Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Where has the time gone?

Hi there! It's been a while.  Here are some updates:

First of all... I'm alive(!).

Secondly, I live in Alaska now.  Alaska had already captured my fascination, and when the perfect opportunity knocked, I couldn't pass it up.

A photo posted by Summer Ohlendorf (@summerohlendorf) on

Third, related, I have a job I LOVE.  The wheels were in motion the last time I blogged, but I don't think I explicitly stated it anywhere.  This experience has been very stimulating and fulfilling for me.

Fourth... I'm engaged to my favorite person in the world, Ben!

A photo posted by Summer Ohlendorf (@summerohlendorf) on

Fifth, I'm back in the swing of things on the triathlon front, consistently training and racing again.  It's been a long and gradual process, but under Steve's guidance, I've gotten pretty close to my previous best fitness.  I'm excited to continue to improve.

I may or may not be back writing blogs again.  Time will tell.  I'm under no obligations to any sponsors right now or in the coming year.  For now, I'm just enjoying being back in the sport as a way to keep me healthy, explore my world, relieve some stress, and have fun getting faster.  The team that matters most to me now is the one I'll spend the rest of my life on:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Okmok trip, part 2: Setting up Camp

To pick up where I left off--

The weather was beautiful by the time we arrived at Umnak.  We would be staying at a bunkhouse built for the ranchers at the Bering Pacific Ranch, which had pretty much the only infrastructure on the upper section of Umnak Island.  The plane did a fly-by of the ranch first (to alert them to our presence) before looping around to land.  Our "airport shuttle" arrived in the form of a big old Alaska school bus.

Heading in to Umnak Island! The snowy part is the Okmok caldera rim.

view from the runway, looking NE towards Cape Idak

We arrived at the ranch to find that all of the food and equipment we'd sent weeks ahead of time did indeed make it there ok.  The bunkhouse was close to what I'd been expecting (a group of trailers connected under a common roof) except that it was filthy inside.  No one had stayed there in years, and the windows apparently didn't seal well because the interiors were all covered with a layer of ashy dust and big flies.  The kitchen and bathroom both had a lot of mold and mildew, including inside the refrigerators and freezer.  Kudos to our UCSD contingent, Kerry and his student Georgie, who arrived on an earlier flight and dealt with the worst of the mess before we got there.  By evening, through a combined effort, it was starting to look and feel more like a home.  We even kind of had a pet, a very self-sufficient cat who lived there year-round.  We called her Glennda (after Fort Glenn).  Here are some photos of our accommodations:

sorting and staging equipment
The "hallway" of the bunkhouse.  Bedrooms to the right, bathroom straight ahead behind the big truck (!),  kitchen and dining room to the left

My and Georgie's room (post-cleaning!)

part of the dining area, also after a lot of cleaning. We brought the bread maker!

We hung maps inside to help plan our daily work.

You wouldn't have wanted to see what this looked like when we arrived.  The washing machine didn't work, but the dryer did (thank goodness!).

More posts to come, on: the remains of the WWII base on Umnak, sights around the volcano, the seismic and MT work our group did around/on top of the volcano, and other elements of life on the island!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Okmok trip, part 1: Out into the Aleutians

When I left off here, I was scurrying out to a plane in Anchorage nearly a month ago.  Chances for internet access in Dutch Harbor were few and far between (the airport restaurant and library did have wifi, though!).  The internet on Umnak Island never materialized due to weather delays blocking the window to get a tech out there while he was free.  I arrived back in Wisconsin last weekend and have been busily catching up on everything.  I have about 1000 photos from the trip, but to keep things manageable I think I'll break the highlights up into multiple, mainly thematic posts with lots of pictures.  Bear with me, and check out whatever interests you.

We made it out of Anchorage on the second flight the morning of my last post, and there were some nice views above the clouds.

Aerial view of Redoubt volcano

Descent into Dutch Harbor

Some of the sights around Dutch Harbor:

World War II Visitor Center: this is a National Historic Area

Having a tsunami evacuation plan is very important in Pacific coastal areas!
The bald eagles here were almost as prevalent as sea gulls in San Diego.

