Saturday, December 13, 2008
If you haven't quite noticed yet from the few entries I've had in this blog, Geotripper and my wife have played extremely important geologic roles during my formative years of young adulthood. My wife, has been a rock of support for me and an excellent adventurous spirit that enjoys exploring North America as much as me. Geotripper... well he was the glint in my life that can best be likened to a partially visible topaz face mostly buried in rhyolite in the middle of Utah. He, like the topaz, spurred a desire in me to dig deeper and uncover the beauty and stories trapped within the geology of the American west. Because of Dinochic and Geotripper, ( and very caring parents that exposed me to many roadtrips as a child) I can embolden many of the following categories within Geotrippers meme of 100 things I've done. It looks to be 53, or so of those things, as a matter of fact. Not bad for 30 years of existence! I'm just happy to have most of the experiences on "film". I've tried adding my photographic evidence to as many experiences as possible. I hope you enjoy.
1. See an erupting volcano
2. See a glacier
3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone
5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage (I'll have to dig for the film of the '97 Tuolumne & San Joaquin floods)
6. Explore a limestone cave. Try Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park, or the caves of Kentucky or TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia)
8. Explore a subsurface mine.
9. See an ophiolite, (still looking for pics)
11. A slot canyon (it'll have to do until I can find childhood pics). Many of these amazing canyons are less than 3 feet wide and over 100 feet deep. They reside on the Colorado Plateau. Among the best are Antelope Canyon, Brimstone Canyon, Spooky Gulch and the Round Valley Draw.
13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada.
14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana (and look what's around my neck... sigh.
16. A gingko tree, which is the lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic. We have an amazingly old gingko at Turlock High, and I always take my students out observe to its beauty, and then make leaf rubbings to compare to a gingko fossil. These pics are a bit blurry. Sorry.
18. A field of glacial erratics
19. A caldera (it's not Yellowstone!)
20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high (camera was stowed as to not get sand in it)
22. A recently formed fault scarp (I know I have the pic somewhere!!!)
23. A megabreccia
25. A natural bridge
27. A glacial outwash plain (photos to come)
28. A sea stack (photos to come)
29. A house-sized glacial erratic
30. An underground lake or river
31. The continental divide
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals
33. Petrified trees
34. Lava tubes (I think you'll like this pic)
35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back (I haven't gone up & down yet... someday when I'm not the driver for the trip)
39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale (No ariel pics yet).
44. Devil's Tower, northeastern Wyoming, to see a classic example of columnar jointing (I was an infant the last time here)
50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, an impressive series of entrenched meanders.
51. Shiprock, New Mexico, to see a large volcanic neck
54. Mount St. Helens, Washington, to see the results of recent explosive volcanism.
59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington
62. Yosemite Valley
63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah
65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington
66. Bryce Canyon
67. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone (hmmm, where did these pics wander off too?)
68. Monument Valley
69. The San Andreas fault
74. Denali (an orogeny in progress) (need to scan old pics from '92)
76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park
77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches)
79. Hells Canyon in Idaho
80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado
82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0
84. Find a trilobite (it's my wife at a great collecting spot)
85. Find gold, however small the flake
90. Witness a total solar eclipse
93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope.
95. View a great naked-eye comet, an opportunity which occurs only a few times per century
96. See a lunar eclipse
97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Apparently the universe has just sent several messages to me all wrapped-up in one drop-your jaw, amazingly crazy story of my wife (above in Death Valley, 2005) testing me... and I mean this literally. She actually appeared on a test I just took. Not a mere apparition like Jesus on toast. Not an apparition at all. This was a real angelic infiltration that had been conjured four years ago by an amazing geologist, photographer, storyteller and apparent sorcerer, Geotripper.
In future posts I'll have to tell the story of how Laura and I met on one of Geotripper's summer field studies, how we still help Geotripper in whatever ways we can to make his roadtrip life easier , and how he gave gave us the best wedding present ever. But for now those stories will have to remain as yet untold prequels to the amazing moment of my wife testing me.
Tonight was the culmination of my first semester of graduate studies in Geoscience Education through a distance learning program at Mississippi State. Just like all distance learning programs, the lessons are taught via DVD (or podcast for the even younger generation... apparently I'm already a techno-hasbeen at 30). Quizes and test for this course are administered online and must be completed during a given amount of time. No biggie, other than the fact that when one has a polite disagreement with a professor's test questions and answer rationale, it can be a bit hard to muddle through email correspondence to make sure everyone is on the same page.
