In June and July of 1992, I participated in the IMAX balloon campaign in Lynn Lake, Manitoba, Canada. During my stay there, I took lots of -- mostly bad -- pictures, some of which are included in these pages. Also, following Bob Streitmatter's lead, I kept a journal of our activities. I'll include slightly edited portions of the journal here. Special thanks to Bernie Wong for his help in scanning in my pictures with Adobe Photoshop. If there are any weird color balances, it's a result of the photo developer work (in the original prints) and not a result of the scanning.
I'll post portions of the journal, and photos, gradually in the coming weeks.
Friday, 19 June 1992
Left Pasadena for trip to Lynn Lake. Flight to Minneapolis was okay. Flight from Minneapolis to Winnipeg was okay, with arrival at about 2:30 PM local time. Trip through Canadian Customs was easy, with a quick detour to Immigration to tell the official that I was working on a NASA experiment at Lynn Lake. Everyone was pleasant. My luggage, unfortunately, was heavy and unwieldy.
I took a taxi to the Gray Goose bus station in downtown Winnipeg. I bought a bus ticket for Lynn Lake. Since the bus was to leave at 10 PM, I left my luggage in some lockers in the bus station and left to walk about Winnipeg. Winnipeg is a nice, fairly clean city, and I walked about without fear of mugging, being run over by hostile car drivers, and so on. There were banners on the lamp posts proclaiming the niceness of Winnipeg and the fun of some sort of lottery. I believe that the banners were there to distract the pedestrian from the streets, just in case some unsightly litter was being blown about on the wind. The streets were just cold enough that I couldn't walk about without a jacket, but it was also too warm for the jacket that I brought with me.
...I boarded the bus at about 10 PM. It was getting dark outside; sunset is very late this far north. The bus was full of mostly Native American women and children, with a few men about the bus. A little girl and her brother sat in front of me. She enjoyed playing peek-a-boo with me and also enjoyed grabbing my fingers. When she tired of that game, she used an inflatable toy hammer to hit her brother on the head. He just sat there and largely ignored her. Another boy sat on the seat next to me. As we slept, he occasionally kicked me, waking us both up.
The overnight trip was hellish, with stops every 1.5 to 2 hours at small towns along the way. I was cramped, and I got very little sleep.
Saturday, 20 June 1992
We arrived in Thompson at about 7:00 AM, and we and our luggage were unloaded from the bus. The bus to Lynn Lake was scheduled for 8:15 AM, so I waited along with the other passengers at the bus station. The air was clean, the sky was clear, and the mosquitoes were biting. I finally got through to Hsuan, but Manitoba Telephone Service could not accept my calling card this far north. I had to call AT&T collect.
I boarded the crowded bus to Lynn Lake and slept on the way to Leaf Rapids. The road from Thompson to Leaf Rapids is unpaved. Most of the people got off at Leaf Rapids, leaving just the driver, myself, two women, and their children to travel on to Lynn Lake. At about 1:30 PM, I arrived in Lynn Lake, after about 15 hours of travelling by bus.
I got my luggage and walked over to the Shell Station, where I was to pick up the Jeep Cherokee which would be my rented vehicle for my stay here. Although their paperwork properly showed my reservation, the jeep was not available. Eric Christian, having arrived just a few minutes earlier than I, had obtained their only available vehicle. I was promised a vehicle by the end of the next day. The lady running the rental office called up Mr. Sobie, who is to be my landlord for my stay here. He came by in his van and brought me to the apartments, where he showed me around. I gave him the rest of the rent money for our stay, and he gave me a set of four keys.
Mr. Sobie... said "eh?" at the ends of all his sentences. He hopes that the local economy will improve and that the mine will reopen.
He then drove me to the hangar where IMAX is based, and I met up with the NMSU people. I found out that they had arrived earlier than expected, and the van carrying all of our equipment had already been unloaded. We went to lunch, and then I spent the rest of the day at home in the apartment. The rest went to a softball game.
I wrote a letter to Hsuan. The water here is brown.
Sunday, 21 June 1992
We started rearranging the hangar and unpacking the boxes today. The Japanese team (BESS) has been here for several days now. We are in the Calm Air Hangar at the Lynn Lake Municipal Airport (Lynn Lake, Manitoba, Canada R0B 0W0)...
Bob Streitmatter told me yesterday that we want to get everything done as soon as possible. That means that Caltech (Glen, Steve and Dick) should ship the aerogels on Monday. We called Steve early this morning and notified him of our plans.
I opened Crates 2 and 3 and started assembly of the aerogel Cherenkov counter C2.
This afternoon, we broke early to attend the last softball game in the tournament. Our team was the BESS-IMAX team, and our coach was Akira Yamamoto, of the Japanese team. Patrick wanted me to play, so he played the first three innings, and Akira substituted me into Patrick's place in the last two innings. The rules were kind of strange... No balls or walked bases... everyone bats once during each inning. Each team had to have at least three women.
I was a mediocre to poor outfielder, a pretty good batter. At each turn at bat, I got a base hit -- two in all. Some of the Japanese guys made some of the more spectacular plays. We lost, 14 to 15, but we had fun. We came in last place out of four in the tournament. The weather was cloudy, with occasional sprinkles. Steve Holder fooled around on the field.
After the game, we attended an awards ceremony in the hockey rink. The winners of the tournament got t-shirts, and the second placers got caps... All the players got two free beers. I didn't drink any.
I met a boy (11 years old) named David... I also met his friend Christian (Chris), who is the same age but who doesn't like school. They are both, apparently, fans of our team, especially of Steve Holder.
My Jeep hadn't arrived by evening.
Monday, 22 June 1992
I finished basic assembly of C2 today, which included only installing PMTs, bases, and some light sealing. Barbara Kimbell, Jon Jon, and Barbara's mother arrived today.
