I arrived at Pasco, the Tri-Cities airport, just after midnight and was warmly greeted by staff scientist Dan Schreiber and his wife. From there we drove to Richland, where I was going to spend the next three weeks.One of the first instruments I got use at PNNL was another FEI Quanta and an FEI Helios! ...and of course the infamous LEAP 4000HR.
I was amazed how uncomplicated it was to get access to these machines with little or no supervision. While our house FIB scientist in Oxford, who has known me for at least 5 years, doesn't let me use the new Helios, because he hasn't gotten round to training me personally, that was not an issue at PNNL. Dan had organised extended working hour access for me, which means, that I was allowed to use equipment from 6 am until midnight and at the weekends.
And then there was the blue laser on the LEAP 4000HR. In the community it is raved about by those who have one, and mocked by those who don't. Do I want one? Yes! Do I desperately need it? Well, for most of my samples probably not. With the reflectron we get pretty decent mass resolution with our green laser at moderate laser powers, but with the blue laser you don't even have to try. It just comes out pretty.
All in all I spend three weeks in characterisation paradise and I didn't even get to use any of the TEM/STEMs!

My American colleagues also took very good care of me outside the lab. When I wasn't snatching another free weekend shift on the LEAP, I was provided with and amazing 24/7 animation service!
I floated the Yakima river, swam a mile in the Columbia river, visited Portland, OR, ate too many donuts, ran, biked, had my first Zumba class, ran the Black Widow Mud & Sun Run and went wine tasting in Walla Walla.
I was taken out for lots of tasty lunches, BBQs at the pool side and I learned to play euchre - a Michigan card game. I can only thank my hosts 100x for making my stay such a great experience and I hope that I will be able to visit


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    Why a travel blog on a professional website? The idea for this section came to me on a recent collaboration visit. Aren't the experiences we make and the friendships we form some of our most important assets?


    July 2013