Thursday, July 30, 2015

Travel is fun!

I am in Germany! But first, I need to tell you about the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. We went to Oak Ridge and Chattanooga last weekend for what was basically the last hurrah, and our first stop was the Oak Ridge National Lab in…Oak Ridge, Tennessee! I had a ton of fun there. It was a combination of engineering and science in the tour we took, and we got to take home our guest badges. The first thing we got to see was a room full of super computers. Obviously, we couldn’t go inside, but it was still exciting to see Titan, Gaia, and Eos, and just the sheer number of racks for data storage.  Then we headed above the super computer lab to see a demonstration of an analysis that took six months to compute on Titan. Six months. Can you imagine waiting that long for your computer to do anything? This just astounds me.

The presentation was that of a supernova explosions, and a simulation of one that was, believe it or not, accidental and didn’t follow the theory at all. A while later they found an image using Hubble, I believe, of the exact scenario playing out in space, and it fit the model perfectly.  It was pretty exciting stuff.

After that we had lunch, a presentation on ‘look climate change is real,’ and then a tour of a huge facility in which they smash super small particles in order to see what results, in essence, among quite a few other things. Unfortunately, it was super noisy and our tour guide was on the quiet side, so it was difficult to really get into all the hardware that was being shown to us.

The next day, we went to the Aquarium in Chattanooga, of which I can’t recall the name of in any way shape or form, but I did enjoy greatly. There were so many fish and they were all so beautiful, and they had several turtles and sharks, and a whole room full of sea horses and another full of jellyfish! It was a lot of fun, and I took way too many pictures. I even got to pet a shark. I mean, seriously, have you ever pet a shark? It’s so weird, but so fun.

Of course, you guys aren’t too interested in Chattanooga or an Aquarium. You want to know about Germany. Well, to be frank, there’s not a lot to say, as I only just got here Wednesday night!

I will tell you that flying above the clouds remains for me that best boost for any sort of creativity at all. And I really just feel refreshed to be in the air and traveling again! I think I must have just been homesick for travel lately! Well, I always have had wandering feet, it seems.

The flight was excellent and one hundred percent eventful. I do wish that was a typo, but it isn’t. While the flight from my home airport to Atlanta was as smooth as could be when you’re in a group of 23 people, our next flight, a hop across the Atlantic over to Amsterdam, was one very special moment after another.

To begin, our flight was delayed four hours. This, as you imagine, effected our flight down to Berlin from Amsterdam to the point that was split into two groups of people simply because fitting 23 people on a single flight is near impossible. We did get upgraded to business class though, at least in my group, so no real hard feelings there.  However, once everyone was aboard the plane, the discovery was made that the door did not close.  That is right, the plane door would not close.

No biggie, a flight attendant found the missing pin (so said the Captain) and the door was fixed. The engines revved, we rolled our eyes in exasperation and thanked God we were on our way, when suddenly, all is turned off again once more! An announcement comes over the intercom. “We are going to have to wait at the gate awhile longer everyone.” And then, we get told why.  I couldn’t tell whether the number was 17 or 70 but either way a number of guests canceled when they found out how long the flight was going to be delayed, and we found ourselves with their luggage still in the hold as everyone’s luggage made it to the plane right on time!

Oh my Goodness. Oh. My. Goodness.  The frustration was palpable in the air. Forty-five minutes after our already delayed time, we finally began to taxi away from the gate. I think up until the wheels were in the air and folded up, everyone was still expecting yet another delay.

So we all made to Amsterdam…and not we got to split into two parties. Two. This was a bit of chaos figuring out who the airline had assigned to which party as one of two people seemed to be a bit arbitrary choice wise, but we did that and things ran pretty smooth after that point. The first party just waited for the second at the airport in Berlin, and once everyone was together we traveled onwards to our final destination here, the DLR Summer Camp, as all our paperwork seems to say so far.

Oh to fly once more! I got a window seat in business class for the very last leg of the journey and let me tell you, it was fantastic. The flight was smooth, the clouds were beautiful, and my mind soared as high as the plane as least with ideas for writing, for paintings, for drawing! I do love to travel, especially to fly.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. I’m bunking with a total stranger at basically a town house/guest house in Germany right now, and she’s pretty awesome. We had two more added to our camp here, from South Africa and they are super awesome. I’m excited to be here.

I can’t wait to tell you all more. I think the most exciting sight on the trip from Berlin to where we’re staying was the solar farm that must have been at least one football field wide, and five football fields long, if not six. I’ve never seen one so big! The most disappointing was the graffiti. Berlin, I expected better of you than a few measly signatures!

One Final Byte: I am on the road again in air!

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