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November 17, 2007

Finishing off in Cali

In the last bits of working in California here. Ellie is standing on top of a big rock outcrop to get decent cell signal so she can talk to someone at Verizon about troubleshooting our data transfer at this site; I just finished digging a hole with a post hole digger and am waiting for the results of Ellie’s call before proceeding to cement a post in for the modem antenna. So I’m sitting in a UNAVCO Ford F150 borrowed from our Northern California office typing away in the sunshine on a ranch in central California. We’re a bit over an hour north of Paso Robles, where we stayed all week except Wednesday night. Wednesday, we stayed in Lompoc so we could be close to Vandenburg Airforce Base, where we worked yesterday. Ellie said the guy who was out to service the site before her took only pictures inside the shed and facing inland. She had no idea we’d spend the day in such a nice place to work.

[On the Airforce base, approaching our GPS site.}

We had to install solar panels at the site, which ended up being a bit more of an ordeal than anticipated but nothing extraordinary. Really, all went smoothly because Ellie was on it. She did all the hard work. I mostly just wired things.

Our contact on base, Deeg, starts work at 6 and leaves at 2:30, so we got there as early as we could (6:45) to maximize our time for the task. When we stopped to get our access passes, however, Ellie noticed that one of our tires was dangerously low. She’d just put air in it two days before, so the outlook was not good. We changed to our spare. Better in a paved parking lot than on any of the ranch roads we’d been driving the rest of the week.

[Deeg is great.]

[Jane, er, Doe, of, um, the USGS stands on the solar panel mount while UNAVCO employees Ellie and myself work with feet firmly planted on the safe ground using only blunt tools with insulated handles. (This one’s for you, John!)]

We were pretty excited about getting the work done so that we could go to the beach. An afternoon in the sun after a long week of work seemed to be in order. But first we needed to resolve the tire issue, so we went to a tire shop in Lompoc that Deeg recommended to us and rolled our tire out for them to have a look in hope that we could fix it rather than buy a replacement. Needing a place to pass some time, we went in search of an ice cream shop. And thanks to Ellie’s 6th sense for ice cream, we found the perfect one. The ice cream is made in Santa Barbara with no artificial nuthin’ and orders come in weekly. The folks running the shop are great and stuffed us with samples of all sorts of ice cream flavors—cinnamon, pumpkin, eggnog, raspberry chocolate truffle, Vermont blueberry (amazing), etc. Despite all the ice cream consumed just choosing a flavor, I went for a double scoop so that I could actually get a bowl of four different flavors: Eggnog, cinnamon, pumpkin, and Swiss chocolate. Yum. I wasn’t hungry for a while after that. McMillan’s Ice Cream in Lompoc. And other places, presumably, too.

The tire place called to say that our tire was irreparable: Hole in the sidewall. They didn’t have an exact tire match, so we headed across town to Big O Tires run by Al and Sue. Al and Sue were great. This was our day of dealing with great people. Al set us up with a new tire and chatted us up a bit (and I told him to go to the ice cream shop) and sent us on our way. By the time we got out of there, though, the sun was gone, and so was our afternoon at the beach.

We drove straight back up to Paso Robles, checked in, showered, relaxed a bit, and then met back up to go to sushi. Not a bad end to the day. The sushi place in Paso is great and the waitstaff was great and our sushi chef was great. Oh, and the sushi was great. Amazing is more like it. Mmmm, salmon sashimi. And for our last dish of the night, the chef asked if he could make us something, to which we of course said yes. He cut thin strips of salmon and yellow fin, mixed them with spices and sauces, put the concoction in a raised bowl not unlike a large martini glass, and cut an orange into a little bear for us. Beautifully presented, and de-licious.

Today, we’re troubleshooting a site that Ellie visited last Saturday. She’s on the phone right now—standing on the running board of the truck, because that’s the only place we can get reception—with Verizon, talking to tech support after wading through multiple folks to get there. I’m in wait mode. We’re hoping to hit the coast after this, but the way things have gone this week I won’t be surprised if we end up driving back to our hotel at night again. That said, things have gone amazingly smoothly and we haven’t had to work beyond daylight hours, and we got most of what we set out to do done, which is good.

Tonight we’ll stay in San Luis Obispo, where I’m flying out of tomorrow. Hooray!

[Ellie at site MEE1.]

Posted by beth at November 17, 2007 5:04 AM

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Hello Beth!
Wonderful pics again! The beauty of St.Andreas and the landscape around it... I do think you must write books with these kinds of wonder in scientific works!
Cheers: Monika

Posted by: Ediacara at November 20, 2007 7:05 PM

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