself and partly setup breakfast. Carol mentioned that when out to keep our doors open. This is a little disconcerting as I have this $2500 computer and about $700 in cameras that I may not want to carry with me at all times!
After showering and taking a brief nap, Matilde and Celeste picked us up at the apartment and drove us out to the University of Buenos Aires. I am not sure yet, but it is about 4 miles from the apartment. The campus is nicely gardened and as far as bui ldings are concerned, is dominated by two very large rectangular structures. They are parallel to each other with their long side perpendicular to the river. They are each five stories tall. In additional there is a considerably smaller rectangular buildi ng and a few odd-sized building scattered about, a soccer/athletic field and that is about it. In one of those large buildings is the meteorology department on the fifth floor. The interior of this building is completely open with a large open square in t he center. After climbing to the fifth floor (a very slow elevator exists) walking on large red tiles, one finds about a 56 inch drop to poured cement floors. The building, first built in the 60's, is still not finished and they expect it never will be. O verall it is not a very pretty sight from either the inside or the outside. It is graying concrete from the outside and the inside is likewise graying concrete but with graffiti, posters fresh and old torn off ones, covering many of the walls. To get into the meteorology department one has to have a special key to enter a locked door and then another key to enter one's office. In addition, to go to the bathroom, one must go outside this area and use another key to get into the facility. Toilet paper is oc casionally provided there.
Entering through a locked door, one finds a modest-sized open interior room littered with computers and a work table in the interior. Off of that are two locked offices that look outside towards the river. Matilde's office is one of those. The river, R io de la Plata, is more of a bay than a river. It is about 100km wide, with Ecuador on the opposite shore. I gather the delta is actually upstream about hundred kilometers from here. It continues to widen as it enters the Atlantic eventually to become Gu lf-sized. I am told that it is very polluted.
After a tour around the department, Celeste drove us back to the apartment. Matilde then took us on a walking tour of the neighborhood. The neighborhood is mostly tree-lined with lots of shops and restaurants. It has a very Parisian look to it. The wea ther was partly cloudy with temperatures in the upper 50's. Matilde, who lives in the general area, then left us on our own and we picked up a few things at a grocery store and Vollie grabbed something to eat. She was not in the mood to eat at a restaura nt while I sat there on my fast.
After a good nights sleep from 8:30PM to 7:00AM, I took a jog heading generally towards the university. The first ¾ mile is along streets where shop owners were washing the sidewalks down. I had to be careful I didn't get brushed out into the street to o. Then there is a park-like avenue near where the museum of fine arts is located. I continued on along streets for a while and then returned the same way. I felt much refreshed after a good sleep and a jog.
After a very light continental-style breakfast, more in the French tradition of croissants and toast and coffee (Cafix for me), Matilde met me to guide me to the department via public transport. As it was 10:00AM by this time, the subway and buses were not crowded. We began with a subte (subway) ride, and then a bus ride that meandered through a variety of streets and parks. After about 40min we made it to the university. Matilde doesn't drive so this is her normal mode of commuting. At the university I interacted with one of her students who is doing a compositing study of mesoscale convective systems over South America, much like the work that Ray McAnelly and I did with Jack Lin. It was interested to see the similarities and differences to our resul ts in the U.S.
After lunch I strolled around campus, enjoying the many ceibo trees with red blossoms and jacaranda trees with purple blossoms. In addition, I spied two green parrots in the trees. I took many photographs with the digital camera that Vollie bought me f or my birthday.
Then I gave a lecture to Matilde's group of six students in which I overviewed features of RAMS. The students were very attentive and seemed to be following my discussion quite well.
After being herded back to the apartment by Matilde by bus and subway, Vollie and I headed to a restaurant at 8PM for supper. We had salmon prepared French-style that was quite good and a bottle of Argentinean red wine. Speaking of French influence o n the culture here, the people are into dogs about a much as the French. In the morning one sees "professionals" taking 4 or five dogs for a walk and in the evenings you find dog owners everywhere walking their dogs. One must be very careful walking as yo u might step in doggie doodoo. It is especially tricky at night dodging their droppings in the shadows of the trees.
Today Matilde and I walked in to campus. The walk took us first through city streets and then along a parkway which had heavy car traffic. It was a pleasant walk in the nice spring weather, with temperatures running in the 60's. It took us 1.75hr, whic h makes the distance about 5 miles. In the afternoon I talked to Matilde's group about RAMS microphysics options including both our one- and two-moment bulk microphysics and the UTV bin-resolving microphysics. One of the students, Gustalfo, followed the l ecture closely because he is developing a two-moment scheme using some of the principles we have developed. One thing he does different is that he uses the same basis function, generalized gamma, but applies it the mass-distribution rather than number den sity of drops.
After work I decided to walk home on my own but following a somewhat different direction that stayed along the riverside. Except for some areas of construction of the sidewalks the walk was pleasant with less traffic beside the walkway. But then the tr affic got heavier and I found myself walking further and further away from the downtown area. The problem was that I had not turned right soon enough and I was trapped on the wrong side of the railroad tracks with no way to cut across. Using a paper with the name of the street I was looking for, I asked directions from a guard and he pointed back about two kilometers. So, back I walked then found a way to walk under the tracks and back onto the route I had taken to work. It took me 2 hours to get home wit h this longer route and sidetrack.
That evening, Vollie and our landlady, Carol, had decided to cook supper in. So we went and bought some pasta and vegies and prepared it with a salad and wine for supper. Carol had hoped we would get a chance to meet a Polish scientist, named Witold, staying there but he had made other arrangements. Eventually another tenant, a young fellow named Tim from London, arrived to join us. He is studying languages, specifically Spanish and Portuguese, and has a semester in residence here in Buenos Aires as part of that program.
Today was another warm and sunny day, with temperatures running in the mid-to upper-70's. Vollie joined me on my trek to the university this morning as she wanted to visit the botanical garden which is along the way. We first took the subte(subway) to Plaza Italiano and then walked through the series of parks that fringe the roadway going to the university. Going this way eliminates walking through the busy city streets so I plan on using this method of travel in the future. It still takes about 1.5 ho urs to walk the distance.
At the university I talked with Matilde's student Celeste(our driver on arrival) about her research. She is examining the low-level jet that flows from the north from Brazil into Argentina. Because there is very little data, she is analyzing the foreca st model output of the Eta model that is run by CEPITEC(sp?) in Brazil with 35km grid spacing. I believe she hopes to do sensitivity studies with RAMS to investigate the role of soil moisture gradients, the strength and positioning of the sub-tropical hi gh and other factors on the strength of the low-level jet.
It was interesting that I had a lunch prepared by a lady custodian who has a little kitchen in the meteorology department. They permit her to prepare and sell lunches to supplement her meager income as custodian. It was quite good. Afterward I presente d my talk to Matilde's group about our storm-scale research using RAMS. It was based on material prepared by Brian Gaudet and Sue van den Heever as well as a few things from Louie Grasso and Cathy Finley's dissertation. The students seemed to be well prep ared to understand the technical points I raised. They seemed to immediately understand the differences between vorticity production by the mesocyclone and near-surface vorticity; especially how convergence of vorticity becomes more important near the sur face. My discussion and lesson preparation made me think how Brian's sensitivity studies with coriolis force turned on and off, Cathy's finding that coriolis forcing was important to the vorticity budget of her simulated storm, and how Brian has never bee n able to replicate the intensity of tornadic vortices in Louie's simulations using soundings derived from his simulations now makes sense. In the latter case, the soundings do not inform the model of background vorticity created along the dryline boundar y which is subsequently converged to create the intense surface vortex. Likewise turning on and off "f" strengthens or weakens the background vorticity that is converged near the surface.
During discussions about Sue's LP hailstorm simulations, Matilde noted that it is common that bulk models are unable to get hail down to the surface as our simulations also displayed.
I returned home by walking along a small lake in one of the parks that I follow. There were many people enjoying the warm spring weather sunbathing. There were many single-guys baring their chests and a few women in bathing suits. The jacaranda trees a long the way are really filling out their blossoms.
That evening we had another eat-in supper at the apartment with Carol ,Witold from Poland, and Tim from England. We prepared fish and boiled potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, and, of course, wine. Witold now lives in Venezuela and is consulting with an Argentinean laboratory about how to grow crystals as he is a solid state physicist. During the communist regime in Poland he took a sabbatical in Venezuela and the Polish government denied him permission to return. He found himself without a job or countr y. So he has lived and worked in Venezuela since then. Now, however, he can return to visit family in Poland.
Another beautiful day in Buenos Aires. It must have been approaching 80F as I walked from the subte station to the university. The jacaranda trees are getting fuller and fuller each day and the ground beneath them is covered with their lavender flowers . I didn't have much scheduled today as I didn't have to lecture and the student who I was scheduled to talk with stayed home sick. I had lunch with Matilde and a retired member of the faculty whose name escapes me. I have met her before at conferences an d I believe she was in charge of or at least very active in the hail suppression research programs in Argentina many years ago.
After e-mailing and reading some technical articles, I walked back to Plaza Italia to meet Vollie. We then walked to the nearby botanical gardens where we relaxed in the shade of bougainvillea. We observed the many cats in the park lounging about and v ying for the attention of the visitors. Being thirsty we stopped at a cafe and tried some of the local beer in a yuppy-type place. Then we walked to a park with a large rose garden. It was very pretty but we are always upset by the lack of bouquet in the modern hybrids. I think that first and foremost a rose hybrid should retain their sweet smells!
On our way back to the subte, Vollie needed a restroom. She is very annoyed at the few facilities there are around the city. One feels compelled to stop at a cafe and have a drink to use theirs and then of course a restroom is needed shortly afterwards . We headed towards the botanical gardens again, and just as we got inside they started herding everyone out because it was closing hour. Wouldn't you know they had locked up the toilets early. So it was another 10 minute torturous ride by subte and walk to the apartment for poor Vollie.
After relaxing, we headed by bus to a restaurant recommended by Matilde, who is originally from Italy. It is called Parolaccia and is located in the yuppy Puerto Madero district. This is an old port region that has been all redone with a row of restaur ant after restaurant along the water front. They are all fancy white tablecloth affairs. The food was very good and the prices were about the same as in Fort Collins.
For Saturday Matilde had arranged for us to join her and another faculty member, Ines Valasco, for a tour of the delta city Tigre. Ines studied with Mike Frisch at Penn State and did a study of MCCs in South America. Matilde, Vollie, and I first took the subte and then walked through lovely tree and flower-lined streets to Ines' home. She brought us in and gave us a tour of their nice home. It has a small but neat courtyard in the rear with a small lawn, trees, flowers, and shrubs, and a barbecue, al l nicely maintained. While waiting to go, I got to watch for the first time the Latin version of the Weather Channel. It provides satellite weather overviews of South America, local weather summaries and forecasts, and even overviews of U.S. weather, all in Spanish or Portuguese.
We then headed to Tigre (tiger) which is situated as a delta-city much like New Orleans but on the Parana River. It is a very old city and is today, what I call a "tourist trap" with an amusement park with roller coasters, ferris wheels, and even bungi jumper, tour boats galore, rental rowing skiffs, kayaks, motorboats, jet skis, and restaurants and stands selling food and toys, etc along the streets. After a long search for a parking place, we arranged to take a catamaran tour boat ride for a couple of hours. The day was beautiful and sunny with scattered cumuli about and temperatures were in the 70's. The only thing that marred this voyage was that the water , especially in the channel where the ferry started and where everyone is paddling kayaks an d rowing skiffs, is about the most polluted stretch of water I have ever seen. It stinks of sulfur (Vollie at first thought it was sulfur water such as in hot springs), and is this gray, cesspool-like color. I certainly couldn't imagine paddling a kayak i n that stuff where one always runs the risk of being capsized by the wake of one of the many large boats.
Once under way, we entered channels that were "flushed" more frequently from upstream flow and they didn't smell so bad. The water turned to a dark brown and in these regions one passed sandy bathing beaches, people swimming, cleaning their kayaks, and driving jet skis. The tour meandered through narrow, windy channels lined with a variety of small and sometimes large vacation cottages. It was fun to see the variety of structures people have built to vacation on weekends from Buenos Aires, which is onl y about 30-40minutes away. Occasionally we would enter stretches of wilderness having a jungle-like appearance. Sometimes we could see whole forests of Ceibo trees growing wild loaded with their red flowers. As the tour lasted well beyond lunch time I was afraid they were going to suggest eating on the boat, where the polluted water did nothing to improve my appetite. Even after getting off the boat I worried that we would have lunch within smelling-range of the water.
Fortunately we drove off and entered a town called San Isibo, which is located downstream between Tigre and Buenos Aires. It is a very old colonial city with large trees, and old houses all about. We eventually found a restaurant overlooking the Rio Pl ata. There on a large deck we had our lunch. While eating we watched a sailing regatta in which sailboats could be seen for many miles. It did not look like very serious racing as few participants raised spinnakers on the broad reach run. Many only had a single sail of a jib or mainsail aloft. Even those with spinnakers up did not seem to fuss about keeping them trimmed very well. In addition to the sailboats we observed numerous power boats including the noisy, pesky jet skis. We could also see a paragli der being towed aloft by powerboat, and even an ultralight aircraft with boat attached that took off and landed on the water. After lunch we drove the back streets of San Isibo and viewed the gracious old colonial homes with large trees lining the streets . It was very pleasant.
We were then dropped off near out apartment, took a brief nap and headed out for dinner at about 8:30PM. We found a pizzeria and tasted the Buenos Aires version of pizza. Our's was a cheese pizza with ojo (garlic), tomatoes, and olives. It was quite go od, yet different from most pizzas one would find in the U.S.
Now I'm not much of a tourist, but today and yesterday were tourist days. At 11:00AM Matilde met us at our apartment and we took the bus to an old section of town called San Telmo. Surrounded by old buildings of the late 1800's era, it a bazaar in whic h throughout an open square are people selling antiques. Besides not being a tourist, I am definitely not an antique collector. Still it was interesting to see all these people meandering about looking at the wares being sold. Most interesting to me, thou gh, were the couples demonstrating the tangle. At one location, using music that sounded like it was recorded in 1930 and using amplifiers from that era, a couple in their 70's gave a demonstration. They were just the warm-up show as they were followed by a couple in their 30's to demonstrated tango after tango from different regions of the country. We walked on and about 1:30PM while touring this 1850's building in partial ruin, we stopped for lunch at a place on a veranda overlooking the building below filled with shops. It was a nice place and I had a light lunch of a cheese/tomato sandwich and a cervesa.
We then continued our tour by taking a bus to La Boca which is located next to the river. It is an area where there are numerous open-air stalls selling arts and crafts. It is very colorful with the crafts being displayed, murals on the walls of bright ly painted old, run-down buildings. People were again demonstrating the tango as well as folk songs from the gaucho era. Being quite warm, probably over 80F and in bright sunshine, the breeze off the cool waters felt welcome except it had a fragrance that matched the worst of Tigre's waters. Yuck! But I did enjoy the paintings on display and was even tempted to buy one of the smaller paintings but didn't because of the hassle of packing it into our carry-on luggage.
I finally suggested that I had enough of standing and walking about and we headed back to the apartment where I took a nap before supper. This nap before going out to eat after 8:00PM is getting to be routine for me. Not Vollie, though, she is not able to get into the nap mood on the spot the way I am.
It was back to work today. I walked from Plaza Italia to campus and back for a total of 3 hours walking. On the way I saw the aftermath of an accident in which a car hit a tree and it was totaled. It is remarkable that with all this traffic and the agg ressive way they drive here that I have seen only one accident so far. Upon my return I saw a bird that appears to be in the kingfisher family. It had a green back and on the sides of its head were black and white stripes. Quite a stunning bird. Also in the lake near campus I have seen muskrat-like animals in the water. On Friday I observed as many as 6 sunning themselves on a raft and today I observed one quite close. They are much bigger than our muskrats, but have a scraggly tail like ours. Their bo dy size, however, is closer to that of a beaver. Their head a face is full of whiskers and they are rather cute resembling an otter a bit. I have also noticed on my walks and tours, that the Argentinean's keep themselves very fit. I see both men and women jogging, doing pushups, and walking in the parks. They all wear skin tight clothing and the women in particular you wonder how they ever get into them. They sure put us flabby Americans to shame! My lecture today was on orogenesis of MCSs. It was the mo st complicated lecture I have given and I think they got quite a bit out of it based on the questions and discussion and, of course, the body language. This is a topic of regional interest as the Andes are a source of many MCSs just as the Rockies are in the U.S.
