Farewell For Now

2015-08-18 23:14:03.000 – Ian Bailey, Summit Intern


“It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
That is how I felt at the beginning of this summer. After finding out that I got an internship position with the Mount Washington Observatory, I could barely contain my excitement! I knew that I would go into every day, waking up with the drive to explore, adventure, do my best, and conquer the experience.
And man, what an experience it has been!
In reality, three months isn’t a terribly long time. The standard person can fit several great experiences into that timeframe and enjoy it. All of it is truly dependent on where you go and what you can do in that span of time. I can easily say, in the past three months of working here, I have lived as if I have had three years of experiences. And as a result, I am forever changed for the better.
It truly is insane to think about how fast the time flew by, and how much we have done here. I was commenting with A.J., our Museum Attendant, about how we weren’t completely sure what happened to the rest of July after the 4th. We know a lot happened in that span of time, but it seemed like just yesterday that we were watching those little dandelion explosions (fireworks) all around us in the valleys.
It makes me glad I made it my goal to take at least one beautiful picture per day. And to date, I have taken over 1,000 photos. And how could I not? Yes, this is the place with the “World’s Worst Weather.” And that is a huge attraction and factor. But it is also one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I have witnessed and experienced many things this summer I may never get the chance to see again! Of all of these pictures, let me share my best with you. I hope they inspire you to get out here and see it for yourself. Because really, it is the most incredible of the treasures you find when you take this adventure by the horns.

Rime ice on the deck

Right off the bat, first week up here: May 21, 2015. And there was still ice and snow here! This Rime ice grew up off the deck and looked like dangerous road spikes! It’s the only Rime I got to see this summer. I am so lucky I got a chance to snap a photo of it!
Lenticulars in the summer

May 23, 2015. Just a couple of days later, we were visited by aliens!!! (Just kidding, these are lenticular clouds lol). I have waited all of my life to see these, being a flat land Ohio native. And on this day, these Lenticulars were all around the summit!
Halo around the sun

June 17th, 2015. This is a perfect 360 degree halo (cut off so I could get it to focus). Basically this a rainbow formed by light shining through and refracting from the ice crystals that form Cirrus clouds. I took this shot while giving a tour to a newly ordained preacher! Coincidence? Maybe? However, to get a full 360…I mean wow….
Fog Bow over the observation deck

June 21st, 2015. Who can you say they’ve ever been inside of a rainbow? Well, not really a rainbow. It’s called a Fogbow! I was inside of a cloud with the Sun shining through and got to see one! But because it can’t refract the light fully, you get grey, white and yellow for colors instead! How crazy is that!?
Sunset with a sun corona

June 22nd, 2015. In my opinion, one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen – A perfect and bright Corona around the Sun, a developing rainbow of colors on the horizon, and fog dusting the summit like a battlefield. It truly was a sight to behold!
Aurora Borealis selfie

June 23rd, 2015. This night will hold a special place in my heart for the rest of my life. It was my first Aurora Borealis ever. And for a grade 6 storm, I couldn’t have asked for a better one. Look at how massive it is, and how vibrant the colors are! That night was such a powerful bonding experience for our crew. And I will never, ever forget it.
Meeting Lt. General Richard Trefry

July 16th, 2015. As you look back on our history as a nation, be it for school or individual purposes, you may often find yourself wondering what it would be like to meet one of the people you are reading about who have had such a huge impact as to leave their mark on our past. Well, I got to have that experience. The gentleman in the red hat is Lt. General Richard Trefry. He was 1 of 2 meteorologists to make the call to postpone D-Day by a day due to bad weather. His call may have saved thousands of lives, and played a major factor in the success of the Normandy Invasion. And he came to not only visit us, but COMPLIMENT us on our efforts! It truly was an honor to meet and talk with him!
Sunrise from the deck

July 17th, 2015. This was the day before our Seek the Peak event, the biggest hike-a-thon of the year for Mt. Washington! We had a morning interview Matt Zidle from Channel 8 out of Portland, which was a lot of fun. Their crew is super friendly and awesome. And on top of that, Seek the Peak was a HUGE success and a ton of fun!
Glider and the pitot tube

August 2nd, 2015. It sometimes escapes you exactly how far up in the sky we are. But it all gets put back in perspective when gliders are buzzing your observatory as they fly by! How crazy is that!? Whizzing past at no more than 50-100 ft. above us! It was a ton of fun to watch and wave as they flew past.
Rain column from a passing thunderstorm

August 3rd, 2015. One of the most intense storms to cross the summit this summer. Look at the rain curtain, crepuscular rays, and sunset afterglow! While it was a beautiful storm, it was also destructive and deadly, claiming two lives in the valley. It’s a stark reminder of how powerful nature can be, and how we need to keep ourselves and others safe as we can with our forecasts. During this storm, the summit received several direct strikes!
Distant cloud to ground lightning

August 4th, 2015. The third in a long line of storms produced some impressive cloud to ground lightning! Granted, it looks tiny up here. But don’t let that fool you. Even at that distance, lightning can prove to be deadly. We watched from the safety of indoors as this powerful storm passed.
Variable cloudy sky

