Friday Harbor Day 1

We left for Friday Harbor on Sunday, September 25. The days leading up this were extremely busy, almost a blur. Fortunately, Everett was at Gabby and Grandaddy’s house for a week beforehand – Melissa drove to Indiana and met them for an exchange on Friday, September 16. A week later they drove to our house to drop him off, and the next day they returned to Cincinnati, just in time to host brunch on Sunday morning before the Bengals game. This was the first time since Everett was born that Chris and Melissa were home together without him, and it was somewhat strange at first. When Everett left he said “I will be gone for a week and you will feel empty”. This was true, but we adapted rather quickly. We went out to dinner the first three or four nights and increased the amount of time spent working. Also, Chris made a whirlwind 40 hour trip to Cleveland to take care of our house on St. Albatross in Cleveland Heights, which we are trying to sell (again). He took the overnight train to Cleveland, worked all day and took an overnight train home. Then back to work immediately followed by a few hours sleep and then a half-day symposium on Saturday. Finally a mad dash to finish getting ready for our airport shuttle at 6:40 Sunday morning. Exhausting.

For the next four weeks we will be living at Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL). Melissa will be working on her dissertation and Chris will be doing research. Everett will be in a new school full time. He is generally a good traveler and an adaptable kid, though we might be asking a lot of him on this trip in terms of adjusting quickly.

Chris has worked at Friday Harbor before. In 2004 he was here for a month to perform electrophysiology experiments on Hermissenda Crassicornis. It’s a somewhat romantic idea for doing research: go out in the morning and try to catch the animals you will study later that day. Every researcher gets his own tank which is continuously bathed in fresh saltwater to house whatever he catches. FHL has a long and well-deserved history in neuroscience, and is a vibrant environment for marine biology research. That month was one of the best in Chris’ life. In addition to the work and living environment, he brought his bicycle and on the ferry ride to the island met a guy named Mark who wrote books about quantum string theory and who lived a bit off the grid. When Chris mentioned he was looking for a kayak, Mark offered one of his and dropped it off at Chris’ hut the next morning. Each day’s work was punctuated with bike rides, hikes and kayak trips. Melissa and Chris started dating in February of that year and Melissa visited Chris on the island over the long July 4th weekend. This visit was, from Chris’ perspective, The Big Test of compatibility. That weekend was filled with nonstop biking, hiking, kayaking, swimming and other adventures. It seems that Melissa passed the test. We were engaged the next year, married the year after that, and now seven years later we have a house and a 3 year old son. So it worked out pretty well, and now the three of us are returning for a month together.

We left Milwaukee early Sunday morning and flew nonstop to Seattle. Picked up the rental car, ate lunch at Ikea and headed north. As we travelled north we noticed the traffic situation was getting more and more strange. Lots of police cars with flashing lights, especially on the bridges over the interstate. Once we got off the interstate we realized that it was impossible to drive into downtown. That Sunday was the opening game for the Seahawks, and more importantly President Obama was visiting that day. We have never seen anything quite like it: all bridges into downtown were closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic. We also noticed that there were no cars on the southbound lanes of the interstate and soon found that it was completely closed to traffic. So we gave up on visiting Seattle and drove north, first for coffee and then for a trip to to Trader Joe’s to pickup groceries. Then made a brief stop in Everett to take some pictures and stop at a playground so that we could reward Everett for being such a great traveler, and so that he could get some wiggles out. Drove a bit further north and spent the night in Mt. Vernon after dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Everyone was pretty exhausted so we had an early bedtime.

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