Doors to Other Worlds

One evening this week I watched a film called Temple Grandin, a truly excellent made-for-TV biopic in which the central character is encouraged to think of new and often scary experiences as simply doors which open into new worlds. In the last 10 days or so since we last spoke, I have opened a few of these doors myself and had a jolly good time doing it.
Last friday was the lab's annual Salmon Bake, which to me conjures up images of uniform-clad 1950s sailors and huge bubbling pots of seafood and the song "This was a real nice clam-bake" from South Pacific, so naturally I was quite looking forward to it. It has to be said the reality was much more modern and dignified, but no less fun. The Salmon Bake is essentially a huge free picnic, and an opportunity to mingle with people from across all of the different labs at PNNL. The weather was hot and sunny, the Salmon was scrumptious, and I did indeed meet a few other students from different programmes. I tried my first corn cake, which was decidedly odd and I really couldn't tell you whether it was sweet or savoury nor whether I liked it or not. The closest I can come to describing it is like a savoury scone, I suppose a bit like a pastry cobble that you might find in an old-fashioned casserole. The picnic lasted a few hours, during which time we mostly ate and played furious games of Bingo against the bemused children of the grown-ups at PNNL.
On the Saturday after the salmon bake, I rose bright and early to head off to the more exciting though altogether more intimidating new world of cliff diving. We drove to an absolutely stunning lake about three hours from pretty much anywhere (passing Soap Lake on the way - it really IS soapy!) and met up with a bunch of students from the salmon bake. I have to admit that while I wouldn't consider myself to be afraid of heights, the walk from the car park along the edge of the lake was actually quite scary by virtue of its being very slippy, very narrow and very close to the edge, a good few feet above the lake. But we made it and then mad boys and girls started hurling themselves off a 20" cliff into the happily-named (for us anyway) "Deep Lake". I really really tried to get up the courage to jump off that cliff, honestly I did, but I just couldn't. So, along with a couple of others who felt the same way, I made my way to a slightly lower section of cliff and threw myself in. The water was absolutely freezing and quite a shock after the heat of the sun on the rocks, but the adrenaline rush from jumping off the edge, just about made up for it. After my first jump I concluded it was madness and spent the rest of the day swimming in the lake, which as I have said was beautiful. I even had a dragonfly (approximately the size of a sparrow, no exaggeration) land on my head, which I feel I probably handled with less grace and poise than if the same beautiful moment had happened in a film.
The weekend concluded with a delicious and companionable home-cooked meal of fried chicken and corn on the cob, courtesy of two of the boys. Easily one of the best meals I have had whilst in this country.
As for this weekend, well I think I'll keep you in suspense a little longer, but suffice it to say that opening the door to a world of late-night bowling, lazy saturdays spent shopping for nicknacks, and my first glimpses of wild beavers and coyotes hasn't turned out so badly...


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. A 20 inch cliff? You must have been fearing for your life! :P

  3. I still say you're mental. I'm glad they have Bingo in the States - more my style. x x x


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