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.

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

DSCN0112 DSCN0115


DSCN0122 DSCN0133

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.

DSCN0135 DSCN0139

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.

DSCN0194 DSCN0192
We’re guests at a house where the tropical breeze feels perfect. Thank you Dr. Fox!

DSCN0149 DSCN0410

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.

DSCN0150 DSCN0236 DSCN0322

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

DSCN0164 DSCN0240
There’s nothing hiding in this uninteresting little patch of sand.
DSCN0198 DSCN0219

DSCN0174 DSCN0175

There’s no urchin on the menu, but dinner by the water is a good way to relax.

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.

DSCN0353 DSCN0251 DSCN0258

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.


Completely. Empty.
DSCN0264 DSCN0265

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

DSCN0274 DSCN0289

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

DSCN0304 DSCN0309 DSCN0332 DSCN0335

DSCN0381 DSCN0384

And then… suddenly… MANGO MÊLÉE!


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.

DSCN0447 DSCN0453 DSCN0414 DSCN0417 DSCN0419 DSCN0452


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

One thought on “Days 46-52: Island Mêlée

  1. Radio telescopes, I knew there was a twist! I’ve traveled deep into the Okanagon to find one.

    “not actual combat. We figured that out just in time”

    That got me ROTFL!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s