I’m back in the US for a month-long vacation, and I’m absolutely stoked to be home. Mostly for the ability to buy stuff on Amazon (which is not a thing in Chile) but runners-up award goes to the fresh pesto we found in Safeway without having to drive 30 minutes to the nearest Trader Joe’s. And of course I’m very excited to see my partner who patiently dealt with 8 straight months of phone calls and video chats, he’s the real hero.

Very fun clouds on the way home

I decided to come back for a myriad of reasons, the primary one being my own mental health. I had been in Chile since January without seeing any friends or family due to border closures, and that feeling of isolation was never part of the plan. Yet another reason that a global pandemic is less than ideal.

Sadly, that also means that I am missing the end of fútbol season for the Club Deportes La Serena semi-professional team. The last game is on September 11th, and I won’t be back until a week or so after that, plus time to quarantine before I can go out and about. Huge bummer. On the bright side, the coach and players were super supportive and understood my decision. Getting to practices every day was already getting complicated with a more hectic work schedule and having to spend more time at the observatory, so I probably wouldn’t have been able to play in any of the upcoming games anyways. But I am sad to leave my teammates for a month, and to leave behind my new favorite nickname (Mar-GOWSH).

Last week, I was welcomed home to Will’s house in Lake Tahoe with an afternoon of climbing before we got smoked out by ash and dust from an alarmingly big nearby forest fire. Air quality has been pretty poor for the last several days so we stayed indoors working on house projects, mostly covering ourselves in drywall mud and wall texture and paint with the hopes that some actually makes it on the walls. Let’s just say that one of us grew up doing lots of arts and crafts and learning how to not get themselves covered in glue and glitter (or at least, how to contain the mess) and one of us … didn’t. Anyways, we used the Kitchen Aid to mix up some plaster and I’m hoping we won’t get weird chunks or plaster dust in our next batch of cookies. Maybe I should go wipe that down again.

I’ll leave you with some video from the fire that I took on August 25th when we were driving from Lake Tahoe to the Bay Area via Route 88 (i.e. by Kirkwood). Pretty gnarly. And that was before all of the evacuations. Both Will and I are on the east coast for the week so hopefully things will be better once we’re back. Also note to self, that windshield could use a wipedown.