After dinner, Patrick, Steve Holder, and I returned to the hangar to complete work on C2. The BESS team impressed us with their diligence by also showing up in the evening. After working a bit, they had a very organized looking meeting, while we left.
There was drizzle all day, and the air was very cold. I finally got my Jeep.
Tuesday, 23 June 1992
I completed mounting half of the shields on C2 today. Then I called up Steve Schindler and verified shipment of the aerogels and storage container yesterday. I also spoke with Olaf and Wolfgang... about how the drift chambers work. Finally, we installed C2 on the payload, and I finished installation of the shields on C2.
The day was still cold and drizzly. John Mitchell arrived today. At least the mosquitoes were less active.
Wednesday, 24 June 1992
Bob Streitmatter and I arrived early in the morning to complete a light leak test on C2. Since the BESS people work late in the night, they tend to arrive later in the morning, so we arrived earlier to have the hangar to ourselves so we could turn off the lights. There were no light leaks.
We decided to let the payload await the arrival of C2 aerogels before we install any other counter. I characterized the 1 pe signals on all of the C2 PMT's, then I began C3 assembly.
Later in the afternoon, we found out that the aerogels were going slowly through Customs. That was no problem. Then we unfortunately found out that, while the aerogels could be flown to Thompson, Canada Air had exercised its option to bump freight in favor of passengers, and the aerogels would not be able to fly from Thompson to Lynn Lake until the middle of next week. After considering the possibilities (drive to Thompson, charter a plane, or have the aerogels put on a train), we decided that I should drive to Thompson to pick them up. After some negotiation, we decided that I would drive with Patrick McGuire in the Ford Aerostar which NMSU had rented. There was some trepidation about the insurance, but Bob Golden gave the go-ahead.
So I drove the four hours to Thompson. The road to Leaf Rapids was muddy, and we got some pretty good jolts when I drove over mounds of mud that I shouldn't have. Patrick ... told me about how one of his ancestors fought with Custer at Little Big Horn. We arrived a little before 10 PM in Thompson and checked into a hotel...The water was crystal clear. After checking in, we walked to the nearby Pizza Hut. We had a medium Canadian Special (pepperoni, ham, and something else which I forgot) for ourselves. We also ordered two Large Doubles (4 large pizzas in total) for bringing back to Lynn Lake (the guys had sent us along with some cash). ...
Thursday, 25 June 1992
We picked up the aerogels and the storage container at the Thompson airport at around 9 AM. We met Glen Allbritton at the airport, on his way to Lynn Lake, so he helped us obtain the crates and load them aboard the van. Before leaving Thompson, we filled up the gas tank and got some donuts. We had lunch at Leaf Rapids, with Patrick being mostly quiet during the entire trip. I tried to drive very carefully and slowly, but some of the rough spots were poorly marked. The road was in bad condition for the entire trip, and most of the jolts were unavoidable.
When we arrived at about 2 PM or so, I wanted very much to inspect the aerogels. Eric left for Thompson to pick up the C3 aerogels. We unpacked and partially prepared the storage container. Then I went back to the apartment to wake up Glen and bring him to the hangar to help me with the aerogels. He finished the storage container setup, then we unpacked the aerogels and inspected them. They were okay and had survived the trip. I asked John to make sure Eric would drive carefully.
I also found out that my Jeep had been covered with mud. The guys here tried to convince me that Glen, upon arrival, had gone crazy four-wheeling around a swamp, but I found out that Eric had backed up in his jeep next to mine and had spun his wheels, thus coating my car. I plan some revenge.
The day was partly sunny and not too cold.
Friday, 26 June 1992
Glen and I installed the C2 aerogels in the morning, then we arranged with the BESS guys to have lights out in the hangar. We light leak tested C2 and found everything okay.
Don Righter, looking at the IMAX payload with C2 and aerogels installed.
Wolfgang Menn, preparing to feed his beloved drift chambers (DCs).
Roy Park, Bob (Clem) Hull, Wolfgang Menn, and Steve Stochaj, preparing to put the DCs and MWPCs into place above C2.
The IMAX work area in the hanger. Note the Macs. That's Bob Streitmatter on the right.
I used my camera's timer to take this picture of myself, just to show that I was actually there. That's me on the left, in the closest thing I have to a Lamar Alexander shirt. Nobody knew who he was then, except me. I grew up in Tennessee.
The BESS guys being extremely diligent with their extremely fancy portable workstations. They were polite enough never to scoff at our PCs and Macs.
Olaf Reimer doing... something... to the DCs.
Glen Allbritton, Steve Holder, and Christian Taillefer (one of the local kids -- he and Steve were inseparable). They're working on C3.
We then finished preliminary assembly of C3, including installation of PMTs. Eric arrived with the C3 aerogels, which we inspected and found to be okay. We stored them for later installation.
At one point during the installation of the drift chambers, Clem started playing the soundtrack to the Wizard of Oz on the stereo. We got into a silly mood with the Munchkins. Steve Holder, Clem, and I were dancing around. Steve Stochaj took a picture. Clem and Steve looked funny with their dancing, but somehow, I ended up looking like I was standing straight and still.
The day was bright and sunny, with a little chill.
Saturday, 27 June 1992
We began gas flow into C2 today... We also installed all shields and endplates on C3, and we also installed C3 on the center ring. Finally, we installed aerogels on C3.
Sunday, 28 June 1992
We leak tested C3 this morning. There were some leaks, which were very, very hard to find. Finally, though, we completed the leak test. I characterized all tubes and found everything okay, although C3.4 was noisy. S2 and the bottom TOF were installed today also.
The day was cloudy and cold.