Allow me an indulgence while I spin a tale of science, mystery, and intrigue. A tale of people searching for answers and finding themselves.
Our story begins in Mobile, Alabama. The White lab has spent weeks preparing to present their data: Patrick with his documentation of oxidation of oil-soaked sands via IR, Max with his analysis of biomarkers in Deepwater samples, and Shelby with an analysis of surfactants in various sediments. The GOMRI conferences lasted four days. We witnessed a plethora of scientific presentations ranging from the modeled movements of surface slicks to the oil-induced changes in bacteria populations on beaches. The talks were sweeping and the poster-sessions both enlightening and exciting. We shared our work with 800 peers and we able to connect with collaborators to discuss future directions of work. Our first few days went by soaking in information.
Then mother nature decided that the South was missing some winter excitement. Overnight Mobile, Alabama was transformed: it went from quaint, southern, slightly chilly city to a quaint, southern, slightly chilly city with an inch of snow. This snow quickly changed into a glazing of ice. Things escalated after that as the entire country south of the Mason Dixon line came to a stand-still. The GOMRI conference was no exception.
Flight after flight was canceled. Our Wednesday return was delayed until Saturday and the White Lab found itself unable to continue in our current state of forced hotel idleness. The open road was calling, and we were wont to ignore its siren song.
Thursday morning we woke up, rented a car and packed our bags. It was Philadelphia or bust, and we had already reached our breaking point. Learning that the roads east in Alabama were closed we headed west, Taking the long way home. We made our way through the wilds of Mississippi, the doldrums of Tennessee, the exhaustion-induced euphoria of Virginia, and the short (but trying) stretches of Maryland and Delaware. Dirty, tired, slightly upset, very hungry (and 24 hours later) we were finally home.
The trip (marathon drive included) was a total success. We shared some of the work happening in the White lab, we made connections, and talked with collaborators. I am proud to have been involved in GOMRI work for two years and will certainly miss the adventures we inevitably find ourselves falling in.
Oil see you next time!