Leaving on a Jet Airliner

Before I started the final week, I used my last work weekend to see the San Diego Symphony. A friend of my roommates came with me since the music theme was Fantasia. How can you resist that? I really wanted to see the Firebird Suite by Stravinsky, AND I DID! They played it and I was almost going to cry. The performance was outside in this park on the bay. It started at sunset and the buildings of downtown were so beautiful behind the stage. In the sky, the moon was the brightest it had been in months. I wish I could bring that back home with me.

The view of downtown

The view of downtown

The Symphony & Crowds

The Symphony & Crowds

A few days later I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends in San Diego, Christian. He has been featured in my posts regularly. He was heading to Florida to see his family, and so I had to say goodbye to him before everyone else. To make matters worse, his girlfriend, Desiree, left a few days after that. She was going to see family in Michigan. And so my list of goodbyes began to be checked off. The night before we left, she and I walked down the street to the 50’s themed diner. I had a blast just talking to her, which made saying goodbye even more depressing.

Shakes come and go but friends are forever!

Shakes come and go but friends are forever!

Thankfully, I went to a burger joint on the beach for lunch the next day with co-workers. Hodad’s is famous for it’s delicious, gigantic burgers and scrumptious onion rings. It is so popular that every morning at 11 am when it opens, there is a line down the street of people waiting for food. It was a good thing I filled up because later that day I found out the refrigerator at home was broken. For a few days the entire house smelled a little raw, like pure death. There was no opening up the garage door unless we were absolutely desperate. The good news is that it gave us all an excuse to go out every meal to eat. That got expensive real fast.

The line. wasn't even open yet

The line. wasn’t even open yet

The beautiful interior

The beautiful interior

My boss bought dinner for me and the other intern one of those nights. She brought along a friend from work. Lorraine has been working with my boss for years. She is an expert in what she does and has a firm grasp on the order or operations at SPAWAR where I work. So essentially, my boss is doing everything she can to get us rehired. And that’s why I adore her!! I am so incredibly lucky to have a mentor that truly cares about my development as a professional no matter where I will be.

On my second to last day at work I was surrounded by every intern. We were all presenting our posters to the crowds of employees at SPAWAR. I even got to keep it and bring the poster home so I could display my work in my lab at school. I have had two weeks to practice, so my conversations were not odd or rocky. Well they were little, but that’s not out of the norm. On my last day, I turned in my badge and said goodbye to everyone. I HATED IT! But when I got home, my roommates knew how to cheer me up.

Me, Deborah (my mentor), and Brittany (the other intern)

Me, Deborah (my mentor), and Brittany (the other intern)

My last bike ride to work

My last bike ride to work

They had held a party at our apartment with all of our friends. It was my last chance to hang out with everyone before I left. It was incredibly sweet for everyone to come over and spend time with me one last night. We had some games set up and food ordered. I had a blast and had a mini cry as each person left. The next day my roommates and I did something more. We all got dressed up and went to a restaurant called Solare. That night they had a jazz band play. We were the only ones that danced. But that’s ok the band decided to dance with us. I’m not saying we were the cool kids, but we were the cool kids.

Half of the game fun

Half of the game fun

The most popular one at the party

The most popular one at the party

Jazz band at Solare

Jazz band at Solare

The dancing continued the next night. Sharelle, Laura, Robert, and I went to a class on the other side of town. It was a class where they teach you the basics to Bachata and Salsa dancing. The girls all stand in a circle while the guys move from partner to partner. I basically did nothing. Just kidding I worked my butt off. I thought Bachata was easier, but Laura and Robert disagreed. They are of Mexican descent and are pros at Salsa dancing! After the class Laura was asked to dance immediately. She has all the skills. Robert helped me out a little and showed me a few cool spins that made me look like I knew what I was doing. People still avoided me, though, but it was a good attempt.

I spent the next few days relaxing and getting ready to leave. I said goodbye to my roommate Laura and my other roommate, Sharelle, drove me to the airport. It was so sad to say so-long. I never say goodbye because I always try to see all of my old friends. It is hard moving to different places, meeting new people, loving them as family, and having to say goodbye. So, I will always be a traveling body in order to see them all. I gave Sharelle my last “see you later” hug took off that night at 10:30. I’m not sure if I have complained enough about the awfully loud noise the planes make flying over my apartment out in San Diego. This time I was the problem. And I’m sure the entire city could hear me complaining as I flew over. I could see the lights from my apartment as I flew over and felt miserable. I loved everyone and miss them dearly. It was incredibly bittersweet. I was so sad to leave my new family, but excited to see my real one. My nieces and ERAU friends are waiting for me in Florida. No matter where I go, there is a warm welcome guaranteed. I have to see my nieces now that they’ve learned to walk and get ready to move to my new home in Daytona.

My empty room, just like when I moved in

My empty room, just like when I moved in

 

Got my bags packed

Got my bags packed

A new plane on the way home

A new plane on the way home

Took over 5 hours! Left San Diego at 10:30 and woke up in Miami at 6 am. Think about it for a minute

Took over 5 hours! Left San Diego at 10:30 and woke up in Miami at 6 am. Think about it for a minute

Newton signing off :)

Another Week in Sunny California

2 WEEKS LEFT! I can’t believe my first internship is already coming to an end. It feels like it was short and long at the same time. The projects I worked on were iterative, and therefore, required me to work on them continuously throughout my time at SPAWAR. At the same time, each day went by very quickly. I keep looking at the clock around 3 and find myself wondering what I did in the past 8 hours. Time goes by even more quickly on the weekends, unfortunately. On Monday I was working on something called a quad chart that shows everything I have been working on and what I have accomplished during my internship. It is amazing how much I managed to work on in the past 12 weeks. I was lucky enough to get recruited in some shape or form on half a dozen projects at my branch!

In one of my projects, I worked with a team of individuals whose work was based close to home in Florida. It’s always comforting to work with people from your neck of the woods, even if you’ve lived so many places that your neck of the woods is the entire forest. So we collaborated on the initial design of a system used to stop the trafficking of illegal drugs, weapons, and people. Working on something like this was very rewarding and is a great way to close out my internship. It is fulfilling to work on something that will help keep people safe, but also design a program more efficiently to keep the warfighter out of harm’s way on the job. Even if you end up doing something like data input, look at the bigger picture and take pride in your contributions that will help keep someone safe.

