Thursday: fly out of ithaca. 13 minute flight to elmira, wait on plane, continue to the 'burgh. wait an hour, fly to albuquerque. wait an hour, fly to los alamos (abbreviated as LA from now on). On the flight I break out my disc player and settle down for some music. uh, I forgot to bring headphones. thank you, thank you, I'm stupid. get to albuquerque. LA airport is this teeny little one runway deal that only takes prop planes. the flight from albuquerque to LA is on a 12 seater twin prop deal. small plane, very small plane. I was the last one on the plane, so I got the way back seat. It was a nice sunny day, about 60 degrees, beautiful. we take off. I immediately realize that it's a very windy day. the plane seems to fly sideways sometimes. bumpy. very very very bumpy. I spend most of the 1/2 hour flight concentrating on not hurling. the back-most seat was not a good place to be. finally we get there. I get my rental car (Mazda Protoge... weird, I've never rented a non-american car before) and drive to my hotel. I notice that I'm very short of breath. I figure that's because I haven't been smoking much since you can't smoke on US flights. check into hotel, take a shower, read informational brochure about LA. The elevation is >7000 feet. That's why I'm short of breath. There's %40-50 less oxygen in the air. go out to dinner with Rishi (the prof who's bringing me out there), have excellent new mexican food and a beer. the beer was what I like to refer to as a mistake. It knocks me on my ass. This is another consequence of altitude (plus I was tired). Interesting dinner conversation about all the problems at LANL. another guy we're eating with tells a funny story about a lecture by one of the people from "inside the fence" (the classified part of the lab where they do bomb research). The lecture was entitled "Bombs 101." It was all about designing nuclear devices. The speaker was obviously nuts. Since they can't test nukes anymore, they just design them. heh. what a good use of money. go back to hotel, go to sleep.
Friday: get up early (that's easy, my body wakes up at 8:00, which is 6:00 in LA), have breakfast (huevos rancheros... mmmmmmmmm), go to the lab. meet with 4 faculty members for .5 hour each. give my talk, have lunch, talk to 4 more faculty members. go out to dinner with 2 grad students. have a 32 oz beer in the hotel bar (double diamond ale, nothing in particular to recommend it). sleep like the dead.
Saturday: go for a hike in a nearby canyon, see elk trails and what seem to be mountain lion prints (big, look like dog prints without claw marks). go to dinner, go to Santa Fe. Santa Fe is gross. it's all pueblo architecture, which I'm not overly fond of. The town exists for tourists. gross. we did go to a nice coffee shop though.
Sunday: drive to nearby indian reservation. see cliff dwellings. pull off to park and look at cliff dwellings. see a sign that says it's 8 bucks to park. turn around and continue to the canyon, which is supposed to be really nice. see sign at canyon that it's 10 bucks to park. turn around and drive back to LA. leave. sit in front seat of tiny plane for flight back to albuquerque. much more pleasant.
General impressions: The area is fabulously beautiful. It's high desert. lots of pine trees and scrub pine. mountains mountains mountains. from the mesa that LANL sits on you can see across a huge plain to the sange de christo mountains, which are amazing. I love mountains. there are tons of places to go hiking and camping, and the lab runs a not for profit ski hill. heh. the snow starts in november and continues through march or april. they had a foot of snow on april 22 this year. it rarely hits 90 in the summer time and the humidity is negligible (a big advantage of the altitude).
LA itself is tiny. way tiny. really tiny. there are ~2 bars and mabye 3 restaurants. good thing there's all that nature around.
that's all I have to say now