11/16/99 - 11/17/99
Each day seems to be getting warmer and more humid. Today it got to 86F with a relative humidity of 76%. I can handle the heat outdoors just fine, but today it was so warm in the classroom as I lectured, I was simply worn out after less that an hour. Y esterday I lectured on the realtime forecast version of RAMS. I ended the talk with a display of our web products that I had put on my notebook computer. They seemed to enjoy that, especially when I ended up by bringing up the picture I took with my digit al camera of the class on the first day. I joked that they had better stay awake or they would show up in a picture snoozing. Today my lecture covered climate applications of RAMS and coupled ocean cloud-resolving-model simulations of convection over the tropical western Pacific.
I gave the department-wide seminar today to an audience of about 25 faculty and students. My lecture was an overview of my Arctic cloud research which includes quite a few cartoons that illustrate the basic concepts that I am trying to get across. The lecture went well and I had a number of people come up and compliment me on it. They have a newly acquired 3cm radar in the department where we could view a line of incoming thunderstorm cells from the southwest. The air became increasingly humid, probabl y over 80%. Finally at about 7:30PM the first rain since I have been here occurred. It rained moderately heavy for about 20 minutes, and that was it. I thought that it would be cooler and more pleasant after the shower, but that was not to be. Instead, th e temperature dropped only a few degrees, and the air was just more humid, probably over 90%. After a supper of pizza with palm hearts on it, we followed Carol our landlady zigzagging through the back streets to an ice cream parlor where we had some very rich and different flavors from what one could get in Fort Collins. It was very good and hit the spot in this hot, humid air.
My walk to and from campus was in very humid air. Temperatures seemed a bit cooler owing to the overcast partly cloudy skies, but still were in the lower 80'sF. It reminded me of Miami in May, but not quite as hot. I gave my last lecture today about ex treme precipitation estimation with RAMS. Afterwards the students all thanked me for the lectures. In the afternoon I met up with Vollie and we visited an art museum. It was nice but after all the walking I found standing on my feet very tiring. As we wal ked towards the apartment, I suggested we stop at an American-style bar and had a draft beer (cervasa tirada or chopp) and nachos. The latter is definitely something Norte Americano!
That evening a group of us including Matilde, two students, a lady friend of hers who just happens to be the person Witold is consulting with, Witold, Carol, our landlady, all went viewing tango. The place was a cafe built in 1902, that functions more like a nightclub. At 9:00PM we were ushered into this smallish room with a small stage. A band consisting of a pianist, an electric guitarist and an accordion player played tango-style music. The dancers were a very Latin-looking male with dark, slick-bac ked hair with bronze-colored skin and a tallish very attractive woman. They were the best tango dancers we had seen here. The guy most have been quite strong as the woman must have weighed close to 140 pounds, yet he did some very impressive lifts with he r. I certainly couldn't have lifted her! Most of the female tango dancers we have seen on the streets were very thin and maybe 5'2" tall. This lady, being about 6' tall, was practically an Amazon by comparison. They did some fast, high-kicking steps, sex y close up maneuvers, and as I said before, some very impressive lifts and splits-all very athletic and modern compared to the street dancers we had seen. Then there was a male singer, who took up the majority of stage time and with load amplification. He was good but I would have been happier just to have viewed the tango dancers. Afterwards we stopped at a cafe and had snacks. Vollie and I shared a tortilla which is nothing like the Mexican style tortilla. Instead, it is of Spanish origin and is a circu lar, concoction that is more like a quiche without the dough. Ours had potatoes and some sauce all held together by eggs. I gather there are all sorts of vegies and meats that go into them. It was quite good.
Afterwards we accompanied Matilde on a walk to a bus stop and took the bus back to the apartment getting there about 12:30AM. The old man is becoming a night owl!
Matilde met us in the morning and gave us a walking tour of some of the parks. It was a bit cooler and less humid so the walk was pleasant. We stopped in a rather modern museum in former restaurant in the park. After viewing the paintings, we had lunch in the museum sitting outside beneath large trees. It was very pleasant.
We returned to the apartment, freshened up and took a taxi to the airport at 7:00PM. Then we got into the Boeing 777 torture machine for the night arriving in Miami at 5:00AM. Our original plan was to spend the day in Miami with Pete and Clair Black an d then catch a 4PM flight to get back to DIA by 7:00PM. Based on e-mail correspondences several weeks ago, I was under the impression that Pete was going to meet us at the airport. After waiting an hour, I called their home and Clair answered. She obvious ly new nothing about Pete and my discussions, so after talking with Pete, I suggested that it sounded inconvenient to get together and caught a 7:00AM flight. We got back to Fort Collins in time to have lunch with our son Bill and his girlfriend Vickie. p>
After getting home we took our dog Donner for a walk in light snow showers. The next morning we woke to 8 inches of snow on the ground! What happened to summer just a day ago?
It is a rainy cloudy day in Nairobi and I had hoped to go soaring today. I left home on Tuesday 30 November and flew to Dulles, Washington where I attended a three-day Symposium honoring 50 years of Joanne Simpson's career. The symposium was held at NA SA Goddard. Some of the talks like mine were a mix of science and anecdotes of experiences working for Joanne. I reviewed the evolution of cloud modeling since the early 70's when I worked for Joanne to the present. Other talks were almost all overviewing the achievements of Joanne and her role in the meteorological community. Now, I can take a half day of such things but three days of that sort of thing really got to be old. Still it was good seeing many old friends and colleagues and getting a glimpse o f the science they are involved in now days too.
Friday afternoon I left in plenty of time to get to the airport for my 6:30PM flight. I flew with Sabena Airline, which is a Belgium airline. The equipment was a very new looking Airbus. It had individual LCD displays of videos, video games, and movies , which one had to pay $5 for, and a control box that one could remove from its seat and activate through an attached cord. It took about half the 6.5-hour flight to Belgium to figure out how to use it! I had a two-hour layover in Brussels and then on f or an 8-hour flight to a city 1-hour west of Nairobi, which I had never heard of before, and didn't see it anyway, as it was after dark. After a 1-hour layover, we flew the hour to Nairobi arriving there after 11:00PM. I had been told that Joseph Mukabana or his designee was supposed to meet me so when I came out of customs I entered this open area with a fence separating those coming out from friends and numerous people trying to get you to take a taxi or whatever. Well, I kept looking and looking for so meone I recognized and decided after a while I was on my own. Now you have to understand everyone I have talked to about Nairobi told me to be extra careful. But I finally broke through the crowd of people that resembled a group of sharps circling for the kill. They kept trying to get me to come with them but I went to a taxi stand and got a taxi to my hotel, the Nairobi Safari Club. As we entered the city it started to rain quite heavily, and in one spot we hit a deep puddle and I feared the car would ge t flooded out. But it kept going and after midnight I made it into my room and got a night's rest.
In the morning Joseph called me to see if I got in all right. He apparently stayed there until after midnight and I guess he walked away from the shark-like crowd to ask about me and that must have been when I entered the shark cage. He also had my fli ght confused with my associates, Bob and Craig who took a KLM flight which arrived 1 hour earlier (for them the next day) than my Sabena flight. So, he checked with KLM and found I wasn't on it.
In spite of the fact it was raining cats and dogs, I then called Yellow Wings Air services to see if it made sense at all about considering flying up to Mweiga where the glider operation that Tim McCallister recommended is located. They said they woul d call Peter and Petra Allmendinger, owners and operators of the commercial soaring club. About an hour later, 9:45AM, I got a call back that it was reasonably clear up there and it was expected to clear even in Nairobi. So I grabbed a taxi and headed to Wilson field where I met the pilot, Stefan, and we cranked up an old Cessna 172. After climbing up to 8500', Stefan let me take the controls and I flew the remainder of the 45-minute flight. Except for a mountain pass area, the whole landscape was covered by one small farm after another. I climbed up to 9500' over the pass and then let down dodging cumulus clouds. Stefan assured me that it would clear up near Mweiga as it generally does. However, as we got closer, I could detect a loss of confidence in hi s optimism. A mid-level stratus- deck covered the entire area.
I gather it had been raining rather regularly for about a month, as the grass was quite green all over the area. We landed to in a 15kt cross wind. Two gliders were set up on the north end of the runway next to a grass-roofed ramada. Both planes were t wins, one a K-13 and the other an open cockpit Slingsby T-21. That is probably a 40-year-old plane that looks like a dragonfly when viewed from the front. It has dual oval shaped wind screens that resemble those on British sports cars of the same era. The wing is elevated above the fuselage on a pod of sorts. I had always thought that would be an interesting ship to fly and it appeared I might get the chance.
Getting out of the Cessna I introduced myself to Peter and Petra. They are a very friendly couple and both are Germans. They had the winch setup for a southerly takeoff, but the winds shifted and they had to switch the whole operation end-for-end. This involved moving the winch and cable doe-see-doe, hooking both gliders at once on an old Mini-Moke and dragging them to the other end. We hardly moved 10' when the Moke ran out of gas. So a beat up VW bug was brought down which couldn't move very slow so it was a jog to the other end of the runway.
Peter then took a couple, one at a time, on scenic flights in the T-21. Peter later said that the T-21 is very popular for scenics, especially on nice warm days. Then it was my turn. As the previous flights were only 15 minutes or so, I didn't expect much of a flight, but flying the T-21 would be an experience anyway. With Peter following through with me, we got a good winch flick to 1100'. Peter suggested I turn into the weak thermal we encountered just before release. Now the T-21 is a very differen t bird to fly compared to anything I have flown previously. Turns on the roll-axis are so stiff I felt I needed two hands on the stick! Moreover, once you get it to bank into a turn sharply it feels like it is going to roll over on its back into a spin! I t took me a while to get the hang of the beast. If you didn't kick in appropriate rudder, down that wing would drop and I'd be looking straight at the ground through its open sides! I didn't need to look at the yaw string when I slipped and skidded as I w ould get a blast of fresh air in my face---wham!
But we scratched away in those little thermals and eventually gained some altitude. Then Peter said it looks like "the" shear-line or convergence line was coming through for the first time this year. At the leading edge of the line of cumuli, clouds we re thin and wispy and behind it normal towering cumuli grew to 8000 or 9000'. The best lift, however, was not beneath the bigger cu but instead beneath the wispy cu. In fact we encountered strong enough lift to launch us several thousand feet above the to wering cumuli, reaching 11,000'. Remember this is an open cockpit plane, so we were freezing our butts up there. I would work back and forth along the leading edge of the convergence line above the wispy cu much like working a wave. This line behaved simi lar to a "bore-like" wave much like the famous Australian Morning Glory. I looked at aircraft charts trying to understand what triggered this bore. Behind the bore front the airmass was definitely different than in front as it was moister, hazier, and eve n smelled different. But the coast is some 600km away and the terrain slopes gently up to the ridges near Mount Kenya, so it doesn't appear to be a bore triggered on a sea-breeze front interacting with steep topography. It was moving between Mount Kenya t o the east and another mountain range to the west whose name I forget. After a while, the cu behind the leading wispy line began looking ragged and I found weaker lift. It appeared the bore- front grew shallower and ran ahead of the cu line, then after a few minutes, it appeared to retrench back to the cu. After almost an hour the lift got weaker and we began descending to the airport. When flying the T-21 one has to keep a sharp eye out so that you don't drift very far downwind. This plane thermals at ab out 32kts and 45kts is probably its best L/D. Faster than that it drops like a rock. My comment about my Grob G-109B penetrating like a D-9 Catapillar is very appropriate for the T-21 as well!
I pretty much landed it on my own slipping it with the wind on my face. Flying the T-21 was certainly a fun experience, especially having that bore-like convergence line to keep us aloft for over an hour. I felt I needed a derrick to get me out of the plane once on the ground, as my butt was sore and muscles in one leg had knotted up. I wouldn't call the T-21 the most comfortable ship to fly in.
Now I'll have to go home and run RAMS to figure out what kicks off that bore, or get Joseph Mukabana to run it over the area with sufficiently high resolution.
Stefan and I got back into the Cessna and then overflew Peter and Petra's guest-house/ home about 3 miles from the airport. The house is a double-peaked large southern- German looking house in an open plain with a nice view of Mount Kenya. I'd like to bring Vollie back there sometime to stay a week or so, hiking Mount Kenya and, me of course, soaring. I understand that elephants and other wild things can often be seen from their veranda. They have seen leopard prints in the yard but never seen one. In fact, about 10 miles from there on the way back I spied some elephants lounging in a muddy-looking pond near a home.
We returned to Nairobi, skirting showers from a large cumulonimbi, just before dark. I then took a taxi back to the hotel where I had a nice fish dinner by myself.
It was back to work today as I was part of the introduction ceremonies. I had hoped the meeting would be held at the University of Nairobi campus, which is only a 5-minute walk from the hotel. I explored the campus in my morning jog. It is a pretty cam pus in a park-like atmosphere with bouganvilla, flowering trees, and eucalyptus all about. Instead we were bused across town to the Kenyan Meteorological headquarters and training school. You get the feeling you are entering a prison with guards standing at the entrance and the place is surrounded by a tall steel-post fence. Following some brief lectures designed to consume time while we waited for the guest of honor; we went to a hall where there were introductory ceremonies. Bob, Craig, and I set up fr ont facing the audience in a row of chairs behind the "big-wigs". They handed us a program and guess what? I was on the program for making remarks, the first time I had heard of this. So, I welcomed the students and thanked Joseph for giving me this oppo rtunity to escape snow! I mentioned that I already had a chance to study their meteorology during my soaring experience. Then others made comments and we listened to a speech by the president of the University of Nairobi.
Then Bob, Craig, and I attended the morning lectures, which were held in a classroom with classroom desks built for 7th graders in size. Not exactly comfortable, but they at least kept us awake. Because the morning lectures were rather basic, we decide d to spend the rest of the day preparing our own lectures and laboratory materials, e-mailing and the like. Since I am not scheduled to lecture tomorrow, I've decided to go touring a bit. For clarification, Bob is Bob Walko, a research associate under bo th Roger Peilke and me where he is in charge of RAMS model code development. Craig is Craig Tremback, a research scientist with Mission Research Project, and a PhD graduate under my supervision. Both he and Bob are presented lectures on RAMS as well as me , and they are also setting up a laboratory wherein students in the class can run RAMS and perform various simulations as part of the WMO-sponsored workshop.
The weather today was pleasant with temperatures in the lower 70's, partly cloudy, and no rain. It reminds me a bit of weather near San Juan, Costa Rico which is also at high elevation. The vegetation here is similar as well.
It rained heavily over night and there was a solid stratus deck covering the plain. Bob and I took a jog around campus and covered more of it than I did on the previous morning. The streets felt rather slippery after the rains. Following breakfast, I h eaded for a tour of Nairobi National Park, while Bob and Craig set up the laboratory software. As I mentioned before, the campus is park-like and is covered with all sorts of tropical trees and vegetation. It is in sharp contrast to the city area we are s taying in which is all concrete or mud/dirt walkways with little if any trees or vegetation. The buildings in campus are pretty typical of those found in universities and professional buildings in third-world tropical latitudes. They are almost all poure d concrete gray-looking structures, rectangular and in various states of repair/decay. In the hill area where the meteorology department exits, there stands a building that was started and never finished because of some contract dispute. The building wher e meteorology exists, is one of those gray, poured concrete structures with floors made of wood tiles that are broken up in spots due to water damage. Joseph told us that, responding to pressures for education from a ballooning youth populations, two more universities have been built in Kenya which puts greater competition on the University of Nairobi to obtain funds for building maintenance and support for research. There are some nice looking stone cottages on campus whose function I never did find out and on the main part of campus some of the buildings are red-brick put still have pretty shoddy-appearing exteriors.
Nairobi National Park is the oldest national park in Kenya, having been set up in something like 1946. It is over 450 sq miles of rolling savanna located right on the edge of the city. It cost me $80, plus tip, for the half-day tour. A guy and driver m et me, with a van at 8:30AM. I joked that this is not a matatu is it? They said definitely not! A matatu is a mini-van system that was set up many years ago to provide transportation when the whole public transit system broke down. The name matatu refers to the original 30-shilling price they charged. They are still quite a bargain, price-wise, but this is compensated by the fact that the drivers stuff as many people as is possible, and then some, into them. I mean you see people hanging out the side wind ow somehow! I guess in their original form they were pickup trucks with canvas covered benches in the truck bed. They are very restless drivers, and whenever I saw a fender-bender, a matatu was involved.
Anyway, the guy I paid got out and off the driver and I went to the park. We entered the east entrance to the park, which goes through an industrial area, and the last 0.5-mile is on a muddy, mud puddle filled road. Some of those puddles must have had 8 inches of water in them! The entrance to the park has a guard house and black steel gates and surrounding the park are 4 strands of probably high-voltage electric fence.
As I mentioned before the park is rolling savanna with scattered whistling acacia about 3-4 foot tall with large round cones that resemble some types of pine cones a bit. Every so often there is a tree, probably in the acacia family. About a mile into the park we passed by several giraffes. They stayed close to the road and didn't seem to mind our presence a bit. I think I got some good pictures of them. Then we spied some impalas, then more and by the time we left I must have seen hundreds of them.
