Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Golden Ticket

For 23 years my family has lived near the Hanford site, one of the places where the nuclear age began. Access to most of "the area", as it's referred to around here, is limited and since 9-11, it was pretty much shutdown except for those with clearance. However, every now and then the DOE has hosted bus tours of Hanford, where they drive you by all the production reactors that are now closed down and most of them "cocooned". The B Reactor is not cocooned. It is the first large-scale plutonium producing reactor ever built and the story behind its construction is a fascinating one of fear, war, genius, and secrecy.

Getting a seat on that bus is nearly impossible since as soon as they open the tour, all the seats are immediately taken - I mean immediately! My DH has been wanting to go on this tour for a long time so a few weeks ago was the big day when the tickets were being made available. Only problem was, he had to go out of town. It fell to me to procure the reservation. At precisely 11 a.m.(as I recall) they were taking the online reservations. At precisely 11 a.m. I hit the key to start the process - me and hundreds of others trying to get one or two of the 250 available seats. I got to the screen, input my information, hit the enter key, then nothing. We shut the software down. There I sat staring at a screen that was doing nothing. I emailed them that I was having a problem with the software, then went back, opened another window and tried again - this time getting my confirmation notice. Whew, I didn't let my DH down!

Tuesday was our tour day and the afternoon was beautifully sunny with lots of puffy clouds throwing shadows on the desert landscape. DH has written about the tour on his blog, so I won't go into it here. Seated next to us on the bus was a young man taking lots of notes as the DOE guy was telling us about all the things we were seeing, and asking questions every now and then. Later we learned that he's a writer for Wired magazine, doing an article about the tour. I'll be looking for that issue on the magazine racks!


Barbara said...

Wow, sounds very interesting. My step brother and my brother in law were both in the Navy and active in the nuke section so we got behind the scenes tours of the Hartford, CT base. Glad you could get the tickets!

Rachael said...

Wow- this sounds so interesting. Glad you were able to get the tickets and that the weather was so cooparative. Very cool.