Hour ten sitting on the airplane was starting to get a little slow. The last topic of discussion was your most awkward work experience. I sat sandwiched on a last-minute flight between Sarah and Alyse. Row 22 of American flight 1872 was about the liveliest thing in Killeen, Texas that Saturday night and we were really struggling. Something like five hours ago the captain said over the intercom: “Folks, if I could have your attention, we are running out of fuel, so we are going to divert to a little strip an hour from Dallas.” Phrasing dude. It seems to me as though there is a way to not use the words “running” & “out of fuel” to describe our midair situation. But I guess I get paid to drive boats, not planes, for a reason. So what do I know?
Eventually, some 24hrs after I sprinted my way through security to the gate at the Las Vegas airport, I landed safely, with enough fuel, in Charleston, South Carolina. Now, as many people have asked, you are probably wondering “Why are you flying to Charleston from Nevada halfway through a cross-country road trip?” Well, I have a captain’s license, and I know just enough science that I could theoretically contribute to a week-long scientific ocean experiment. The experiment, in short, is called ADEON. It is a long-term multi-dimensional study of the Atlantic Deepwater ecosystem. For this week we were concerned with collecting data to understand spatial correlation scales of the acoustic environment in the ocean. I spent the last four years learning all sorts of things about the ocean, but this was my first full-on real-life experiment.
The sea is a place that I have come to love a lot. This brief stint on the water was a good reminder of the knowledge that I have gathered in the last five years, both in science and practical knowledge. It was also a reminder of how much more I have to gain. I am still working on how best to describe the allure of the water; it may be something I chase for a very long time. You see, communicating what it is like falls on daft ears unless you have experienced it yourself. I am fortunate to have been to sea. Fortunate to have stood behind the helm as clouds flash in the dark of the early morning. Fortunate to have felt the wind brace against my jacket as waves crash over the bow, coating my face with spray. Fortunate to have watched as flying fish jump from the swell, chased along by dolphins. Fortunate to have felt the terror of a line parting, and the self-assurance of repairing the same. Fortunate to have experienced the unquestionable relief of entering safe harbor. I am, however, most fortunate to have missed the sea and returned to her one more time.