2007-06-07 - 4:47 p.m.
...my trip to Oregon.
I returned from the USA yesterday evening with a mad craving for macaroni and cheese. Fortunately, we had the necessary ingredients in the cupboards, and if I do say so myself, I made some kickass mac-n-cheese before falling asleep for the duration (11 hours).
We had an intense three-day trip. We first stopped in Bellingham to deal with the IRS. K needed a tax identification number. Of course, no visit to the USA would be complete without a haranguing at either the US or Canadian border. The US did this honors this time: first their computers were down for 90 minutes and all of us suspicious types were asked to sit and wait. And then they began processing us in no particular order, so we were stuck behind three large groups of foreigners.
One Chinese guy was way-laid because the border guards did not find any toothpaste, shaving cream, deodorant, or other toiletries when they searched his car, and this was a clear sign that he was attempting to enter the country illegally. We played our usual game with officious, power-hungry guards. K didn't think that they were so awful to us. I found them rude, disrespectful, and illogical. "Where's your bus ticket? How do we know you're going to leave the country if you don't have a bus ticket?" Puh-lease. I kept my mouth shut, because expressing my true feelings usually makes it worse. But fortunately, K was able to say in a serious enough voice, "Am I required to have one? But, I don't know how long the IRS will take. I can't buy the ticket until I know which bus I'm taking." And then we went through the whole rigmarole with K's special visa. When the border guard chastised us for "creating our own destiny" by leaving the country without following through with the visa to stay in the US, I once again surprised myself with how well I kept my opinions to myself. Instead, I told the guard that I had to pee. He explained that I couldn't use the facilities until he had arranged the appropriate surveillance. Right.
So then we had a thirty-second visit to the IRS office, where the mutton-chopped man behind the desk filed our paperwork in a blink of an eye. We graciously filled out the customer satisfaction survey and cited this office as the most efficient US administrative office we have ever dealt with, before heading off to lunch in downtown Bellingham.
With more food cravings fulfilled, we dropped K at the greyhound bus terminal and headed on our way to Oregon. We arrived at 8pm, watched some brainless TV, and then fell asleep.
We spent all day Tuesday sampling sediment cores, which involved finding each core's documentation, looking at the photos, and then finding them in the freezer. Some of these deep-sea cores were collected back in 1970, and yet they've been kept moist and well-preserved for more than thirty years. Amazing. Some needed some serious archeological work (who sampled what, when, and where). And some of the cores had been completely destroyed (one fell off a sampling table and the remaining pieces had been shattered beyond recognition). But we were amazingly successful in the ten hours we spent rooting through the archive.
Another night with a quick meal, some brainless television (My first encounter with America's Got Talent taught me that it has the repulsive addictive power of a train wreck...), and then sleep coma.
I spent Wednesday morning in meetings at the campus while Britt explored the cute little downtown area of Corvallis. (and believe me it is VERY cute.) We met up at my friend's house and looked at her adorable baby twins (wow. she spends all of her time just FEEDING. And yet, she was completely relaxed and calm and looked fantastic - inspirational - she blamed it on the hormones.)
And then - the eight-hour home. We had another strange encounter at the Canadian border. I think we completely stumped the guy. He asked what we were doing. And we said sampling. Sampling what? Pacific ocean sediments. Blank, uncertain stare. "wha??" He asked me a whole series of questions about what the samples were, why I had to go to Oregon to just get 'mud.' I explained the cruise numbers, where the mud came from, how old it was, and the purpose of the mud, and what we were going to do with it. He asked to search the mud. We popped the trunk. He stood there looking at it, trying to figure out if there were any regulations preventing the transport of mud into Canada...until the rookie guard in training said, "as long as it's not sand. Sand is bad." It was definitely mud and not sand. And so we were free to go, enriched with the knowledge that 'sand is bad.' Overall, an amusing incident.
phew. Today I have been the equivalent of a vegetable. Eggplant, I think. slightly purple and squishy. And already ready for bed.
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...they are just words, Suzi... - 2011-08-29