philrancid dropped pamelonian and me off at Kansas City International Airport with our wheeled duffels on Saturday morning. KCI has lovely flooring. I might spend a day photographing it some time next spring, since they are threatening to replace the terminal buildings. I have never seen KCI truly busy, or been in that airport when the atmosphere was not relaxed.
We were originally told to fly into FLL, where we would connect with two small planes to get us to the island. Over the course of a few days, our mode of transportation for getting from south Florida to Bimini changed three times. The ferry that was arranged when the first airline canceled also had to back out, because of weather. So, it ended up that we would be flying out of the Opa-locka Executive Airport. The eight of us that flew into FLL were to take a shuttle to Hotel Indigo in Miami Lakes, which Jill Brooks, the lab manager, set up for us so we would be closer to the Opa-locka airport. While I did not understand the presence of all of the pictures of cows that were kind of everywhere, it turned out to be a really nice hotel. Fans of the TV show Supernatural will understand why I took up referring to our room as the Sam and Dean Suite:
I rather wish I'd taken a picture of the shower array, because it was fairly magnificent, but you didn't come here to read a hotel review. Fear not, DR, we are getting closer and closer to the sharks with every passing word!
At any rate, seven of us that flew into FLL met up at the Chili's and got acquainted while we waited for the arrival of the eighth member of your group, who was flying in from Virginia. We had two Kansans (that would be yours truly and friend Pam), one Minnesotan who now lives in Tampa (lucky girl), three friends who'd flown in from Ontario (one of these ladies is English, but lives and works in Canada), and Sarah, a young lady from Quebec. We all got acquainted over drinks and snacks.
Once Amanda, our Virginian, arrived, we exited the Chili's and went out to find our shuttle, who would deliver us to the Hotel Indigo. With that, I will cut straight to our flight from Opa-locka, because I know you want to hear about the freaking SHARKS! For the love of all that is pure and sacred in this tattered world, GET US TO THE SHARKS!!! Am I right?
We connected with the other six course students at the Opa-locka airport, did the passport thing, filled out a form for customs, and got assigned to our flights. I was fairly nervous for the first five minutes of our short flight to the island, but I calmed down. Small aircraft are small, but Melissa from Rhode Island sat copilot, so everything went fine:
I wish I'd taken a picture of the Bimini airport and customs office. It was barely bigger than my house, but far more awesome, because BIMINI. Dr. Tristan Guttridge pulled up in one vehicle, and Doc Gruber soon pulled up in another. Then, in just a few minutes, we were there. Sharklab actual.
My feelings about meeting Doc Gruber were very similar to my feelings about meeting Tim McCreight when I was finishing my metalsmithing degree at the University of Kansas. In the metals world, Tim McCreight is a rock star. Same goes for Doc in the shark world. Doc has a big personality and a big passion. I never thought I'd actually get to hang out with the man, or camp out at the world-famous Sharklab for a week. Who gets to do awesome shit like that? Apparently, *I* do! I'm glad Pam was there, too, or I would probably start wondering if it was all just a magnificent imagining.
All subsequent posts will be shark-infested, I promise, but I don't want to forget these other things, either.