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Post 2 - Los Alamos Internship

Hi Vo
Tuesday, Jun 7th 2016

Post 2

In order to start working, the first requirement is to complete weeks of training. There is safety training for literally everything here. You probably cannot use a ladder until you complete the ladder training. Day 1 is the new hire orientation. After the five hours long orientation, we went to lunch to get ready for the drug test. When I arrived to the drug testing location, there were only two big vans (mobile testing units). “Well, this is sketchy,” I thought to myself. I expected to see a building, where medical doctors would welcome us. Regardless, I got into the van and there were other four students waiting. We all needed to pee but it’s not our turn yet so we reluctantly started the awkward round of handshakes. Every time a new student walked into the van, another round of awkward handshakes was repeated. Well, we couldn’t really stare silently at each other while the sound of someone peeing echoed from the back of the van. Conversations had to start to distract us from all this awkwardness, and that’s how we all became friends.

My crew (h.v)

Taking advantage of the slow first few weeks, we decided to visit the Valles Caldera, a 13.7-mile wide volcanic caldera. It’s a habitat for elks, deer, bears, and other animals. I was surprised that the place was still green after the wildfire Las Conchas in 2011, burning down 150,000 acres. The lab had to be closed for a week due to the fire. Driving to the caldera, one could see traces of the burnt forest.

Burnt forest in the caldera

Valles Caldera

The caldera was just perfect for those who love the outdoors. You could do horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, camping, swimming, and other awesome outdoor activities. After visiting the caldera, we went on a hike to the hot spring nearby (room temperature hot). Sitting in the lukewarm water in the middle of a forest, all my plan for the future drifted away, leaving only the basic necessities of life, oxygen and laughter (well and clean energy powered by nuclear reactors of course).

My favorite activity here was elk and deer spotting. I drove up the caldera at different times of the day, hoping to spot some friendly deer. Look what I found on a cloudy evening after work.

Next post:  long road trips, and working around the clock

Deer spotted near the caldera