16:15 Mon Sep 21, 2020
So Far, So Good
Hello again from the highest office in the East,
For those of you who have read my first couple blog posts I’m glad to have you back reading. For those of you who have never read my previous observers' comments, welcome. I am Sam Robinson, a Northern Massachusetts native who is a mechanical engineer with a passion for the weather. I am now into my 3rd month working here as an observer and it is going very well. The last observer's comment I wrote I was on the opposite week's shift, and have since switched to the other week's shift with Ryan and Nicole due to personnel requirements for each shift. I miss my original shift, but definitely love being on this week just as much. I truly feel blessed to be employed by an organization with such an awesome crew as a whole.
With virus protocols in place, my time so far at the observatory has been relatively quiet but “normal” to me, as I never knew what it was like up here beforehand. With no visitors, volunteers, or trips it is just me and my two fellow observers working and living up here. Since there are no volunteers we cook all of our own meals, and switch off who gets dinner duty. I think my cooking skills are improving, and I’m happy to say I have not burnt any dinners or made anyone sick yet (knock on wood)! With that being said, my dinners may not be “gourmet” by any means. My coworkers on the other hand are spectacular chefs, and come up with some awesome meals. My two favorites so far have been Ryan’s rendition of a bacon carbonara, while Nicole made a delicious German chicken dish with dumplings. I pretty much never go hungry.
Some Foliage Starting to Show in The Great Gulf Wilderness
Sam Robinson, Weather Observer/Engineer
One of the most important parts of being a weather observer is being certified by the National Weather Service as one, by passing the METAR exam (METeorological Aerodrome Reports). Simply put, METAR is a code used to define weather conditions during an observation so that the aviation community can know weather conditions in certain areas and keep them safe while flying. Our data is also sent to the NWS to help in area forecasts. At the observatory we get 6 months and 2 attempts at passing the exam in order to stay employed as a weather observer. I, and the other new observers hired this year were faced with the difficult task of preparing for and taking the exam in a shorter time period. The first round of new observers (David, Nate, and Nicole) took their tests in August and all three passed first try!!! Seeing this feat accomplished put a bit more pressure on me since I personally also wanted to pass first time. I studied hard, and was provided with some excellent prep materials from Nicole, one of our Education Specialists (fittingly). I took my test in early September and also was able to pass my first attempt!!! Not coming from a meteorological background or having much previous weather education provided me with a large amount of self gratitude, and also reflects highly on the rest of the staff that helped me prepare. I cannot thank them enough!
I grew up loving the outdoors, and have always been an avid hiker even since before I could walk, in my dad's backpack! I have been able to hike over to the summit of Mount Clay (our nearest neighbor to the north) on a couple occasions and it is such an awesome opportunity to get out and enjoy some fresh mountain air. Being able to take in the amazing views from a different point is also a wonderful aspect. It is a little odd hiking downhill, rather than uphill, to start the hike but nonetheless is still great hiking. The views over the past few days have been basically maxed out, with high pressure overhead and relatively dry air aloft. 130 mile views have been common, and with the foliage starting to pop below it has been truly breathtaking. I find myself looking out the window so much (probably more than I should be, but I guess I am an observer). Also, since starting in July I now have well over 200 pictures on my phone, so that I can cherish the most special views indefinitely.
Southwest View from the Summit of Clay
The biggest adjustment so far has been being away from home for a week at a time, every other week, and I am still not sure I have fully adjusted yet. It has provided me with a newfound love for my hometown and appreciation for the differences in the vastly different and unique areas of New England. I commuted 2 hours round-trip to college each day for 4 years since I could not see myself enjoying life in the city all that much and I needed the woods, hills, and tranquility. Life on a mountaintop has definitely been different and I still get my fresh air and tranquility, but I miss having my engines around to tinker with, my family to share moments with, or my pets to play with (Marty is great, but getting old!). The best part of it all though, is that every other week I am home to relax and experience other aspects of life.
Sunset Over Camel's Hump, VT (77 mi.) and Whiteface, NY (129 mi.)
With all of that being said, I feel incredibly lucky and happy to call this place my part time home. My fellow crew members basically feel like a family while on the mountain, and the experiences and memories I have been accumulating with them have been second to none. I would not want it any other way.