Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Saturday getaway

On Saturday I joined Shani for a day trip to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula, a 2-hour drive she makes every so often to see her mother who lives there. This time I tagged along, taking the chance to get out of the city and explore the cute old seaport town.

Besides being a maritime center for boatbuilders and sailors, the main attractions are the town's beautiful Victorian buildings and Fort Worden State Park. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of military history, so I skipped out on the actual fort and walked along the beach to the Point Wilson Lighthouse instead. My first stop, however, was the oddly named Better Living Through Coffee.

Lunch: coffee (Sumatra Dark) and organic lentil soup.

Then up the hill I went...

...to enjoy the view.


On my way to the lighthouse.

All in all, the getaway was a most pleasant one, and a terrific opportunity to get to know my beloved Pacific Northwest a little better.

Finally, a bit of advice: do not - I repeat, do not - miss out on the super cozy Owl Sprit cafe if you happen to be in the area. Their delicious cherry pie made its way to my stomach before I had time to take a picture; perhaps I will have to come back for another piece... (Thanks for the tip, DT!)

PS. Spring! Springspringspring!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sky high

After 2.5 years of living in Seattle I finally made it to the top of the Space Needle; another tick on my bucket list. Frankly, I've been to cheap to pay the twenty bucks it costs to get up there, but last week the J-1 visa holders at Fred Hutch were generously treated to another social get-together courtesy of our HR department.

The needle and the moon.

Mt Rainier wasn't shy.

Lake Union, with Fred Hutch's red brick buildings to the far right.

The needle, mirrored in one of the glass globes at Chihuly Garden and Glass museum, which we also visited on this magnificently sunny spring afternoon.

Thanks, HR! I'm much obliged.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Springtime at UW

Saturday, March 21, the University of Washington campus. I'm crossing off another item on my bucket list: the blooming of cherry trees in the UW Quad. So celebrated, it's even got its own Twitter account: @uwcherryblossom. Somehow, I've managed to miss it the past two years, but not this time.

The day started out a little rainy, but soon turned sunny and warm; typical "April weather", for the Swedes.

Pretty pink petals; prominent and plentiful. Peppy!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The March issue

From me, to you: two more Science Spotlight articles. In the current edition I'm using my (limited) powers to promote targeted alpha particle therapy - an experimental treatment modality with great potential for curing a range of cancer forms. Yes, I might be slightly biased, because yes, this is the field I'm working in. ...and yes, I happen to be a co-author of the featured paper. Yes, yes, yes. That certainly doesn't make it less interesting, however.

A for alphas: radioimmunotherapy scores high

The second article offers a sneak peek into the world of cancer genetics. This write-up required a bit of background research on my part, as the topic is quite far off from my normal stomping ground. I learned a lot in the process, though - and so will you if you read it.

From specific to general, and back again


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Island images, part II

Fun fact: due to a lack of natural enemies, "The Garden Island" is full of wild chicken. Beautiful roosters like these were casually and confidently roaming the streets, parks, beaches and mountains.

Flowering bougainvillea always makes me think of my mum, for some reason. This one is for you, mamma.

Being a touristy tourist at Waimea Canyon, nicknamed "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific".

The views were definitely on par with those in Arizona. Greener here, though. Garden Island, indeed...

Like I said, the roosters were everywhere.

Can you spot the island of Niihau in the distance?

A short stop at Kauai Coffee for some tasty brown brew and a quick peek at the coffee plantation - the largest in Hawaii. The mug is probably also the largest in Hawaii. (That's just a guess, however.)

The Hawaii state flag, in the lower left.

Opaekaa Falls. By the way, did you know that most of the scenes in Jurassic Park were filmed on Kauai? It kind of makes sense.

Wailua River from above. A few hours later I took a boat tour down there, to the Fern Grotto.

At the grotto: traditional music and dancing.

That concludes the picture show. I wish I could have told you more about my interactions with various people; like Joanie, the 70-year old firecracker who held a lunch table for us "single girls"; or Hunter, the surreal survival guy who had lived in an Australian cave for two months, eating only oysters. However, my mind is elsewhere right now.