Old naval radio station

Looking across to the town of Unalaska in the morning fog
the Norwegian Rat Saloon
The RV Thompson, which our UCSD colleagues used to deploy marine magnetotelluric (MT) instruments before the on-shore work started
Amelia's, favorite breakfast haunt in Dutch with a surprisingly good assortment of Mexican dishes

We ended up getting delayed leaving Dutch as well, due to more weather issues between there and Umnak.  Paul Bedrosian's instruments were having their own adventure and fell victim to even more delays leaving Anchorage than we did.  Our charter finally left for Umnak on Monday, just as Paul's equipment arrived in Dutch.

To be continued...

Ready to take off (luckily for everyone, I did not do the driving)
Waving hello and goodbye to the missing shipment of MT instruments

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Good morning from Anchorage


I'm on my way out to Okmok Volcano, on Umnak Island in the Aleutians, with this project.  I'm coming along as a field assistant for the land component of the project, and it should be a fantastic learning opportunity.  From Anchorage, our group is flying to Dutch Harbor, Unalaska on the island adjacent to Umnak.  Then we'll take a charter flight from Dutch to Fort Glenn on Umnak. We were supposed to leave Anchorage yesterday, but it was never able to leave-- just like all other flights to Dutch in the past 3 days. Thick fog there has kept planes grounded. So we spent another night in Anchorage and woke up at 3:30 to go get on the standby list for today. Fingers crossed that we'll be able to leave soon!

As of this morning, the odds of our group having internet access at the bunkhouse have gone way down.  However, we are equipped with a satellite device that will allow us to post short text updates to social media (Twitter and Facebook), as well as to share our location on the volcano.  The map with our GPS waypoints should be accessible here.

Over and out!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Next Chapter

It's a new year, and a lot has happened since my last post.  Recently a lot of people have asked what I'm up to, so:

That's All, Folks

As many of you probably know by now, I successfully defended my Ph.D. last month.  The final push was definitely the most stressful time I have ever been through, but I'm so proud of everything I managed to accomplish.  My family was able to make it to Madison from around the country for the defense, and it was such a pleasure to be able to share what I do and celebrate with the people I care most about.

What's up, Doc?

The two weeks after depositing my dissertation were spent taking a bit of a break from computers, catching up on all the things that got thrown aside over the second half of 2014, and making time for some much-needed mental relaxation.  I got to catch up on sleep and spend some quality time with my favorite guy.  Stress and lack of rest wreak such havoc on the body!  I'm finally feeling like my systems have recovered.

As of February 1, I'm on an appointment as a postdoctoral research associate at UW that will probably last through the summer.  Largely, that means that I have the time and support to augment my dissertation research a little bit and work on getting that research published in peer-reviewed journals.  I should get another 3 papers out of the process, so it will be well worth the effort.  With my work load back down to a reasonable level, I also have more time to continue looking for a more permanent job that will form the next step in my career.  If you know of any good opportunities for a fun, active seismologist, I'm all ears :)

I have also been using my newly-discovered free time to begin the adventure of getting back into shape.  I sat down with my coach, Bill, a couple of weeks ago to discuss my (still loose) plans for the season, and I'm so excited to get back into a routine of balancing life, work, and triathlon training.  As a staff member, I can even resume workouts with the Wisconsin Triathlon Team: those kids are fast!  After a few weeks of base training on my own, I'm back on a plan as of this past week.  I even threw in a little race today to see where I'm at.  So far I've been seeing steady progress, which is the fun part (if you could say there is one) about being out of shape- the gains are pretty quick and noticeable as you reintroduce consistency and start to rebuild volume and intensity.  I think a lot of the ease with which I'm getting my speed back (endurance will take longer....) is due to incorporating strength work at Functional Integrated Training.  Their MATT classes have continued to be my favorite workouts of the week over the past month.  Most importantly, the staff understands how to work with athletes to eliminate individual weaknesses and help people to move more efficiently.

A photo posted by Sbr Coaching (@sbrmadison) on

My primary athletic goal this year is to enjoy the journey.  To me, that encompasses three main things:
  • appreciating the little steps I take in the right direction, instead of comparing my current fitness to what it has been or what I'd eventually like it to be, 
  • incorporating a lot of variety into both my training and my race schedule, and
  • keeping things flexible.

With that said, I plan to race at least a couple times at the half distance this year, because that's my favorite.  I'd like to compete in a few races I've never been to before.  So far I'm eyeing Challenge Atlantic City, Challenge Maine, Challenge Pocono Mountains, Challenge Rancho Cordova, and Challenge Florida.  Friends, if you're interested in traveling to any of these with me, let me know!

with Wisconsin Tri friend Michael at the Winter Wonderland Indoor Tri