Days 46-52: Island Mêlée

The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) is a set of 10 huge radio telescopes, distributed around the western hemisphere. Their combined effective resolution makes this array the most powerful telescope in existence. My muse has an assignment which takes us to the eastern-most telescope in this array.

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You can see the telescope in this photo. Too bad it’s in the Caribbean. Yep.

We’re posing as a married couple on vacation (tough assignment), and we’ve got tickets and passports to support it. Swimsuits, sunscreen, the works.

Day 46: San Francisco->Miami->Puerto Rico->St. Croix

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Less than an hour after landing on St. Croix, we’re at the beach.

Less than 10 minutes after we get in the water, I step down on a sea urchin, sliding long purple spikes deep into my foot. Cool.

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No luck getting the spikes out, so we call a local doc. He says “We don’ pull them out, no. If you come into here, we jus’ give you a patch and some tape and say sucks for you today. Don’ worry, have a beer, they dissolve in a few days.” It turns out he’s right. The beer’s excellent, and by the next day, it’s easy to pretend it didn’t happen.

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We’re guests at a house where the tropical breeze feels perfect. Thank you Dr. Fox!

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We’ve got excellent hosts, Susan and Ed, showing us around the island. This island has changed ownership so many times that its history is a mishmash of fun stories.

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Walking around town is fun, but sacking out on the beach is more fun.

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There’s nothing hiding in this uninteresting little patch of sand.
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There’s no urchin on the menu, but dinner by the water is a good way to relax.
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On our fourth day, it’s time to get down to business. The telescope is just a mile or so from Point Udall, the Eastern-most point in the United States.

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She doesn’t offer any details, and I don’t ask, but in a few hours it’s all done and time to disappear to a completely empty beach.

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Completely. Empty.
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When we’re sure no one’s followed, we head back into civilization, taking in some some sailing and fireworks.

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The next few days are full of golf, snorkeling, more sailing, more empty beaches, and some casual acrobatics.

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And then… suddenly… MANGO MÊLÉE!

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It turns out that in this case “mêlée” refers to a wild chaotic party, not actual combat. We figured that out just in time. It’s still a lot of fun, though.

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Alexandra is awesome. She’s been up since 3am cooking the best goat stew on the island. She sets us up with more fantastic food than we can finish, and makes our last dinner here a brilliant home-cooked meal.

Day 52: St. Croix->Puerto Rico->Los Angeles->San Francisco …and we’re home.

Random assertion: It’s possible to go a whole week without even seeing a keyboard. I recommend it.

Steganographic data: 1892/12.6

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Published in: on July 8, 2008 at 12:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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