Over 20 Australian (and a few Kiwis and Americans) gather for dinner in Wichita, Kansas!
It’s great to be back in the States! Flew into Oklahoma City Friday night, with the rest of the chase team flying int the next afternoon.
Spent Saturday running errands and visiting with old friends, and then got on the road Sunday afternoon as we headed to Wichita for a (mostly) Aussie storm chaser gathering! I’m chasing /road tripping this month with 3 Aussies and 1 New Zealander, and it was great to meet so many others last night at dinner.
Today we’re on our way to a friend’s place in the south Texas Panhandle, as the chase weather has been a bit slow, but we’re hopeful we’ll get some good opportunities later in the week!
My two year contract at the weather station on Kwajalein is coming to a close (already?! where did the time go?). While I had the opportunity to renew it, I decided for various reasons to pursue other opportunities. I have loved my time here and there are some people and some things I will miss, but further challenges and interesting weather are calling me.
I just accepted an offer to work as a meteorologist for MetService, New Zealand’s National Weather Service. I am beyond excited to say I will be moving to Wellington, New Zealand this August! The position sounds great, and I look forward to learning more about Southern Hemisphere and New Zealand weather and exploring this beautiful country.
The above photo is the famous Kwaj signpost by the airport, showing the direction and approximate distance in miles to various places around the world. Wellington has been added to the signpost sometime since I first got here, and now I smile whenever I notice it as I pass by–“only” about 2,400 miles further south!
The next few months will bring a lot of traveling for me, as I’ll also soon be flying back to Oklahoma to go storm chasing and visit friends for a few weeks across the Plains. I plan on updating this blog with my latest storm chase adventures this May; hopefully there will be a lot to write about and post photos of! I am going to be chasing with a tablet for the first time; every time I chase I seem to change something up. This year I will have an iPad, and between the built-in GPS, data connection, and various apps, I should be able to get the information I want without having a bulky laptop and cords everywhere. One of my chasing buddies, Dean (coming back from Australia with a couple of his friends) will have the full laptop setup though, so we’ll have double the data!
Anyway, I also plan on updating this (mainly) weather blog more often once I no longer have to dial up to use the Internet at home (really looking forward to high speed Internet again!). I may even start a separate New Zealand blog soon, too.
Today I watch the sun rise over Daytona Beach, and then had breakfast at an all-you-can-eat pancake restaurant (Old Spanish Sugar Mill). You grill your own pancakes! They were very good, and I had blueberries in mine. 🙂 That was in De Leon Springs State Park.
I walked around the park a little bit, and then later went back to Daytona for an “all-access” tour of Daytona International Speedway. I’m not into NASCAR, but I was still quite impressed. Our tour guide drove our tram all the way around the 2.5-mile track, and we even got to stop and walk up the steeply-sloped track at the start/finish line. We stopped at pit road and walked through victory lane, and got a tour of everything in the infield (which is very large!). We saw a few race cars in garages in the infield as well. Finally we went up the Sprint Tower to the press box, from which we had a great view of the racetrack and part of Daytona. We could even see the Atlantic Ocean in the distance, as well as Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, 18 miles away!
I took a lot of photos, and not to sound like a broken record lately, but I will post some later (might even be a couple months ’til things slow down a bit more, but hopefully not that long!). 🙂
I fly out of Orlando early tomorrow morning. Once again I had a great time. The previous trip felt more like a vacation, as it was longer, I saw more stuff, and I wasn’t getting up before the sun every day. But this trip was more closely centered around the RSS retraction and ultimately the launch, which was absolutely fantastic!!!
Well, I’m back in DeLand, Florida for NASA Tweetup Redux, as many are calling it.
If all goes well, those of us invited to the Tweetup a couple weeks ago will get to watch the retraction of the Rotating Service Structure (wraps around the shuttle) around noon tomorrow, from about 600 yards away! This is what I was waiting up for (and never saw) the night I saw this incredible shelf cloud over the Vehicle Assembly Building.
I have to arrive around 11 am (times are all EDT) and will be back at the press site by about 1:30 pm.
Then I’m going to have to get up really early Monday morning for the launch. The launch is scheduled for 8:56 am, but if we want to be there to see the astronauts drive by in the astrovan (and not turn around, as they did the last time I was there!), I need to be there no later than 5 am. It takes about an hour and a half from where I’m staying to the Cape, so you do the math…
There is a frontal squall line rolling through Florida at present; hopefully there will not be any lingering, morning thunderstorms on Monday. We also need storm-free weather tomorrow for the RSS retraction.
I flew through Atlanta today, and we had about a 20 – 30 minute delay in air (to Orlando), as we had to fly around thunderstorms on the Florida Coast. We flew out over the Atlantic for a little ways before circling back around. It was still a rather turbulent landing, though. After I picked up my rental car, I drove through some torrential downpours to get here.
I’ll continue to tweet/facebook about the launch and launch plans over the next couple of days.
I’m flying back to Florida tomorrow for the space shuttle launch. NASA invited those of us invited to the STS134 Tweetup to come back for the retraction of the Rotating Service Structure on Sunday (we can watch it from about 600 yards away!) as well as the launch of Endeavour on Monday (we can view it from the press site again).
Hopefully there won’t be any more hardware problems and the weather will be good for launch!
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