The road through the park is gravel and is in much better shape than that 0.5 mile entrance drive. The driver raised the pop-top of the mini-van so that I could stand up and get a view of the landscape and any critters that were on it. As we rolled alo ng one could hear the continuous singing of numerous birds. Some of the birds the driver new the name of were the widow bird which has a red crest on its head and is about the size of a grouse, a crested spur, and crested hawk. I have no idea what the res t are called.
The animals I spied, some very close to the van, included Jackson heart beast, a buffalo in the distance, warthogs including a mother and two piglets. I also saw some Thompson gazelles, which are beautiful deer-like animals with black stripes along the ir sides, white bellies, and brown backs. There were also grand gazelles, which are larger and not as colorful as the Thompson's, elands, the largest of the antelope family, waterbucks, and a few rhinos in the distance. Now you have probably seen them all in a zoo, but here they were all roaming about in their natural habitat, only 20 miles at most from the city. We dropped down into a valley where there was a parking area near a stream. There, I was escorted along a nature trail by a park employee carryi ng a rifle for protection. The trail meandered through lush green vegetation with some flowers scattered about and numerous tall trees. He had hoped to show me a hippopotamus, but they decided to find a pool elsewhere. I did see a few turtles and a crocod ile lounging on a beach. There were also three monkeys sunning themselves on a large log. The guide said they were not people shy so on the return on the trail we walked through the bush so I could get close enough for me to take a picture. But, people sh y or not, they hid on us.
Back on the road again, my driver was determined to show me some lions, but this was not to be. So after 5 hours he returned me back to the hotel where I worked on my lectures.
We had another rainy night in Nairobi. I didn't get a chance to run this morning because it was raining so hard. But, by the time we were picked up it had stopped raining. By noon, however, it began raining heavily again. This is definitely the wet sea son.
I gave a lecture on four-dimensional data (4DVAR) analysis in the workshop today. Aside from my brief introductory comments regarding the fundamental nature of 4DVAR being similar to least-squares analysis, I felt that the slides that Tomie gave me wen t right over their heads. Clearly we all need to adjust our talks to a simpler level.
Eating here has been a challenge for me with my vegetarian/seafood diet. Breakfast at the hotel is a big rip-off. Neither Bob nor Craig ate there as a result. They have a buffet with one side of the table being what appeared to be a standard continent al breakfast and the other side having eggs, meats, and other such things. Most restaurants with such setups, charge a continental rate or a full breakfast rate. Not, this place, everything is a la cart up to a $15 buffet price. Bob tried the full English breakfast and the bill came to about $15. I took the continental breakfast and I found that they charge for each item so I paid about $10 for mine. I found today for example, taking a few slices of cheese meant I was charged nearly $7 for the cheese plat e! I've never seen such charges for breakfast anywhere. Because lunches at the Met Institute are a preset menu, usually consisting of some sort of meat dish for $10, I have decided to skip lunch altogether. By contrast dinners at the hotel and a restauran t we went to last night can be purchased for under $10. Go figure! They are pretty good, although the amounts don't make up for lack of lunch and a skimpy breakfast. If I were pure vegetarian, I'd really be in trouble as few if any vege dishes are offered . So, I survive on fish and seafood. Well, I can use a diet to make up for sitting in airplanes and being fed every 5 or 6 hours and finding it difficult to get as much exercise in on my travels in general. Still eating is part of the fun on these trips a nd it sure isn't as much fun for me.
In the afternoon I lectured on cumulus parameterization, mesoscale convective system parameterization, and parameterization of the cloudy boundary layer. I lightened up the talk a bit and used fewer equations, and as result I felt the students got more out of it. The audience is quite a mixed bag of backgrounds as far as I can tell. Many are routine forecasters from Kenya and neighboring countries and probably have marginal technical background. Others have had more advanced technical backgrounds, and some are even current graduate students. This makes it very challenging to hit the right balance in the lectures. I feel I got closer in the afternoon. I guess we'll see how tomorrow goes.
By the time we finished for the day, it had cleared up and the sky was partly cloudy. We had supper at our hotel restaurant and the food was reasonably good. The bill was only slightly greater than my breakfast here and I had two glasses of wine. This is a weird place. I hope the usual nocturnal rains don't hit tonight so that I can get a run in before breakfast.
Finally it wasn't raining when I got up at 6:00AM. So I got in a jog around the U of Nairobi campus. The air is very humid so I got very wet from perspiration. By the time I got back to the hotel, I could see clouds rolling in from the east. When our c ar picked us up it was raining heavily and it has remained overcast with light drizzle throughout the morning. I am beginning to realize how lucky I was to find great soaring on Sunday. We are in the peak of the rainy season.
I lectured today in the morning on the bin-resolving microphysics in RAMS and its application to a variety of topics. Then in the afternoon I discussed our radiation parameterization schemes and Costa's modeling work in the tropical western Pacific, in which he coupled the ocean mixed-layer with deep convection in RAMS. I felt much better about today's lectures and in fact I had some of the students express an interest in coming to CSU for graduate study.
On our return we were driven by the site where the U.S. embassy used to be. This is where Bin-Laden had one of two U.S. embassies bombed. The remains of the building were torn down and the building next to it was totally destroyed. Another 15-20 story building stands there without any windows. I gather 250 people were killed by the blast. They are planning on putting a memorial park at the site. One had plenty of time to view the solid steel enclosure surrounding the bomb-site as it was the worst traff ic jam I have seen so far in Nairobi. Cars were moving inch by inch and people were swarming across the streets every which way and everywhere.
Nairobi as a town is not the most pleasant place I have visited. Over 3 million people live here and it has been hurriedly put together with most of the city not having infrastructure to support them. Outside of the bleak main downtown area with high-r ise buildings, there are no sidewalks and I never did see a traffic light working. While there are many people walking along the sides of streets on dirt/mud paths, they must fight their way across streets at traffic circles with much congestion, one lane at a time, or just jay-walk through the traffic when it is jammed. Public transit consists of taxis, matatus, and overcrowded buses. Along the busy streets are these hodgepodge of utility lines that are often all wound together, lean down to the ground i n places and I am amazed that telephones or electricity carried by them ever works. There are some parks scattered about but they are often worn bear in many spots by walkers and street people hang out in them over night. Only during the bright daylight i s it safe to walk through them. Likewise, there are many parts of downtown that are frequented by homeless people who stand about or sleep stretched across the sidewalks anywhere and everywhere. All the shops have these heavy steel roll-down barricade fen ces, and are for the most part stalls in dingy-looking poured concrete structures. Joseph did take us to a very upscale shopping center, more or less in the suburbs, that could have been anyplace in the U.S. Also we were often driven along winding back ro ads to the Met Training Center, where we could see these nice large homes with brick facades, surrounded by manicured gardens of tropical plants, and brick or stone, or steel iron fences, with broken glass or speared tops to them. So there are some very u pscale homes, which I gather by U.S. standards, are not very expensive, being in the low $100K range but totally out of the reach of 99% of the population. Thus there is a great division between the very rich and the poor.
That evening, Bob and I ventured out to supper at a vegetarian Indian restaurant called the Mahur. My Kenya guidebook recommended it highly. Craig had to work on a proposal and tomorrows talks and doesn't seem to be very enthusiastic about Indian food anyway, so he elected not to come along. We asked the doorman at the hotel to get us a cab. He made quite a fuss about getting us the right cab driver and that we make arrangements with the driver to come back as well. So, we got into this rather old, gr ay, London-style cab. The restaurant was only 2km away through crowded, dusty, diesel-smoked, unlit streets. The restaurant was in an unpretentious building at the corner of a very busy intersection. My first reaction was, hmm, I wonder what we are gettin g into here. There were locales standing around and talking all over the place outside the restaurant. We asked the cab driver to come back in an hour. At the entrance level there was an open well-lit room with a number of natives in it. But the waiter es corted us up a winding stairway to a darkened room with Indian-style decorations. I joked to Bob that they didn't want to lose business by having a couple of whites in full view downstairs. Actually this was probably the high-class room. We were the only ones in the rather large room. We were immediately served a nice tomato soup and a plate of breads. When we finished, the waiter pointed to a buffet table filled with many main course dishes and deserts. We filled our plates and had a great meal including seconds and desserts. Several of the foods had some interesting exotic flavors that I had not experienced before. While we ate we heard African music being played along the streets below. Bob remarked that it sounded a bit like Caribbean music and I said -well, where do you think that came from! About the time we finished an Indian family joined us in the room; a good sign that this was a favored restaurant. When the bill came we were amazed the price for the two of us came to about $10! My guidebook was right this is the best deal in town. Outside we found that our cab driver had waited for us and we weaved our way back to the hotel, feeling quite full, and burping up the flavors of the moderately spicy Indian foods.
It is interesting being a minority to such an extent as we are here in Kenya. This is not the first time I have been in such a position. Certainly in China I was a minority and when visiting outside of Beijing in the lesser tourist-exposed cities and t owns, we were stared at and viewed as a curiosity. Not here, we just seem to meld into the mass of blacks for the most part. At work and in the lecture room we are treated as being no different. I find the locals to be openly friendly and joke and laugh a lot. One time as we were being driven from the hotel to the Met Office, I joked to the driver as we stood still in a traffic jam that this was a "car-park" and I thought he would die laughing on the spot. They are a very touchy-feely people as they talk they put their hands on your shoulders, give you a hung, and it is common to see a couple of professionals at the Met Office talking and holding hands as they walk along. I also see this frequently on the streets. This touchy-feely business is something I always have a hard time adjusting to as that was something that was just not done in my early years in Upstate New York. My son, Chris, always gives me shit about that and makes a big thing about hugging me now days as we part company.
The only time I feel we are being stared at is when we go jogging and that is probably because there are so few joggers around town. On campus we might see two or three runners (like they really move!), but that is it.
It turned out to be a nice sunny day with scattered cumuli and temperatures in the upper 70's. After a run with Bob through Nairobi University, I went with a guy from the Met Service to Sabena Airlines where I was able to move my return flight up from Friday night to Monday night. My lecture duties end on Monday and I hadn't scheduled to depart until Friday because I wasn't sure what my responsibilities would be through the remainder of the workshop in my capacity as Chairman, of the International Prog ram Committee for the workshop. But, as became clear to me, this was largely a ceremonial position, so after Monday I wouldn't have any responsibilities. Since I can only take so much of hanging out in Nairobi itself, and I have gone soaring and visited M aasai Mara, and to do anything more in tours would make this trip very expensive.
I lectured today on the real-time version of RAMS, on our flash-flood simulations, and on work in progress or done in the past in which satellite data and radar data are incorporated in RAMS.
That evening, a Friday nice none-the-less, I couldn't talk Bob or Craig into "doing" the town, so we just ate at the hotel. The dinners are OK there but not much different than one could find in Fort Collins. If it weren't for me they would have probab ly never gone out to eat. Bob did want to eat at a restaurant called the Carnivore sometime, where various exotic game meats such as antelope, gazelle, and the like were served. Being a vegetarian, that place didn't seem very attractive to me.
After Bob and I jogged and I had a light breakfast, we were picked up at 0800 and taken to Wilson Field where we caught a flight in a Twin Otter to Mara Serena Lodge in Maasai Mara National Park. The flight took 45 minutes plus another 15 with stopover s to pickup and drop passengers at two other lodges. In the low flights between lodges I saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, impalas, heart beasts, and other critters. The landing strip is dirt at each lodge and about 3500ft long.
Mara Serena is situated on a small hilltop surrounded by scattered trees and bush. The rooms are a cluster of concrete structures with rounded edges all over, which are intended to resemble in some way the traditional Maasai homes. From what I saw of t he thatched-roof Maasai homes from the air the resemblance is a bit imaginary. But it is a very pleasant place to stay. I have a thing about being on a hilltop and overlooking the plains, so I enjoyed it immensely. It is much drier here than in Nairobi. This is my kind of place-no horns blowing all the time, no traffic noise-yes this is life! The three of us, and a Parisian woman, attended a Maasai discussion and dance. They described their culture and then had an all-male dance and even had us participa te. They are a beautiful people: tall, slim and proud of their heritage. They maintain a traditional cattle-raising lifestyle in spite of all the pressures to enter the 20th century. Tourism is the most difficult force that they fight against.
At 4:00PM we went on a safari onto the savanna. I was a bit disappointed in it as it was a big game hunt; with cameras, but still the emphasis was on lions and cheetahs. I was glad I had taken the tour through Nairobi National Park where I learned a lo t about the other animals. We passed impalas, gazelles, and antelopes with not a stop or even a mention of them unless someone yelled stop! But we did see three female lions and later two males. Then at dusk we encountered two cheetahs. During our first v iew of them the male was attempting to couple. We followed them along, in my opinion too closely. It reminded me of kayaking off the San Juan Islands and seeing this cluster of boats following Orcas. Here 4 or 5 Toyota Land Cruisers chased these cheetahs. They snarled once in a while when we followed them, but they otherwise ignored us. They are beautiful cats and I enjoyed watching them move through my binoculars.
Later on the plane home I talked to a couple of young guys that were in the park at the same time we were but stayed through Monday. That day they encountered a leopard in a lone-standing tree eating a dik-dik. He said once it was discovered, it quickl y became surrounded by Toyota Land Cruisers and safari trucks, where it growled over the intrusion. It is a bit bothering to see such behavior of the guides and drivers.
As we returned we passed two herds of elephants. Actually I would have enjoyed viewing them more with some light, but I guess they are not big game enough.
We went off on another safari at 0600. It was overcast at first and almost dark. As we bumped our way across the countryside we saw more lions, a cheetah, a lone hippo, numerous gazelles and topees, wildebeests, antelope, warthogs, and baboons. I kept thinking I was seeing heart beasts as I saw in Nairobi National Park, but instead they were called topees. It turns out they are quite closely related, but the topee has horns that curve back while the heart beast has horns that curve forward. One has a b rowner coat than the other, but I forget which is which. We had an opportunity to view a loan cheetah pestering a herd of Thompson's gazelles. It would move close to the herd, and they would scurry away, the cheetah would move close again and off went th e gazelle's. They seemed to play this game for a long while. I guess the cheetah was looking for a sign of weakness in one of the members of the herd. At the end of the safari we were taken down to the river at a place called the Hippo pool. There they ha d tables set up on the banks over looking the pool and a buffet breakfast. It was quite pleasant eating there watching the hippos come up for air and snort, viewing a couple of mostly submerged crocodiles, while eating an excellent breakfast in the warm s unny air. Before we noticed the crocs, Bob walked down the sandy bank to the shore, and one of the attendants suggested he come right back up as there were crocs down there.
After returning to our rooms we arranged a nature walk that was guided by one of our Maasai dancers of yesterday. The trail basically followed the perimeter of the compound near the electric fence-line. He told us about the trees, which ones could be u sed for medicinal purposes, the birds and mammals that we could see along the way. It took us 1.5hrs but one could have easily walked it in 25-30 minutes. So there was much stopping and pointing things out. At one overview point he pointed out a male ostr ich that was several miles away and further away a herd of elephant that none of us could see without field glasses and even then they were hard to find. His eyesight was phenomenal. Along the trail there were numerous large spoor droppings that he told u s were by a hippo that somehow regularly walks across the cattle guard during the night and enjoys the extra-green vegetation within the compound and then departs in the morning. Imagine jogging along that trail which Bob and I considered first thing in t he morning and coming face-to-face with a hippo!
One can often see baboons walking around just outside and even inside the compound. Within the compound, often along the walkways, sometimes in the trees looking like live, furry fruit, are these little animals called hyrax. They are about the size of a groundhog or marmot, and are brown rather cute critters. Our Maasai guide informed us that their closest relative is the elephant! As Craig and I sat outside the central check-in/out counter and restaurant, waiting to be picked up to go to the airport, one of these hyrax climbed about in the tree above us. I walked inside for a minute and when I returned Craig was hurriedly moving his things inside. I asked him if it had started to rain, as the skies were very dark and threatening. He said, well sort of , that hyrax had proceeded to pee and dump right on him! Craig was not a happy camper at that moment.
Our flight back to Nairobi was uneventful and we found the traffic was quite low in density as it was the Sunday of a three-day holiday.
I gave my last lecture today. It was on predictability of convective storms. I put it in the framework of a model with sufficient grid spacing to explicitly resolve deep convective storms over an area of roughly 500kmX500km. I said I am reasonably opti mistic that such a model can provide useful forecasts of precipitation and severe weather provided:
I noted however, that in Africa with its once-per-day sounding data and rather coarse spacing and with few radar observations, predictability of convective storms, even with remote-sensing of high-resolution soil moisture and vegetation parameters, wil l still be rather poor.
Craig has been trying to load RAMS and supporting software on the computers here and having little success. He has been cannibalizing several machines trying to get one with enough memory to do the job. I joked that we can't take him anywhere. One week in Africa and he turns into a cannibal! He is very frustrated but has been keeping his cool.
