Monday, July 28, 2008

My Favorite Pictures of Summer #6

I love jellyfish! I am fascinated by them, they way they move, the elegant beauty of them, I can just watch them for hours. So why the jellyfish picture, on Friday I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was beautiful over in Monterey, CA, a perfect 68 degrees, the smell of the ocean, the taste of the Clam Chowder, it was the right escape from the Central Valley heat.

This is something to laugh at. While staring at the jellyfish on Friday, my geological side of me kicked in and thought how many jellyfish have been preserved in the rock record? Are there jellyfish relatives preserved in the Burgess Shale? I need to research the topic. I think I just laughed out loud to myself, are we as geologists obsessed about geology. I sure hope not!

Another one of my favorite things at the aquarium is the Giant Kelp Forest tank. I had never been there when a diver was down in the tank. It was neat but I didn't get a good photo of the diver because there was too many people in the vicinity.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Favorite Pictures of Summer #5

Angles Landing is one of the most crazy hiking trails I have ever been on. I had been to Zion National Park before, but had hiked the Virgins Narrows instead, which is also a great hike.

So why is this trail crazy? Actually a huge percentage of the trail is not bad, the trail is located on a huge fin of Navajo Sandstone located in the middle of Zion Canyon, so the different viewpoints of the canyon are incredible. Highlights along the trail are Refrigerator Canyon (a much needed cool and refreshing shady spot, photo 2) and Walters Wiggles (crazy switchbacks, photo 3). The real test of this trail comes when you decide to hike to the very, very top and is known as "the chains".

This part of the trail left me breathless! I am a normally sure footed and a confident hiker, but this trail made me have second thoughts. I was hiking with a group of people who told me if I turned around now that I would regret getting close but not finishing the trail. Lets just say, I held on to the chains very tight, but I made it to the very top and was rewarded with wonderful views of Zion Canyon.

Luckily coming down, I could slowly and comfortably take my time and even took my picture in the steepest part of the trail, a shear 1,500 ft drop on both sides! I am glad I did the trail and look forward if ever in Zion National Park again, to complete the trail again. This is another one of those mout do trails for geologists.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Favorite Pictures of Summer #4

One of my most fond memories of the trip was an incredible sunset from on top of Cedar Mesa.

I had heard this place was wonderful and I didn't know if I could believe it before hand. When we arrived some people were out camping on the point where the group wanted to camp, I remember getting very frustrated.

Then the magic of the mesa began to capture me.............

The feeling of not being surrounded by thousands of tourists was gone, the simple but elegant beauty of the area was right in front of me and the frustration was worn away and turned to joy. I realized that I could see Monument Valley in the far distance, the Goosenecks of the San Juan River below me, and after the most incredible sunset, the billion stars in the sky from my cot on the slickrock. Cedar Mesa is now one of my favorite spots.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Favorite Pictures of the Summer #3

The Spruce Tree House at Mesa Verde National Park.

Is anyone getting the theme that all of my pictures are taking place in the southwest? So far that is true, I went on a two week excursion in June studying about geology and anthropology of the Colorado Plateau/Southwest. Previous to this summer I had only had been to places like Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Grand Canyon.

I was very excited to go this summer, because we went to places like Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Goblin Valley State Park, Capitol Reef NP, Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Colorado NM, plus the usual suspects like Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP, and the Grand Canyon, but to the north rim instead. The north rim is my choice from now on, less people, more trees, and campgrounds on the rim. The anthropology part of the trip was also incredible, we learned about the Hopi and Navajo tribes and visited a alot of different ruins to learn about their culture. I even got to buy a Kachina doll on the Hopi Reservation. We also visited Mesa Verde NP, Navajo NM, Hovenweep NM, and drove by Monument Valley, but one of my most favorite things we did was the full moon hike at Canyon de Chelly NM.

That was only some of the places we visited, but my recommendation is if you get the chance to go on a big trip like this, go for it, there are so many life changing experiences.

Back to the picture, this is the Spruce Tree House, we got a special tour by the main archaeologist of the park. He gave us a tour that included the in's and the out's of the Spruce Tree House. What I can say is that I didn't spend the 1 hour to 1 and half hours listening to him talk, I was taking pictures from every different angle possible. I easily took over 100 pictures in that time span. I had always wanted to go to Mesa Verde, especially since I read the third book in Anna Pigeon series, called "Ill Wind" by Nevada Barr. I would love to go back and explore the other cliff dwellings.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Favorite Pictures of the Summer #2

This photo is a dream come true and one of the things I wanted to do the most while on the trip, Delicate Arch at sunset. After climbing the 1.5 miles up the slickrock trail, walking around the corner and for the first time standing in the presence of the most famous arch in the world with a added bonus of seeing it at sunset. A large group congregates to take pictures of the arch and it is not quite what I expected. Not to worry, there are places if solitude is wanted, but I am not going to tell you the spots, you are just going to have to explore to find out for yourself. So I recommend this hike at sunset if ever in Arches National Park. It is not one to miss and is one of those must see moments on every geologist's list.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Favorite Pictures of the Summer

This picture is in honor of Edward Abbey and the wonderful sunsets he describes.......

I took this picture in June from the Devils Garden Campground in Arches National Park. It was my first time there and what a great way to be introduced.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Getting to know me- My thesis project

In Fall 2007, I was lucky enough to get an aerial view of my field area by hiking to the top of Lassen Peak. Keep in mind, I was on a geology field trip, where I only had two hours of free time to climb over 2,000ft and get back down. I was only 15 min. late and I can say I ran down Lassen Peak, down in about 35 min.

So my project is the Chaos Crags, located north of Lassen Peak. The crags consist of 6 rhyolitic domes that contain basaltic-andestic enclaves (which are blobs of a different type rock within the host rock). I will soon be spending many hours (that is, if the smoke from all of the fires clears) point counting these enclaves, looking for different types, size, etc. In the meantime, I am also taking digital pictures within thin-sections of these volcanic rocks and using a method called CSD distribution on plagioclase. I am old school, actually outlining plagioclase crystals within each picture using a lightbox and tracing paper, lets just say my hand and wrist hurts and I should buy stock in Sharpie pens. But I am not complaining because I can do this at home, whenever I feel like it, and it gets me more familiar with the rocks, only if my son was older, he could help me trace and color. I have tried using the computer, but I have to admit that I am not advanced enough to use a program like photoshop CS3 to outline just plagioclase crystals.