Summer 2009

In the summer of 2009 my professor sent me to work at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. I lived in the dorms at the CalTech campus. I was assigned to live in Lloyd where I live in the “Virgin Islands” area. Below are photos and stories of some of the adventures I had while in California and around.

  • Trip to Los Angeles: I drove down to LA in two days with a stop at my grandparents house.
  • CalTech Campus Early Days: The first few days at the CalTech campus and in my dorm room.
  • JPL and Robots: A few snaps around the JPL campus and some photos of the partially assembled Mars Science Laboratory rover.
  • Desert Auto Adventure: I nearly became vulture food in the Panamint Valley when my car started leaking transmission fluid.  The way there and the way back were equally adventurous.
  • Jesi’s Dam: Over the summer Jesi will be working on a project to rebuilt the Big Tujunga Dam.  We went up to the work site to take a look.
  • Malibu Diving: Jesi, Sondy, and I went out to Malibu to do some diving.  We only got one dive in because of the rough surf but it was still fun!
  • Monterey Diving and Little Yosemite, Among Other Locations: Some great and scary equipment malfunctions in Monterey, a visit to Google, hiking in Little Yosemite, watching fireworks from a high rise in San Francisco, and visiting friends across the Bay Area made for a great 4th of July weekend.
  • Lloyd Underground: Doing the laundry in my dorm is like a level out of HalfLife.  Aliens and monsters lurk around every corner.
  • Monterey Diving with Jesi: Jesi and I went to Monterey to finish her last few dives before she became a fully certified divemaster.
  • Goldstone DSN Tour: Four intrepid interns set off into the desert to visit the most awesome antenna complex in the world.  We had the VIP tour treatment, getting to see the biggest and coolest antennas, the command center, a land shark, and the equipment room of the most advanced experimental antenna transmission and receiving facility in the world.  This was every nerd’s dream tour.
  • Mount Wilson Observatory and Hiking: Jesi and I headed up to the Angeles Mountains for some hiking and to see the Mount Wilson Observatory complex.
  • San Francisco Weekend – Refusing to suffer through another weekend of heat in LA, I went north to San Francisco to visit Sean, Katie, and Jennifer.
  • NASA Ames, Fioli, Point Reyes, diving in Monterey, caving in Santa Cruz, and flying in Watsonville: Rather than be bored out of my mind in LA, I convinced Sondy to head up to the bay area with me to visit NASA Ames, the Fioli gardens, Point Reyes, and many other places.  It was a very relaxing weekend.
  • Everyday things at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: I finally took the time to wander around lab with a camera to take a few quick snaps.  Some of my friends from NASA Ames came down for a visit, too.
  • Death Valley and the Mojave Spaceport: We ventured out into Death Valley, saw the Mojave Spaceport, checked out Zzyzx, and had many adventures in between.
  • Oddities Around Pasadena: Strange things sometimes materialize in the concrete jungles of the Los Angeles Basin.  Post-apocalyptic cars, tanks, the Family Truckster, and massive deer infestations all await the casual observer.
  • Camp El-O-Win: I took a break from the usual weekend adventures to go visit my grandparents in Fresno.  For part of a day I went on a side excursion to Camp El-O-Win, the place where my parents first met.
  • ICED09 Conference: As part of my academic responsibilities,  I attended the ICED09 conference with my professor and fellow Oregon State grad students on the Stanford campus.
    • Conference Day 1: On the drive up I run into rain, Sarah and I find the Tesla dealership in Palo Alto, we go to the beach at Half Moon Bay, and find ourselves in San Francisco.
    • Redwood Hiking: Before the start of the conference I had a little time to kill.  The redwood groves north of Santa Cruz called my name.
    • Conference Day 3: Much hilarity ensues when Rob, Matt, and Sarah decide to ride the mechanical bull at one of the college bars in downtown Palo Alto.
    • Redwoods with Mike: Mike and I went up to Big Basin Redwoods State park for a little hike in the trees.
    • Around Stanford and Palo Alto: A few snaps from around the campus and the town where ICED09 was held.
  • IDETC09 Conference: After the ICED09 conference, everyone piled onto planes and into cars to attend the IDETC09 conference in San Diego.  We were lucky this year that both of our conferences were located in the same state.
    • Station Fire from the Freeway: The massive Station Fire in Los Angeles was visible from the freeway.  We took a few photos of the smoke plume as we drove past.
    • At the Conference: Some snaps from around the conference center.  There was even a tram to ride!
    • Padres Baseball Game: We enjoyed a free baseball game courtesy of ASME.  Not only did they give us free food but they also gave us free beer!
    • Around San Diego: San Diego with its wealth of bars offered us a whole host of interesting activities.  A train also offered us some fun and games.
    • Sunset on the Beach: Jon and Mike convinced Sarah and me to head up north of town for an evening on the beach.
  • Viva Las Vegas: Once my conference obligations were satisfied, I decided to stop off in Vegas for a night and a day.  Several interesting sights and sites awaited me in the city of sin.
    • The Road to Vegas: The long burn between San Diego and Las Vegas crosses some gorgeous country.  I was lucky enough to see a thunderstorm or two sweep across the desert.
    • The Springs Preserve: A wonderful little natural preserve and interpretive museum is tucked away from the strip.
    • The Strip at Night: We headed downtown to the strip to see a little of the nightlife of Las Vegas.
    • On the Way to Hoover Dam: The drive to Hoover Dam is pretty neat.  The new bridge being constructed across Black Canyon is quite awesome!
    • The Damn Dam Tour: I took a tour of the Hoover Dam and saw some pretty amazing things.  Chevy Chase has nothing on me!
    • Desert Storm: A storm rolled across west Las Vegas just before I left town.
  • Sailing in Tomales Bay: I took a brief detour through Point Reyes Station to go sailing with a friend from my JPL internship.

And with a short 700 mile drive I was back in Oregon and almost back to reality.  California and the associated adventures of the summer might have been behind me but there were still two weeks before school started.  Instead of sit around or do work I decided to take off to Alaska for a few days.  Photos of that trip to come soon!

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