Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A day of rest

We are still in Montgomery, Illinois at Red Cross relief headquarters here. We are enjoying a day off together, unusual for us on a Red Cross operation. Also, we've only been on the job six days (including travel), and it is more customary to work seven before getting one off. Personnel and coverage schedules being what they are, however, they asked us to take today instead of tomorrow, which is fine with us.

After pressing hard for five days, it felt good to sleep in this morning. And even though we are in sight of operation headquarters (living, as we are, in the parking lot), we are enjoying a quiet morning at home, catching up on email and web surfing and, of course, the blog.

It is a little-known fact that I once lived in Batavia, just a few miles north of here. I was working at Bell Laboratories at the time, in Naperville, and the shortest route to work was to cut through the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, driving right past the end of the beam line twice a day. I like to joke that my watch dial has glowed quite steadily ever since. That was 25 years ago, and I think they have since closed off that particular entrance, although it may still be possible to visit the accelerator lab, which is quite interesting.

After we're done being complete slugs this morning, we'll go out for some much-needed supplies, and I think I will take a drive around my old stomping grounds. When we came through this region in the bus three years ago (sadly, that was a just a little bit before I started blogging here, so I have no link to give you), I did not recognize it. Bell Labs used to be in a narrow strip of technology firms surrounded by corn fields -- the region was so devoid of anything that we'd drive over to the accelerator lab to have lunch in their cafeteria, just for a change of pace. Now it is an endless sprawl of suburban tract homes and national-chain merchants from here to Chicago.

Knowing we did not have to get up early this morning, we took the train into Chicago last night (about an hour and a quarter each way) to have dinner at our club, on the 67th floor of the Sears Tower. Even though that's a third of the way down from the top, the view is still spectacular, just about at the same level as the observation deck on the Hancock tower, Chicago's second-tallest building. The last time we were here, we actually drove the bus into the Loop, parked in a pair of on-street spaces just half a block from the Sears Tower, and walked to dinner. It was a Saturday night, and the on-street parking was unmetered on Sunday, so we spent the night right there. The server was amused when we pointed Odyssey out some 700 feet below us.

I am hoping we will be done here before the Escapade and its associated DOVE training ends, although I am not counting on it. It is a sure bet that we will not be done before the Escapade begins. My apologies to the handful of readers who have written in about possibly seeing us there.

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