Today was the halfway point in the COALA campaign. As is likely obvious from earlier posts, the wind and weather have limited our operations and this has been somewhat disappointing. Jack and I have been trying very hard to complete flights in the sub-optimal conditions, but ultimately, we’ve come to the conclusion that we’re at the limit of our equipment. That’s not to say that we’ve been sitting around twiddling our thumbs – in fact, every day has been quite busy. In addition, the aircraft haven’t exactly been kept in storage either, as we routinely take them out and put them through their paces, as demonstrated by the map below.
Instead of going on about conditions, I wanted to share some more information about life at the Oliktok Point facility. The Air Force facility can best be described as something between the inside of a ship and a college dormitory. The rooms are generally single rooms, and in addition, there are a couple of bathrooms, two common areas, and an industrial kitchen. All things having to do with meals are taken care of, with lunch and dinner prepared daily, snacks openly available, and dishes cleaned. I will say that this makes it very easy to focus on science and work! Coming from Boulder, which quite possibly has the highest ratio of Whole Foods (and Sprouts, and Alfalfa’s, etc.) to residents in the country, the food isn’t quite as fresh and natural as I’m used to, but the Station Manager does his best with the food that makes it up here and meals are pretty good! Finally, as I mentioned earlier, there is a room with exercise equipment and we’ve been sure to take advantage. Every night, Jack and I have spent an hour on either the recline-a-bike or the elliptical runner. Neither of these are devices I would normally use, but given that going for a run on the beach is not an option, it’s the best we have. Between football games on the TV (there are limited satellite channels), books, and papers, the hour generally passes relatively quickly. Having said that, I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to Boulder and completing a few more bike rides before winter hits Colorado! All in all, life up here is not too bad, and it’s easy to focus on the work we’re up here to do.
Finally, there has been a bit of turnover here – Scott Richardson (PSU) left yesterday and today was replaced by Hans Verlinde (also PSU). I’ve known Hans for quite some time through various scientific channels and look forward to some good discussions during our time up here. Additionally, some of the Air Force personnel are leaving at the end of their rotation, so more new faces will be here tomorrow.