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A compilation of stories, telescopes, internship resources, and other things radio astronomy.

Graduate School: Applying, Living, Thesising

The Professional Student is a blog about everything grad school from the application process to my experiences living as a grad student, being a parent in grad school, and researching the role of chemistry in the evolution of our universe.

Road Trip to Grad School: Day 1

Olivia Wilkins

Total distance on Day 1: 316.3 miles
Total distance so far: 316.3 miles

Greetings from Snowshoe, West Virginia! Alex, Günther, and I are about to go to bed in preparation of a long day of driving tomorrow. This is the first of (hopefully only) five nights on our road trip, and it is the only strictly planned day; we're leaving the rest of our trip flexible in case we are feeling especially energetic or in need of an early night.

Our day started with breakfast with my parents in New Oxford, after which we headed back to their place to do some last-minute packing. Around 10:00, we were finally ready to hit the road!

After saying our good-byes to my dad, mom, and sister (my brother was conveniently at college, avoiding the waterworks), we made a pit stop in New Oxford square to say goodbye to Alex's parents.

The first stop on our trip was Starbucks in Chambersburg at the Route 30/I-81 junction. This particular Starbucks is perhaps the most inconvenient stop to make. The building and lot look like they must have belonged to a used car business, and getting back on to 30 before proceeding to 81 can be a real pain. Nevertheless, this stop is tradition.

To our dismay, Starbucks was no longer Starbucks; the used car lot site was now the future home of a Daily Grind. We still had to make the irritating turn-around to get back to 81. We proceeded to Sheetz for coffee instead. Of course, as soon as we pulled out of Sheetz, Güni woke from his nap. Thankfully, he was happily chatting until we got to the West Virginia welcome center along 81 south of Hagerstown, Maryland, where we stopped for him to eat.

We continued down 81 to Staunton, Virginia, where we stopped for "lunch" (at 3:00 p.m.) at The Depot Grille. They have awesome iced tea—which was most refreshing—and some of the best burgers. I recommend the bacon and cheddar bison burger; it is mouth-watering good!

Bonus: tables at The Depot have paper table coverings and handfuls of crayons for coloring entertainment pre-food.

After Staunton, we headed west on Route 250 through the mountains and into West Virginia. Turning south at Bartow, we headed to Green Bank. As the Green Bank Telescope can into view, I could not help but grin. Naturally, we stopped at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, where my journey in astrochemistry began 17 years ago when I saw my first radio telescope.

After dropping our bag off at the Inn at Snowshoe, we headed up to Foxfire Grille for some pulled pork sandwiches (while Güni chomped on his blanket).

Now, we sleep, in the heart of the National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ), where cell phone service and WiFi are hard to come by (at least legally). Tomorrow, we leave the NRQZ and head west!