Back to Civilization

Monday, 2004-08-16; 01:54:00


So I'm back... since last night, actually. I got in at 8:15 PM and luckily was able to secure a ride from one of my gracious friends since my parents are out of town and my grandparents weren't home (and because STUPID CalTrain doesn't coordinate with regular trains schedules... that would just be too easy).

It's a little weird to be back in civilization. I was just getting used to the very slow way of life at the ranch in New Mexico out of which we were based.. we got up at 6:30 in the morning, had breakfast, left at around 8, and got to the desired outcrop/field area at around 9. Then we'd leave at around 3:30, get back at 4:30, have dinner at 6, and go to bed around 10. There was plenty of time to take a nap, just sit around and talk for a few hours, read the funnies, actually attempt the crossword for a change, and maybe do a little reading (ha, right). Half of the time there were also evening lectures at around 8 PM, but they rarely lasted more than 30 or 45 minutes. Additionally, there were 3 rest days (they weren't all at once, though) where we didn't have to do any field work.

Since our schedule was not dictated by weekdays or weekends, I often didn't know what day of the week it was (honestly). More often than not, I didn't really even care. There weren't any random little errands for which to rush about besides laundry, and the only deadlines we had were for our projects. No telephone, no computers, no TV, no newspaper, no internet. Mmm.. a fairly good severance from modern society (although electricity, gas, and running water were still ever present).

I took a few pictures throughout the whole month I was in New Mexico (about 2.5 rolls of film). There were an inordinate number of paparazzi on the trip, however, so I can just mooch of off them since a lot of them were digital cameras. Sometimes people need to learn to put down the camera and have fun instead of trying to take pictures of fun. As an alternative, you can try to choose your shots carefully to make them more meaningful.

Besides the slightly annoying incessant picture-taking, everyone at field camp was pretty cool. Everybody was interested in volcanology, so I was able to pretty much work well with anybody out in the field and get the projects done adequately. There were a few international students, too: one from Scotland, two from England, and one from Italy. I managed to practice my Italian and learn all the geological terms in Italian, which was pretty cool -- it's funny, though; most of the words are spelled exactly the same, but with Italian-style pronunciation. That means that you usually can pronounce a word correctly just by "Italian-izing" it, which doesn't work with normal words. ;)

As for the projects themselves, they were all really well structured and ordered so that we would all get the most out of the experience, and I definitely learned a lot of volcanology stuff that just can't be taught with a whiteboard and hand samples. Context when dealing with rocks is extremely important, and you can't bring outcrops to the classroom; so I definitely appreciated the wide range of rock outcrops that were available where we were staying, since it really helped me to understand not only the processes but also how rocks and deposits look after they are emplaced.

The woman from Italy had actually already received her Ph.D. in volcanic calderas, but wanted to learn more about the different types of deposits. She was very impressed with the field course, which obviously says something. :) I don't think there was anyone who didn't enjoy the course, and I can see why that is given the plush nature of the accomodations and the high quality of instruction.

We camped for a total of 5 nights or so out in the field (which included the really fun raft trip down the Rio Grande river -- water fights and dunking professors, woo!), but we worked out of the ranch the rest of the time. And, of course, the nightly thunderstorms were a definite plus. I must admit that New Mexico is a very appealing place, even when compared with California. Who knows, maybe I'll move there someday. :) (I did get to visit a friend who recently graduated from Stanford, too, so that was pretty cool.)

Pictures will probably follow, depending on how soon I send my rolls in for development and how soon others post their pictures up on the net. I've got some spectacular pictures of various views and awesome outcrops, including a deposit of volcanic sand dunes.

All in all, though, I'd say I had an excellent 3.5 weeks in New Mexico.

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