On Wednesday I met with a very inspiring individual at my job. Chris is a division head, in other words, my boss’ boss’ boss. I know what you’re thinking, big deal… someone’s got to have that job. Well the other thing is that he’s in his VERY early thirties. He started out as an intern, then was hired as a normal employee, moved up once or twice more, and is now overseeing 150 people and millions of dollars in projects. My advisor here arranged for another intern and I to meet with him for an hour and talk about anything we were curious about. For someone at this level with this limited amount of time to dedicate an hour to a few interns is unheard of! I felt comfortable asking him the questions I had, and he genuinely cared about our concerns and how to make our internship a better experience in the future. I adore the people I work with!

I was a little nervous for our get together because I did not want to make a bad impression, but I also did not want to present to him. As part of the meeting, the other intern and I pulled up our poster on the display screen so he could see what projects we would be talking about in our poster session next week. I was so nervous, but when it came time to talk I felt relaxed and on the level of an expert in what I would be talking about. Thankfully, my advisor had practiced the poster with me at least three times. She also said she would like to practice the poster with me a little bit everyday until the session next Friday. By then I won’t be so nervous…. and sweaty.

By the end of this week, I needed to create a quad chart showcasing everything I have done during my 13 weeks as an intern. I basically used my essay as an outline, and was done in 30 minutes. Internships are easy! …when you only have a week left. Since we had a fairly dead week, my boss took the interns out to lunch. It was to my favorite place in town! We ate at Slater’s 50/50 where they have 5 different kinds of macaroni and cheese crusted in bits of Cheez-its! Hold on, let me clean up my drool. Ok, I’m good. Of course you know what I got, and when we went back to work I fell asleep at my desk in a stuffed stupor.

On the weekend I met up with my roommate, Laura, and her brother, Robert. We went up the coast to Robert’s neighborhood and had brunch. We walked around his neighborhood until our giant stomachs shrunk back down to normal. He lives in a great neighborhood! Behind his apartment is a giant bay filled with sailboats and people on paddleboards. Across the bay is a little peninsula covered in beach shops, and wonderfully unhealthy restaurants. Past that is the Pacific! I would tell you what’s in there, but I’m not too sure about it.

Robert's view

Robert’s view

Laura and I went on to a market. Robert met us there later with a friend and an adorable Basset Hound. I wanted to steal it. The market celebrated the culture of Mexico, so I was blinded by every shade of every color… and loved it all! There were different types of pottery, jewelry, food, and artwork. It felt like the first 10 minutes of Aladdin. I used this awesomely cheap market to buy a bunch of gifts for my family and friends I made in San Diego. It’s ok, I don’t think they read this blog.

Some Mexican Artwork

Some Mexican Artwork

The adorable doggie, Ladybird

The adorable doggie, Ladybird

On Thursday, the other intern and I were taken out to a wine pub by the welcoming people at our workplace. We were given a few small gifts to remind us of San Diego. I was surprised we had not done this earlier in the summer. After a few hours my co-worker, Christian, and I walked down the street to a pub and played trivia. Because the questions covered sports and pop culture, I did not even understand what they were referring to in the questions. So we left and I fell asleep early enough to get up early enough the next morning for a swap meet. It kind of reminded me of a flea market, so I assume it was the same idea only under a different name. I saw antiques, cheap jewelry, and video tapes. They still exist.

The co-worker get together

The co-worker get together

The end of the week was the best, though. My roommates and a few of their friends met up with us at my friend, Robert’s house. He has an apartment with a full view of the bay just north of where I live. You just need to walk downstairs and you will be on the beach. He also has a pool which I used to force people to play childish games with me. I told them to play “swim like  mermaid” with me to which they responded with confused looks. But I know they were anxious to play. We walked around the bay and played football and volleyball. I hate volleyball. I always have red, sore wrists afterward. But I wanted to reenact the scene from Top Gun, so I manned up and put myself through pain. At the end of the night, we built a small fire (it was contained) and roasted some marshmallows for s’mores. It was Robert and Laura’s first time having a s’more. Can you believe that?! Those poor souls have not fully lived yet. I loved creepily staring at them as they ate it, though. The addiction has begun.

The BBQ with roommates & friends

The BBQ with roommates & friends

The pool <3

The pool <3

Campfire on the bay

Campfire on the bay

Stay tuned next week for my last post!

Ending Summer.

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Just a couple of #ERAU pilots

The fall semester starts on Monday! I’m pretty excited except I only really got a week break from classes this summer; time to break out the last minute check-list for books and essentials!

This past week I flew back home to San Diego and I’m definitely missing beautiful Southern California already, but it’s good to be getting back into the swing of the semester.  It was a perfect time to get my bearings and get some relaxation in before another semester. I will officially be starting my junior year (scary) at #ERAU and I’ll be taking lots of classes concentrated around my major. I’m super excited for my Terrorism Insurgency & Irregular Warfare class – not to mention I get to take a cool Globalization & World Politics class! This semester is definitely bound to be extremely busy, but that’s what makes the fall semester… well, fall semester.

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Location: Final for 27 into SAN

Lots of exciting things are in store for this semester, especially now reaching Junior year. Junior year is an important year because internship season is really falling upon us students. It’s now time to start researching the adult world and defining which path we would like to take, and doing these things now really eases tension for senior year, so if you’re a Junior – get started!

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Location: Backyard

If it’s your first week at college, welcome to ERAU! The first month is always exciting with fun activities and events going on. Here are some tips for your first week at college:

1. Use your time wisely! With everything going on around you, it can get overwhelming. I’m talking staying up until 4am getting to know everyone in your dorm, to waking up early for events, running all over campus trying to fix schedules, running last minute errands, to trying to catch your breath when you finally have some downtime.

2. Plunge into your classes! The sooner you do this, the more relaxed your semester will be. Print out all syllabi and make sure you have organized notebooks or binders for your classes. Start having the “few weeks from now” mindset.

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Chair flying the Cessna 172

3. Introduce yourself to professors. This allows you to create an invaluable bond in college, and even a lifetime! It will allow you to reach out easily to them during the semester if you have questions, concerns, or even ideas you may have for the class!

4. Find your TWO quiet places. And I don’t just mean the library, but if that works for you, then great! First, try to find a place where you won’t have many distractions so you can study, and also find a place where you HAVE a good distraction to take you away from studying – like a place to watch airplanes or soak in some sun.

5. Develop a habit of studying often; this takes practice. Try not to get into the procrastination mindset (we’ve all been there), or “massed cramming” mode.

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Over the Atlantic

I hope you all have a great first week at Embry-Riddle if you are coming for the first time or if you’re returning for another awesome year. If you happen to see me on campus, please come say hi or ask any questions you may have!

#GoEagles

That’s a wrap, folks!

1470133_10152371397308719_2856600370498912047_nSo tomorrow is the penultimate (that means second to last in fancy talk) day of my internship at SETI.