Today is the nicest day weather-wise since we have been in Nairobi. It is drier, almost cloud-free, with temperatures in the upper-70's. It has waited until I get ready to leave. Joseph and his sister and our driver dropped me at the airport and I beg an the 9-hour flight to Brussels. I almost missed my flight as I was told the wrong gate and sat there and fell asleep. I heard our flight mentioned on the intercom and rushed to another gate.
Another 9 hours in the Airbus. It is obvious this was built as a joint effort between the British and the French. No one else could have dreamed such an uncomfortable machine. The seats are too narrow and too close together so the seat in front of you is always in your face. Moreover the control device for the LCD entertainment center is positioned at the side of the seat when it is not in your hand. One of the buttons is the call button for the attendants, which emits this irritating "bong" every time it is pushed. It seems that some people with wide hips must be knocking into it because the "bong" has been going on almost all night without stop. This happened coming over for 17 hours! I mentioned in a joking way to the attendants that it must drive t hem crazy. They said yes, indeed, and on some flights it is even worse. Imagine flying these things with a full load of wide-butted Americans-continuous bongs all the way! Another thing that bugs me about the Airbus is that in the coach section where the rest rooms are located, there is a bulkhead that sticks out into the isle, which makes the passageway extremely narrow. Finally, as I found out on my leg from Brussels to Dulles, the ventilation system on the plane is marginal at best. Most planes have ve nts over your head, which you can open or close, and direct fresher air towards you. Not so on the Airbus. A passenger in front of me was farting almost continuously it seems and the stink would hang around it forever. I felt like standing up and while le aning over his head, stick my finger down my throat and barf all over him. But it was as much the Airbuses fault as his. While waiting for my connection in Brussels I chatted with an English businessman. I mentioned my experience flying with Sabena and he said, well you know what Sabena stands for don't you--Such a bloody experience never again!
It is 3:00AM and I am up and about wide-awake with jet-leg. I arrived in Denver at 5:00PM without incident and then proceeded to miss the 5:55PM Airport Express shuttle bus to Fort Collins. I was out there at 5:45PM in plenty of time but somehow I did n't see the bus and had to wait until the 6:55PM shuttle. I waited outside in the cold windy air for nearly 45 minutes, and me just coming from the equator! Vollie met me at the Holiday Inn in Fort Collins and drove me home where I enjoyed stretching out and sleeping in a bed, my bed, for a change. By 3:00AM, however, my body decided I had enough of the good life and I became wide-awake with it thinking it was 2:00PM in Kenya. Most people have more trouble with jet-leg going east, as did Bob and Cr aig. They were nearly basket cases for the first 4-5 days, while I was sleeping for a minimum of 5 hours and often 7 hours straight through the night from the start. I, on the other hand, seem to wake up early when traveling west as my body clock tells m e it should be time to be up and about.
It feels great to be home and have been granted an extra four days to catch up with things at the office like my mail and e-mail, my student's research progress, reports and papers overdue, and at home with things like fixing broken stuff, bringing in firewood and pellets for the pellet-stove, Christmas shopping and who knows what all. The only major incident that happened at home was my 5-year old dog Donner developed a slipped disc in his back and pinched a nerve, so he lost control of his hind quart ers. Vollie had to take him to the emergency ward and now he is taking Predizone and muscle relaxants and has to be carried up and down stairs for some time until (and if) he fully recovers. So, Vollie has had a time of it.
2/3/00 - 2/5/00
The sabbatical adventure continues. After lunch with Vollie, Chris, and Bill and Vickie, I caught the Airport Express as 1:30 PM on Thursday the 3rd of February and began my trip to Pune, India. In Pune I am to present a series of lectures on RAMS to t he Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). My host is Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay, who I call Partha. Partha and I wrote a joint proposal to the US National Science Foundation to perform cooperative research on mesoscale meteorology in India using RAMS. This is the first phase of this project, and it will be followed by more extended visits by Partha to CSU as well as collaborations via the Internet.
The first two legs of my flight were with United Airlines; Denver to Chicago, and Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany. In Frankfurt I connected to Lufthansa for a direct flight to Mombai (formerly called Bombay). The only excitement of the trip was the short connection times in both Chicago and Frankfurt, about 50 minutes each. Now a 50-minute connection in Chicago is not a problem if the weather is fine and there are no other hang-ups. However, even though the flight went smoothly, we still off loaded on Co ncourse B and the departure gate was in Concourse C. This provided some healthy exercise making my way between gates with all my baggage as carry-on. But I made it and found a place to stow my carry-on and off we went to Frankfurt. Arriving in Frankfurt a bout 15 minutes late and having to go from one terminal to another through security, made amounted to a 30 minutes connection quite exciting. Fortunately, Lufthansa had a rather heavy set man meet me and two others to escort us through the labyrinth of w alkways, security (jumping ahead of a line), escalators, and arrived about 2 minutes before departure time. Naturally I couldn't find a place for my bags near my seat in coach, but found one in business class.
I arrived in Mombai at 1:30AM on Saturday, the 5th and after going rapidly through customs, I was met by Partha. Thank goodness, because I sure wouldn't have wanted to make my way to Pune by myself. My guide book said it was a 4-hour train ride, but Pa rtha had arranged for us to take a small bus which departed from the airport and dropped us off directly at the institute in about 4 hours, whereas with the train, one has to make one's way across Mombai to the train station, and then from the train stati on in Pune to the institute, which would take considerably longer than 4 hours. After I found out what the drive was like, however, I plan on suggesting that we take the train back!
The bus was a diesel-powered bus about the size of a really large van or small motor home. Unfortunately, we waited for 1.5 hours for a couple on the same flight to go through customs and baggage claim and join us. Well at least I didn't have to run th e risk of losing my bags on the short connections, but I didn't save any time. Leaving Mombai at 3 in the morning was no problem as there was little traffic, other than a few of the ubiquitous three-wheeled Autu-rickshaws; a two-cycle powered motorcycle e ngine-driven taxi rig generally with soft top and two to four passenger seats. The exhaust is black and very smelly; I think they run on diesel fuel. The sides are open and the driver sits behind a windshield steering with handlebars much like a motorcycl e.
Once in the countryside the roads got "interesting" as they ranged from almost 4-lane divided, to almost two-lane head-on traffic with bumper-to-bumper trucks. It was very dark in the hazy air, reminding me of driving in the hills of Pennsylvania at ni ght. In the four-lane divided sections, the driver had to blow the horn repeatedly when passing the trucks so that they would move fully into their lanes. Eventually the road began the rise over the Western Ghat mountain range and gained about 2000 ft in a narrow, almost two-lane, switchback road. Our driver repeatedly passed the slow-moving trucks with trucks barrowing downhill at us and barely pull in ahead of the truck we were passing before the oncoming truck passed us. Sometimes it was the other way around and we could see the lights of two, side-by-side oncoming trucks heading our way. A few times, our driver had to pull off the lane into the gravel as well as slow down to prevent a head-on collision. In the U.S. this would have led to many episodes of "road rage" and we probably would have gotten shot at! This sort of driving went on for four hours as we bumped along, the partially paved road, lurching forward and backward.
Along the way, we nearly hit one cow, a person who ran from behind a truck and streaked across our headlights, and several bicyclists. The number of near-miss head-on collisions with trucks was too numerous to count! I felt like I would have to clean u p the seat after having the "sh-"" scared out of me so many times. Needless to say, I didn't sleep at all during that drive.
I arrived at the guest facilities at the IITM just in time to have breakfast. It consisted of tea, toast, and noodles with a spicy sauce, boiled eggs, and some rice dumpling-like things. It was pretty good. My room is something like a suite, with two b edrooms, a bath, and a living room. It has poured concrete walls that are crudely painted yucky-green, a concrete/terrazo floor, and beds with netting over them. It took me a while to figure out how to get through that netting to get into bed. Getting out is also a challenge as the opening in the net is in the middle of the side panel, so I have to curl up and slip through the slot in the screen to get out. Now I know why yoga is so popular in India! The bathroom has a shower unit without curtains and is only cold water. Next to the shower are two plastic buckets in which you can pour hot and cold water from faucets just beneath the shower unit. What you do is mix the water in those buckets to get the optimum temperature and use a big scoop to pour the w ater over your head. So much for the shower unit! It is primitive to say the least. The toilet functions but it trickles water all night long.
After breakfast I set my watch for 11:00AM and crawled into the screened bed and slept so soundly that I slept through my alarm. The cook rang my doorbell, which would serve well as a fire alarm, for lunch consisting of rice and a couple of rather mild sauces. I found out later they were preparing my sauces separately from the other people staying in the guest facilities and making them quite bland. I then took a walk around the campus including the main research center and the apartments for the emplo yees. The campus is remarkably similar to the one we lectured at in Kenya. Then I decided to get a layout of the land, map in hand. I marched up a 300 ft hill that overlooked and divided the city. Being the dry season, things looked rather parched in town , but on top of the hillsides, one gets the impression it doesn't rain much even during the "wet". There are few trees or even tall bushes on top, and occasionally there is a small flower, and some very dry grasses. The hill forms a ridgeline, with a grav el road running along most of the ridge. It looks like a place I will try to run during the week.
After breakfast I set my watch for 11:00AM and crawled into the screened bed and slept so soundly that I slept through my alarm. The cook rang my doorbell, which would serve well as a fire alarm, for lunch consisting of rice and a couple of rather mild sauces. I found out later they were preparing my sauces separately from the other people staying in the guest facilities and making them quite bland. I then took a walk around the campus including the main research center and the apartments for the emplo yees. The campus is remarkably similar to the one we lectured at in Kenya. Then I decided to get a layout of the land, map in hand. I marched up a 300 ft hill that overlooked and divided the city. Being the dry season, things looked rather parched in town , but on top of the hillsides, one gets the impression it doesn't rain much even during the "wet". There are few trees or even tall bushes on top, and occasionally there is a small flower, and some very dry grasses. The hill forms a ridgeline, with a grav el road running along most of the ridge. It looks like a place I will try to run during the week.
Before supper I got acquainted with a couple from Nepal, a place I've always wanted to visit. His name is Sharad Adhikary, which I remember because he gave me his business card. A large table was set with many place settings, and the cook informed me ( he doesn't speak English) that my dinner was ready and the Nepalese guy said he wanted to take it up to my room, per instructions from my host. Also I found out then that the food was prepared separately for me and with less spices. I made it known that I 'd prefer to eat with the others, and the Nepalese arranged for me to taste the sauces with normal spices. No problem, it was just like back in the Taj Mahal restaurant in Fort Collins.
Whew, I'm fading fast; I guess I'll go to bed early.
Jet lag got me last night I woke at 1:30AM and couldn't get back to sleep. After breakfast I took advantage of the tendency to be a little sleepy after eating and took a nap for a couple of hours. Then I jogged in the hills near IITM and followed trail s and roads along the ridgeline. Occasional I encountered a walker or a person tending his cow, but it was pretty quiet up there. I did find some flowering trees and bushes amongst the stark landscape. I found out later that the tree/bush without any leav es but bright yellow flowers is called "glyrisidia."
After lunch Partha and his wife, Sumitra, met me with a car they had arranged and we toured Pune and neighboring environs. First we stopped at the Osho Commune Meditation Center where we took a walking tour. Osho had set up a commune in Oregon I believ e, before he died. I gather he has a stronger following outside of India than in. The grounds are very pretty with lots of trees and ponds, tall bamboo, and "quiet". The commune visitors (as opposed to us tourists) all wear a maroon dress. There were plen ty of longhaired hippy types strolling about.
From there we visited a large old English colonial house where Gandhi and his wife were held in house arrest. It is not terribly well maintained considering its historical importance, but it was pleasant.
We dodged autu's, trucks, buses, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, people, cows, goats, and dogs, as we drove out of town to visit a large reservoir/lake that provides hydroelectric power and drinking water to Pune. This was my first opportunity to see the c ountryside in the daylight. I was most fascinated by the oxen pulling heavily loaded wagons. We took a brief powerboat tour of the lake and headed back to Pune, again dodging people and things in the road.
I slept better last night. I woke at 3:00AM but after an hour of reading, I fell on and off asleep.
Today I am fasting but plan on an active day. I have been meeting people at IITM but hope they don't expect me to remember their names. As I walked down the halls I noticed something seemed to be missing. Then I realized none of the office desks have computers on them. They have a shared computer room with only two PCs. It is like walking back in time 30 years! My notebook computer is probably the most powerful PC in the place. They do have some workstations, but I suspect they are heavily over subscr ibed with multiple users.
I met with the director of the institute, Dr C.B. Pant, today along with Partha's immediate supervisor, Dr S.S. Singh. We chatted and then he invited me to lunch with him and another visitor from the University of Arizona, Dr Malcom Hughes. When Malcom and I met here, we looked at each other and both of us had this look like, I've met you somewhere. Then we realized we had dinner together in Tucson a couple of years ago. When I told Dr Pant I was fasting, this didn't faze him in the least, as it is co mmon here. So I went along and had some juice. Towards the end of the lunch I started feeling jet lag, and my eyelids closed a couple of times, and they kidded me. They had all traveled enough to know what I was going through.
Before lunch I presented my first lecture, which was on a general overview of RAMS. There were about 12 scientists attending including Dr Singh. There was good discussion following my talk.
After lunch I went back to my room and took a 45-minute nap and then took a jog along the ridge overlooking town. It was probably about 80F at the time. Then I chatted with the Nepali couple and had my supper of juice. After supper the director of the institute took me and the Nepali couple for a tour of Pune University and also stopped at some shops. I got the impression that the streets at night are reasonably safe, as people seem to be busily going about their business and I didn't see groups of you ths or unsavory looking characters hanging about. I was assured that this was the case here in Pune, but in Mumbai and other big cities one had to be careful of pick pockets but muggings and gun-toting thieves are rare even in those places.
I slept soundly until 4AM and then woke and could not go back to sleep. I read, tossed and turned, and finally got up and wrote in my journal. I hope I don't fade again this afternoon at some inappropriate moment.
My runs have been quite pleasant as I climb up the ridge overlooking the city. I decided to run this morning and started out about 6:30AM just before sunrise. I was surprised to find people climbing the ridge, presumably to view the sunrise, and one jo gger who caught up to me and startled me as I climbed the hill at my snails pace. I did a loop, returning along a dusty dirt road. I'm going to have to clean my jogging shoes before I return home.
I gave my second lecture today, this time on the bulk and bin-resolving microphysics in RAMS. About 4:30PM I decided to take a walk. At the spur of the moment, I decided to flag down an autu and travel across town to visit the Empress Gardens. The traf fic was heavy and thick with smoke and dust from the diesel trucks and autos. I should have brought along a facemask for riding around these roads. It took about 30 minutes to get to the garden and I found it a bit disappointing, as there was no grass or undergrowth to speak of as people could walk most anywhere and as a result the grounds were bare soil. Moreover I saw several women armed with loads of sticks they had picked up on the ground, probably to build a fire for cooking supper. There were some n ice palm trees and banyon trees, but it was hardly worth the trip in the autu through all the pollution. I flagged another autu driver and showed him on my crude map downloaded from a travel agent website where I wanted to go. It was clear he had little i dea where the IITM was located and he asked several other drivers how to get there. I was a little concerned I did not have a better map and with written directions of how to find the place. But off we went spurting fumes into the now very heavy traffic. We slowly made our way and after about 30 minutes he stopped to ask a young motorcycle driver near the agriculture college how to find it. Since he could understand English well, I explained where I wanted to go and he told the driver how to proceed point ing the way. After another 10 minutes, the driver seemed anxious about how to find the place and I spied the hill that I had been running along. So, I pointed that way and off we went. Finally I started recognizing buildings and streets, and directed to h im to the institute. I'm not sure which of us was more relieved. If I do that again, I'd better prepare myself better in terms of being able to describe where I am staying.
Rising just before sunrise I jogged up the ridge behind the institute. This time I headed a bit more west and encountered a surprising number of people hiking in the pre-dawn. There were a few joggers, some families, and numerous individuals. As I went over the ridge top and descended along a well-defined trail, I came to a junction of trails where there were concrete/rock circular slabs, some devises for static exercises and quite a confluence of people. I then turned around and descended along the du sty road. I'll have to wipe off my running shoes before I return.
This was my heavy day as I was scheduled to give two lectures. The first was on realtime forecasting with RAMS and was presented to12 or so scientists in the group I have been visiting. The second was an institute-wide seminar on our work on extreme pr ecipitation estimation. The director of the institute gave a long introduction and even mentioned my digital camera photographs of wild flowers, which he seemed to be very impressed with. He said that was an example of my interest in nature. I think both talks went well and in the institute-wide seminar I had a lot of questions and discussions afterwards. They gave me a bouquet of flowers in honor of my lecture, which I placed on the dinner table at the guesthouse.
