Intern turned volunteer

2009-08-13 04:06:18.000 – Jeff Wehrwein,  Summit Volunteer

A westward view.

I expected that returning to the place I called home for 7 months would be a little weird. But that didn’t stop me from volunteering on the summit this week with my mom. As an intern, I always explained to visitors that ‘our volunteers get a ‘free’ vacation and we (the staff) get delicious home-cooked meals’, but I never fully appreciated the effort that goes into that ‘free’ vacation. I always suspected it would be an interesting exercise to have each staff member be a volunteer for a week. Now that I have worked on both floors of the Observatory, I better understand and appreciate all that goes on in the kitchen while the staff is hard at work upstairs.

I discovered immediately upon my arrival on the summit that the daily routine of a volunteer is very different from that of an intern. On Wednesday morning I was unpacking and organizing food instead of settling down in the weather room and attending meetings. Instead of climbing the tower and doing observations, I learned my way around the pantry, attempted to tame the quirks of the stove and oven, and took care of an endless stream of dishes. And judging from the emptiness of those dishes I think that the food we made was edible and perhaps even tasty.

Though much of the volunteer routine was new to me, some things on the summit are the same no matter what your job description: sunrise at 4AM, beautiful sunsets (er, sunset), marty’s antics, plenty of fog, sudden unexpected views of a magnificent sky, hikes on the rocks, unpredictable weather, a few decent breezes, and good company. As always, Tuesday night arrives sooner than expected and another week on the summit draws to a close. Tomorrow I return reluctantly to sea level and that ghastly hot summer weather, but I know that it won’t be too long before I return.


Jeff Wehrwein,  Summit Volunteer

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