Woke up in the hotel in Grand Junction, and even though I'm no longer in an isolated station in the middle of the desert I felt very alone. I miss my crewmates. Had another hot shower to the point of wrinkled fingers. Aah.
Didn't have a great breakfast. My waffle stuck in the waffle maker, then I spilled a whole cup of coffee getting the creamer out of the fridge, and by the time I got that cleaned up the torn-up waffle was cold. Fox News was babbling away on the TV, talking about how a nun had been saved from being run over by a train and a dog was rescued from floodwaters on the L.A. River, and I reflected just how much I had not missed the news from Earth. About the only news I did catch was the fact of a horrible earthquake in Haiti, but the news was... well, it was so irrelevant to us that it might as well have been on another planet.
I realized only later that I hadn't had to take full responsibility to clean up the coffee spill. It simply never occurred to me to ask anyone else to do it.
While I ate my cold waffle I pulled out my iPhone to check my email. But as soon as I connected to the network, the very first thing I pulled up was the MDRS webcam. All the new kids were gathered in the kitchen area; looks like they're doing the dishes together. Good for them. Then I read my email, and the first couple of messages were between the new crew and Mission Support (crew members are included on the hab mailing list for the previous and following rotations as well). The crew was asking about how to get the water heater in the kitchen working (it isn't working because there isn't one; we heated water for our sponge baths on the stove) and Mission Support sent them a reminder about getting your daily reports and photos in on time. And while I was reading a trivial little exchange about getting a network hard drive set up on the hab laptop I started sobbing, right there in the Best Western's breakfast room. I can't really describe my emotions at that point. Loss? Homesickness? Relief? Exhaustion? If it's homesickness I'm not sure whether it's for Portland or Mars. Whatever it is, I'm crying again right now as I type this.
It's now 9:00 AM and my flight home isn't until 4:00 PM. I could go to the airport now and try to get on standby for an earlier flight, but that would be a hassle and I'd most likely wind up spending the day in the Grand Junction and/or Denver airports rather than home with my sweetie. I have a lot of things to do on my computer anyway, and my hotel room has a nice desk and fast free Internet, so I'm just going to stay here until my scheduled departure time.
Now that I'm back on Earth I have the bandwidth to post videos and higher-resolution photographs. Here's the first: a two-minute tour of the habitat and the view from the observatory.
I'm back from Mars, but my head's still in a strange space. This will probably continue for some time.
I've been spending some of my time doing catchup chores, like clearing out my spam traps (I have five, for my various accounts) and unpacking and doing laundry. Most of the rest of yesterday was spent working on a Keynote presentation (Apple's answer to PowerPoint) of my Mars mission. It's going to be mostly photos. I have 2500+ photographs to sort through and in two passes I got them down to the 1000 best and then the 400 best. I really need a 100 best and 30 best for various purposes. And that's not to mention the videos.
Most other daily stuff isn't happening yet. I need to take the car to the shop (battery died while I was gone) and vote (deadline is today) and answer some important paper mail and clean the kitchen and stuff like that there, but it's hard to concentrate on Earthly life.
The new MDRS crew is going great guns, fixing the shower and water heater and fourth rover which have been out of commission for a long time, putting up GPS tracks on Google Earth with their heart rates and everything, and finishing the erection of the radiotelescope. I am so proud of them! You can see their group blog at http://www.wkiri.com/mdrs_crew89/.
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