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September 4, 2008

Another Trip to California

Not that I'm complaining. I agreed to go out to help the Northern California crew with some installs and whatever else. It sounded fine at the time, but I was resistant to leaving Boulder when it came down to it. I just didn't really want to go. And then I got there, and, of course, things were fine. Sometimes fun, even. In fact, I think this may well have been the most relaxed work trip I've ever been on. We were often to the hotels by 7 PM, and some days—at least two—we actually got in significantly earlier. Like, late afternoon earlier. Once, early afternoon. It was pretty amazing. And, we got the work done. The first week, I drove around with Doerte, one of the NCal employees, installing GPS equipment on the strainmeter well-heads. Um... yeah. I'd like to have a word or two with whoever designed the mounts for the GPS. 50 lbs maybe? And too tall to fit straight into our enclosure, so there was a lot of maneuvering involved. Suffice to say I pulled a muscle in my back the first day and tweaked my wrist by the end of the week.

[Plus, I got the flesh above my knee caught between the mount and the well-head, through my Carharts. Probably hard to see, and I unfortunately didn't get a picture a couple days later when it was *really* looking nice, but there's a 4-inch-long red pinch-line on my leg with a nice bruise developing around it.]

[Field flower. With dirty finger for scale.]

But, we got to stay a night in the Parkfield Inn. And that was our there-by-early-afternoon day. Parkfield is a tiny town with a big seismic history. As in, lots of earthquakes. “Be Here When it Happens” is the slogan of both the Inn and the Cafe. Unfortunately, the cafe was closed, which we knew would be the case. Fortunately, though, we each had a lovely picnic on the wooden porch of the inn. The whole thing is wood, an old stable maybe—signs reading livery (is that right?), tack room above the doorways to the outside—and the rooms are chalk full of character. Or characters, rather. Besides this bear, I had a boar's head in mine as well. And then, there's me.

I took a shower after getting in, and then decided to go on a little photo shoot. No shortage of material. I highly recommend the Parkfield Inn. For, you know, the next time you're in Parkfield.

[The Parkfield Inn.]

After my photo shoot, I tested out the bed. And when I woke up, I decided to go for a walk. Get some exercise, check the place out. I was joined by a big yellow dog.

On the way back, the big yellow dog disappeared. I was actually worried for a minute. Then, I found him.

Having the time of his life in a cattle trough. He looked like he was living it up in a hot tub, except instead of being relaxed he was ecstatic and panting and appeared to be rubbing up against some contraption in the tub besides. Ah, the life of a dog.

Back at the inn, I had my dinner on the porch and relaxed. Except for some shaking, crunching sound breaking the night every once in a while. Doerte had gone to explore. There was some sort of something across the way that was lit up and looked fancy. I walked over after dinner. There was a dirt ramp leading down to this thing, with bright white lights shining into it. Underneath a large platform (probably the size of my living room, which is about average for apartments) looked all about science—big plugs and cables and wires and machinery. Up top, however, there were long, flexible poles with white somethings on the top, like large synthetic cattails, swaying whenever the machinery kicked in and made the platform shake. Science, or sculpture? Strange.

Turned out it was, indeed, earthquake art. Doerte found it online. Every time it registered an earthquake in California or Nevada, it would shake. Shake, rattle, maybe roll. Interesting concept, but I wondered what the residents thought about it all. Light and noise all night. But, it's only a temporary installation, so I guess it's not too bad.

Doerte and I finished all our installations on time and made it back to the office Friday afternoon. I was informed once I got to California that I would have the weekend off. What? I came all this way for this? I thought I'd be working, making some money. It was Labor Day weekend besides, a three-day--I could have gotten a ticket to fly up to Seattle for Bumbershoot, one of my favorite music festivals. But it was too late; fares had gone up. I was disgruntled for all of about five minutes. Then the joyful reality set in; UNAVCO would still pay per diem and lodging, which meant I had a free little vacation. I also remembered how I have friends in San Francisco. Lots of friends, actually. Apologies to anyone in the Bay area that I didn't see; I decided to keep it simple and just stay with my friends Kipp, Patrick, and Jean Claude. And it was blissful.

Posted by beth at September 4, 2008 9:20 PM

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Did we fill in an accident report, Beth?????

Posted by: john at October 7, 2008 5:52 PM

Yes! I did fill in an accident report! Not for the pinched knee, but for the pulled back muscle and tweaked wrist. I even did PT for the wrist. It was great.

Posted by: Beth at October 7, 2008 6:01 PM

Hey cool, I live in Los Osos, north of San Luis Obispo. We love to ride our motorcycles out to Parkfield and spend an afternoon especially when the cafe is open. They serve really good food. Your photos were gratefully enjoyed.

Posted by: mz. em at October 15, 2008 8:25 PM

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