I woke up this morning at 0900, but not because I had to catch a flight. I’m surprised that I got any sleep at all since the anticipation and excitement had completely sunk in by the time I got home. I didn’t plan on waking up until 1030, but once I was up I couldn’t really fall back asleep, so I did a last final check through everything I had already packed, showered, ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, and I was off to the airport. My flight out of Detroit Metro took off around 1420, plenty of time to land at Dallas and catch my connecting flight to Grand Junction, Colorado.
Neither flight was particularly bad, especially the flight into Grand Junction. Since it is a relatively small airport, the planes that fly in are in proportion: each row had three seats (split two and one), and there were only about twenty rows. I sat in the lone seat, read my magazine, tried to take pictures out the window of the stars and clouds, and simply passed the time until I landed at the airport. And land I did. We hit some rough weather, and the landing was pretty bouncy, but at least you know I survived since I’m writing this, right?
I grabbed my bag, called the shuttle, got to the hotel, got my key, dropped off my bags, then cut across five lanes of traffic to get to the Applebee’s across the street to where Kiri, Luís, and Carla were eating. It took me a while to find them, since the wait staff had their name under “Carrie,” and I had to circle the establishment twice before I spotted them. Once I sat down, only Kiri was still eating, but they said it was fine if I ordered something as well (bacon cheeseburger with swiss, fries, and a Dr Pepper). I scarfed that down while we bonded over discussing what lay ahead of us and what lay behind. The food was great, too, and we got coupons for a free dessert shooter to boot!
After dinner, it was a countdown clock until Darrel and Brian arrived. Luís and I tested out my binoculars, but found that they had been damaged in transit. I dismantled one eyepiece, reassembled it, then walked back outside to test it. I ran into the shuttle service driver (who seemed to know all of us for the crew) who told me that Darrel and Brian had arrived, so I helped them carry some things to their room. We had a quick meeting to talk about the shower situation and the plan for tomorrow morning. Thankfully, I’m still a little on Michigan time, so it seems a lot later than it really is. That will definitely help my sleep schedule…
Anyway, first update of the mission complete. My next transmission will be from the Hab at the Mars Desert Research Station!