I then took a walk up the valley behind the institute in a section where there is a lot of new multi-family and even upscale single-family housing. I shot several pictures illustrating the great contrasts in economic lifestyles, such as squatter shacks in the foreground of new, rather upscale housing in the background. I think this is what India is like, if not today, in the near future. I later found out the squatter shacks were probably where the laborers stayed while constructing those houses and a partments.
I again woke, actually awakened by the loud door buzzer by an attendant who brought in my morning tea, at 6:30AM. I jogged up the ridge along with the many morning walkers. I am frequently greeted and return with the nemasti (sp?) sign. I have only one lecture scheduled today in which I provide an overview of our convective storm modeling. I also keep busy discussing science with several of the young scientists. Sometimes I feel it would be more efficient if they plugged in a socket into my brain and d ownloaded the relevant information.
Dr. Adhikary and his wife from Nepal will be leaving today. I will miss our many discussions about life in Nepal. I am learning almost as much about Nepal as I have about India. I suspect I will be alone in the guesthouse from now on.
My lecture on our convective storm modeling went well and in the afternoon I got a tour of the physics/chemistry/aerosol group's facilities.
I took a brief walk across the road from the institute, past the meteorological service-training center. As I walked along the neighborhood rapidly changed to shacks and stone/brick metal-roofed structures. Goats, donkeys, kids, and adults wandered abo ut and the air did not smell too pleasant. I decided that maybe I don't belong here and turned around and headed out. It is the first time I really felt threatened in Pune.
That evening I took Partha and Sumitra out to dinner. The restaurant was at a nice hotel and the food was very good. The entire bill including tips for the three of us came to $7. Add to that taxi (autu) fare at 50 cents each way, and it was quite an i nexpensive evening.
I woke in the night with severe heartburn. It was either caused by the malaria pill I am supposed to take with meals and took and hour after supper, or 6 days of spicy Indian food is finally getting to me. I again started the day with a sunrise jog and then gave my last lecture on our coupled ocean/convective storm modeling over the tropical western Pacific. This was followed by a meeting with all the senior scientist staff of the institute. It wasn't clear to me what the purpose of the meeting was, ot her than to introduce me to the 25 or so senior scientists. They then gave me my second flower bouquet and a heavy brass casting of one of heir gods. I gave the flowers to Partha's wife, as I wasn't to take them with me on the plane.
Overall, I had numerous discussions with the junior scientists in the mesoscale modeling group and we laid out plans on collaborative studies of mesoscale convective systems, land-falling tropical cyclones, and boundary layer clouds over land.
This time my return was by train to Mombai with poor Partha accompanying me. . Other than being over air-conditioned, it was a smooth ride with no near head-on collisions as with the bus ride to Pune. This was followed by a 30-minute taxi ride through congested and polluted Mombai. It only cost $3.50 for the taxi, which would have cost at least $15 in the U.S.
I had a 5-hour wait for my 3AM departure, now it is 24 hours of sitting in the torture machines and airports.
My flights went well, but by the time I took the Airport Express and arrived at the Holiday Inn in Fort Collins, my supposed rendezvous point with Vollie, I was very tired. After waiting about 30 minutes for Vollie, I tried to reach her on her cellular phone. Then I tried again and again and each time I got a message saying she was not on and it cost me 35 cents. Finally the people at the Holiday Inn desk allowed me to use one of their phones. I tried to call Bill and left a message on his home phone and his cellular. Then I tried Chris and left a message on him home phone and his pager. I tried Vollie again and again; hmm, now what? I theorized that maybe she was at the Juniper house in her room asleep thinking her cellular phone is on. So, I left my bags at the desk and walked over there-nope, no one there. I considered walking and bumming up the canyon but I really wasn’t dressed for that, as it had just snowed. I worried that Vollie might have had an accident in the slippery canyon roads. Then I thought of people I know with 4-wheel drive. I tried Pielke, but no answer, and then tried Ray McAnelly. I finally got someone and not an answering machine! Ray said, I guess you didn’t get the message that Vollie went to the symphony with Bill where Vicki is playing, and left a car for you at the Holiday Inn. Brenda had sent a message twice to that effect and worried about my getting it since I didn’t reply. In fact, because she worried about it and expressed her concern to Ray, he knew what was up.
So after two hours of frantically trying to figure out what was going on, I found the car and just as I was driving out, Bill, Vicki, and Vollie drove in. I was not a happy camper at that moment. But, it all worked out in the end and I finally got to go home to sleep in my bed.
I'm back in the saddle again! We just took off from DIA heading north where I can look down at my home. On this trip I am going to Fairbanks, Alaska via Seattle on United and then Alaskan Airlines. This is the second trip to Alaska for my sabbatical. O n this trip Jerry Harrington and I will begin work on the now-funded proposal to IARC that we prepared during my last visit to Fairbanks. In addition, we will work on an ONR proposal letter of intent that Jerry is taking the lead on and put finishing touc hes to a joint proposal we are submitting to NSF/SHEBA. I will also be presenting an institute-wide seminar at the UAF Geophysics Institute (GI) and a seminar to the Fairbanks chapter to the AMS. The former talk will be more technical on "Extreme Precipit ation Estimation", while the latter will be much less technical. I call it, "My Love Affair with Aviation and Meteorology". For that, I have dug through my old slides and pictures to present a history of sorts outlining my early interest in flying and ho w that got me into meteorology. I will discuss both my own flying experiences and those of serving as meteorological flight observer on numerous field programs over the years. I plan to introduce a number of anecdotes about those field programs and conclu de with my experiences as sailplane pilot and its relationship to meteorology.
On all my aircraft flights so far I have used carry-on baggage only. Not so on this one! I am bringing two pairs of my own skis, my touring telemark skis (tele's) and downhill tele's, my ski poles, and another set of touring-tele's that I bought at Jer ry's request for his wife, Debra, all in my new ski bag that Chris bought me for Christmas. I got Debra's skis at the CSU Outdoor Adventure Program, where they sold new Fisher E-99's for $125 with bindings. They normally sell for over $300 with bindings. During his visit to CSU, Jerry bought a pair for himself after I brought the deal to his attention. I guess when he got home, Debra decided she would like a pair, too, so he e-mailed me to see if I could get another pair. The Adventure Program decided to sell out that model skis because the students wouldn't rent them because they were too lazy to use wax. They now rent either waxless skis or full tele-downhill skis.
In addition to the ski bag I also checked this huge, almost 5 ft tall and 2ft diameter duffle bag filled with two pairs of ski boots, my goose-down sleeping bag, sleeping pad, backpack, and cooking gear, and assorted long-johns, wool socks, and surviva l gear. Jerry has rented a cabin for us to ski into one of the weekends of my visit. Plus I plan to commute by skiing and get my exercise skiing on the course right on the UAF campus.
Also as carry-on, I am bringing my normal travel pack/suitcase filled with work-related clothing and shaving kit, and my daypack that I use for hiking/skiing, filled with notebook computer and its bag of peripherals, two cameras, lecture transparencies , and anything that didn't fit in the other three bags. I am amazed that this plane got off the ground!
Jerry and Debra met me at the airport and helped me load all my stuff in the Ford Explorer. We then stopped to unload the stuff in the Nordic House on campus where I am staying. It is a rather rustic log-house with two bedrooms on the main floor, two u pstairs and two in a finished basement and baths on the main floor and basement levels. If the place were full it could get interesting fighting for the bathrooms, kitchen facilities, etc. But for the moment I have the entire place to myself.
After unloading, we went to the Thai House for supper. It is the best place in town to eat. I had an excellent eggplant concoction.
After a good night's sleep in the rather warm Nordic House, I woke up at 5:30AM (7:30 Colorado time) and decided to see if a grocery store was open to get breakfast stuff and groceries for the rest of the week. In a balmy -15F (the Explorer displays te mperature and compass heading), I found a Safeway open and got my supplies. I then headed back and had breakfast, unpacked some more, and decided to ski to the GI. After a few bad turns I found a groomed ski trail about ¼ mile from the cabin and started s kiing to work. Even though it was now about 0F, I had overdressed and began to strip off layers. The trail curved along through the aspen/birch forest and actually came to within 10ft of the GI parking lot. I took off my skis and marched in the institute and up to Jerry's office. He wasn't in yet, so I decided to begin the process of getting an office and keys, etc. At the IARC office, the woman at the desk is either on holiday or has left, so a young lady who didn't know me was there. She had to ask an other lady who knew me how to go about getting me an office, keys to the office and building, and parking permit. That lady didn't seem to want to take any responsibility, so things moved slowly through the bureaucratic quagmire. I told them Peter Olsson' s office, which I was previously assigned, was still vacant and could I get a pass key to get my stuff out of the hallway? On my previous stay they had handed me the pass key and I opened the office and got started. This time I was escorted down to the of fice with the new lady at the desk, feeling a bit like an ex-con. But I finally got my stuff out of the hall and Jerry popped in and said he would get Glen Shaw, the group leader, to help me get officially assigned to that office and begin paperwork on ke ys. By the end of the day, I still didn't have keys, but I did have a parking permit and an office assigned, with no way to get into it. I'll probably have to be escorted to it again on Monday!
Then there was the problem of getting on-line. Jerry no longer had the computer I used previously, and I didn't have a local dial-in account for my notebook. Jerry put out an e-mail requesting a PC for me to use, and he got several favorable responses. By the afternoon I had one to telnet home to check my office e-mail. I also checked with several local server companies and found one that gave 30 days' free service. Since that was longer than I planned to be here, I signed up. I'll see how that goes.< /p>
At lunchtime Jerry said,"Let's go skiing." So we headed out on the trails right next to the office. It had warmed to 10F and the sun was high enough that when we crossed Smith Lake, I could actually feel the sun on my shoulders. The trails were groomed with tracks and about a 20ft wide swath through the woods. Jerry took off in his racing track skis and I tried to keep up in a quasi-skate-skiing mode with my tele-touring Fisher E-99's. No way Jose! I huffed and puffed along as he took off down the tra il. He would wait like a puppy every so often and we did about a 4.5mile tour. In one straightaway, Jerry really kicked in and disappeared down the trail. There were moose tracks all over the trails but no moose today.
After work we met at the Pump House and had some beers, where I had to listen to the faculty from various departments (atmos, engineering, business) gripe about UAF. Enough already. I heard these same gripes back in September! I ordered a salmon burg er for dinner there, but would you believe they were out of salmon in Alaska? So, I had halibut nuggets instead. I stopped by Jerry and Debra's for a short while and then headed back to the Nordic House.
The plan was for me to call Jerry at 9:00AM and then coordinate for some backcountry skiing or skiing around the groomed trails across town at Birch Hill. Well, Jerry had a muscle tightened up, probably from showing up the old man yesterday, so he back ed out. I then decided to head out for a downhill area to practice tele turns. I first drove over to the Birch Hill downhill area, which is on Fort Wainright property, but it didn't open until noon. Lift tickets were only $10 for servicemen, but for us ci vilians it was $25.
I then drove in the other direction, through backcountry roads to Moose Mountain Ski Area. It operates like the now defunct Hidden Valley ski area in Rocky Mountain National Park, in which buses are used to haul skiers up to the mountaintop. As viewed from the base, the slopes looked darned steep and very hard packed--fast! As I am still not much of a tele skier, I was concerned, but the people there were very friendly. They suggested I go up to the bunny slope near the top and try that, then an easy d ownhill run that is called Moose Walk, which actually is a connecting trail to the base of the bunny slope and a black diamond run. The bus ride from the base of the bunny slope to the summit was free, so the price was right and they mapped out an easier blue run that I could use if I felt up to it. Then if I wished, I could pay the $23 or $18 after 1:00PM, or $18 if it was -10F or colder, which it was at that moment, to take the bus up and ski down until 5PM. So, I rode the bus up and did the bunny run ( too easy), and then took the bus to the summit and skied Moose Walk (also very easy) 4 or 5 times. At lunchtime I decided to ski down Sunset to another trail and see how I felt after lunch. The run down was not as fast as I feared because of the cold temp eratures, so I handled it well, making lots of turns when it got steep in spots. I made nearly a clean run except for one over-turn that left me facing uphill and down on one knee. I decided not to pay the $18 because I wanted to leave something in my leg s for Sunday's planned backcountry ski. I did, however, drive up to the rental shop at the base of the bunny area and they let me take a bus to the summit to take pictures; all for free. It was sunny and the views over Fairbanks and the Tanana valley wer e just great. The driver said I should come up at sunset. With the Alpenglow and shadows, it was spectacular.
That evening I went to Jerry and Debra's for a chili supper and watched a video.
Jerry arranged for a crew to ski into the Angel Creek cabin, in which we stayed overnight last fall. Joining us were Uma Bhatt, with new skis and boots, who works for IARC; Doug??, who is a faculty member in engineering; Debra with new skis and boots, and Jerry with new-to-him boots. It was about 3.5 miles in to the cabin along a mostly flat trail through a river valley. Temperatures at the trailhead were about -3F, but by the time we got to the cabin it had warmed to balmy 10F. Still, it was nice to b e able to have lunch in the solar-heated cabin. Along the way, I spied a young moose about 50 meters off the trail. We also saw a number of moose as we were driving to the trailhead. Debra counted something like 8 for the day.
It took us about 1.5 hours to ski in. The only snowmobile we encountered was just after I had stopped at the cabin. There was also a single ski-jorer who was moving at a pretty good clip. Even with his dog tugging him, it was clear he was getting a go od workout as his beard was all iced up. At 10F, we would have been cold stopping for lunch, so the warmth of the solar-heated cabin was appreciated by all.
Leaving our packs in the cabin, we played around on the hillsides doing tele-turns through the woods. The snow was not too bad for it, but we could have used a little steeper and longer slope. Peter Olsson had complained that the snow wouldn't support a skier off trail, but this was not the case, at least at this time of year. One had to stay clear of trees, as one does in Colorado, because the snow doesn't support any weight at least 5 feet from the tree.
Jerry got a kick out of looking at the hoar frost crystals, which varied in size and structure from the open areas to the shaded woods. In the open areas, the crystals were quite large--several centimeters in diameter, whereas in the shaded forest area s the crystals were only a few millimeters in diameter. He suggested that the open-area crystals experienced higher super-saturations because of radiative cooling to space, whereas in the wooded areas, they experienced less radiative cooling due to down-w elling radiation from the trees. Sounds plausible, and I'll have to put it in my memory bank for a qualifying exam question in the future.
We then donned our packs and skied back to the cars in a little over an hour. On the way back we encountered two women ski-joring with two dogs each, and each woman pulling a sled filled with overnight gear. They were moving at an 8-10mph clip. I gathe r Debra and Jerry knew one of the women, as she is a librarian at GI. On the way back we stopped at a general store, restaurant, etc, called Tacks, and sampled some of their great pies. Then it was home for a nice hot shower, after which we met for a piz za. It was an enjoyable day.
I've tried to start my first workday at GI/IARC. I say tried, because I'm still trying to get an office set up with computer and telephone, so that I can use my notebook computer through a local internet provider. I guess someone has pulled rank on Pet er's old office, reserving it for visitors who come one day a week. My options seem to be Jerry's shared computer room, in which Jerry doesn't have a running computer and where there is no telephone and no window, or a library office, one of which has a c omputer and telephone, but it may be assigned to someone else, or possibly Glen Shaw's laboratory. But, I have to wait until Glen gets in to see if that option will work. At least that has a computer, telephone, and window, and no one is already in the qu eue for the seat. Boy, they sure make you feel welcome here!
It was finally decided that I use Glen Shaw's laboratory for an office. It has computer, a telephone and windows facing north toward the parking lot and snow-covered trees. It should work out just fine since no one else is using it.
Jerry and I took a noon-hour jog along the roads. It was about 15F, but with the exercise it didn't feel bad at all.
After a ski back to the Nordic House, I "veged out," as it was my fast day.
After a bit of trial and error, I finally got my PTI-ALASKA local computer server account working, so now I can go on line with my notebook computer at the office and at the Nordic House. The first thing I did when I got to the office was to get the si gned forms for getting a key to Glen Shaw's lab, and then walk the mile+ across campus to pick up the keys. It was 10AM by the time I got things set up.
After work I skied back to the Nordic house and then skied on the trails near there for about an hour. The trail winds through the forest with very modest up and down. On the way back I encountered about 5 skiers. It is a popular sport.
I was starved after all that exercise and made a supper of "veggie burgers," vegetables, boiled potatoes, and clam chowder. I then ran the dishwasher, but I used liquid dishwashing soap because that was all there was. I used too much! Soap flowed out the door and I was busy with a mop for almost an hour. So much for being domestic! It is always a challenge figuring out how to do things in a strange place.
