I had to take a little trip to the USGS office in Menlo Park for a two-day meeting. The topic was the Volcano Hazards Program’s web site and how they are going to host it. They knew that I’d done some research on how to handle large surges of web traffic after earthquakes.
The trip up was easy enough. I was up at 00-dark-hundred and went to the airport in Burbank. While waiting for the shuttle bus, I was treated to the sight of dawn breaking in the east. The flight up to San Jose was short, and when I got there, I saw a limo driver holding a sign with my name on it. That’s the first time that’s ever happened. They had sent him to pick me up and take me to the office.
When I got to the office we all took our places at the conference table. And we stayed there. All day. They had lunch sent in so we would have no reason to leave the room. Yikes.
At the end of the day, I took Caltrain up to San Francisco to have dinner with an old friend. Jim and his wife Heather are both people I knew back when we lived in Texas. And it turned out that they met because of me. So I went to the city to meet him for dinner. The train ride was pretty nice. The last time I rode Caltrain was in ‘93, and it was a wretched rough ride. But now they’ve put in new concrete ties and welded rail, so it’s a lot better. And the train up to the city was an express, so it only stopped a few times along the way. I was impressed.
When I got there, Jim was at the station. We walked a few blocks and just randomly picked an Italian restaurant. It was good. We each got a small pizza, and we traded half so we could try the different flavors.
After dinner, I had to head back. The train back was a bit slower, since it stopped at every station.
The next morning, I got up and decided to walk to the office. There were other people from the meeting staying at the same place, and they offered me a ride, but I thought that the walk would be entertaining. I saw the Animal Art Gallery, with dog photographs by ‘the dogumentarian‘. I saw seagulls perching on top of the train station. And I saw an intersection where the city provided orange caution flags for pedestrians to use while crossing the street. The light poles on each side had tubes welded to them to serve as flag holders.
When I got to the office, I saw the “I’m Out of Estrogen – And I Have a Gun” bumper sticker. Then I got a cup of tea and went in for the day’s meeting. Being that it was Valentine’s Day, we had a little plate of Hershey’s Kisses and heart-shaped Dove chocolates on the conference table right next to the speaker phone.
At then end of the day, SuperShuttle took me back to the airport. They got me there early enough that I was able to switch to an earlier flight. But I had a little trouble finding the proper gate, since the video screen for departures had a Windows error message box on it.
I got home about 8:00 on Wednesday night. Total time away from home: 38 hours. I’m an incredibly bad traveler.