My professor knew not of my background and extensive geologic travels with Geotripper, nor that I was married to a field geologist-turned great high school teacher. So imagine my immense surprise when up popped Question #~~ on tonight's semester final: "What type of fault is shown below?"
The question didn't throw me for a loop (this is the stuff 2nd graders learn), but the accompanying photo did. There, on my semester final, administered through
I hurriedly ran upstairs and dragged my recently tucked-into-bed & tired wife downstairs so she could witness her celebrity which you can view below. I only allowed her 15 seconds of fame because I only had twenty-nine minutes and 47 seconds remaining to complete twenty more questions. Laura relinquished a tired, bemused smile, groaned “I’m famous” and promptly went right back to bed.
If you’re wondering what Geotripper’s connection to all of this is, well, he’s the photographer. The photo below is an exact replica of the one that appeared on my final. He took it in 2005 during an amazingly wet year in Death Valley. So wet infact, that there were once in a lifetime wildflower displays, yet we instead focused our trip on rocks (bio-beauty is no excuse to hide geology, in Geotripper’s opinion). You can see his awesome
Monday, November 17, 2008
The WildLink program is an amazing collaborative effort between the Yosemite Institute, Sierra Conservancy and others that brings students from "undeserved" demographics to Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks for a week-long experience free of charge. In return the students must participate in several wilderness stewardship projects throughout the year.
While experiencing WildLink, participants spend several days learning wilderness ethics and the value of wilderness at (ironically) Curry Village . The week culminates with a guided four-day backpacking expedition through wilderness lands. This year the trek started at Tuolumne Meadows and ended with an ascent of Mt Hoffman and exited at May Lake.
The challenges of a twenty-five mile hike with a full pack is daunting in and of itself. But for the THS WildLink students it's an even greater challenge when one considers 85% of the participants have never set foot in the Sierras, a mere 65 miles from where they live. Mind you, these are mountains that they can clearly see looming large on the horizon on many post-storm, clear winter days. If they maneuver to the correct vantage point just outside of Turlock's city limits they can see directly up Yosemite Valley to the tops of El Cap and Half Dome!
Needless to say the experience WildLink provides is usually life-changing for all those involved. Every bit of food, shelter and warm clothing is provided by the WildLink program for the duration of the week. The only cost to Turlock High is the transportation to Yosemite and a substitute teacher to cover my classes while I'm chaperoning the first several nights in Curry Village. In order to help add some funds to our coffer in this horrible time of educational budget cuts, the THS WildLink club has developed a 12 month Sierra Scenery 2009 Calendar to sell as a fundraiser.
The photos in the calendar were all taken by yours truly and represent 12 beautiful places the Sierras have to offer after a leisurely day-hike. Surprisingly few Californians have every seen these places in person! If you enjoy pretty pictures of a pretty place, maybe you'll consider donating $20 (costs $13 to print) to the THS WildLink club in return for great calendar. If interested, please click on the photo below which will take you to the "official" 2009 Sierra Scenes 2009 calendar. Thanks for looking!
Friday, October 31, 2008
Here is my submission for Geotripper's rainbow meme. My wife and I (who coincidentally met on one of Geotripper's field trips) happened to be out and about Lathrop during the heavy rains of April 2006. This photo was the lone bright spot of the afternoon.
We had been documenting for our students the foolish houses being built 60 yards from the San Joaquin River levee near Moss Landing. The same Moss Landing that flooded to a depth of eight feet in 1950. Deep down we were hoping for a small levee breach would wipe out the new house frames before anyone moved-in, saving a lot of folks some hardship down the road. As it turns out, foreclosures in the area have since left many houses abandoned which may be a serendipitous occurrence should a huge flood hit in the near future.
At one point we even saw a double rainbow (see below). Maybe this photo will make the folks at City Hall happy when the next flood hits (The Lathrop City Hall is new, and only several hundred yards from the levee).
Friday, October 24, 2008
Responding to MJCRocks' call for photos of memorable trees, I have posted the picture of an amazing cypress tree my wife and I saw on our honeymoon in Olympic National Park. The tree stood strong, even in the face of trying times. Whenever I think back to seeing this tree in person, I can't help but remember thinking how great of a metaphor this tree was for the married life. Stand strong, even in trying times, and you will be rewarded with a life that is large, fulfilling and well-balanced.