It’s crazy how fast the time here went, and at the same time I managed to pack so many amazing things into ten short weeks. I’m pretty sure that I can say this has been the greatest experience of my life. But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit, I still have a couple weeks of adventures to write about!

Since my last entry there has been less fun stuff and much more work – not that we skimped on the fun stuff at all. Shortly after I last wrote, I had to give what’s called a Journal Club talk, where we were each assigned a published research paper and then expected to give a fifteen minute presentation to the other interns and a handful of scientists that found the time to attend. This allows for skill-building both in reading scientific journal articles and in presenting scientific work. The paper that I was assigned was titled “Time Evolution of Viscous Circumstellar Disks due to Photoevaporation by Far-Ultraviolet, Extreme-Ultraviolet, and X-ray Radiation from the Central Star”, and was written by my mentor. It provided a really good foundation for understanding my own project, because I was using a lot of the same methods/modeling techniques. All-in-all I would say it was a successful experience.

The dome of the Lick Observatory Great Refractor telescope at sunset.

The dome of the Lick Observatory Great Refractor telescope at sunset.

The next big event for us was a trip up to Lick Observatory for a tour and star party, which was way cool. We got to see the 3 meter telescope – and stood outside the dome at sunset as it rotated around… what a view! While waiting for the sun to set completely, we were given a really cool history lesson about James Lick and the observatory. He’s definitely a really fascinating dude, look him up sometime. Then once it was finally dark we went inside the dome of the Great Refractor, the original telescope built in the late nineteenth century, and each got a chance to look at a few really cool celestial objects through it. And telescope or not, the sky up there was gorgeous – we could see the Milky Way once the moon set!

Five of us were asked to participate in an interview for a documentary called Madame Mars.

Five of us were asked to participate in an interview for a documentary called Madame Mars.

After the Lick trip the rest of the week was spent by some of us frantically working to get abstracts written and submitted to AGU (The American Geophysical Union), in order to attend the Fall Meeting in December – which is one of, if not the, biggest conferences in the country. I am one of the two or three SETI interns that submitted an abstract, which is titled “An Investigation of the Streamline Geometry of Photoevaporative Winds from Planet-Forming Disks” and can be read here by anybody who is interested! Another cool thing that happened that week was that I got interviewed for a documentary called Madame Mars, which is about women scientists studying Mars… more about that project here.

Whoever thought to put an amusement park on the beach had the right idea!

Whoever thought to put an amusement park on the beach had the right idea!

A lot of work always gets done as the deadline approaches, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t find time to have fun. For our penultimate Saturday a few of us took the train/bus journey down to Santa Cruz to check out the campus of UCSC, which is gorgeous by the way. Most of us are getting to the point where we need to start picking grad schools, so it was definitely a good trip to take. Then we spent the evening at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, which – get this – is an amusement park… on the beach! We had a blast. Sunday I slept until noon and didn’t change out of my pajamas all day – which was much needed as I hadn’t had a single day without something planned since arriving.

Taking a very expensive selfie with my fancy new camera!

Taking a very expensive selfie with my fancy new camera!

My next big piece of news is about my big purchase – I’ve acquired a Canon 60D DSLR camera that is totally awesome and with which I am in love. I wanted to treat myself to a big purchase with some of my internship money (I mean, paying off my credit card debt was fun, but who wants to just pay bills all summer? I needed a new toy!) and after throwing a few different ideas around I think I definitely made the right choice. The thing I’m most excited about is astrophotography. I’m sure you all heard about the “super moon” last week, well I got an awesome picture of it. Just from my camera on the ground, no telescope or anything. I also got a cool photo of the big dipper – you might need to click on it and view the full size photo in order to really see it.

My photo of the super moon. Gorgeous, ain't it?

My photo of the super moon. Gorgeous, ain’t it?

My first try at long-exposure astrophotography - the Big Dipper!

My first try at long-exposure astrophotography – the Big Dipper!

My dad sent me a hand-me-down telephoto lens, and it is awesome. I totally feel like a paparazzi.

My dad sent me a hand-me-down telephoto lens, and it is awesome. I totally feel like a paparazzi.

Project-wise, I spent a lot of time during my final few weeks just de-bugging my model. That thing did NOT want to cooperate. Luckily, I finally got it working last night at about 11 pm, just in time to get some results for this morning’s presentation. But I’ll talk about that later.

Took a selfie with Echosmith!

Took a selfie with Echosmith!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend was the last one before I fly back out to Florida in a few days, so I sought to make it epic. First off, there was no way I was going a whole summer without a concert – and by a stroke of luck, Echosmith was playing a free show in San Jose last Saturday! How cool is that? The best part about a free show is that I could actually take photos with my camera – concert venues tend not to allow DSLRs, which is a bummer, because I love photographing concerts. Then Sunday I spent all day at the San Francisco Zoo! I love the zoo. And I love taking pictures of animals, which is exactly what I did. My final photo count for the day was 1063 RAW photos, at about 22 MB each – needless to say my memory card was plenty full. I got some AMAZING shots, which you can feel free to peruse here. I’m still working on processing most of them, but I have a good number of great shots done and online already, and I’ll be adding more to that album as I get around to it. And for those of you too lazy to click the link, here are a few below…

1471911_10152370181498719_8458714252087793851_n 10568906_10152370180948719_1664403270343568912_n 10626553_10152370182388719_4671954672780335049_n

A few of us at our last Indian Lunch Buffet outing... :'(

A few of us at our last Indian Lunch Buffet outing… :’(

As the weeks started to wind down there have been a lot of “lasts”. We had our last lunch outing to the awesome Indian lunch buffet that is five minutes from the Institute. Tonight I went to my last yoga class of the summer (oh yeah, I’ve been doing yoga. It’s neat.) And Friday is our last day. It’s very surreal, and also very bittersweet. This week the work is (in theory) done, and it’s been mostly presentations every day. Yesterday we had to do what are called “Lightning Talks”, in which each student has 3 minutes and 3 slides to get up and talk about their project. These talks were open to the public as part of SETI’s colloquium series, and also filmed and put on their YouTube channel here. Mine starts around 7:35, if you’re interested in watching.

Suited up and ready to give a talk!

Suited up and ready to give a talk!

In addition to the lightning talks, we each have to give a fifteen minute presentation of our project in much more detail. I gave mine this morning and I think it went pretty well, but I don’t have a video of that one for you (darn, right?) Giving talks like that is nerve-wracking, but there’s something I do enjoy about getting all dressed up in my snazzy suit and talking about smart sciencey junk.

