The Inspiral

Mar 18, 2017

A bottle of Irn Bru in an aeroplane.

Provisions acquired.

0600 (Greenwich Mean Time, T-2.00) Today is the beginning of the adventure, it’s the slow inspiral towards Baton Rouge, and towards LIGO. My day started at 4:30 in the morning, marking the beginning of almost 24 hours worth of travel. My last morning in Glasgow was fairly uneventful, and aside from making sure that I’d bought a final bottle of Irn Bru before leaving Scotland for four months I boarded my flight to Newark.

1200 (Eastern Daylight Time, T+8.00) My flight across the Atlantic was almost completely uneventful, spare having a glass of ginger ale spilt on me by my neighbour, and just seven hours later I was in the immigration queue at Newark International (I got asked some questions about Stephen Hawking, and whether black holes exist; apparently “I hope so!” is an acceptable answer, since I ended up in the customs queue twenty minutes later, and then the next security queue a few minutes later.

It was misty in New York.

I’d been tempted to take advantage of the reasonably long lay-over I had in New Jersey to get a train to Manhattan and see the skyscrapers, but the heavy snow fall as I landed was off-putting, and my lack of warm clothes decisive. I’m enjoying the view of One World Trade Centre through the fog, from my gate as I write this. In relative warmth. In reality I suspect I did have the time, since security took all of five minutes to get through, but perhaps it’s better not to try and pack too much fun into one day. Instead New York gets added to Copenhagen on the 2017 list of “places I’ve transited through in 2017, but actually want to visit”. Anyway. Houston calls.

2015 (Central Daylight Time, T+20.25) After a long flight across parts of the US I don’t really know much about, like Arkansas and Mississippi I reached Texas, to be hit by the 90-degree heat as soon as I stepped off the aeroplane. I’d pretty-much given up on actually trying to tell the time by this stage (though I had in fact reached my destination timezone) and was relying on the announcement boards rather than trying to work out how to change the time on my watch again (that’s a job to be done after a night’s sleep, I decided).

2300 (CDT, T+23.00) It took almost a day of travel, but I finally arrived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana late on Saturday night, and, perhaps more surprisingly, all of my luggage arrived with me too. For the first couple of weeks while I’m here I’m staying in a hotel (until there’s room in the observatory’s apartments; we’re overbooked!), and I got checked-in, and headed straight to bed, with the hope I’d wake up without jet-lag. One fun fact, Baton Rouge airport is in a district called Scotlandville, so somehow I’ve spent a day traveling from Scotland to Scotlandville.

Total trip distance: 4885 miles.