It is 1 March and the sun is rising about 0800 and setting 1800h, but it is light enough to get around without lights at 0700 and until 1900. Temperatures have warmed from a low of -3F to a high of 30F. I again skied to and from work and over lunch hou r I skied a loop trail that started near Smith Lake and looped north and east across a small pond and back to the office. I have started skiing in the tracks. I get a good workout but the metal edges of my E-99 touring/tele's grab the edges of the tracks. I think I get more speed in the tracks, though, than in the wide skate-ski areas. I am really impressed by the speed the skate skiers get. I'd like to try that. I might rent some, one day, and maybe even get a lesson. It really looks neat seeing these pe ople swaying back and forth as they cruise along at close to 15mph. I'd like to talk Vollie into trying it. The Colorado State Forest is now using a snow cat with groomer for snowmobiles and that track should be useful for skate skiing. But a complete out fit of skies, boots, and poles runs about $350, so I would have to be sure I'd use it.
On the job I have been working on another proposal, this one anticipating the NASA CRYSTAL RFP. I am also busy putting out fires back in the office in Colorado via e-mail. Steve Rutledge, the department head, even asked me to write up three qualifying exam questions. I prepared one based on our observations of snow crystals while skiing this weekend.
I find it a little lonely up here, what with being alone in this house and being alone in Glen Shaw's large laboratory. The only people contact is the occasional talks with Jerry, who of course has his own things to do, the occasional talk with Glen Sh aw, and brief visits with the National Weather Service (NWS) people. Speaking of NWS, it looks like they are going to pay my way to visit Anchorage and give a talk to NWS people down there about our mesoscale NWP experience. It now looks like I will leave Sunday and stay the night at Peter Olsson's (a former student of mine), then give a talk on Monday and return Monday evening.
Another factor in my feeling a bit alone is that neither Jerry nor Glen has any graduate students, so I miss having chats about science with students. It is the absence of students up here that bothers Jerry the most, to the degree that he is consideri ng looking elsewhere. In my opinion, the only way to fix that problem is to get the academic stream out of physics and chemistry. Right now, atmospheric science is not a department but a program, and faculty members have their tenure lines in either chemi stry or physics. The students are in one of those programs. I suggested that they should form a department of atmospheric and ocean sciences that builds on the expertise in the GI and IARC. They could become "the" high latitude academic center for atmosp heric/ocean/sea-ice/surface land-use studies and, as such, should be able to build a healthy student body and faculty. A number of courses could be of common interest across atmospheric, ocean, and land surface process studies, including dynamics embedde d in a geophysical fluid dynamics course, a boundary layer course in the atmosphere and ocean, a surface land-use class that covers sea-ice, snow-evolution, soil/vegetation, and surface hydrology, and atmospheric/ocean radiation class, a cloud and precipi tation microphysics class that includes the physics of ice in the atmosphere, and on land/ocean surfaces, and so forth. I think a graduate student body of 20-25 students and a stable faculty of 10-14 members could be attracted to the program.
It is a good thing I am an early riser, since I got a call from a CNN reporter at 6:00AM. I'm sure he didn't have a clue about what the time was when he called here. I just got out of the shower and had to ask him to wait while I put some clothes on. H e asked me my views on human influences on climate and weather. I gave him my skeptic's view that it is very difficult to attribute cause and effect regarding human influence on climate. I made the case that climate models are doing sensitivity experiment s on how increasing CO2 can influence climate, other things being the same. My point is "other things aren't necessarily the same". Many other factors, many of which we don't understand, can influence climate, so that on time scales of decades or longer , we have virtually no predictive skill. I told him what I am doing here and how it fits into the climate picture. We even talked about sailing.
I spent the day working on my CRYSTAL proposal and working with Jerry on a budget for a letter of intent proposal to ONR. Jerry and I ran at noon and the temperature must have been in the high 30's. Jerry wished he had worn shorts. When I skied home it was still too warm and the snow was really slick. I scratched the idea of skiing when I got back. Instead I took a drive over to the Fairbanks Airport and another small strip that I call redneck strip. I took pictures of the airplanes on skis. On the way back near the university I spied a moose grazing on willows and even took a picture.
Just when I got in the door, Jerry and Debra called me and invited me to go out to dinner and have a few beers. Jerry was frustrated from dealing with the contracts and grants people. When they stopped to pick me up we polished off a bottle of Chilean red and had chips and dip. We went to the Pump House where I had blackened salmon, which was very good.
After my ski into GI, I spent most of the morning trying to fix my mail server access. Somehow my Microsoft Outlook got corrupted when I tried to send e-mails with several files attached. I think it was because I didn't realize how long it was taking t o download those files. After discussion with consultants at PTI ALASKA and help from Jason Connor back in Colorado, I finally brought up Microsoft Outlook Excel and was able to go on line again. One advantage of Excel is that it shows a bar graph of the transmission of files and it made me realize just how long it was taking. I guess Outlook wasn't really corrupted. It was just tied up downloading those files.
I then worked on the CRYSTAL proposal and then Jerry came by to do a lunch hour ski. We did the loop trail I took mid-week, only this time in reverse. It was another intense workout for me trying to keep up with him on his racing skies and me with my m etal-edges digging into the track walls. I gave up on the tracks and did most of the run trying to skate ski with those heavy boards. It was another beautiful day and I certainly got some exercise.
Then Jerry convinced me to go to the Chowder House to get some clam chowder. It was good. Actually any liquid would have been great by then. Then it was back to work. After that, a bunch of us met at the Pump House for some beers and food.
I've got a full weekend scheduled: going downhill with Jerry and Debra to teach them basic telemark skiing techniques, and then at 4:30PM I have a mushing trip scheduled. On Sunday I fly down to Anchorage at the NWS' expense to visit Peter Olsson, a fo rmer student of mine, and give a talk to the NWS on Monday.
I am sitting at the kitchen table in the Nordic House polishing off a bottle of Australian Jacob's Creek Shiraz-Cabernet and reflecting on the day's activities. Sitting here alone without Vollie is definitely the down side of the day. By the way, the b est buys in wines in Fairbanks are either Aussie wines or Chilean. California wines tend to run as much as $4-5 more per bottle, yet the Aussie and Chilean wines are quite good.
After a leisurely breakfast, I picked up Jerry and Debra at 9:30AM and drove up to Moose Mountain ski area. I drove to the rental shop, which is where the free shuttle buses run to the top of the bunny run and the summit, where one can ski the Moose Wa lk green run. I then attempted to explain what I knew about telemark skiing, which is not all that much. I gave them my son, Bill's, instructions. Jerry seemed to follow them pretty well, but Debra reminded me of Vollie in that she wouldn't work through the pains of learning new techniques but pretty much stuck to her snowplowing specialty. They began by skiing down a 100m or so and then walking back up and trying it again. Eventually I tired of this and skied down to the bus and back to the top of the b unny run, where I met them for another try. They eventually made it down the bunny run and I convinced them to try Moose Walk. It has, for the most part, a gentler slope than the bunny run, but it is ¼ mile longer. On the first try, Debra walked the firs t 10m. After that, she snowplowed down that segment. The rest of the run was pretty easy. We had lunch outside on a deck overlooking Fairbanks in the warm, 28F temperatures. I brought my lunch but they bought veggie burgers prepared at a grill at the summit. It was very pleasant up there. At that point, they decided to make a last Moose Walk run and I went down the blues to the bottom. The snow was warming up so I could cut my turns just fine. I had a little trouble on one really steep slope and over- turned once. On the lower third of the run they had a race going, so that I was confined to a narrower track, which made an otherwise easy run more challenging. I fell a few more times than I had done previously.
I dropped Debra and Jerry off, went back to the Nordic House and took a nap. Then I drove up to Ann Woods' house to go mushing. Ann is a librarian at GI and I gather her 18-year-old daughter is the real mushing enthusiast. While she is in Iceland as an exchange student, Ann is attempting to keep the team in shape. Ann had some library function to attend, so we arranged to meet at 4:30PM. I arrived before Ann did, so I decided to get acquainted with the dogs. There were 10 dogs posted out behind the hou se. They are all mixed breeds with some obvious Siberian blood in them as well as who knows what? Six or so of them were very friendly. I could approach them and pet them and get acquainted. Several were weird to strangers, typical of kennel dogs that h ave not bonded to people. There were buckets and shovels, so I decided to do chores and pick up the dog crap. This settled down the weird ones as I just wandered around with the shovel.
Eventually Ann came home. We loaded the dogs in an old (1979) Ford pickup truck and took them about 100m across the road. The dogs were heavier than what I used to run, as they seemed to weigh about 65-75 pounds. I preferred dogs in the 45 to 50 poun d range. This made loading and unloading them quite a chore. We set up two gang lines, one for me with 5 dogs and one for Ann with 4 dogs. I got this old, homemade sled that must have weighed a ton, and Ann used a toboggan sled much like what I had. We se t the dogs in harness and they proceeded to tangle themselves between the two teams. Eventually we got them sorted out and Ann started out with me following. The trail was full of snowmobile moguls, so it was a rather bumpy ride. The trail meandered throu gh the black spruce swamp, and some of the turns were rather challenging. I was glad I was experienced, even though it was 15 (yikes!!) years ago. An inexperienced driver would have been tossed on some of those hairy turns. We went out about an hour, mean dering who knows where. I would have had difficulty finding my way back, as we crossed and crisscrossed tracks numerous times. Near the end, we came head-on with another team in which the driver had several young dogs running free. This created some inter esting moments as the dogs sniffed each other and mixed up the lines. I kept my dogs in line and they got through clean, but Ann had to straighten out her team after the incident.
I enjoyed the scenery of the reddish-colored sun setting behind mountain peaks as we quietly mushed through the tundra. For those of you not familiar with running dogs, they do not bark when running. They are too busy breathing to do that. In fact, the noise they make is less than a cross-country skier makes touring through the backcountry. On many occasions, I have overtaken a skier and had to yell to them to clear the trail, as they didn't hear me coming. So, in stark contrast to a snowmobile, you ar e out in the wilderness, quietly gliding through the snow and enjoying the scenery. Except for sharp turns, you can look about, look behind you, and not concentrate on where you are going. The dogs take care of that for you. It is great. That was what it was like in the old days when horses were the main form of transportation. A guy could go out and get polluted on drinks, get his horse and buggy under way and wake up to find himself at home. A musher friend of mine came home after having had too many dr inks. He decided to check on his dog team before coming to bed. This was in the winter and quite cold, and he passed out in the dog pen. His wife, who was also rather inebriated, went to bed, woke up the next morning and noticed her husband wasn't beside her. Eventually she went out into the dog pen and found her husband beneath a pile of dogs. They saved his life! Now try to get your new Beemer or SUV to do that!
It was great to run a dog team for the fun of it; especially since I don't have to feed them, vet them, shovel dog shit, and all the work that comes with the territory. I'm almost finished with Jacob's Creek, so it must be time to hit the sack, leaving me fresh to pack for Anchorage in the morning. I hate to leave Alaska, but you know the nice thing about Anchorage is that it is only 30 miles from Alaska!
I was fortunate that the north side of the Alaska Range was clear. I asked for a right side window seat because on my previous flights Denali (Mt. McKinely) was always on my right going to Anchorage. Not this time however. But I was able to move to a w indow seat while the pilot came in closer than any flight previously. He even banked around the summit. I took a number of shots of it with my SLR. I hope they come out. It is a very impressive mountain to view up close-far away for that matter! I don't think I'll be climbing that mountain.
Peter and Wolfy met me at the airport. Wolfy has grown much taller and slimmer since I saw him last. We drove across Anchorage and into the beautiful Eagle Valley. Peter's house is on a south-facing slope with an open view of the rugged, snow-covered m ountains to the south. There you can see avalanche chutes, cirques and bowls. The valley is probably 10 miles across but the mountains are high enough that they block the winter sun from shining on their house. They are just now enjoying solar heating aga in.
Peter took me up the valley about 5 miles to Eagle River State Park for a walk. The parking lot at the visitor center was a sheet of ice. Now I know the meaning of overflow parking lot! I was concerned about what the trail would be like. Would it be i ce? Mud? Post-holing snow, or what? Well, it was hard packed snow that was very easy to walk on once we got clear of the parking lot. The trail meandered through cottonwood and birch forest just above the Eagle River. We eventually came to a rental yurt, where I took pictures of the stovepipe setup for helping me set up a stovepipe in my yurt. Walking out on the river ice gave us open views up and down the valley.
It was then to bed. I woke about 6:00AM to the sound of a gasoline-powered generator very close to my head. It was their Siamese cat purring away. It sat on my chest and stuck its face into mine, smelling my breath, and tickling me with its whiskers. I t then curled up in my arm and purred away until I got up to shower. They also have a Manx cat that likes to play chase the string and sit on my lap.
We drove to Peter's office at the UAA Aviation Technology Center, which is located at a general aviation airport called Morrill Field. He has open, spectacular views of the mountains to the east right from his office. As far as his job is concerned, ho wever, it is pretty much a one-man show. With the loss of FAA funding, it is going to be a long, uphill battle to establish a research program on his own, especially without much infrastructure or mentoring.
We then drove downtown to grab some lunch before my talk at the regional NWS office. We must have tried half a dozen restaurants before we found a place open. Downtown Anchorage pretty much shuts down during the off-tourist season.
I gave my talk to a mix of NWS regional headquarters people, including the director, and to forecasters and the MIC from the Anchorage office located at the airport. They seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say about our experience in mesoscal e numerical weather prediction and its applications to aviation in particular. There was a lot of discussion. I got the impression they provide a lot of moral support (though it is unlikely much else) for Peter's plans for mesoscale NWP in Alaska.
I then grabbed the 4:55PM flight, delayed to 5:30, back to Fairbanks. It was clear, but our flight took us quite some distance south of Denali and with the sun setting on it, the sky was hazy and it certainly wasn't as spectacular as on my flight over.
Since I lectured and visited in Anchorage yesterday, I did my weekly fast today. This didn't stop me from taking a noon-hour jog with Jerry. Then I rented a set of skate skies and took a lesson at 6:00PM at Birch Hill touring area. The lesson lasted 1 .5hr and I was mentally exhausted from trying to get everything together in a single lesson. Skate skiing is a bit like dancing. It is also somewhat like speed ice-skating. I first had to learn how to get my poles on right and how to pole. Then we put the poles away and worked on using my edges and pushing off with swinging my arms in a rhythm. Then I tried putting it together with poling and skating-sure! I have rented the skies for 3 days, and now I am sure that it won't be enough to learn much about th at sport. Yet, when Fairbanks ---. So, I'll give it a try.
I understand I missed another spectacular aurora display last night. This time it was only 9:00PM, and not only was I up, but I was outside. Unfortunately, the lights around town and near the Nordic House make it hard to see it.
I skied to GI for the last time today. In the afternoon I gave a talk on "extreme precipitation estimation" to NWS meteorologists and GI scientists. It went well and I had a number of questions. Later in the afternoon, I met up with Jerry and tried to keep up with him on his racing skies while I used the skate skies. That was a big mistake. I had trouble doing any of the uphill climbs. I suggested that he go on and continue his loop run while I headed back to a groomed lake where I could better practi ce skate skiing. I started to get the hang of skating and poling as I went around the lake, first in one direction, and then in the other. Then I tried to ski uphill to the Nordic House and, again, I just couldn't get enough edge in to power me in a skate mode up the hills. It was pretty much herringbone climbs up the hill. Because I was working so hard with my inefficient stride and the temperatures were about 30F, I just got soaked from perspiration and I was pooped! I took a shower before Jerry picked me up to have dinner at the Wolf Run Coffee and Dessert House. Even though the pasta dish I was eating was rather large, I had burned so much energy that I had no problem finishing it and eating one of their fantastic desserts.
Later I decided to put up a few groceries and stopped by Gulliver's Book Store, where Debra was working that evening. I bought a book, and Debra asked if Jerry had bought her a dessert. I said nope, and went back and picked some kind of sinful brownie for her. When I got back to the bookstore, Jerry was there to pick up Debra. He said, "you are dead" when he saw I bought her dessert. Debra and another clerk said no you are! Oops, stuck my foot in that one. It was all in good fun.
After working about 3 hours, I took off for a jog. I could jog along a snowmobile track, as the packed snow was hard enough. It was chilly, probably about 10F, when I jogged. A large dog of northern breed stock adopted me and ran with me around the fie lds and back to GI. I hope he got back home all right.
At lunchtime I gave a talk to the local chapter of the AMS. As requested, I gave a historical talk, which I called "My love affair with aviation and meteorology". Using slides and transparencies, I documented my interest in flying and how that got me a cquainted with meteorology, how I worked as an airborne meteorological observer at Penn State, working for NOAA, and at CSU on various field projects. I concluded with a discussion about soaring and soaring meteorology. I think they all enjoyed it and it seemed to be what they were looking for in terms of the type and level of presentation. After a conference call that Connie Uliaz has scheduled with Scott Denning, Bob Walko, Mel Nicholls, Jerry Harrington, and me, I plan on taking a few turns around the lake with the skate skies before I return them to the rental shop.