I’m not going to talk much about the details of my project right now, I’ll save that for when I have it all done and ready to show at AGU – and I’ll have a poster to link as well! But to give a basic overview (this information is all in the lightning talk video linked above), I worked on modeling circumstellar disks, which are the regions around young stars that planets form. Basically, the gas in these disks gets heated by the star and blows outward due to pressure changes from the temperature increase – fluid mechanics knowledge came in handy. This causes the disk to disperse after a few million years, which is why you don’t hear about new planets forming in our solar system nowadays: the disk is gone. My project specifically dealt with modeling the flow of these winds and generating a lot of plots using different cases, in order to determine how the geometry of the wind affects the disk. Simple, right? ;)

Selfie with the one and only Dr. Jill Tarter, who is both an amazing scientist and an amazing person, and I'm so fortunate to have gotten to meet her.

Selfie with the one and only Dr. Jill Tarter, who I’m so fortunate to have gotten to meet.

All in all, I’d just like to wrap up this entry by saying again what an amazing summer I’ve had interning at the SETI Institute, and I’d give my left kidney if I could participate in the program a second time. I’ve learned so much about my field and my interests, I’ve gotten career guidance, seen some amazing sights, lived in a part of a country that’s as close to paradise as I’ve ever seen (I really hope to move back here one day!) and, most importantly, I’ve met some really awesome people, both in the scientists at SETI and the other students. So I just want to say, for anyone relevant who may be reading this, how truly grateful I am to have had this opportunity to have done everything I’ve done, learned everything I’ve learned, and met everyone I’ve met.

I want to close out this entry by directing you to Dr. Tarter’s TEDtalk here. I hope you all understand how awesome and important SETI really is as a scientific endeavor, and that it’s not a bunch of crazy people with foil hats looking for aliens. :)

P.S. No, we didn’t find any aliens during my internship. :(

Closing Things Up

This week I felt very close to home with the technical seminar we had this week at work. The guy presenting talked about using gloves to communicate in extreme environments. My research at ERAU has to do with testing usability of space suit gloves. On top of that, I am the president of the Human Performance in Extreme Environments club on campus. It is amazing that I saw a presentation combining both of those areas from work they are doing here at SPAWAR. Since this project was ongoing, it leaves me with a desire to come back and work with this team. So, I talked to the guy presenting and gave him my information. Hopefully, this leads to some cool work opportunities in the future.

I was welcomed this weekend by some other Embry-Riddle students. There was a competition this week at SPAWAR for robot submarine vehicles. There is a giant pool-like structure that can be used for testing these vehicles. High school and college students from all over came to test and compete with their vehicle designs. There was an EMBRY-RIDDLE TEAM! They were from the Daytona Beach campus, too! I was very proud to see my university being represented at a competition with other highly respected schools. You go ERAU RoboSub Team!

I am moving to the end of my internship. Only 3 more weeks until I fly back to Florida and begin my final semester at ERAU. I can’t believe that I was walking down Doolittle hall to my dorm room 3 years ago. I remember everything very clearly. My first impression of ERAU was vastly different from how I see it today. At first, I felt out of place and insecure living with people I had never met before. It didn’t take long for that to change, and now I feel more at home here than anywhere else I have lived. Living on this planet for 21 years, and having moved to many different places, that is saying something!

I wrote the final paper for my internship and turned it in early this week. I cannot believe I was coming in for landing 4 months ago wondering what my internship would be like, where I’d be living, and who I would meet. Now I am summing that all up into 5 pages and handing it back to school. I wouldn’t say this internship went by fast, but I definitely made the most of my time here. The internship gave me a chance to learn a lot and explore my field, but outside of it, I was exploring a new city and trying things I may never have the chance to do again. It’s important to say yes to as much as you can, because in the end you will see your experience as a successful one.

My final paper almost finished

My final paper almost finished

One of the first people I met at my internship is Christian. Although he annoys me like there is no tomorrow and is essentially my adopted, pesky brother, he is one of the most important people I met here. He has helped me with my work and guided me through a major project, introduced me to a great program for new employees, and has invited me to every get together he hosts. He introduced me to his girlfriend, Desiree, who also became a great friend. We actually went on a “girl date night” this Thursday. She invited her friend and I invited my fellow intern, Brittany. We all went out and painted pottery. It was so much fun that Brittany and I went out the next night to do it again. It is relaxing, but it also gave us the chance to make going away gifts for the people we have grown to adore here. I made a cup for my mentor and a plate for Christian and Desiree.

Desiree, Brittany, and me

Desiree, Brittany, and me

For my boss :)

For my boss :)

She likes flamingos!

She likes flamingos!

A llama painting for my friends.. that's not weird at all

A llama painting for my friends.. that’s not weird at all

This week was Brittany’s birthday. She turned 21 on Sunday and I definitely had to make a fun day for her. On Friday, I baked cupcakes for work since we were having a branch meeting. The night before I had made the discovery that we did not have a muffin pan. So I poured the batter into cake cups and laid them out on a flat pan. I was assuming they would hold up ok. I assumed wrong. The cups spread out making the cupcakes shape into this weird oblong figure that looked like the elliptical path the Earth makes around the Sun. So I told my coworkers it was this new style or that I got them from the bakery and they bought cool, new pans. They all picked up a cupcake, gave me a dirty look, and walked away. It doesn’t matter how it looks, because everyone loved them and they tasted great! Brittany was happy someone remembered her birthday, especially someone like me!

We celebrated her birthday by taking a tour of a brewery up north, drinking her first beer, and taking her first sip of wine. She hated it. Not really surprised there. Stone Brewery is famous in San Diego. During Comic Con, they had Wil Wheaton, Drew Curtis, and Stone creator Greg Koch get together to brew their own beer creation. If you are just turning 21, it would be the best place to try your first taste of beer. But you will hate it the first time you taste it. Afterwards, I took her and her fiancé, Jeff to Outback so she could eat and try a mixed drink. That was not very tasty to her either, though. For many people, a 21st birthday is both the best and worst day of their life. Be warned, and be careful!

First time getting ID'ed. She was very excited

First time getting ID’ed. She was very excited

Trying out horrible tasting drinks :)

Trying out horrible tasting drinks :)

How they brew

How they brew

The end of the tour.. it was hot!

The end of the tour.. it was hot!

The extra fluff gets poured out into this big bucket

The extra fluff gets poured out into this big bucket

This weekend I had brunch with my roommate and her brother. We got to see the area he just recently moved to and planned out a fun night for us to use the amenities. He moved to an apartment with a pool, fire pits, and a view of the bay. So we will have the roommates and friends get together before I leave for Florida for s’mores and fireworks. I also went with them to shop in an area close by called Old Town. There was a Mexican market going on this weekend, so I was able to pick up a few gifts for my siblings and mom. Everything there was so colorful and hand-crafted. It’s much nicer than sending them a “Wish you were here” postcard.

