Opportunity Sol 366 (Spirit Sol 387)

So the last sol I was on shift, we drove 70m or so away from the heat shield, just to get the rover well clear of it. Since then, every sol's been devoted to charging across the plains as fast as possible, doing drives so long they have to plan them with orbital maps. My single-sol blind-driving record is gone, never to return (the bastards just had to take that away from me, breaking my record by a meter or so), and the single-sol total-distance record is now up to 154m or so. But now it's my turn again, and I'm ready to floor it.

So of course, they picked today to stop and IDD for a while. We're going to dig a trench and poke around in it, right up through my last day in this group of shifts. Then they're going to drive some more.

No, I'm not kidding. I couldn't make this up if I tried.

One of the scientists, Rob Sullivan, already worked out most of what needed to be done. We have a lot of analysis to do, but really, he's done most of the hard work for us.

Not that this stops him from being genuinely appreciative of our work. "You guys are just great," he enthuses over the telecom. "Really, if people knew all the stuff you guys have to do every day ...." He continues in this vein for a full minute, maybe more. It's wonderful -- it almost makes up for not getting to do a long drive. After listening to Rob's effusion of praise, Andy replies, "Remember this at performance evaluation time!"

If Rob is appreciative, Frank is sympathetic. He stops by to see how things are going, and I complain (reasonably good-naturedly) about my getting shut out of the driving. "I feel for you, man," Frank says.

"So you'd be willing to trade some shifts with me?" I tease him.

"I'm not gonna lie to you," he says. "When I saw the upcoming plan, I was like, thank God I'm off for those few days."

At least he's honest about it. "I can't blame you," I shrug. "If the situation were reversed, I have to admit I'd feel the same way."

Well, one of the great aspects of my job is that even on the worst days -- even on the very worst days -- I get to drive a Mars rover. And that's not what I'd call bad.

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