Kansas City is 1500 miles away from San Francisco but unfortunately last week it took far longer than the usual four to six hours of traveling. Weather caused delays with both the inbound aircraft, as well as the flight to Denver, causing a diversion south into central Texas to avoid thunderstorm activity. Mechanical issues with the airplane caused another significant delay while maintenance personnel tracked down fluids leaking from the wing. Unfortunately this led to my missing the connecting flight, and with high load factors another vacant seat between the two hubs was not available until the following afternoon so I was forced to spend the night at an area hotel.
The next day my new connecting flight was also delayed, this time first by air traffic compensation for weather causing capacity issues at SFO. This flight was also afflicted by mechanical issues though, this time a faulty avionics component. After an hour or so of troubleshooting, we were forced to deplane and find another aircraft. After an attempt to board quickly, the pilots timed out regardless forcing a wait for a new flight crew. Lunch was to be served, however we were cautioned against eating the food that went unrefridgerated for hours having been transferred from the previous plane.
More than 24 hours later, and about the same amount of time it would take to drive non-stop between the two cities, I arrived back in California. It was very unfortunate to lose a whole day out of an already short trip.
Last week I traveled to Vienna, Austria to attend the European Geophysics Union General Assembly 2018 (EGU2018). It was great to represent our work among an international community and see the wide variety of work being done in related sciences.
It was also great to have a chance to see Vienna. I had previously visited the western end of the country (Upper Austria) driving down the Inn valley from Switzerland through Innsbruck and southeastern Germany to Salzburg. This was my first time in Lower Austria on the edge of Western Europe and long the center of the Hapsburg monarchy.
Following World War II, Austria was occupied by the Allies with Vienna divided into sectors, similar to Berlin, in the middle of Soviet occupied Eastern Austria. It is this divided, war-torn Vienna that is the setting for the iconic film The Third Man. We visited the building that played home to Harry Lime's apartment and the Ferris wheel where Martins and Lime meet. The rubble is long gone but the iconic buildings that survived the war still stand today.
The occupation ended in 1955 and the signs of the division are not that apparent today. I was curious exactly where I would have been, and so created a map of some GPS tracks I had recorded overlayed on the post-World War II occupation zones. I couldn't something readily available; luckily the sectors were designated among the same city districts that exist today, so I was able to take the OpenStreetMap district boundaries and add a field for the sector to categorize. The shapefile is available for download.
The Globe Museum, part of the Austrian National Library, is the only such public museum of globes in the world. The collection spans hundreds of years and offers an interesting perspective on how people viewed the world at different times in history through the unique form. Admission also included entry to the Esperanto Museum on the floor below of the Palais Mollard-Clary, primarily a massive collection of works in Esperanto and other planned languages with some insight into the reasoning for development and persecution of such ideas.
Wildfires out west spread smoke across the western and central US. Luckily it was high aloft this far east so it mostly darkened the sky with an eerie orange glow, rather than it resulting in the sometimes unbreathable air I experienced at times living in Fairbanks during the summers.
Difficult to see in this photo are two buffalo in Denver's Genesee Park. The city created the park for tourism in 1914, right around the time of the lowest population count, preserving one of the 'wildest' herds remaining.
The drive across Nebraska on Interstate 80 is generally uninspiring. The traffic might be less than that of 70 in eastern Kansas, but many more trucks take the northern route which can lead to occasional bottlenecks. The Archway Monument, a large covered bridge spanning the freeway is an interesting sight, especially if one is not expecting it. A museum focusing on the westward migration across the United States in the 19th century, it has struggled to attain promised attendance numbers.