Will and Beyond

Archive for the category “Travel”

Vacation Finally Ends

As of this morning, my 2.5 month vacation finally comes to an end. In about 90 minutes, I report for orientation; my first day of work is finally here.

After defending in November, working through most of December, I took a long needed break. Never took off any time after high school or undergrad, so I realized this is my last chance for a long time to have a real extended vacation like this. It required taking out a loan, but so worth it.

Started with a trip down to Florida, to see my Grandpa, who so kindly gave me his old car, which for the first time makes me a car-owner, about 9 years after most people. Took a short road trip back up to DC, crossing a few states off my list (Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina), a trend which continues throughout this vacation.

Went to the Philippines for Chelie’s wedding, had an amazing time being guided around by all the Filipinos in the chemistry program, and got engaged myself. Just taking this “becoming a real person” thing full force.

After my 24 hour flight, and being back in DC for about 3 days to adjust to the 13 hour time difference, I set out on Dr. Will’s Transcontinental Victory Tour (which I still haven’t finished writing about here), spending 99 hours on trains, and seeing tons of new places. (Again crossing more new states off my list: Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas.)

The final part of my vacation ended with a road trip down to New Mexico, taking two doped cats along with us. I’m still not a huge fan of being in the car for long periods, so I agreed to this as long as we could stop along the way, crossing more states off the list (Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma).

At some point I’ll put up a few more posts from vacation, but I’ll actually resume writing about science again (like we just cured HIV? holy shit), since I’ll be back in the lab, seeing how government compares to academia.

Doped Cats

Taking two cats on a 2k+ mile road trip doesn’t seem ideal. Yowling from a cat carrier in the back seat for that long would be murder inducing.

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What solves that problem? Drugs! Feed the cats some tranqs, throw in some calming pheromones and it’s pretty tolerable; the meows are muted (but more pathetic sounding). As you can see, their eyes look creepy as hell.

Albuquerque

The main purpose of stopping in Albuquerque was to drive up to Santa Fe, to find a place to live. There was some time there before and after Santa Fe, so here it is.
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The Albuquerque Museum was small but cheap, worth the visit. It’s also very close to the Rattlesnake Museum. Yes, the Rattlesnake Museum. The world’s largest collection of live rattlesnakes. They also have some scorpions and such, so I’m fairly convinced that New Mexico will kill me.
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As a preview to starting at Los Alamos I took a trip to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, fun stuff.
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After Santa Fe, came back to Albuquerque for a day with Amy. Went to the zoo, which was a pretty decent size, nothing compared to DC, Bronx, or San Diego obviously, but still good. In terms of apes, they have gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons, but no chimpanzees. Then wrapped up the day and finally saw The Hobbit.
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For my last day, went to the Petroglyph Monument and saw ancient rock etchings. Crazy how they have remained after all these years. Also, I don’t think that “Nick hearts Tina” is an original, so people are assholes. Ended the day at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Learned a lot. There are 19 pueblos throughout New Mexico, would be awesome to visit some.
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Albuquerque is definitely a small city, but fun. Only an hour from Santa Fe, so I imagine we will come down here somewhat regularly. In terms of the food: they put chiles on everything here. I will do okay here if for nothing else than the good alone.

St. Louis

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Did you know the St. Louis Arch is hollow, and you can go up it and look outside, just like the Washington Monument? Well I didn’t, but it was great.

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Also great: BBQ. Specifically, Pappy’s Smokehouse.

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Chuck E. Cheese for “grownups”. Sounds great, huh? Go to the City Museum. Go. Amazingly, my phone survived a sixty foot fall, because it luckily fell into a ball pit below. Yes, just go.

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Anheuser-Busch puts on a pretty good tour, at least showing off the ridiculous scale at which they make beer, even if it’s shitty beer.
Thanks Anthony and Nina for playing tour guide/chauffer!

Layover: Chicago again

Only for an hour. More pizza!

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Almost missed my train getting this. Adding Giordano’s to the list now.

Chicago

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I’m definitely traveling much faster than I’m writing these. (I’m in Kansas City right now.) Posting on my phone is doable, but not super convenient. Packing a month into one backpack definitely meant not bringing a computer.

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Chicago: amazing. I now want to live here someday. Got a nice hotel on Grant park, real cheap using the Priceline app, doing the name your own price thing; definitely the way to go.

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When I got off the train I was right in front of the Willis tower (formerly the Sears tower), so I went straight for there. As you can see above, they have little glass box extensions so you can dangle 103 stories above: scary but awesome. Took a trolley tour around the city too.

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Ate lots of pizza: Lou Malnati’s and Pizano’s. I wouldn’t want it to replace normal thin crust pizza, but delicious nonetheless. (That’s probably how people here feel about thin crust?)

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Saw Sue, the largest and most complete T-rex ever found. The Field museum was really great all around.
Next up: Milwaukee!

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