friday, march 10
- left work at 11:30am (sometimes i love salary :D )
- uneventful but delayed flight - lost about two hours for no particular reason, thanks jetblue
- avis gave me a nissan versa note. it was oddly squirrely to drive & felt so light compared my Porsche, but it got me around
- i visited a reptile shop that i won't name because it was only about 60% happy at best... some old practices & bad husbandry that i wrote a yelp review about. but it was nice seeing some unusual animals... just wish they were better cared for. :/
- drove to los angeles to eat at K-ZO! i missed phil, but i got to try two new animals - firefly squid & mehikari. omg yum
- drove to los alamitos for dessert at snow station. mmmm i wish they'd open a shop in seattle. i really have to find a good xue hua bing recipe since i have an ice shaver.
- stayed at hotel current. it was a bit noisy, but the bed was exceptional
saturday, march 11
- started out at dunkin' donuts, 'cause i grew up with them & they're nowhere near seattle. they had my favorite - apple filled. ^_^
- drove to the long beach marriott to check-in for zero g!
- most notably, there was a make-a-wish kid, an amusing guy from new zealand, & a ~70yo man who i thought was pretty cool & then he mentioned his HUSBAND & then i thought he was very cool
- they gave us a fancy flight suit, team-coordinated socks, a tshirt, & a rather elaborate bag (i realized later it converts from a tote to a backpack). we each had nametags on upside down - it's apparently an astronaut ceremonial thing to flip the name tag once you've taken your first flight
- we learned about all the awesome shit zero g does - a lot of what's on board the ISS & is going to mars was tested on their aircraft, "g-force one"
- we took a shuttle over to long beach airport, took pics with g-force one, then boarded & flew about 20 minutes to our 10x100 mile reserved military airspace
- okay, so the experience:
g force one had a dozen rows of seats in the back, but the rest of the cabin was completely open & lightly padded. when we got to our airspace, we started by laying down on the floor. the "up" parts of the parabolas doubled earth gravity, so everyone felt heavy. the first "down" parabola was done to mimic martian gravity, about a third of earth's. (each of the reduced gravity times were about thirty seconds.)
it was SO fucking weird.
it wasn't rollercoastery at ALL. i've been skydiving & canyon swinging & did a lined base jump & been in a glider, & all the free-fall things give the same kind of rollercoaster stomach-turn which i totally enjoy. this feeling was just... smooth. no stomach flips. when the martian parabola began, we were able to push off the ground with a finger. we bounced around like we were on trampolines, but there wasn't a pull or push to it. i couldn't stop giggling.
the next two parabolas were lunar gravity, a sixth of earth's. i did the giant leaping toe-tip steps & fucking loved it. lunar gravity was actually my favorite - just a little control, mostly floaty & lovely.
then we had two of zero g, for a five-parabola set. when the parabola hits, we just left the floor, no pushing off needed. a tiny nudge sent me right up to the ceiling. the closest i can get to explaining the feeling is that it's like being underwater, except it's not wet & you can breathe & there's no resistance to swim against, nothing to displace. as air is my element, i could've done it all day. totally & completely loved it.
i did a bunch of flips & spins & twirls & my dreads were insane. we had that 5-set to start & acclimate, then took a break where we leveled off for five minutes or so, then did a set of four & two threes, with breaks between. when they say "feet down, coming out", they mean GET ON THE FLOOR NOW, no time for an extra maneuver; i managed to avoid hurting myself, as the worst i hit was like falling off a normal-height bed. i took two of the twelve zero g parabolas to just float & enjoy not being in pain.
for one of the parabolas, we tried to arrange for a superman flight, but my group was especially uncoordinated & it didn't happen. they tossed candies around for another. towards the end, they brought out water bottles & we chased after zero g water blobs. i managed to catch one, sort of - i got most of it in my mouth, where it was Very Weird to feel water float around my mouth & not just hit my tongue & be swallowed, as i had to push it down; but the rest went up my nose where it sat & floated around IN MY NOSE until gravity returned & then i could snort it all out. crazy.
the reason they do 15 parabolas only is because they've found that most people are totally fine for that long; nasa's "vomit comet" is 40-80 parabolas in quick succession. & while i loved the feeling every time, & generally don't get motion sick, even i was getting a bit queasy by the last one & didn't mind so much that we were done.
i found out later that one girl actually broke her ankle pretty early on. she had to be strapped back into seats (i thought she was just nauseated), & i saw her later in the hotel, just sitting on a table & sobbing from the pain. i've been in that kind of pain myself, but i never had to pay five grand to do it. i don't know if the break was her fault for not listening, someone else's fault, just bad luck, or whatever... but i hope they gave her at least a discount or something to go again.
- we had a decent lunch afterwards, & got certificates in lovely little black leatherette diploma folders
- with two hours before my flight home, i didn't have time to do much, so i hung out in the car in the beautiful weather & internetted
- returning my rental car, i unapologetically stood up for an aussie guy getting publicly berated by his wife in front of his kids, & felt good about it
- at LGB, i shared donuts with tiny adorable airport birds
- the flight home was fine, punctual, & i had a pretty immediate light rail transfer
- & later got a fat credit from expedia since the flight delay meant i didn't need a second rental car day... they ended up refunding the entire cost of the rental car for my trouble. :D
i had a wonderful time. it was the most expensive thing i've done for the shortest amount of time, but it was SO worth it. if you have the means, i highly advise it - it really isn't an experience that can be explained unless you've been there.
there were only a few good photos with me in them, so the rest are stills from the videos. if you'd like to see the [high res, non-grainy] videos, come over & ask nicely. :P
the crew & our group leader were very tolerant of me. X)
one other thing... buzzfeed was on my flight. so...
oh hey i'm on their cover shot:
you can spot dreads in a couple places, but we were in different groups & the BF guys were kind enough to keep my face out of it. the video is here if you'd like to watch their group.
next up: iceland with strfvr! & uh... i maybe bought a trip to morocco with robinhoodvandal in september. okay yes i did that. 2017 will be a very good travel year. :D