Dome-iversary

This is another post I meant to write a couple weeks ago, but am just getting to now. On October 15th, 2014 I entered the Dome with 5 other wannabe astronauts. On October 15th, 2015 I had the good fortune to spent the anniversary of our entry with a couple of my Dome-mates. Sophie, Zak and I were all in Clark County Nevada for some outreach events that we did for “Real Science on Fake Mars”. After the work, we had a couple days together to play. And how did we celebrate our Dome-iversary? By going to see “The Martian” and playing some Settler’s of Catan. It felt very appropriate.

It’s actually taken me quite a bit longer to re-adjust to “life on Earth” than I thought it would. Things that I didn’t expect to stress me out were causing me a fair bit of difficulty. #1 on that list was phones. For some reason people always called at the most inappropriate times – when I’m driving, at the library, on the toilet. Stressin’ me out people! I’ve gotten over it – now I just don’t answer the phone if I don’t feel like it – but it took me a while to be able to strong-arm the intrusions again. #2 was the fact that I just didn’t want to be inside. Ever. I’ve spent a significant amount of time just being outdoors as much as possible. This translated into time up at the cottage with family, hiking in Jasper with my sister and niece, biking through Montana for a few days with the Tour d’Afrique, hiking part of the Camino de Santiago, and a week-long camping trip in Algonquin park. The weather is starting to get darker and colder, so I’m becoming more appreciative of houses again, but if I could just live in a tent between May and October, I think I would like that.

To satisfy my need for outdoor activity, Sophie and Zak indulged me with a few hours of hiking at Red Rocks despite the rather wet weather. Here we are at the top of Turtlehead Peak:

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Re-adjusting to Life on Earth

I meant to write this post after about a week, but things have been pretty nuts. I had family come to see me get out of the Dome, and we’ve been on vacation being tourists ever since. I’ve slowly, one-by-one, had to say good-bye to each of my crew mates and that kept getting more and more real, and more and more sad each time. And I’ve been doing crazy media interviews early in the morning or late at night nearly every day since getting out. I think yesterday was my last 4:30 am wake-up call though, and I’ll have one more when I get to Edmonton, but the dust has pretty much settled.

As crazy as the past 10 days have been, there have been some really special moments mixed in. Going up to the Dome with my family & Zak & Aleks was great – got to share “Mars” with them. Zak and I gave Aleks the run-down on maintenance and improvements we think the Hab needs before the next mission. And then we all went over to Mauna Kea for sunset. Aleks got us young ‘uns up to the summit, and it was spectacular. One of those beautiful, breathtaking experiences that I got to share with a few special people. I, in typical form, forgot my camera, and so relied on the kindness of my traveling companions to capture the moment for me. Here’s the photo I got from my cousin Colleen:

Mauna Kea Sunset

The next day was the last with Sophie and Zak, as well as with my friends Andrew and Carolyn who came for a bit of a Hawaiian vacation with me as an excuse. We had dinner on the beach, there were torches and sunset and music, good people and good conversation and good food and drink. Just one of those perfect nights.

I flew to Oahu with my family the next day. We had some great moments there as well – swimming with turtles on my birthday, and a lovely afternoon snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. Now we’re back on the Big Island, but the crew is gone, and in a few days my family will leave, and my last task/adventure on the Big Island will be hosting a sleep-over with the PISCES STARS girls up at the Hab on the weekend.

When I went into the Dome, I was worried about several things that were unfounded – the food and the workouts. The things I missed were sometimes things I didn’t expect, like trees, or YouTube. Getting out, I was worried that perhaps things would be over-whelming, or that I’d have trouble re-adjusting, but I haven’t had too much trouble dealing with internet or people again. The things that I’ve enjoyed most, or struggled with most, have surprised me a bit coming out as well.

So things that I’m enjoying most: nature, in all it’s forms. The turtles, the snorkeling, the sun (even though I’m dousing myself in SPF 100 every time I step outside). That first run at the ranch with Zak, even though my cardio has tanked. Sunsets. Sounds of life everywhere, whether it’s the city or the ocean or the wind in the trees. Salads whenever I want. Hanging out with friends and family.

Things that I’m missing the most: my crewmates. My workout buddy – I haven’t done any P90X since getting out, although Zak has – I’m a social soul, and I like having a buddy to workout with. I think it’s going to be hard to motivate myself on my own. But I am looking forward to getting home and having my bike back. Workouts may just be different again for me on the outside. I miss having all my food delivered to my door, and a selection of healthy snacks at my fingertips whenever I’m feeling hungry. And I really liked not having to do the social media thing, and the delay on all communications. It’s weird sending an e-mail, and having a response almost instantly! And then I feel pressure to also answer immediately now. At least the data on my phone isn’t working, so I have some excuse to be slow still.

So those are my rather rambling impressions on getting out, and some of the magical moments that I’ve had here on Earth during that time. I miss some bits of my life on Mars, but I’m excited to be back too, and looking forward to seeing what comes up next in my crazy, Earthly adventures.

