SmithAir747 From Canada, joined Jan 2004, 1683 posts, RR: 27 Posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 6470 times:
(PART 2 OF TRIP REPORT)
Wed. April 4: WN 709 LAX-SJC Boeing 737-700, N205WN
The day after my interview, the USC student picked me up at the Westin Pasadena at 9:00am and took me back to LAX for my 12:00pm Southwest flight to SJC, where I would catch the Caltrain into San Francisco. At LAX terminal 1, there was a LONG line snaking out into the street. But since I had already checked in online the night before (and gotten in Group A) with Southwest, I went inside to the line for e-ticket/online checkin desks with my boarding pass to drop my big Samsonite. I went straight to security and from there into the sterile area itself. My breakfast was an omelette pizza from a California pizza restaurant in the terminal. I spent the next two or so hours standing by a window near gate 1, and later, near my gate (9), with my camera, shooting away:
As I was in Group A, I was able to find a window seat above the left wing, and I sat next to a very nice bearded man in a suit and tie (he was a lawyer working on a medical case at USC). He asked me what I was doing, and I told him what I came all the way out to California from London for. He was quite impressed and wished me good luck with my interviews. The atmosphere amongst the FAs and cabin crew on the Southwest flight was a jovial one. Our flight was a short, but beautifully scenic, one; we went north along the beautiful California coast and made it to SJC in an hour. SJC is such a beautiful small airport; its terminal A seems to be built out of solid polished granite! Before I got off the Southwest 737, I asked an FA for a WN safety card; she gave one to me. Whilst waiting for my bag, a friendly lady (also from my flight) also asked me where I was from and I told her was I was in California (all the way from London) for; she wished me the best of luck. As soon as I collected my bag, I went outside terminal A to the bus stop, where I caught the free VTA 10 bus to the Santa Clara Caltrain station. I rode the upper deck of the double-decker Caltrain into San Francisco, where I caught the N-Judah line of the Muni to my motel (Oceanview Motel) on Judah Street, just west of the UCSF Medical Center campus.
That night (April 4) I caught a Giants game at AT&T Park, where they got trounced by the SD Padres 5-3 in the 2nd game of the opening week series. For dinner at the ballpark I had a nacho grande and lemonade. As a 12-year-old boy sitting behind me so eloquently complained, "They Friggin' SUCK!" (The Giants were getting trounced.) I just had to laugh at his verbal antics--they were just as entertaining as the game, if not more! Fans can be SO fun to watch! For souvenirs, I got myself a Giants logo baseball and an official Rawlings "Big Stick" baseball bat engraved with my name (FRANCIS J. SMITH); I've always wanted my own personal baseball bat! (I love baseball, needless to say!) Yes, I was able to get this back to England with me. More details on that later!
On Thurs. April 5, I spent all day at the UCSF Medical Center campus, being interviewed by THREE interviewers--one right after another. All of them were very impressed with my application, CV, my work, and my life story (which has motivated me to pursue the craniofacial-deformities field). The last one, an older bearded guy from London (and who is a King's College London alumnus), spent the most time with me as a father would with a loved son. He seemed to be very sure that I would get into the PhD program at UCSF. All three of my interviewers would go to bat for my admission. It was a very good interview day and the atmosphere at UCSF was a warm, welcoming one. It so happens, a week after I got back to London, the London guy who interviewed me at UCSF came to give a speech at the RAF Club and personally invited me to this formal occasion. All of them at UCSF seem to be sure I will likely get an offer from UCSF, possibly to start this July. But I am going to wait for an official decision from UCSF (and others) to be sure, before I decide whose program to enter. I'm heavily leaning toward UCSF.
After a great day in San Francisco (which I fell in love with at first sight), it was all too soon time to think about heading back to London next day. That evening, I attended the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Fri. April 6: WN 1083, SJC-LAX, Boeing 737
I got up around 7am, gathered my bags (and the baseball bat), and left the Oceanview Motel without any breakfast. I caught the Muni to the Caltrain station in downtown San Francisco near the AT&T ballpark, and caught the Caltrain down to Santa Clara to get the bus to SJC airport. I had checked in online the night before, and once again, I had an A boarding pass. There I checked in my Samsonite bag and my baseball bat. The Southwest check-in agent put my baseball bat in a big white plastic Southwest bag, tied it up, and put a claim tag on it. I hoped my bat would make it to LAX safely. (It did!) Soon (at 2:25pm) I caught WN flight 1083 to LAX, a quick one-hour flight. Upon landing at LAX at 3:45pm and reaching terminal 1 gate 7, I went right down to baggage claim and waited over a half-hour for the bags from flight 1083 to show up. Finally they showed up--both my Samsonite and my baseball bat. I had to rush over to TBIT on the Airline Connections bus, as time for my next flight, BA 283 to LHR, was getting short! (It was scheduled for 5:50pm.)
