I’m in Paris now after a very productive week in Lyon. With my colleague, we learned a lot about Valles Marineris, Mars, and got together the material we need to write a NASA proposal to continue this work.

Paris is just like I remember it but with more tourists. I’ve never been here in July before. So far I’ve really enjoyed the cheese and revisiting some of my old haunts, like the Seine, Notre Dame, and Sacre Coeur. This afternoon I’m headed out to watch the final stage of the Tour de France. It’s raining, but that won’t stop an intrepid traveler like me 😛  I’ll try to get some good pictures to put up.

Vive le France!

Yep, I made it back. This time I’m in Lyon and then Paris to do work and write proposals. Things are already going well, and I feel like the proposed research has a good chance of being funded. We certainly have a lot to work on, and it’s easy to see how much progress we can make quickly.

I’m really enjoying Lyon. Last time I was here it was winter, so this time it’s great to see a sunny and colorful city so full of life. The parks are adored by the locals, and the late sunsets wash the architecture with an orange glow.

Even though I’ve only been here once, it feels very familiar, natural even. I think a big part of that comes from experience in France and also speaking the language. My French is coming back very quickly, and not once yet has anyone asked me (or offered) to switch to English. This is a big success!  And it gets better every day.

I promise to post pictures, but I have to get some Israel pictures up first. This is a travel blog, so what use is it if trips are overlooked???

Snowy Colorado

I’m in Jerusalem right now. It’s a beautiful city and rich in history / culture. I want to post about that, but I promised myself that I’d get up some photos of Boulder in winter before any other blog posts, so here goes.

As you may imagine, Colorado gets a lot of snow. I’m not a big fan of cold or ice, but I do love being outside. This means I need snow shoes! Around Christmas I traded two homemade pies (pecan and apple) for some snow shoes. I think both parties were happy with the result.

As it turns out, sunny but cold days are really pleasant, especially if you’re moving around. It’s easy to get hot and sweat if you overdress. The sun is your best friend, and this is the primary difference between the sunny cold winters of Colorado and the cloudy cold winters of the north east. Plus we have better beer.

Without further ado, some pictures of snowshoeing in Boulder in winter. As you can see, it’s really pretty.

And a view from the pond next to my apartment.

I did it!

I did it! I completed a semester as professor, or Dr. Smith. Tuesday was my last lecture, and I gave the final exam tonight. These are causes
I finished my first course as a professor. This is cause for celebration! Completion is a great source of happiness. :)

It was a pretty big deal to take on the class and my first time to sit on this side of the podium with no one behind me. If you had asked me 4 months ago how much more work went into being a professor than a teaching assistant, I would have severely underestimated the gap. Now I know, or at least have one data point.

Overall I’d say that things went really well. My students were very good for the most part, with only a couple of slackers. I’m grateful to the rest for dedicating themselves, and I got to watch them learn about Astronomy. Some of my students had some very nice words to day, which I will cherish.

Hooray! I’m done :)

I just bought tickets to Israel!

I’ve got a lot of travel coming up. Most of it is for work, but I’m able to extend each trip with added vacation days. My next trip is to Baltimore for two meetings related to SHARAD and MRO.

The next trip is to Switzerland. I’ll be there to provide radar observations and interpretations over several regions of Mars. Having been to Switzerland several times, and wanting to branch out, I thought it would be nice to visit somewhere new, so I bought tickets to Israel. It’s going to be a short trip, just 3 days and 4 nights, but I get to see somewhere new and explore more of the world. This is going to be great.

If that weren’t enough, as soon as I get back I head off to Idaho for another meeting. Yep! Lots of meetings. I’ll be taking the motorcycle that time, so there will be an added road trip after the meeting. Looking forward to that too.

Lunar Eclipse

There was a lunar eclipse on Saturday morning. I gave my students an opportunity to earn extra credit if they woke up and took a picture for me. I figured it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t do the same. Here are a couple of the eclipse just before totality. It set behind the Flatirons about 5 minutes before being fully engulfed in Earth’s shadow.

Click to enlarge

Things are really good

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way. For the last year I’ve had lots of things set me back. Finally, in the last month, I’ve put my life together the way I like. My new apartment is great, I love my jobs, and I’m financially ahead of the game.

For too long was I struggling with a comfortable place to live and managing all of the stuff coming at me. It seems like I can finally breath, finally enjoy myself. Like my mom taught me, hard work pays off. Put your head down and get through it, the other side is rewarding. I’m finally to the point where I can see the rewards.


I got my faculty ID this week. Now I’m a faculty member (adjunct) at Regis University teaching Astronomy. It’s a great feeling. :)  I do love astronomy, so it’s awesome to share this with students who are eager to learn.

Independence Pass and Aspen

This weekend I took the motorcycle out to Aspen to look at the fall colors. I was recommended Independence Pass as one of the premier places in Colorado and was not disappointed.

The ride out there was fairly quick, and after Fresno, there was a lot of new territory to cover. This took me through Lakes County and then over the pass, which is still open but not for long.

The trees along the way were nice, but nothing compared to turning west from Leadville near Mt. Elbert and riding past Twin Lakes. It only got better from there. Unfortunately, many of the campgrounds at that elevation are already closed for the year, but it was easy enough to find a good spot away from the road.  It was a great spot, actually, and I’ll consider gong back to camp another time.

Friday evening was wet, and I arrived late, but Saturday morning was spectacular. It was warm, the sky was clear, and the trees were out in force. I took too many pictures to post, but here are a few of my favorites.

Click on the photos to see bigger pictures.

It was a spectacular weekend.  I’m already planning to go back in a year.

Again, the rest of the photos are here.