Thanks to all of you for reading along, and following the Martian* adventures we’ve been having! It’s meant a lot to know there were people out there, interested in what we were doing, and enjoying the ride with us. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

Signing off (for now), Martha/Mars/Foxy

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Moving House

Sophie and I spent the whole day doing inventory again. It was exhausting, but we are sooooo close to being done now. We have this leeeetle pile of food that’s expired or soon to be expired that will be following us along to debrief, and a few random spices and stuff, but then we’re done.

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Zak’s finished the workshop, Neil’s nearly done the lab. The Hab was a disaster, but it’s starting to look pretty good again. Check out the SeaCan! It’s now a thing of beauty:

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It hasn’t really sunk in yet that tomorrow is my last day in the Dome with these lovely people. We still have a few days on the outside together for debrief, but then everyone’s splitting up. I’m excited to be able to see new people, but I’m sad I’m not going to see these crazy Martians every day as well. It has been an experience.

I have family and friends coming to see us come out of the Dome on Saturday. For those of you who can’t come for a crazy Hawaiian/Martian vacation, there will be a livestream set up for the day: https://livestream.com/accounts/13885785. I don’t really know the time, or how it works or anything yet, but I’ll let you know via the blog when I know. We exit the Dome at 8am HST, at any rate. Not sure on the timing of the sky diving exactly, and it’s all a bit weather dependent anyways.

Sophie and I just got back in from another one of our oddly-timed, random EVAs. The Bots left some trash outside, and we had to go out and retrieve it and bring it back in. It had rained, so our cardboard recycling was a bit soggy. But it was worth it – even in the HAZMAT suits the sky was amazingly clear, and we could see the Milky Way, and soooo many stars! I’m excited to be able to see the sky unhindered again now.

I’m starting to think that it may actually be really weird to see other people again.

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2 Days Left, and Some Interviews

2 days left! 2 days left! Sophie and I have been madly working on the food inventory for the past 2 days, with Sophie doing the lion’s share and me helping as much as I can. It’s exhausting, but hopefully we’ll knock it out today. I haven’t really begun to pack my own stuff yet, I just have a box that I’m throwing my stuff in the common area into as I come across stuff.

On another topic, we did some radio interviews a few months ago that finally cam out yesterday:

http://www.dw.de/mars-on-hawaii/av-18503507

And I think again in German:

http://www.wdr5.de/av/audiohawaiistattmarsastronautenprobenreisezummars100-audioplayer.html

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Hurtling Towards The Martian

The end of the mission is hurtling towards us at top speed and…

Sorry, I don’t have a good end-of-mission blog post yet. Zak, Joce, and Soph all do – you should go check out their blogs. I’m still in logistics mode in my head – making sure we have everything we need done by the end of the mission, making sure I have all the data I need, making sure all the researchers have all the data they need, planning for Hawaii, then California, then Edmonton… I don’t even know when I’ll be home yet, I don’t have a ticket the whole way.

In other news though, apparently the whole rest of the world out there is excited about the movie of “The Martian” that’s coming out in a few months. The book is a lot of fun, especially if you enjoy science and engineering and survival stories. Like, it’s not Shakespeare or anything, but it’s a fun read. We had the trailer sent to us on Mars*, and now we’re excited too. Check it out:

And today’s xkcd is pretty awesome as well: http://xkcd.com/1536/

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Farewell Old Friends

My hiking boots and I have been on a lot of incredible adventures together, but Mars* has just about done them in. Check out my poor buddies:

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They certainly won’d be water-proof anymore. Neil’s boots are so done in now that he has to hold the soles on with duct tape. So after this trip, my boots will finally be retired. Some of the good times we’ve had together:

  • Half-Dome, multiple times
  • Mt. Dana, at Tuolumne Pass
  • Upper Yosemite Falls, and actually probably every other hike in Yosemite Valley, multiple times
  • Backpacking in Cascades
  • The W-Trek in Patagonia
  • Mt. Roraima in Venezuela
  • Hikes in Bryce, Arches, and the Grand Canyon
  • Death Valley and Joshua Tree
  • Kings Canyon and Sequoia, Alta Peak was spectacular
  • Muir Woods, and all over the Bay Area
  • the NOLS course in Wyoming
  • Yellowstone
  • Mars*

And so much more. You’ve done me well, boots!

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Real Science on Fake Mars

Ok, this is super cute and made my day today. We’ve been doing these “Real Science on Fake Mars” science projects with elementary school kids in Clark County School District in Nevada. My first post about it was way back here, describing all the projects we were doing with them. Well, the kids were in the news recently in a segment called “What’s Cool At School”. Apparently we are what’s cool at school! Hear what the kids had to say about the RSoFM projects with HI-SEAS here.

I highly recommend watching what the kids have to say! It’s nice to know they had such a positive experience with it all. And just so there’s a photo to go along with the story, here’s a photo of the set-up for some acoustics experiments for one of the RSoFM projects.

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