DAY 5 – Go West!

Across the ridges

May 6 2010

Shuttle brought me on time back to KCI Airport where United Airlines direct flight 6766 to San Francisco departed around 9 am. From the gate I could see clouds coming up. Obviously, some instability built up at higher levels with Castellanus structures soon freezing out into virga bands.

US 6766 to San Francisco at the gate of KCI Airport.

Castellanus clouds freezing out into virgae.

Below, the atmosphere was more stable with annoying layers of stratocumulus which blocked the sight onto the ground during the flight over eastern and middle Kansas. There were a few weak turbulences and occasionally the safety belt sign was seen activated. Further to the west it was clearing up and one could see the endless plains of western Kansas and eastern Colorado with eye-catching areas of center pivot irrigation.

Squaremile chessboard in eastern Kansas.

Center pivot irrigation patterns in western Kansas.

Soon we reached the mountain ridge of the Rockies and except some isolated convection and scattered cirrostratus fields one could enjoy the view over the snowy peaks and further west the various fascinating shape of the Canyonlands in Utah.

Front Range of the Rocky Mountains with Pikes Peak (4.301 m) near Colorado Springs.

Castle Valley, Utah.

Bowknot Bend, Green River, Utah.

The desert highlands of Nevada with salt marshes and isolated pivot irrigation are westerly bounded by the Sierra Nevada behind which the San Joaquin Valley spreads as the southern part of California’s Central Valley – one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions.

Salt marshes south of Tonopah, Nevada.

Sierra Nevada: California is in sight.

San Joaquin Valley - an enormous fruit and vegetable garden.

Due to head winds we landed a little behind schedule in San Francisco Int’l Airport, where I took the AirTrain (CX-100, same automated people mover system as in Frankfurt Airport) to the Rental Car Center: here I had free choice among several compact cars – I took a Kia Spectra (for convenience – and of course, a physicist likes spectra :-).

Via Interstate 280 – “Bay Area’s Most Beautiful Freeway“ – running just inside the eastern rim of the canyon of the San Andreas Fault with a scenic view over the San Andreas Lake (the beauty of the landscape cannot hide the fact, that underground we have one of the most dramatic geologic motions on this planet) I finally reached my destination: the Stanford Guest House located on the Campus of SLAC and LCLS.

Destination: Stanford Guest House on SLAC/LCLS campus.

During the afternoon I met colleagues and other scientists at the experimental hall of LCLS where a new experimental campaign is currently under way. For Dinner, they recommended a Mexican Restaurant at a shopping center “two blocks away“ – they were right 🙂

And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

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