Old Town

Old Town

An old hotel bar

An old hotel bar

After that I went to my friend, Christian’s barbecue. It was supposed to be a fun picnic outside, but the clouds that day decided they would rain for the first time in 4 months. What good timing; thank you sky, you are so considerate. That’s the only thing that bugs me about San Diego. On the days I have to push my bike up a mountain to get to work, it is sunny and in the high 70’s. On the weekends when I would like to be outside, it is cold and cloudy… or raining apparently. That didn’t bother us because we just packed all of us into his small apartment and played games. And the food was glorious! There were bacon wrapped peppers and sliced peaches. I made mini cupcakes which were gone 5 minutes after being on the counter. At least they were better than the orbit cupcakes I made earlier this week.

RAIN?!!?

RAIN?!!?

Corgi! I almost stole it

Corgi! I almost stole it

Playing games at the Barbecue

Playing games at the Barbecue

 

#SDCC

Taco Tuesday was my favorite day this week. Although I normally hate Tuesdays, on this particular one I happened to find the best fish tacos in all of San Diego. I was delighted to eat lunch with my coworkers and network with some fascinating people before I leave for Florida. But anybody who really knows me, knows that my brain orders everything in a hierarchy. At the top of the list is food, next comes sleep, after that is Foo Fighters, which is followed by maintaining healthy social interactions with the people around me. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ve probably noticed that a large portion of them are dedicated to what I ate that week. So instead of talking to these incredibly intelligent co-workers at this lunch, I ignored them and stuffed my face with tacos and hot sauce.

I would like to mention another important accomplishment this week. I paid for my last semester of classes! Yes, I saved up some money from my internship and used it to pay off classes for the upcoming semester this fall. I am expecting to graduate this December, a whole semester early because taking this internship knocked off 6 credits I would normally have to take. I feel like an adult! I actually refrained from blowing all of my money, and used it toward something productive. Coming from me that is a huge deal. This also means I will not have to take out loans to cover what my scholarships and grants did not. That means lower payments in my future. I will use that money to buy a Corgi.

This week also had an exciting event from my internship. In order to keep the interns coming back, the people running the program arranged for all interns to get a ship tour. Since there are about 100 students interning this summer, we signed up to go on different days. I was supposed to go with my friends last week, but I had another meeting to attend at that time. So, I essentially knew nobody on this tour, but made friends with another intern who was a San Diego local! So not only was I not bored the entire time, but he told me all the best places to go in the area. Even if I had no one to talk to, the tour would have been just as enjoyable.

The ship we toured was called the USS Harpers Ferry and has an amphibious transport dock. This means that the back half of the ship can sink below the ocean surface, as the water moves to the back of the ship it picks up the vehicles or packages in the lower deck of the ship As the ship proceeds forward, the payload is carried out by the water. It was fascinating to see how it all worked. We went on the deck where they were doing some kind of test along the side and were told we needed to back up. We saw the room they use for planning missions, the equipment they work with, and where the crew eats. So we walked around all of the main areas of the ship and even up to the bridge. It was amazing to see how many people can work there to operate this ship. As the tour guide talked about all of the equipment and procedures, my only friend who happened to be a gear head asked if he could take us to the engine room. Normally, he would not run everyone to this part of the ship, but we were a lucky bunch of people.

I remember climbing through at least 8 portholes to get all the way down to the engine room. It was beautiful! I wish I had been able to take pictures of this giant engine. I know my fellow Riddle gear heads and I could stare at it for hours. This engine had 16 giant cylinders and was two stories high! One of the guys working down there opened up the cover so we could see inside the 4 stroke cylinder. AND THEY HAD 4 OF THEM!! The engines were not in use, but the room was still hot and so loud we had to wear ear plugs. I was so excited to see this ship, but was even more excited that I was on the same military base used to test the new Orion capsule. If I wasn’t on a bus with all of the other interns I would have stayed behind to see it. The good news is, I can get on the base using my cards from work, I just need to find a ride there!

Although I had a very exciting week, the weekend was the best part. On Friday my roommate, Sharelle, invited her friends over for a game night. We stayed up until 2 in the morning playing card games. The best part was the food we had out… of course. I tried a famous Hawaiian dish called musubis. Sharelle is a born and raised Hawaiian, so she is obsessed with Spam. I know, right? Spam? I had no idea people loved it so much. Well they basically cut Spam into slices, put it on a seaweed wrap, top with rice, seasoning, and soy sauce. And when you wrap it all together it’s like heaven in your tummy. Try it, you’re welcome.

This get-together was really meant to plan the big event this weekend. San Diego Comic Con is biggest event of the year! It is the most famous Comic Convention, and is held just 10 minutes down the road. It is incredibly hard to get tickets to go to the actual event itself (if you watch Big Bang Theory you know what I’m talking about), but there are plenty of things going on downtown. So I essentially spent all day, everyday in downtown San Diego people-watching. There were so many detailed, realistic costumes. People work on what they will wear all year long, and this work pays off! #SDCC

The crowds waiting to cross the street

The crowds waiting to cross the street

Assassin's Creed course, similar to Ninja Warrior

Assassin’s Creed course, similar to Ninja Warrior

The "playground" of Comic Con

The “playground” of Comic Con

Found him!

Found him!

Aside from the 100,000+ people visiting for the convention, there is a lot going on around town. There was an Assassin’s Creed obstacle course, free laser tag, and zombie displays all around town. There was even a section for food trucks, panels, and carnival rides. The entire city was a playground. There were people outside of hotels with pens and paper waiting for cast members to come out. When I was walking along the sidewalk in front of the convention center, I did notice a face I thought looked familiar. So, as soon as I realized who it was I ran back to find him. It was Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters. Nobody else was noticing him, I guess because he wasn’t wearing a beret. I asked if I could take a picture, and he kindly said “of course!” It was so cool to meet someone I learned so much from as a kid. I told him, “Thank you for all you did. You taught me the scientific method. I’m a huge scientist now!” Jeez, what a doof I am! Oh well, I was happy to see him, and was even more happy to be in a great city at the perfect time of year! Stay tuned for more goofy stories next week!

Maleficent

Maleficent

I got them to pose with me!

I got them to pose with me!

Close enough

Close enough

Transformers.. They didn't want to take pictures with me because I made them look short.

Transformers.. They didn’t want to take pictures with me because I made them look short.