My visit here at GI is drawing to a close. Tomorrow Jerry and I ski to a cabin for the night. I am turning in my keys at the office and have completed travel papers, so that I can leave without someone here trying to track me down.
That evening Jerry and Debra picked me up, and we went to the ice-art festival. It is totally amazing what they can do, carving ice sculptures. All the effort that goes into them! And it is so transient. We saw some of the artists with their chainsaws and hand tools, carving away, dressed in snowmobile type outfits, covered in ice powder. I thought I had dressed warm enough, but I still chilled down after walking about in the 10F air. It is the first time that I have felt cold here. Of course I had be en very active while outdoors, not strolling along among the ice sculptures. There are artists from Alaska, Russia, Canada and other parts of the world. One class of sculpture is made out of a single block of ice. What planning has to go into those! Othe rs are made out of multiple blocks. Most of those were in the construction stages. Large hoists were used to stack the carved blocks together to make these large works of art. We will go Saturday night to see the finished products. I will wear more cloth es next time.
We then went to our favorite Thai restaurant downtown. It was great as usual.
I rose at 6:00AM and made a large breakfast of hash brown potatoes and scrambled eggs mixed with the leftover Thai food from the previous night. I then went to a bagel shop to get tomorrow's breakfast, and picked up Jerry and his gear. Driving up the C hena Hot Springs road, we saw one Bull Moose grazing along the roadside. We reached the trailhead for the Colorado Creek cabin at about 8:30AM. The temperature was about 3F. I donned my 55 lb pack and Jerry his, and we headed up a hard-packed snowmobile trail. There were bicycle tracks on the trail. When we got to the cabin, they had signed the register and stated it took them1.5h to bike in; almost half the time it took us. I gather from the logbook that they have biked the track several times.
After about half a mile, the trail went up a steep slope with a pronounced curve on it. It was steep enough that I had to sidestep up it. After that, the trail climbed, but not so steeply. It rose through Birch forest with black spruce mixed in. At one point, it passed over a branch of the Colorado Creek where there was some overflow ice, but it was not bad to get over. Our biggest problem was that the combination of the hard-packed snow and our heavy packs, which flattened the skies so they didn't hav e a wax pocket, stripped the wax off our skies in about 30 minutes. We stopped once to re-wax, but for the most part we had to compensate on the climbs up the hills and snowmobile moguls by kicking hard in a sort of skate ski step or full herringbone step . This really stressed the inside calf muscles. Although it was cold, I perspired like crazy, as it was hard to find the optimum dress. If I down-dressed too much, then I got cold in the exposed, windy areas. Then I had to wear a hat that covered my ears for fear of frostbite. I had my wind-block jacket unzipped at the pits, but still it was warm.
The day was clear, as it has been almost every day I've been up here, and the views of the snow-covered mountains, such as Chena Dome, were spectacular. Almost every foot of the trail had large moose tracks along it, but we didn't see any moose. After almost three hours, we made it to the cabin. The cabin is a log shed structure about 20'X25', with widows on the northeast corner and a nice view across a meadow of Chena Dome. On the opposite corner to the windows was a barrel-type stove with a platform for heating things. In another corner were double bunks that could sleep 4 people. I claimed the lower bunk and Jerry claimed the upper.
We immediately set to work building a fire and then had lunch, both of us having our thermos of hot water to prepare instant soups. Then I sawed a tree that someone had left at the saw platform, and Jerry went out for some more wood. By the time that w as done, the cabin had heated to a toasty 80F.
We then went searching for some open hills to play on with our tele skies. The snow consisted of aged crystals that had developed these large hoar frost crystals. Generally the skis sunk in only three or four inches and those crystals made for fast gli des. Near trees and bushes, there was no support at all and one would sink in as much as three feet. The hills that looked open from a distance were actually covered by small birch and willows, so it was next to impossible to find a tele slope. At one poi nt I thought I found enough space to make turns down a hill only to catch a ski tip in a small black spruce and do a major face plant. It took me a good 5 minutes, with Jerry's help, to dig out of the hole I made.
We returned to the cabin and Jerry went about sawing the trees he had collected. I started the unending process of melting snow for water. I also took a little nap. Then we started boiling some water for our backpacking foods. Jerry had some pasta stu ff and I some Nepalese rice and beans concoction. I opened a bottle of Australian Merlot and the two of us devoured portions of food supposedly intended for four. Of course that was four adults that had been sitting on their butts, not two guys carrying h eavy packs uphill for 5.7 miles.
We then watched a video-gotcha! And fell asleep. After a few hours Jerry came panting like a puppy from the upper bunk and set up camp on the floor; also like a puppy. All that hot air stabilized at the top bunk level. Even in the lower bunk, with the stove well damped, I never zipped up my sleeping bag. It was 10F or colder outside, and the wind was howling at 25-30kts.
Several times I got up in the night to visit the outhouse and enjoy the views of the Aurora Borealis. This was the first time I had seen it this trip. On the northern horizon was a greenish arc and overhead were two bands that waved about. At my 5:30AM visit, the sky looked like it was cloudy with large patches of Aurora covering much of the sky overhead.
We woke to still stronger winds and built up the fire. We had breakfast consisting of bagels with cream cheeses and freeze-dried huevos rancheros. We then packed our gear, groaned and hoisted on our packs, and headed down to the car. It was a lot easie r this time, and we made it back in less than two hours. We both took off our skis to go down that very steep section, as our packs made it difficult to snowplow slowly, especially as one ski would get stuck in snowmobile ruts and with that weight it was difficult to lift a ski out of it. We made it in one piece, loaded up the car, and headed to Tack's for brunch. Jerry had two huge pancakes and fried potatoes, and I had a large, veggie half sandwich on homemade bread and some veggie chili. It was great! We even got to watch a sled dog race along the way.
I dropped Jerry off and then took a shower and a nap. I then met Jerry at the sled dog club where the North American Limited championship sprint sled dog race was being held. I wanted to see the dogs that a Swedish couple was running. They were a mix o f German Pointer and English Pointer hunting dogs and husky, but they had a greyhound look, seemed to me. Egil Ellis and his wife both ran teams. She had the A-team and he the B-team. By he end of the second day, she was way out front and he second in t he 8-dog class. Today's run was 10.5 miles and she finished in about 32 minutes. That is moving!
Compared to Colorado, where the race start gates were usually held in an open meadow and then the teams disappeared in the woods after 30 seconds for 30 minutes or so and the spectators stood around freezing, this was upscale mushing. The race start ga te was 20 feet from the large, heated, log clubhouse, where spectators could eat hot foods when they got cold or hungry. Moreover, the course snaked through an open field, so that spectators could see the dogs going and coming for some 5 minutes or more. The trail looked very nicely groomed as well. I mean they really do things right up here.
At 7:00PM, Jerry and Debra came by to take me to the ice-art festival again. This time I dressed in my warmest clothes and felt quite comfortable. Artists were still working on the large multi-ice block sculptures but many were complete enough to get a full appreciation of them. Also the single-block sculptures were lighted in various colored lights that really enhanced them and made them look more spectacular than in the day- time. We also viewed, and participated in, the kiddy section, where one coul d slide down ice slides, sit in ice chairs and even mush an ice sled dog team.
We left with aurora views coming and going overhead.
In the morning I began the project of getting all my stuff packed. It is quite a challenge getting everything stuffed in my large duffel bag, ski bag, and carry-on bags.
Then I went out to the Birch Tree Hill downhill ski area in Fort Waynwright. The ski area opens at noon and runs into the night, under lights, until 9:00PM. It charges $10 for military, and $25 for civilians. I was prepared to pay the $25 but the guy a t the desk asked how old I was, and when I said 59 I got in free! What a deal. It has one double-chair lift and one rope tow for the bunny slope. Now this may not be Aspen or Vail, and the snow rarely is fresh powder, but it is just right for practicing t elemark turns. So I spent a couple of hours going up and down the slope under partly cloudy skies. There was only moderate use of the slopes and no lift line whatsoever. Then I headed back to complete my packing before going to Jerry and Debra's for a par ty. At the party, they had lots of veggie food and I gave a PowerPoint slide show.
The beauty of Fairbanks, if you like winter sports, is that everything is close. The drive to Birch Hill ski area took 15 minutes and to the more respectable Moose Mountain ski area takes about 25 minutes. I could have gone to the North American limit ed sled dog races with world-classes mushers in 10 minutes, or gone X-country skiing or skate skiing practically out my door. The time it took to get to the trailhead for Colorado Creek cabin was about 45 minutes, and to visit Jerry and Debra in the count ry in the hills, it takes 10 minutes, or 10 minutes to a world-class ice-art festival. Moreover, from the quiet country setting where Debra and Jerry live it takes 10 minutes to go to two major shopping centers, a movie, or to work at the University.
Compare that to where I live outside of Fort Collins in a similar country setting, admittedly with super views and almost year-around great weather. It takes 1.5 to 2 hours to get to a downhill area not much better than those close to Fairbanks, and al most 3 to over 4 hours to get to the top ski areas in the state, while fighting some of the worst bumper-to-bumper driving you will ever experience. To go X-country skiing, it takes us 1.5 to 1.75 hrs, and there are few places with prepared trails for ska te skiing. Of course, you can't beat the powder or the views. To view or participate in sled dog races, you have to go to the major ski areas, involving 3 to 6 hours of driving. One of the reasons I quit mushing was because of the hassle of driving to and from the races. From where I live, it takes 35 to 45 minutes to get anywhere in town, and nearly that to get to the office. Although I prefer where I live, Fairbanks offers a lot of advantages that few people appreciate. They think of the dark, cold win ters, but that amounts to 2.5 months at most. Think about it: few places don't have at least that many months of pretty darned disagreeable weather. Where I live in the Colorado Foothills, November, March, April, and part of May can be pretty miserable. N otice, I didn't say the deep winter months because I like the cold, dry, sunny winter days in Colorado, where one can play in the snow. It snows a lot in the springtime in the Front Range, but it is warm, yucky snow that melts and turns to mud in a few da ys, and if you are like me and spend a lot of time in the high country playing in the snow, you are burned out of snow-related activities come mid-March anyway. When I lived in Florida, mid-May to mid-October are barely tolerable months with the high humi dity and high temperatures, yet the remaining months of the year are just great. And so it goes. Every place has it down period, and Fairbanks certainly has its share, but late February, March, and maybe early April can be great. It's hard to beat late M ay, June, July, August, and early September with the warm, long days, and brilliant fall colors.
My second trip to Alaska this sabbatical is over as I wait for connections at Seattle. Flying from Fairbanks to Anchorage, we didn't get very close to Denali and the summit was partly obscured by clouds. No more flights for my sabbatical, but plans ar e for Vollie and me to drive to Tucson in middle April for a couple of weeks. I will be giving a seminar and interacting with colleagues in Atmospheric Physics and in Hydrology and Water Resources. I expect the temperatures will be a bit warmer than Fair banks!
On the evening of the 19th Vollie and I loaded up the truck with all the gear needed for a three week road trip to Arizona, my last trip of my sabbatical. Included in the gear are day hiking packs, camping stuff (truck camping), bicycle (for commuting), lecture material for three lectures at the University of Arizona and one at the El Tiro gliderport, research materials, soaring stuff and clothing for a three-week trip. Oh, and stuff for our dog, Donner, who is going with us this time.
In the morning we hooked onto my sailplane and trailer, which I had readied for road travel the weekend before, and headed to Boulder, CO, where I attended the last of a SHEBA/FIRE workshop that I attended all week. This concluded with a brief GCSS Polar Clouds Working Group meeting. At 3:30PM we hit the road south, driving as far as a KOA Campground near Buena Vista, CO. The campground is nestled among large rounded lichen-covered boulders, and from them we had a great view of the sun setting behind and rising onto the snow-covered Collegiate Range.
We got an early start heading south and drove through the beautiful San Louis valley with views of the Sangre De Cristo range and then through Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and down to Alamogordo, NM. The last three hours we drove through some of the most remote countryside and villages in the U.S. We essentially went along the north, east, and the next day, south boundaries of the White Sands Missile Range.
Alamogordo is a desert town of about 35,000 people where our friend Annette Claycomb her husband, Jim Gallagher, and their two children live. Annette used to work for me assisting Brenda with secretarial duties in the early 80's. After leaving us she went to the University of Washington, where she worked on a PhD in Linguistics. After some strife with her advisor, she left with an ABD. While in Seattle, she met Jim (a "native"), and that really worked out well for her-he's great. She works part time teaching at the junior college, and Jim teaches 1.5 time with 4 classes a term at the college and one at the Air Force base. Their children, Elizabeth, 8, and Daniel, 10, are very nicely behaved, intelligent kids. They were great fun to be with. (Actually, Lizzy's birthday's tomorrow, and Dan's was on the winter Solstice.) Annette is very happy living in the small community and enjoys the desert life. She has even built, from scratch, an adobe playhouse in the back yard.
In the evening we had dinner with them at a local pub-restaurant, the Compass Rose, and enjoyed the food and socializing. We slept in our camper, which we parked, along with 35ft trailer, on the street. Our rig extended the full length of their property minus the driveway. I don't know why people put up with us, says Vollie.
About 9:00AM we headed west along I-10. We drove to Wilcox, where we backtracked southeastward along side roads to Chiracahua National Monument. There I had intended to find a campsite and explore the area, but the campground in the National Monument was. I didn't feel adventurous enough to pull my long rig up windy gravel National Forest roads to one of their campgrounds. So, we unhooked the trailer and drove to the summit where we viewed the interesting rock spires. We then drove to a lower level where we had parked the trailer and then took a 3 mile walk along a valley trail that Donner was permitted to walk on. It followed the banks of two dry streams along a beautiful meadow and some woods with alligator junipers (their trunks look like alligator skins) and scrub oaks, among others. Historic ranch buildings and the remains of a CCC camp can be inspected along the way. As sunset approached we headed back to Wilcox where we found an RV place ("Lifestyle") at which we could park our long rig.
Easter Sunday. We packed up and hit the road for Tucson. Arriving too early to check into the motel, we headed straight northwest to El Tiro Gliderport. There I pulled out the sailplane and rigged it for soaring. Vollie and Donner then hung out in the camper while I tried the soaring conditions. Nilton Renno and Bill Rogers arrived about 11:00AM or so and rigged their new Discuss-2 glider, which they own jointly. It is a very nice, fast high-performance ship. Nilton was towed aloft and I followed with a self-launch. At about 2500' AGL I found a strong thermal and, after only 6 minutes or so of power, put the engine away and thermaled to 6000' or so. I found Nilton and chased him towards the northeast to a small mountain called Picacho Peak. I lost sight of him there and I headed north to another mountain with nothing but sink over it. I returned to Picacho, gained a few thousand feet and headed back across the massive sinkhole irrigation area. I then scratched back to 5000' and headed back to El Tiro. I flew for only 1.5 hours but I mainly planned on a reconnoissense flight, especially since I couldn't get my main GPS to work and I was unfamiliar with the area.
We then headed to the Ghost Ranch Lodge, which is to be our base for the next two weeks. It is a neat place with single-level separated rooms surrounding a large park-like atmosphere with ornamental oranges, a Sonoran desert garden and palms, bougainvilla and many other flowers and shrubs. Our room has a kitchenette, which is especially nice for a long stay.
I began the day with a run with Donner around and through some cemeteries, a park and along streets where Donner enjoyed chasing the rabbits. Then I set to work on a proposal that I needed to get finished by the next day. It took a long, frustrating time to get information for getting the aol connection to work. About 2:00PM I got on my bicycle and pedaled to the university to show my face. After a few miss-turns I finally found the Department of Atmospheric Science and with no fanfare at all was given a room, keys to it and the building, and a computer room with printers. I didn't even have to chase around and get 3 signatures and then run across campus to a key dispensing person as in some other un-named university. In the office I have an old PC with Windows 95 that I can use to check my e-mail and web browse. It all seemed quite adequate. I was given travel expense forms as well.
I then biked in the 90+ heat back to the motel and took a nap as it was my fast day.
After the morning ritual jog with Donner, and free breakfast at the motel, I finished up the proposal and send it off to Brenda to finish up and incorporate changes from my colleagues on the proposal. Then I biked to the Dept and chatted with some of the faculty, did some e-mail stuff and biked back to the motel. Vollie and I then drove to the northeast part of town and visited the (Ted) De Grazia Gallery In The Sun at 6300 N. Swan Road. The buildings are all constructed of handmade adobe with interesting floor tiles, and iron doors. I wasn't too crazy about his paintings but enjoyed the funky buildings.
I then took Vollie up Mount Lemmon where, within 30 minutes of driving, we went from sweltering Sonoran desert ecology to ponderosa and fir forests and aspen that had yet to leaf out. Grass on the ski slopes had just started coming out. We cooked our supper in the camper and ate at a picnic table. On the way down we enjoyed views of the lighted city in the dark.