On that same day, the storm blew past quite quickly, and in its wake left some pretty crazy views! I call this the “Ying Yang Sky”, as you can almost split it down the middle and see the opposites between sides that bring balance to each other.
Portrait under the milky way

August 13th, 2015. What a CLEAR night! Just before the meteor shower was supposed to hit, our night observer Ryan Knapp took this awesome long-exposure shot. I haven’t seen the Milky Way this clear since I was a little kid! We stayed out and watched the sky for hours, trying to take it all in.
One last Aurora Borealis

And finally, August 16th, 2015. I couldn’t have asked for a better goodbye present from Mt. Washington than a SECOND Aurora Borealis night! While this storm wasn’t as big as the one in June, the colors were just as vibrant if not more, and spanned a wider range of the spectrum! My favorite color is orange, and that was the dominant horizon color for the entire event…like it knew that’s what I wanted lol. And on top of that, incredible blues, purples, greens and yellows! It was breathtaking!
Pretty impressive stuff right?! I really have had an incredible summer here. I have lived a thousand experiences and made thousands more memories, all of which I will hold near and dear. I thank Mt. Washington every day for sharing so much with me.
But above all else, I can never forget who it was to bring me here and give me my shot to live and work in such an amazing place! I want to thank all the people who work hard to make Mt. Washington what it is.
To the Valley Staff who work tirelessly to keep the Observatory going strong, I thank you all so very, very much. Since the moment I arrived in New Hampshire, all of you have been so welcoming, kind and helpful. I admit I was a bit intimidated coming and living here. But you all made me feel SO comfortable; like I have been working with you all for years. It was such a huge help in my transition, and I am forever grateful to you all. I’m glad we got to share such fun memories this summer, and I hope to see you all again in the future!
To the State Parks crew, you guys are some of the coolest, craziest and hardest working people I know. During the day, you guys go above and beyond to keep this place running, on top of making sure those who visit stay safe getting up and down. It’s quite the burden to bear. But then at night to be able to relax and have fun, and include our staff and myself in the process was really awesome. I will truly miss Senior Sundays with those delicious nachos and good music, and Theme Night Tuesday with all of our crazy costumes and stories. I truly respect and appreciate all that you guys do. And I’m so happy you included me into the group. Some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had.
To the Volunteers who came up with us this summer, it truly was a pleasure to meet you all! Bruce and Ayla, Marcia and Lindsey, Josie and Kiel, Dennis and Johanna, Mike and Sue, and Arline, thank you all so much! Volunteers are such a vital and wonderful part of the crew here at the summit. And each and every one of you brought awesomeness to the table. Incredible meals, great stories, and even better company. I hope you all enjoyed your time here as much as we enjoyed having you here. Really, thank you all so very much!
To the opposite Observatory Crew, I’m glad we found time to hang out together this summer! Granted, I wish we had more time. But that’s hard when we work opposite shifts from each other. Mike Carmon works so hard to keep the operations happening around here, and puts so much effort into the events that take place here. So much knowledge and experience, on top of being so nice and welcoming. And, in being part of the deciding factor, I will never be able to thank you enough for bringing me here. I hope the rest of the crew had as awesome of a time this summer as I have, and I hope to see you again soon!
And finally, my crew. They are a compilation of some of the nicest, most intelligent and fun people I know. Every day was a treasure thanks to them. We’ve shared so many good memories, told many hilarious stories, and shared in the incredible experiences I talked about above. Even though it was only three months, I feel like I have known these guys my entire life. Kaitlyn O’Brien, just like Mike Carmon, puts all of her heart into this Observatory. Constantly working and staying on top of summit operations, both good and not so good, is a huge effort. And no matter how long she works or tired she gets, she always has a smile on her face and an infectious laugh you can’t escape lol. I also owe you my eternal thanks in deciding to bring me here. Without you guys, I wouldn’t have been blessed with the summer of a lifetime like I have been. Each and every one of my coworkers strives to do the same as Kaitlyn. And without a doubt, I can call each one of them my family. My home away from home with my family that I will miss very, very much.
Summit crew under the Aurora Borealis

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope in reading it you’ve gotten a glimpse into what it’s like here. And maybe, hopefully, you’ve started formulating your own hopes, ideas, and plans to come visit. It truly is an incredible experience. And if you have the means, I hope you find your way here and have just as amazing of a time as I have had.

As I pack my bags for the final time this summer, setting my GPS for the 14 hour drive back to Cleveland, Ohio, I will look back on each and every minute, think about each and every person I met here, and do my best to force back the immense feeling of sadness I have about leaving here. Somewhere in my heart, I know that this is not the last time I will be here. I know someday, somehow, I will come back and hopefully continue to be a part of Mt. Washington and the incredible community that works here. I love it here, and love is a powerful force that can make great things happen.

“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” Oliver Wendell Holmes.


Ian Bailey, Summit Intern

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