JAMIE HYNEMAN!!

JAMIE HYNEMAN!!

So Long, Sayonara!

Last week (almost sadly) was my last week working in the Special Olympics office. It was a bittersweet moment but I was happy not having to get up at 7:30 a.m. 3 days out of the week and being there from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. I got a lot of experience interning for SOKS and also got to learn a lot about myself. I definitely did something I would have never gotten to do otherwise and very much appreciate those experiences.

Right now, I’m still working on a few SOKS assignments from home, in addition to the final paper I’ll submit about my internship. It feels so much better to work on my own schedule, one of the very things I’ll miss in the real world.

As time is nearing until the fall semester starts, I’m also working a seasonal job at Under Armour Factory Store in Kansas City, KS. It’s a great job and I’m enjoying it so much. I think I love it more because I work evening shifts and I can sleep all day. Plus I get a really awesome employee discount! I’m pretty sure I’ll come back to school with as much Under Armour as I have Tri Sigma shirts. Also, Under Armour may be signing Kevin Durant (OKC) for a $30 million/year deal. Apparently his contract with Nike expired last week and he missed the meeting to renew.

Under Armour’s new UA Women campaign is something I’m really hyped about. They’ve teamed up with Misty Copeland, Lindsay Vonn, Sloane Stephens and a few other women and come up with the “I Will What I Want” campaign. I love it. It’s empowering women to break beyond the standards and the stereotypes. I personally love Misty Copeland because I wanted to be a ballerina when I was younger. Copeland surpassed all odds and was even rejected at a ballet school. She was told her body, posture, and feet were wrong and not up to par. Now she is a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre. In 2007 she became the first black female soloist for the American Ballet Theatre.

Go to YouTube and search for “I Will What I Want” video starring Copeland. I’ve watched it maybe half a million times and I follow her on Instagram.

With this being my last week in Kansas City, I’m doing quite a bit but just enough to keep me interested. I’ll be flying to Columbia, South Carolina next week to stay with my dad before school starts. That, I’m SUPER excited about!! And then… FALL SEMESTER STARTS!!!! I’m soo beyond excited to start my SENIOR year and see all my friends and classmates again. August 25th can’t come fast enough!!

Alien-Hunters Just Wanna Have Fun

Hello, and welcome to the next installment of “I’m having the best summer ever and you’re jealous!”

The third week of my internship at SETI was spent up north at Hat Creek Radio Observatory and Lassen National Park, about six hours away by van. That was quite the adventure. Of course one of the strangest things about being on a radio observatory is that you’re not allowed to turn on your cell phone! The wireless signal interferes with the collection of data from the telescopes (that means no WiFi either – luckily we had ethernet in the cabins) so it was airplane mode all week. Which, in this day and age, was a much bigger deal than it seems. Have you ever noticed that if you get into arguments, you just google and find the answer? Try having that taken away from you – it’s really a culture shock.

One of the coolest thing about being out in the middle of nowhere was the sky. You could see so many stars, satellites flying past, and even the Milky Way! We spent the whole first night just laying outside and looking up. It was breathtaking.

Some of the radio telescopes at the Allen Telescope Array at Hat Creek

Some of the radio telescopes at the Allen Telescope Array at Hat Creek

The first two days at Hat Creek were spent learning about the observatory and doing some neat experiments with the telescopes. It was very cool to be sitting in SETI’s radio observatory and listening to Dr. Jill Tarter and Dr. Gerry Harp talk about their search for extraterrestrial radio signals. Oh, and we got to watch Contact with Dr. Tarter, which, if you weren’t aware, is pretty much based on her. I get serious bragging rights for that in the science community. She told us neat things, like which characters were based on real people and where the scientific inaccuracies were.

The Cinder Cone at Lassen. WHICH I CLIMBED.

The Cinder Cone at Lassen. WHICH I CLIMBED.

Our third day was spent at Lassen Volcanic National Park where we hiked the cinder cone to learn some geology. And I should emphasize, I hiked to the top of the cinder cone! If you’ve never seen a cinder cone, it’s basically a steep mountain where the entire surface is made of loose gravel – for every step up you lose about half of it just sliding back down. It was a major accomplishment for me, and the view at the top was totally worth it.

Does this view make it more impressive that I climbed it?

Does this view make it more impressive that I climbed it?

Cave selfie

Cave selfie

We learned some neat things about volcanos, rocks, and how much water you should drink when hiking in 105 degree sunlight. Hiking really is rocket science: the more water you bring, the heavier your bag becomes, meaning it’s more work and you need to bring more water. Sound familiar, aerospace engineers? After the cinder cone we walked through Subway Cave, which is a big lava tube. It was amazing how quickly the temperature dropped about 50 degrees as we walked down into the cave. And man was it DARK without headlamps.

Gorgeous view from the top of the cinder cone - and check out the gravity waves in the sky!

Gorgeous view from the top of the cinder cone – and check out the gravity waves in the sky!

The sulfur pits at Lassen's Bumpass Hell

The sulfur pits at Lassen’s Bumpass Hell

Thursday we were back at Lassen where we hiked at Bumpass Hell – named after a guy who decided to stray from the trail, causing him to fall into the hot sulfur pits and lose his limbs, oops – which is a lot like Yellowstone, if you’ve ever been. We learned about bacteria that can survive in those harsh conditions, and how that relates to astrobiology. It was a very cool landscape, albeit kinda stinky.

Driving the boat on the lake. I'd never driven a boat before, but my inner-Minnesotan took over and knew what to do.

Driving the boat on the lake. I’d never driven a boat before, but my inner-Minnesotan took over and knew what to do.

Friday we went up to Burney Falls, where we spent most of the day out on the lake. We rented a kayak and a patio boat, and had a nice, relaxing day that didn’t involve much hiking or climbing of mountains. It was a good end to the trip before we all piled back into the vans Saturday morning.

This is the one photo we managed to get of our entire REU group (plus a few extras)

This is the one photo we managed to get of our entire REU group (plus a few extras)

We wanted to see how many people it took to fit around the largest tree in the park. It was like 9 or something.

We wanted to see how many people it took to fit around the largest tree in the park. It was like 9 or something.

But the fun didn’t end there! Since we couldn’t take the vans back until Monday anyway, we spent all day Sunday at a few destinations along the California coast. The morning was spent at a state park with some giant redwoods, and the afternoon on a few different beaches. The beaches here are a lot different than the ones in Daytona – it was July and I was in a jacket! Very brisk wind, and a lot more rock than sand. So if you’re looking for a nice tropical paradise to relax and get a tan, definitely stick to Florida. All in all, it was a really great trip, and we got to know each other really well. Definitely a good bonding experience for the beginning of an internship.

