Friday, June 5, 2009

If only I was on the Amazing Race

It is one of those great ironies that climate scientists fly to - at least, relative to, say, doctors, teachers, lawyers or other non-international business professionals - a large number of domestic and international destinations. I didn't get Star Alliance Gold status for nothing, and I do feel twinges of guilt over my carbon footprint. That said, I have been quite good on public transit so far...

I have a 3.5 day meeting in Boulder, Colorado. From the approximate hour I arrive at home in Boulder to the hour I will stand at the bus stop outside of the university to catch the airport bus, that's 87 hours in Boulder. The travel time to and from my room in Hyytiala is about 79 hours. (This is particularly long because bus schedules mean that I have to stay the night at a Helsinki-Vantaa airport hotel on either end of the trip.)

So far it's been:
- a 30 minute hike (in the pouring rain! but it was actually a very picturesque hike by the lake, and my bags are light, so I didn't mind at all) from the field station to the bus stop
- 3 buses to the airport (one very nice, smiling bus driver who charged me the 'student rate' even though i said i was an adult, one not-so-nice bus driver who took my ticket and wouldn't give it back so have no receipt for reimbursement)
- a night in an airport hotel. I watched Project Runway with Finnish subtitles. Improving my Finnish vocabulary one catty fashion designer at a time.

And now I'm in the Helsinki airport waiting for plane 1 of 3 today. Somehow I leave at 1pm and arrive in Denver at midnight - ah, timezones, you lovely things.

And on a note of nostalgia, the Helsinki airport is filled with the Moomin trolls. These are a Finnish child's story - a sort of Tintin, or Babar family - but Scandinavian, so round trolls. When I was very young, my family lived in Bergen, Norway for a summer, where I discovered these child's books.
Some of my first memories of a foreign country are based around those stories and drawings. I hadn't seen them in decades, but here in the Helsinki airport is a whole store devoted to them. I covet the recently released 3 hard cover books of Moomin comic strips, but they are large and hard cover, and would displace my laptop computer from the backpack.

Well, the odyssey continues, as I hear an announcement for my flight...

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