And just like that…

Summer has come to an end.

The life of a graduate student works a little backward at times. As Bloomington steadily diminishes in undergraduate student population and opens her roadways for effortless commutes, she officially marks the beginning of summer. The warm summer’s breeze buzzes with plans of imminent adventures and excursions to distant worlds or perhaps just coming home. In celebration, I took a day off to relax and prepare for the fleeting sabbatical ahead.

You see, like elves, fairies, and leprechauns, summers are these mystical, almost dreamlike spans of time where one can focus intimately on his/her research uninterrupted by the rigors of classwork and burdens of teaching responsibilities –and grading, mindless and soul-numbing grading. The sheer joys of temporary liberation is well apparent on the faces of most faculty members as they happily work in their offices waiting to be bothered by graduate students armed with endless questions, I am sure. Despite the long hours on experiments commissioning the new particle accelerator and the preparation for an article to be published at the next International Particle Accelerator Conference held in New Orleans, I still made time for a little fun.

It is typical in our field to see close friends and colleagues in the department relocate to national and international laboratories for research. Recently, one of our good friends, Manny, moved to the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia to work on the GlueX Experiment. Certainly this gave us good justification to explore the Midwest before Manny departs. As the old adage goes, “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is strength, but whiskey is the water of life.” The Kentucky Bourbon Trail was the next adventure on our list, I’ll just let the photos tell the stories.

This was the most stationary photo I’ve found of our crazy tour guide who gave us a fine tour of the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Photo taken by Alfonse.

Devil’s cut and Angels’ share fills the dark damped air as we descended deeper into the aging lair. Photo taken by Alfonse.

Some of the finest bourbon Buffalo Trace Distillery produces. Photo taken by Alfonse.

At the Woodford Reserve Distillery. Our tour guide was much tamer this time. Photo taken by Alfonse.

All bourbons are required by law to be aged in new charred American white oak barrels. Photo taken by Alfonse.

Got schooled on a little bourbon history. Photo taken by Alfonse.

Our final stop of the day, the Four Roses Distillery with one of the department’s finest in frame. Photo taken by Alfonse.

Four Roses was built remarkably like a particle accelerator, I felt just right at home. Photo taken by Alfonse.

Hardware, oh glorious hardware. Photo taken by Alfonse.

We made a pretty good sized dent in the list of “things to do in the Midwest” this summer and great memories were made. Our own graduate traditions dictates that no summer is complete without a boat party in Lake Monroe, so thus we forge ahead cutting through the clear waters in our rickety rental pontoon yet again. Until next time.

Proof: 25 graduate students + boat + lake = one hell of a time. Q.E.D. That seemed a proper thing to say with two very mathematically inclined minds, center frame, discussing their ideas as the boat was en route to our favorite destination. Photo taken by Sunny Nigam.