Travelblog

I’m up bright and early this morning – well, early, at least – after my long trip yesterday. I was slightly nervous about my itinerary, especially the (for me) uncharted territory at the end. As it happens, the train from Cardiff to Heathrow, direct flight from Heathrow to Phoenix and shuttle bus from Phoenix to Flagstaff, Arizona, all went to plan. I arrived just after nine yesterday evening, tired but intact.

One thing worth mentioning is that this is the first time I’ve set foot on American soil for many years. My lamentable experience with the US Embassy in London in 2005 succeeding in putting me off visiting the States almost entirely. However, I’m told that travelling is meant to be good for me, so I decided to accept the invitation to attend and speak at the conference I posted about a while ago. One of the relics of the 2005 episode is an unused J-1 visa in my passport, and when we arrived in Phoenix I was consequently a little apprehensive about whether questions might be asked about it. That added to the usual anxiety about length of queues at Immigration. As it turned out, the staff were courteous and efficient and the uniformed officer I spoke to at the desk and who took my fingerprints etc was an enthusiastic amateur astronomer who seemed more interested in my work than in the formalities at hand. Anyway, my virgin visa attracted no comment at all.

Despite landing a bit late, I actually got through the airport in good time to catch the shuttle to Flagstaff. Phoenix, by the way, was a scorching 37 Celsius, even at 5.30 in the pip emma. I dread to think how hot it must have been at mid-day. Flagstaff is, I’m told, a bit cooler being up in the mountains although it was dark when I arrived and I didn’t really see much of the place before getting to the hotel, having a quick blog, and then crashing out.

Incidentally, the route from Phoenix to Flagstaff is north on the I-17 until it hits Route 66, subject of the famous song in which Flagstaff gets a mention:

My hotel is actually situated on Route 66, but so far there’s no sign of anything that could truthfully be described as “kicks”.

Anyway, I have to speak later today so I should probably start writing my talk.  As they don’t say around these parts, Toodle-pip!

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7 Responses to “Travelblog”

  1. I hadn’t read about your visa / passport experience before. Shameful. I’d like to apologize on behalf of my country, mostly because I know that Mitt Romney would be furious at me if he knew I was doing so.

    (Exegesis of US politics joke: Romney constantly goes around complaining that President Obama loves to “apologize for America.” The assumption that any such apology would be offensive, because America is incapable of doing anything requiring apology, is considered too self-evident to require stating. In addition, the complaint appears to be a complete fabrication: there appear to be no actual examples of such apologies.)

  2. Enjoy your journey and may all the “kicks” be enjoyable, even in the Phoenix heat. May your next trip here be even less stressful. If you get a chance, check out Sedona. It’s worth the trip.

  3. “My lamentable experience with the US Embassy in London in 2005 succeeding in putting me off visiting the States almost entirely.”

    In a comment to the post linked to in the quote above in the main text, I describe how difficult it is to get a tourist visa for just a few days for England for someone living in another EU country. :-(

  4. I hope you’re going to make it up Mars Hill on this trip – looking through the telescope that Slipher used is fun, even if you can’t check on Lovell’s Martian canals.

  5. I like how no-one has commented on your statement “Anyway, I have to speak later today so I should probably start writing my talk”, but it was ever thus.

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