Well, I left about 1 month ago and boy has it been a fast month!! I first went to my mom's house and recovered a little bit. I had been in Italy for a meeting and workshop, then I swung through Sweden for a couple days, then flew to Washington State in the northwestern corner of the USA, and by the time I got to my mom's I was pretty worn out. (The photo is of my mom's place, with the Olympic Mountains in the background; the Subaru behind the white car is my new set of wheels.)
After a couple days I bought a car and drove to Oregon to visit some long lost friends. The day after I got there I went and watched one buddy play drums in a surf rock band, and then we walked down the street and I watched another buddy play guitar in a bluegrass band. My job through all of this was to drink strong ales, which I did admirably. Also while in Oregon I went to a shooting range and generally blew stuff up. It was at this moment that I truly felt I'd returned to the US. =-)
After Oregon I went to visit my dad and some other family for a week or so (this involved fishing, lots of motorcycle riding, and deck repair). Then I visited my sister and my nieces, and some other old friends (more beer). Then I returned to my mom's, regrouped, and headed out across the country.
First I went to San Francisco, which was about a 15 hour drive. This is not a productive direction to go when one wants to get to the eastern side of the US, but I had to pick up my desert tortoise, Squiggles. Boy has he grown over the last couple years!!! I quickly realized that she wasn't a she, but a he. I still call him she a lot, though. I also visited several old friends and played on the beach. Yet more beer was drunk. After a couple days in SF, I hit the highway, with Squiggles bravely riding shotgun. Two long days of driving got us to Fort Collins, Colorado. Guess what? Yup: more friends, and more beer. Some hiking and donkey petting. It was wonderful. Then we packed up and drove from Colorado to Hanover, New Hampshire, which took 3 long days of driving (Squiggles, to her, um.. I mean, his... credit didn't complain about the cheap, dirty motels I chose along the way). Dartmouth College is in Hanover, and New Hampshire is in the northeastern side of the state. Total distance from Washington to New Hampshire: 6709 km. Does Lund feel just a bit warmer? It should (sorry). My new postdoc is here at Dartmouth College in the Ryan Calsbeek lab. Ryan works on the evolutionary ecology of lizards, and does creative, first-rate work. I feel very lucky and excited to be here. My job, though, is to fire up some newt science.
Now that I am sort of settled in at Dartmouth, tomorrow I am to do my first day of field work catching newts with someone from the McPeek lab. During my travels I didn't answer almost any emails, and I have hundreds to deal with -- sorry!!!! Be patient and I'll get to you. But right now, as I settle in, every minute is booked and I'm doing my best to catch up.
I'd like to give a warm THANK YOU to everyone at Lund University, and especially the Svennson lab, for an outstanding 2.3 years!!!!! A finer group of people could hardly be found, and I now look forward to visiting you all as my "old friends", and drinking beer, and posting it on a blog. I am a different person as a result of my time with all of you. =-)