MagAO-X 2024Aa Day 22: Home again, but not for long

And no, the solar farms that LOOK like lakes don't count.
First sighting of a large water body since early March.

Like any triumphant victory, the champions must eventually turn homeward. After an amazing few weeks of scientific discoveries, engineering miracles, and accidental binary friends, we packed up our many multi-terabyte hardrives and headed down all 8000 ft back down on our way home.

Both the tree, and the grass, and really anything green in this picture felt novel after the Atacama.
The pine that makes the lodge el Pino.
What does he see? And why does the hallway just end there?
Traveler above a sea of fog, colorized, 2024
Rough stuff when your world class proposed telescope's poster is sun-faded...
A dreamy model GMT, bigger than the ones we have back home.

We had an early morning bus filled with some napping, clear skies and a view of the bay. Post drive we got a quick break at El Pino, enjoyed the sights, touched grass, and confirmed that there was still that weird vizzy people were calling a rabbit. After a brief respite of healthier snacks and preferred beverages, we all packed back in the van and left for the La Serena airport. All except for Josh, who by a cruel twist of fate was the only lab member who got completely rebooked with a separate itinerary back to Tucson. We miss him to this day.

We bring so many grad students so that we have spares for moments like these.
Last known photo of Josh Liberman.

And then the whirlwind of luggage hauling, TSA searches, elite lounge scouring, airplane sitting, more TSA, and sleep-deprived airport navigation began. Despite the 36 hours in transit, we did make time for the important traditions.

Not all group members were made aware of the "pre-TSA" memo and we regret the omission.
Cervezas and papas fritas pre Las Serena TSA.
He's sure we will show up, any minute now.
Post-TSA Jay, plane watching.
Previous reports were rash, Josh was eventually found.
Inducting the uninitiated into the SCL Terminal E Ruby Tuesdays Pisco sour fanclub.

But just like that, or maybe “after all that”, we finally emerged blinking in the Tucson sun. After clunky suitcases were retrieved, goodbyes were brief. It’s hard to be sentimental on dubious amounts of red-eye sleep and to people you have just spent three weeks secluded mountain top, stepping on their toes.

Telescopes? At MY baggage claim?
One of the many attractions of Chile includes some friends, the Gemini telescope.

But like any epic tale, why not tell it twice? Your favorite AO squad couldn’t resist the encore to such a successful run, and we will be back in May for 24Ab. In the meantime we will be catching up on our sleep debt, hugging our loved ones, and quickly putting in a load of laundry.

Song of the Day:

Sing us out, Piano Man.

Vienna by Billy Joel.