Most of the group

Most of the group hanging out on a giant tree.

Major League Soccer!

Major League Soccer!

The weekend after Lassen my boyfriend flew in to visit, so I had to be a good host and take him sightseeing. The thing I love most about California is that there’s so many different things to do! Friday night we went to see the San Jose Earthquakes soccer game (by the way, Orlando’s getting an MLS team next season!) after spending the evening checking out some neat little shops and restaurants in downtown Sunnyvale. Saturday we ate crepes in downtown Mountain View, watched the world cup third place game, and then took the train up to San Francisco for the rest of the day.

 

World famous ice cream sundae at Ghirardelli Square

World famous ice cream sundae at Ghirardeli Square

First stop in SF – Ghirardelli Square! Where you can sit on the bay and have a giant $10 ice cream sundae that is worth every penny. We then walked over to Fisherman’s Warf, where we took a boat tour around the bay at dusk. That was really cool – we got right up close to Alcatraz, but my phone died so I don’t have photos. :( The rest of the evening was spent walking around the Warf and popping into all the neat little shops – and then realizing we were late to catch the last train out of the city! Don’t worry, we made it.

 

 

Got a signed copy of Dr. Zubrin's book - The Case for Mars

Got a signed copy of Dr. Zubrin’s book – The Case for Mars

So as you can see, the fun never stops when you’re a professional alien hunter in California. We’ve also had a lot of awesome colloquium speakers both at SETI and at NASA Ames. My favorite has been Dr. Robert Zubrin’s presentation on colonizing Mars. As far as actually doing the internship part (it seems more like summer camp here than work!) my research project is coming along nicely, which has essentially just been writing a lot of Fortran code. I’ve made a lot of progress on the model, so with four weeks left I’m hoping to be able to produce some very cool results. I have the possibility of presenting my research at the AGU conference in December, and, depending on what we find, maybe even being a co-author on a publication! Really crossing my fingers for that.

These are my internship peeps. We have deemed ourselves "The Jaguars"

These are my internship peeps. We have deemed ourselves “The Jaguars”

It’s crazy to think that I’m already past the halfway point of my summer adventure. This has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I’m really going to be sad to leave. My advice to you: do internships! And really check out REU programs, there are a ton of them throughout the country. If you have any questions about applying to programs like that, especially anyone in or considering the Engineering/Space Physics program, do shoot me an email! I’d be happy to share my advice and experience with you. And I would definitely recommend applying here to SETI, if that is your cup of tea. They won’t let us come back for a second year (unfortunately!), so I can say that without having to worry about having you as competition. ;)

P.S. Happy belated Cow Appreciation Day!

P.S. Happy belated Cow Appreciation Day!

Until next time!
-Lynsey

My first 5 day week in 3 weeks

I FINALLY FINISHED A PROJECT!!!! Monday I felt incredible. I was productive and finally saw an endpoint to something I had been working on for weeks. That is a great feeling. So, as a result I was trying to finish up many projects. Some people are good at multi-tasking. This person is not. Amongst the many projects I have needed to complete, I have also needed to start finishing things up for the end of my internship. Not to mention I have a big move coming up that will take me across the country. So things are starting to close out for this internship, and they seem to be coming together at the same time. Next week I have a final paper do explaining everything I have done for my internship. Oh my God! I just wrote do instead of due. What is happening to me? Didn’t I tell you to not to multi-task?

 

On top of the many things coming together at once, my boss also came back this week. Most people would see this as a stressful, terrifying situation, but this is not the case. My boss is way cooler than the average boss, mostly because she is not the average boss. She is older, but her sense of humor is much greater than mine. Aside from her being a amazing person, I feel as though she is not giving me the experience I was expecting out of an internship. When I would hear about the experiences of students as an intern it was mostly that they were told to fetch coffee and not given the time of day from their advisor. My boss not only knows how to make her own cup of coffee, but she sets aside time everyday to talk to me. And if there is a time that she is away, she makes it a priority to set me up with things to do and responds to any questions that I have. As a branch head in the government, that is rare! So I wanted to make sure that the stereotype of internships changes. It’s not always what people make it out to be, whether in a good way or in a bad way. You can set out expectations, but you will certainly be surprised.

 

At the end of my internship I am supposed to present a poster to the commanding officers where I work. This will be a big deal! So, for my presentation, I am showcasing the projects going on at my branch. This works well because during my time here I have helped in some shape or form on a lot of the projects. If I am presenting on each of these projects I need to become an expert in what I will be talking about. So, I went to each person and asked about the details of the projects they are leading. I also gave them all a questionnaire for another project I am doing. So it looks like there is data analysis in my future! Please try to contain your excitement.

 

My roommate had a few friends come over at the end of the week. I am rarely a host and after doing it this weekend, I am pretty sure I don’t want to do it again. The reason being the fact that I am lazy and I would rather someone else clean up after me than vice versa. Oh that sounds bad, doesn’t it? Well I know you’re thinking the exact same thing. It was a good thing I didn’t have to be around the house much the next day.

 

Saturday morning we all went to the beach. Sharelle and I, as well as her co-workers played football, tossed around a volleyball, and congregated around the Pacific. We looked at the ocean, but barely went in. The beaches are covered in giant seaweed and the water I think the water is infested with ice cubes. It was FREEZING! I could barely go past my knees. Ditching the ocean was a good decision. Because what came next was a giant burrito. It was about the size of a newborn baby and filled with eggs, cheese, and bacon. I bet I know what you’re making for breakfast tomorrow. Of course this was enough to satisfy me for about, oh I don’t know.. 15 minutes. Sharelle and I walked to a store down the street to get ice cream sandwiches. You could create it yourself! Why don’t they have these stores in Florida?! They should be as common as a Starbucks.

Trying not to touch the water

Trying not to touch the water

Playing football

Playing football

Burrito baby

Burrito baby

Cookies and cream cookies surrounding cookies and cream ice cream.. did I mention cookies and cream?

Cookies and cream cookies surrounding cookies and cream ice cream.. did I mention cookies and cream?

I was dead asleep within an hour after that feast. Which I needed for the next day. It started out as a roommate date day. I went with my two roommates to a diner at the closest beach. Which is the first one I have been to in months. California doesn’t have the number of diners that Florida has. In fact, I don’t think anywhere has the same density of diners we have in the Sunshine State. Then we grabbed my roommates brother and friend and headed off to the San Diego Pride festival. There was a parade just a day before, but I was too busy eating to see it. It was the most colorful event I have been to while in San Diego, or probably ever. There were tents for food, support, information, local attractions, and many others. I paid $20 to get in, but probably made double that in the amount of free items I got from tent vendors.