After the morning jog and breakfast I biked into the Dept and interacted with colleagues and began reading Alex Costa's dissertation. I got e-mail from Brenda that there was a fire rather close to our home in Rist Canyon. Then I drove out to the gliderport and took my DG-400 for a flight. I decided to fly south to Kitt Peak, which is about 30 miles away. I first attempted to self-launch without a wing runner but the cross wind was too strong and I couldn't lower the windward wing. So I taxied back and signaled to one of the crew that I would like to have a wing runner and then got off just fine. After a few minutes of motoring I again found the "house" thermal and climbed to 4500'. I then headed toward Kitt Peak with my GPS now working. I found the thermals to be very powerful, generally in the 8-10kt range, but they were very widely spaced. The highest I could get was about 5500', which was about 3400'AGL. I'd run into one of those thermals and bang! up would go a wing. I'd bank into it and thermal up a thousand feet or so and then head toward the mountain at 80kts. The terrain below got rather inhospitable looking with no roads and no land-out options. Eventually I got to a mountain immediately to the northeast of Kitt Peak where I could climb to 8000' and then flew over a ridge that put me right over the observatory, where I thermaled to 8500' while enjoying the views of all the facilities.
I then headed north, back to El Tiro. With the 8500' height advantage I could fly straight north and porpoise along through the thermal tops at 85kts. I made it back to the gliderport at 6500' and had to pull the spoilers and drop my landing gear to get down. The total flight was only 1.5hrs and I had flown over 60 miles; not exactly a speed record, but I am still trying to feel out what I can get away with here. One can pretty much decide where one wants to go and just do it much like a powerplane, as long as one stays away from the irrigated fields and other sinkholes.
I returned to the motel and we called the house to see if anyone was there to answer. Our son Bill was there and told us the fire was less than 0.5 miles from the house and the sheriff had called for an evacuation of the area. Being a search and rescue (SAR) member, he was let through the barriers. He was trying to evacuate our cats. He found one but couldn't find the second one, who is a scarety cat. We told him to leave plenty of food because we were not sure when our house sitter could get back.
We then prepared a meal in the kitchenette and sat outside in the twilight on our patio and had supper with a bottle of wine. It was still rather warm out there as the bricks in the building were still releasing heat from the western sun exposure of our patio.
After the morning jog ritual, a bike ride to the office and working until 2:00PM, I biked home and Vollie and I drove south about 50 miles to the artsy and historical town of Tubac. There we explored art museums, many showing paintings by local artists. I enjoyed Hugh Cabot's paintings and even took some pictures of them. We were told he was also the official combat artist of the Korean Conflict, but those works are in Washington, DC. The building was a very old adobe structure that was neat in its own right. We walked around the little old funky Oldtown, visiting many artisans' shops. One gallery was surrounded by beautiful gardens with fountains, sculptures, windchimes and inviting nooks. We then found a Mexican food restaurant where we ate outside on the patio with the sounds of a water fountain nearby and the smells of roses scenting the air. The food was great and we had a fun relaxing time. I recommend visiting Tubac.
On this morning's run through the cemetery we encountered a pair of coyotes. The male had a very bad limp. Donner got very excited about seeing them. Then shortly after we flushed a jackrabbit, which also got Donner excited. Almost every morning we have seen cottontails, but this is the first time that we encountered a jackrabbit or coyotes.
After a breakfast on the motel patio accompanied by birds singing and occasionally stopping for crumbs at our table, Vollie and I drove to the university. There she walked the campus and visited museums and I worked.
Then in the afternoon we drove north to the unincorporated town called Oracle. It is on the northern edge of the Santa Catalina Mountain Range and is at an elevation of about 4000'. Being 2000' feet above Tucson, where the temperatures were in the upper 90's, Oracle was much cooler; only in the middle 80's! It is hard to identify a town center as the houses are spread out over the desert in a low-density fashion. We visited a ranch turned into an artists' colony where there was a small gallery. We also stopped by another old dude ranch turned into rental properties (Rancho Robles). It was something to see with the whitewashed buildings, a large entranceway with a white arch, all very Spanish looking. A retiree, recently transplanted from a small town in southern Colorado, chatted with us at the entrance. As it turns out, he attended engineering school at CSU years ago.
On the way back into town we stopped at Tohono Chul Park to view the cactus in bloom. Speaking of cactus in bloom, almost at the gliderport are some saguaro, which are in bloom with their white flowers.
In the evening we had dinner at an Italian restaurant with Xubin, and Ben and Nancy Herman. The food (Orange Roughy in orange sauce with a side of mushroom spaghetti) was good and we enjoyed chatting with them.
After the usual morning jog with Donner I went out to the gliderport to go soaring. At about 11:0AM I self-launched with the intention of flying to Estrella Gliderport which is south of Phoenix. The winds were forecast to be 15 to 20kts out of the northwest, so I decided I had better head to the northwest. The thermals were not as strong for the most part as in my previous two flights and they seemed to be more widely spaced. I made good progress toward Estrella, which was about 54 nmi away, until I got to the town of Casa Grande. Except for some lift over a hill to the south of town I couldn't find anything. Here I was only 18nmi from Estrella and I could see the mountains near it and even the bend in the railroad tracks near it. I eventually had to call it quits and even after gaining as much altitude as I could over the hill, I had to use my "iron thermal"(my engine) to get out of the valley. Once I got over higher terrain and in the lee of some small mountains, I got what seemed like smooth wave lift and had no difficulty soaring back to El Tiro. I landed after 2.5h of flying, a bit frustrated. Later I heard that the regional soaring contest run out of Turf Soaring north of Phoenix canceled the task for the day because conditions were so poor. So I didn't feel quite so bad after that.
That evening Vollie and I attended the Tucson Soaring Club dinner where I was the guest speaker. It was held at a restaurant (the Mountain View) featuring Eastern European suisine. Bill had salmon, Vollie had Wiener Schnitzel, the third Choice was roasted chicken. I had to adapt my talk to changing visual aids. They brought a 35mm projector but no carousel to put the slides in. They also brought a brand new overhead projector and I first had to figure out how to put it together. I eventually gave a talk on how I got started in flying and how that led to meteorology. I then gave some "war stories" about my research flying experiences and ended with a discussion of soaring meteorology including Chris Golaz's LES simulations of boundary layer thermals and cu with varying soil moisture and of our RAMS soaring products on the web and a brief discussion of my Kenya soaring adventures and our simulations of the convergence line I soared on.
Vollie, Donner and I headed southwest to Kitt Peak. I had hoped to see lots of cactus in bloom along the way and near the base of the mountain, but while there were a few in bloom, the dry winter had certainly taken its toll. We took a self-guided tour of the 2m telescope and then a guided tour of the 4m. It is a very impressive facility and the views from up there are very impressive. There are many telescopes of different types and sizes.
We stopped by the Desert Museum on the way back. It is a very impressive outdoor museum, kind of a cross between a desert park and a zoo. The trails meander through the desert landscape and there are signs for coyotes and javelinas, and darn if they wouldn't be there! Then we realized a nearly invisible net-material fencing enclosed them. There were lots of birds flying free plus others in an enclosed aviary. It was very nicely done.
I again started the day with a jog with Donner around the cemeteries and the large block. It was cool enough that I felt chilly at the start but after a few minutes I warmed up. It still got into the lower 90's. I gave a seminar in the Department of Atmospheric Science on "Extreme Precipitation Estimation". I described our project of simulating historical flash flood storms and how we are using those results to eventually build a GUI for estimating extreme rainfall anywhere in the state. Bob Maddox, a former CSU student and leading authority on flash floods was present. He really liked our approach and results so far. There were a lot of questions and discussion at the end.
Donner was excited that we flushed a jackrabbit and a cottontail on our morning jog. We don't always spy critters, but occasionally we have a good day.
After working at the Dept in the morning I went out to El Tiro Gliderport to evaluate the RAMS boundary layer and thermal forecasts. The model predicted boundary layer depths to 7500' over the lower lying areas and over 10,000' over Mt Lemmon. So I self-launched and after a 2000' climb and 4 min of power, I put the engine away and soared to 6500'. I then headed east gliding over the sinkhole irrigation area and worked in weak lift along the flanks of what I believe is called Black Mountain. I finally worked along some north-south oriented ridges and got up to 7500' over the mountain. I then headed east across Oro Valley in about 6kts of sink. With this amount of sink I reached the gently rising terrain on the western flank of Mt Lemon, but too low to go further without any lift. So I was forced to get out the iron thermal and power up to the sidewall of the mountain. There I found very strong lift after only 5 minutes of powering and put the engine away. Working up the western flank of the mountain my vario frequently went off scale at 10kts. It was really rough but in no time at all I topped out over the peaks at over 10,000' and soared over a group of towers and what looked like radar domes at what appeared to be the summit. The views were spectacular as I used a combination of ridge and thermal soaring over the high terrain. I then headed back west toward El Tiro, gliding and dolphin soaring my way back at speeds of 80 to 90kts. My total flight time was 1.7h, and between the turbulence and the heat I felt like I had quite a workout.
After my morning jog around the block with Donner and a bike ride to work, I went over to Hydrology and had group meeting with Jim Shuttleworth's group and Soroocian's group. They took me out to lunch and I went back to atmos to work on Alex Costa's dissertation. At 4:00PM I gave a seminar at Hydrology on our model sensitivity to soil moisture specification and the work we're doing applying their artificial neural network model to estimating soil moisture.
I managed to get Vollie up at 5:00AM and then we drove north about 20 miles to Catalina State Park. We hiked through desert trails enjoying the birds and the desert flower and fauna. This is the best time to be up and about in the desert. It was cool enough at the beginning of our walk to wear a jacket, but by the end we were down to T-shirts. That afternoon the temperature peaked at 98F.
I gave a seminar at 3:00PM to the National Weather Service office on our experiences doing realtime mesoscale numerical weather prediction with RAMS. We had a lively discussion following the talk.
In the evening we drove down to tour the outside of San Xavier Mission, which was built in the middle 1700's. With its whitewashed walls, it really stood out with the sun setting behind it. We came back through Tucson Mountain Park and took a brief walk along the mountainside just as the sun was setting.
We then had dinner at an Indian restaurant, which had changed owners and names since we had been there last, but the food was still excellent.
Donner and I did our run around the block, through the cemeteries and so forth, before I headed to my last day at work at the U of Arizona. I took Xubin and Nilton to a Mexican restaurant near campus and then after some discussions with a young lady working in hydrology about our work I biked back to the motel. Vollie and I then drove up Mount Lemon to escape the heat and take a hike. We hiked along a trail that went along a stream bed and then crossed it and several others. There was not a drop of water in the area. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, as Tucson has reported only 1" of precipitation this year, which is about 50% of normal, which isn't much to begin with. The trail climbed about 1000' and then we turned back for our supper date at the Renno's. Nilton and his wife Maria-Carmen and their son, live near the southern flanks of the Catalina's in a very up-scale neighborhood. The house is very modern with nice views of the mountains and it has nice sonoran desert landscape. We had a very good Brazilian-style meal of a fish/sea-food concoction as well as deserts and drinks. Vollie had a very potent Brazilian-style Margarita drink but I abstained from that.
Donner and I did our morning jog and then I went out to the gliderport. Last evening I discovered that our truck battery was dead and this is after I had the truck electrical system checked out on Thursday. I still have some problem with the truck electrical part of the refrigerator. The guy had reversed the polarity on the refrigerator switch from where I had installed it, but when I apply my multimeter to the switch terminals, I get current through it where he set if off and not when it is saying on. Doesn't make sense to me. I have pulled the plug on the camper so that I can charge the camper battery and see if I get power to the lights in the camper after that. Then I'll worry about the switch and refrigerator.
I met Nilton at the gliderport, but by noon he was still waiting for his wife to pick up their son, so I decided to take off. I motored in rough air to the little hill that produces the house thermal and shut the engine down at 4000' and climbed in continuous lift to 7500'. I then headed west with my goal of making it to Estrallia this time. Learning from my previous attempt, I kept further south, well away from the irrigation areas. I made use of lift off the dark rocky hills and was able to maintain 7500' all the way until about 10 miles west of Casa Grande. From there I could hardly find a spot that wasn't irrigated. I did find a narrow corridor of unirrigated land and headed into it. I even found a 6 kt thermal that carried me back to 7500'. I had enough altitude to glide and dolphin soar to the Estrallia Mountains. But with the prevailing northwest flow the eastern side of the mountains was in sink. When I overflew Estrallia Gliderport I was down to 3500', but the airport is at 1200'. I was still a 1000' above a trainer trying to stay airborne out of the field.
I then struggled to gain altitude as I headed east towards the sinking air near the irrigated fields. In that narrow corridor between irrigated fields I finally found enough lift to get me back to 7500' and from there I worked back into those black-looking rocky hills and continued east at 7500' and then down to 5500' and back up to 7500'. I also found some good lift along the southern boundary of the irrigated fields and eventually made it to another hill where I got up to 8500'. I was then within 20 miles of El Tiro so I glided and dolphin soared back at 85kts. Total flight time was 3.5hrs.
I overflew the gliderport and carefully checked the wind triangle, but on final the winds switched to crosswind at 20kts or so and I had my hands full keeping aligned with the field and landing smoothly.
I then put my plane away into the trailer, said good byes and thanked everyone for their hospitality. They sure are a great bunch at El Tiro. One thing that surprised me was how few privately owned singe-place ships were flown out there. Basically there was Nilton/Bill Rogers plane and mine. Everyone else was either the 2-33. or one of the two Blanik twins, or the Grob G-103.
I returned to Ghost Ranch Lodge and after a short nap, Vollie and I had supper with a bottle of wine out on the porch dressed in shorts.
With trailer in tow we headed north on Arizona state highway 77 through Oracle, then Globe where we left the sonoran desert, through Apache country, then east on I-40 where we again headed north on Hwy 191 through Navojo country. Winds were strong westerly through the high desert country. Just outside Bluff, Utah we stopped for the night at a campground along the San Juan River. Rising early the next morning we drove down into the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. There we found one of the few vacant campsites and managed to back in the trailer with the truck camper along side it. We did so in pouring rain as a frontal passage with squall line was occurring just as we arrived. I took a nap and Vollie walked around between showers but got caught and got soaked.
In the afternoon we hiked from the Squall Flat Campground to the Elephant Hill trailhead and back along the road, a distance of about 8 miles. It was a nice day for walking as the temperatures were in the upper 70's. We enjoyed seeing the spring flowers although they were rather sparse owing to a dry winter. I hoped to find some barrel cactus in bloom with their deep red flowers, but could not find any along the trail. Finally, I found one under a pinon tree as we took a shortcut on one of the switchbacks on the road.
We had a pleasant evening at the campground and then rising early headed east again.
Avoiding interstates again, we followed Utah 40/Colorado 90 from La Sal Junction to the beautiful Paradox Valley which the Dolores River flows through. Then we traveled on through Naturita and Norwood on Hwy 145. I filled my tank in Norwood and took a gasoline bath. Someone must have turned off the pump with the automatic control still on so that when I turned on the pump gas spurted out all over me. I had to change my clothes and put the smell stuff in the sailplane trailer. From there we went through Placerville over the beautiful Dallas Divide with spectacular views of Mount Sneffels. We parked the trailer in Ridgway and drove up a gravel road to a lot that we have attempted to buy but the owners won't sell. It is at 8500' and overlooks a beautiful valley and across the valley is one of the best views in Colorado with Mt Sneffels "in your face". The owners permit people to stop and view so we had a lunch of subs bought in Ridgway while enjoying the great views.
We then headed east through Montrose toward Gunnison, but turned off to Lake City. There we climbed Slumgullion Pass, which is very steep, and was a slow climb pulling the trailer. We stopped at the Creede Airport and tied down the trailer and then drove up the 4-mile steep climb to our lot at 10,300'. There was no snow at all on our southfacing lot and it was warm enough for us to eat outside at our folding picnic table. We also didn't need a heater overnight. The next morning we took a hike up a jeep road reaching over 11,300' where we finally encountered snow on the road. Still it was warm enough to wear shorts and when the wind wasn't blowing, just a T-shirt.
After our morning hike and lunch we headed north up highway 285 to Denver and north on I-25 to Owl Canyon Gliderport where I tied down the trailer. We got home, very tired, about 9:00PM and had supper at 10:00PM after unloading.
Thus ends what is probably my last sabbatical. It has been a very busy one what with all the trips and still trying to keep things running smoothly at home. I learned a lot, made a lot of professional connections, developed new ideas for research and even wrote proposals one of which already has funding approved. In addition we experienced a lot of new parts of the world or viewed others at different times of the year from previous visits and made lots of new friends. I also got in some fun soaring flights and some of those may even lead to technical journal articles since we are simulating some of those cases with RAMS.