For a sci-fi writer, there is something excellent– I’d almost say essential, but that wouldn’t be right– but definitely unforgettable, about going out to McDonald Observatory and getting to really see the full scope of the wonders of the universe. This trip, since it there was only a sliver of a crescent moon, I got to see the vast swath of Milky Way stars for the first time in my life. Plus I saw Saturn (and Titan!), Mars and the Orion Nebula in the telescopes. More fuel for my fertile imagination.
I also, on this trip, figured out the plot progression points on Maradaine Constabulary that weren’t quite sitting right. Happy about that.