The many, many, food tents

The many, many, food tents

At the Pride fair

At the Pride fair

 

The most exciting part was seeing a tent for NASA! I touched a moon rock that was over 3.5 billion years old. I also got to try on gloves and a helmet and see the food they eat in space. The best part was that this was held on the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon! I had my picture taken in a EVA spacesuit model. Later on, as we were walking around a notification came up from a former student of one of the classes I was a teaching assistant for. It said “Carolyn, you’re featured here!” I figured it was something from my department at ERAU. But I was so excited when I saw what it really was. The International Space Station Facebook page had shared the picture of me in the astronaut suit! It was incredible that a friend of mine all the way in Daytona saw a picture and noticed it was me before I even looked at anything. Yay! I feel like a real astronaut now. It’s funny because I never had an interest in space until I met my advisor, Dr. Kring. His classes got me very excited in everything from moon to Mars, and now I am addicted. I have definitely become a space geek since coming to Embry-Riddle.

Touching old rocks

Touching old rocks

Astro food

Astro food

Shared by the ISS!

Shared by the ISS!

Vegas Baby!

When I started this week, I was lost. Not the good, fun kind of lost; the confusing, I need to re-adapt to my surroundings kind of lost. For the past 3 months I had been sitting in the same office with the same set-up everyday. My office was on the second floor with a stunning view of San Diego bay! It always had a nice breeze coming through the window and I had plenty of room to take secret naps behind a closed door. Today, was not the same. I was ALL THE WAY on the other side of the hallway. No I don’t mean a full 15 second walk down the hallway, I mean take about 4 steps and you’re in my new office. Oh no! No more view of the bay! No more naps! No more loud chewing on food all day! I have a new office mate around. And folks, when that happens you need to act like a normal human being… apparently. This was not the case, though. I was moving in with the other intern from Embry-Riddle, Brittany. Ever since moving in I have been as happy as a hippo (not sure how that analogy works).

Everyday we get to chat back and forth and show each other funny pictures or videos. I love having her desk right behind mine. Aside from the awesome office mate, I get an even better breeze and kept my same comfy chair. Not to mention I don’t have to hear those pesky otters in the bay barking all day when I actually try to get work done. This new office is also a lot darker than my old one, so taking naps is easy and less obvious. Not that I’m promoting to interns that you should nap at work! Because, you know, that’s bad.

It is better getting work done when someone else is around you doing the same. Having an office mate is good to keeping me focused throughout the day. At least now, I want to seem like a professional that doesn’t get off track all day long looking up funny videos of baby polar bears or people running into trees. So, thanks to having someone around I finally got a lot of work done! Particularly on the website I have been designing at work. I had two meetings this week, one to discuss a few fixes, and the other to present my website to the project lead (umm.. which is terrifying). She liked it, though, and I was given a few more tasks to do during the next week.

This week went by fast. Although it was a 4 day work week for us, it was a shorter week than usual for me. My roommate, Sharelle, and I have been planning a weekend vacation for a while now. And this weekend, we were finally going to VEGAS!!! Yayyyyy!!!! I finally got a chance to act like a childish adult. I know, saying I am going on vacation when I work in the beautiful city of San Diego entitles me to have an angry mob. I can’t complain about where I work, but when I was this close to Las Vegas at a time where I could afford to go, I certainly wasn’t going to turn it down.

Trying to get a view from the Ferris wheel

Trying to get a view from the Ferris wheel

Fountains at Bellagio

Fountains at Bellagio

So, on Thursday I left work little earlier than usual. I know I seem like a slacker, but I had been working an extra hour everyday for weeks before this weekend. So it was excused. My roommate picked me up from work, we got our suitcases, and called a taxi for the airport. Airfare was extremely cheap! We flew out and I stayed at the airport a little longer because I was waiting for another friend’s flight to come in. My friend Antoine had just recently graduated from the ERAU Human Factors Masters program. He is now working at Honeywell in Phoenix. Since he was also so close, he decided to meet us for the weekend in Las Vegas, as well. It was so nice to have friends, new and old, together for a long weekend in a great city.

Gambling at penny slots

Gambling at penny slots

Both of my companions had been to Vegas previously, so I was the only newbie. I did not know what to expect, but boy was I surprised. What I had known about Vegas was what I had seen in movies like Ocean’s 11 or Vegas Vacation. And this was one of the few times, where I could honestly say it was much more incredible in person than what you see in movies or pictures. With the amount of money this city takes in, it actually has the ability to keep their attractions and hotels looking brand new. The night I got there, I was squinting at the intensity of lights. It was probably more bright at night than it was during the day, and that is saying a lot for the desert.

 

We walked around the strip, and stopped to get dinner in this playful restaurant that had the most extravagant deserts you would ever find. There was a sundae priced at $1,000!! Why? Because there was shavings of gold sprinkled on top! If you want to eat gold, this is the place to go. After that we saw a show at the fountains in front of the Bellagio hotel. This was the first of many times, because that was probably my favorite part of Las Vegas.

I love food, but not that much!

I love food, but not that much!

I also gambled for the first time, and successfully lost all of it. Over the next few days we saw everything! The Venetian hotel had a river inside with gondola rides. The ceiling was painted to look like the sky, and it even rained in one section of the aisle. There were shops, clubs, casinos, or buffets in every hotel. I saw a mock-up of the Eiffel Tower and a bar that was inside of a chandelier. I ate crepes, gelato, and the best macaroni and cheese in the world. There was so much to see and do I could have spent a week there.

The giant chandelier

The giant chandelier

The pool at our hotel

The pool at our hotel

Gondola rides at the Venetian

Gondola rides at the Venetian

To see the entire city was impossible, but I did just that. The world’s tallest Ferris Wheel was right across the street from my hotel. It took a little over 30 minutes to go all the way around. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Since we did it at night, the lights looked spectacular. Since we were staying at The Mirage, we were able to see a show they did every night at the entrance. It had a “volcano,” so basically had water flowing from a mini-mountain surrounded by giant explosives. The giant balls of fire did not help the nearly 100 degree days. The pool downstairs did, though. It was a giant pool, and had an even bigger waterfall on the side. I actually sat in the water with a cool drink and soaked in the intense heat. So, let’s just say I was not ready to go back to work that week. This looks like a good place to stop writing as well, seeing as how I am sitting at work daydreaming about another vacation.

I met "overly attached girlfriend" if you have any idea what I'm talking about

I met “overly attached girlfriend” if you have any idea what I’m talking about