(TRIP REPORT CONTINUES NEXT REPLY DUE TO SIZE)
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)
SmithAir747 From Canada, joined Jan 2004, 1683 posts, RR: 27
Reply 1, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 6469 times:
(CONTINUATION OF TRIP REPORT FROM ABOVE)
Fri. and Sat. April 6 & 7: BA 283, LAX-LHR, Boeing 747-436 G-BYGB, seat 53B
After getting lost in the lower level of TBIT trying to find the departures entrance, I finally made it up to the upper level. I ran to the BA check-in desk with my bags, baseball bat, and boarding pass from online checkin (with seat 53B marked on it). They confirmed my documents and sent me to the TSA checked-bag-screening area, where I waited for quite some time whilst they passed a lot of bags through the big machine there. My bag came back out, but I had to wait a while before they found my baseball bat and put it with my bag. They walked with me to the BA check-in desks, with my Samsonite and baseball bat on a trolley, and they gave those to the BA check-in agent who put my bag on the belt. He almost forgot my baseball bat, which was sitting on the desk wrapped in the white plastic bag! He finally put it on the belt, to my relief. I went on toward the gates. First I ended up one floor above where I should have been, but then a friendly airport chaplain guided me to the security area. I made it through security (what with the stripping of my shoes from my feet, etc) to my gate, 103, just in time for boarding. En route to the gate, I photographed an Aeroflot 767-300 and my BA 747-400, G-BYGB, from the windows:
Whew! I made it onboard the 747 and found my seat, 53B, the very last row. We pushed back on time (around 5:50pm) and taxied out towards one of the southern runways. As we were taxying out to the runway, I shot a few photos:
We took off with a mighty roar (and G-forces pushing me back in my seat), headed west out over the Pacific, and made a grand sweeping turn back eastward to land, where the sun shone brightly into the cabin, enabling me to get this shot:
I settled in for a long overnight flight with my World War Three book and the map channel on the IFE screen and a nice meal (with the fish and mushrooms and all). During the flight over the Western states and Canada, I was able to shoot this lovely sunset from my window:
I did something I've never been able to do on a plane: I got a few hours' sleep! I awoke to see the sun beginning to shine through some windows with raised blinds; by that time we were over the north Atlantic just west of the Irish landmass. For breakfast there was (I kind of remember) some fruit, a muffin (?), orange juice, etc. (It's usually hard for me to remember what I ate yesterday, much less from a trip a few weeks ago!) Soon, it was nearing time to land. I filled out a UK entry card. Over England, we approached LHR from the west. As we were descending toward LHR runway 09L, I shot this lovely photo of Windsor Castle from my 53B window:
We landed in a cloudy London, touching down on LHR runway 09L with a roar of thrust reversers and with fully-deployed spoilers and triple-slotted flaps. Those flaps never cease to amaze me! We taxied over to terminal 1 and parked at gate 52. I was the last to deplane; on my way out, I complimented the FAs on a great flight and remarked on how the 747 is my favourite plane. The BA cabin crew all agreed with me that the 747 is the BEST!
I woudn't mind having a 747 of my own!
I breezed through UK immigration (where, as always, upon seeing my UK Entry Clearance student visa in my US passport, they asked me what I was studying and where), baggage reclaim (where both my baseball bat and Samsonite made it safely, to my relief) and HM Customs green channel. I caught the Piccadilly line on the Tube all the way back to Russell Square from LHR.
My only regret is that the trip was too short a trip--I was just enjoying myself with the interviews and the cities themselves (especially San Francisco and UCSF).
Who knows when my next 747 trip will be? I can't wait!
The BIG question is now, where will I end up doing my craniofacial PhD at? UCSF looks most likely. I have to be patient and wait for all the official decisions to come in from all the universities I've applied to.
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)
Both the interviews (at USC-Los Angeles and at UCSF) went very well. In fact, my three interviewers at UCSF told me I have a strong chance of getting in (and a strong likelihood of an offer very soon). They all want me to come out to UCSF, possibly as early as July so I can start working on my lab projects since I already have most of the required background that I could skip some of the preliminary taught courses. All of my interviewers (at both USC and UCSF) were very impressed with my credentials, my CV, my work, and my life story (with a craniofacial disorder myself).
I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude; I'm waiting for whatever official decisions (offers) I get before I decide. But I'm leaning toward UCSF.
ONTFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 382 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 5456 times:
Quoting SmithAir747 (Reply 7): I just found out that UCSF has accepted me for a place in their craniofacial PhD program. I will await decisions from other schools before I decide whose to accept, but I'm leaning toward UCSF.
Congrats on the acceptance! Whichever program you choose, you can't go wrong. I agree, SF is a beautiful city.
Parisien From France, joined Dec 2000, 836 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (8 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 4895 times:
hey, nice trip report.
and of course congratulations on your acceptance. Enjoy this moment (when all the schools give you acceptance and will try to get you to come to their program)...great to be wanted isnt it ? SF is a beautiful city, but you also have to consider other aspects (financing etc.) and VERY important to have a good advisor...not only for during your studies but also after....Did you chat a lot with the grad students in each school ? They would be a really good source for additional info etc. What exactly is your research area in craniofacial disorder ?
Again, congratulations !