All in all, the trip was a kick. The only thing that annoyed me slightly was having to repeatedly answer the question "So, where's your partner?" everytime I met someone new, and then acting pleasantly surprised by the unavoidable "You're traveling alone? Good for you! Way to go girl!".

Well, ok. Way to go, me!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Island images, part I

Ok, so things happened; life came between me and my grand plans of Hawaii blogging. Instead of detailed descriptions of my various doings - some of them among the craziest, most unexpected adventures I've ever experienced, involving hitchhiking and blind trust in "eccentric" strangers - a number of snapshots will have to do.

(Sorry about that.)

Anyway. The view from my hotel room was quite acceptable.

Ocean. Lots of it.

Each morning started with a 10-km run along this scenic beach walk.

The weather was ever-changing, but the wind was always warm. Rain would fall in the distance, but stayed away from where I was.

My snorkeling cove. The waves were big, but it was well worth some cuts and bruises to experience the incredible underwater diversity. Sea turtles, moorish idols, triggerfish, trunkfish and various kinds of surgeon- and butterflyfish kept me company this sunny afternoon.

Dinner cruise on a katamaran; the objective was to see the Na Pali coast, but due to stormy weather we had to stay on the south end of the island. A joint effort from hundreds of spinner dolphins and several groups of humpback whales made the evening more memorable than I could have dreamed of. Also, I got wine.

Splish splash!

Quite the rainbow.

These whale watching photos are about as good as they get with my camera, but I can assure you that the sight of those fins and massive bodies made my heart skip more than one beat.

Distant sunset sailor.

Next: more ocean, more scenic views and more animals (some chicken, at least). But first, a tip: if you ever go to Kauai, make sure to stop in for breakfast at Beachwalk Restaurant & Grill in Kapaa. I highly doubt that I will ever have fluffy flapjacks like their dreamy banana-macadamia nut pancakes again... Too good to even photograph.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Here, there and everywhere

Believe it or not but I'm up in the air again. This time the destination is a city that was founded in 1729 and termed "The Monumental City" by sixth President John Quincy Adams (certainly more appealing than the later epithet "Mobtown").

Birthplace of Frank Zappa and Babe Ruth, the town has harbored a wide range of immortals during the years; F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe and Gertrude Stein have all shared their grounds with more recent celebrities like John Waters, Edward Norton, Tupac Shakur, David Hasselhoff and... Stacy Keibler.

If you haven't figured out the destination by now, perhaps two television series might help you pin down my next stop. If I say Homicide: Life on the Street (Uppdrag: mord in Swedish) or The Wire, then you surely know what I'm talking about...?

For the second time around I'm representing the Fred Hutch postdocs at the National Postdoctoral Association's annual meeting, this year in... (drum roll)... Baltimore, MD! I sure am exploring this country, state by state. East Coast, here I come!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

On top of the world

Spring has surely sprung in Seattle; lately, we've been positively spoiled with sunshine and warm temperatures. This weekend was absolutely gorgeous, weatherwise. Better yet, I got to spend Sunday hiking, laughing and making friends at Bare Mountain. What a day!

The facts: 8.0 mi/12.9 km roundtrip; elevation gain 3250 ft/990 m; highest point 5353 ft/1630 m. Sun: warm. Mood: stellar.

It took us about 2 h 30 min to zig zag our way up to the summit; going down took 1 h 50 min.

Some snow play on the way up.

Sweating away on the heather-covered mountainside.

Mt. Rainier, watching over us from a distance. (Parts of the trail were quite "adventurous".)

Almost there!

Hello world!

At the top: quite an impressive 360-degree view. YouTube is not my friend right now, but you can watch a short clip here. Fun sidenote: on the way down we ran into some random Swedes making their way up. Odds?

To sum up: quite the hike, yeah? Two predictions: 1) I'll sleep well tonight, especially seeing as we switched to daylight saving time this morning; 2) hips, ankles and glutes will be a little (a lot) sore once I wake up. So friggin' worth it, though!

PS. The Hawaii report is coming up, I promise! Just be patient.