Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer field camp - halfway point.

Field camp is halfway over. It has been a fun experience that I will be both happy and sad to see end. It's certainly been a strange lifestyle for me.

My typical day consists of the following:

Waking up at 6:50 and forcing myself to choke down nasty cafeteria food. From here I go meet with the other geologists where we meet and get a short briefing on the day and then we hop in some crazy motorpool vans which are then taken on roads which are probably only meant for cattle. We arrive at our destination sometime around 9 and at this point we hop out and do some joyous mapping stuff which consists of walking around endless field and forests in search for rock contact changes. We use a GPS to mark these places and then continue looking for anything of significance. Around noon we stop and eat. I have brought a peanut butter (without jelly) sandwich for lunch every day so far. I'm getting quite sick of them. After this we continue the prior mapping stuff until around 4ish when we all start getting excited to go home and we get back in the motorpool vans and head back to eat some delicious cafeteria food. (Yes, after 8 hours of being in the field it's quite amazing despite tasting horrible.) After this I spend time either chatting with friends, going to get drinks or writing up reports from the information I gathered. It's fun, I guess, but it's not at the same time.

I really like that these 29 people I spend every day mapping with have become, for the most part, my friends. I realize the likelihood of me ever seeing them again after 18 more days is almost zero and that is somewhat sad because I really enjoy some of them, but it's cool being around such a unique and diverse group of people. I've really enjoyed going to the bars with them and spending days off exploring downtown Ashland and playing sports. It really reminds me of the first two years I spent in Logan. Except it just feels so much more like the real world that I see in movies and what I feel life should be like. We go out to bars and sing karaoke and we cuss at each other and we're all just friends. There's no drama of who dated or made out with who or who is a sinner for not going to church. It's just a really laid back bunch of people to be around. I can't even begin to express how different the social aspect of life here is than it is in Utah. I really like it, but sometimes I also miss my innocent Utah bubble. Despite wanting to get away from it, it is what I've known for 18 years and it's a part of me.

I finished my first project a few days ago which was in Hilt, California. This was a very intense structural mapping project in the hot sun and hilly terrain. The east coast people called them mountains, haha. The paper ended up being around 20 pages after figures and appendices. I felt so professional having written this thing, haha.

The thing I think I hate most about this place is living in college dorms. College dorms are horrible excuses for a living situation. I'd almost rather be in a tent in the woods. There is no such thing as peace and you can't be alone. There's always someone making noise. While for the social aspect of life this is good and I always have something to do, sometimes I kind of just want quiet. I also hate using what is basically a public restroom. It's kind of gross. Also the whole experience is kind of like boot camp for geologists. This may sound like an exaggeration, but it isn't. We work long hours, get back and have to interpret. This happens six days a week and on top of that we get no sleep, we eat terrible food and basically live in bunkers. I suppose I do have my own room and this is nice, but it's not like I can't hear every damn thing everyone in the rooms next to me say.

Today was a fun experience at least. We're in a new field area that is northeast of Ashland in a forest. It rained pretty hard most of the day (by Utah standards anyway) and made the entire forest drip with water. The forest was so thick that there were decomposing logs that would make up the entire forest floor in some places. After tracing a contact between Tertiary and Quaternary lava flows we needed to head back to the rendezvous point. My two partners and I were about a kilometer out in some of the thickest vegetation I've ever seen, probably about as thick as the stuff I worked in on the Oquirrh's last summer, and had about 45 minutes to get back. It was some pretty intense bush whacking to get back to the river that we would have to ford. Then we had a brilliant idea that we could use the suspended cable trolley in the area that is used to measure streamflow velocity. Unfortunately it started pouring rain at this point and there were three of us for the two seater trolley which needed a fourth person to taxi it across the stream for us. We ended up cramming in the trolley and heading back across through the rain. It was really fun. The van ride back was rather miserable as it was about 45 minutes and I was soaking wet.

Tomorrow I get to go back to the same location and continue working on my volcanic flow/stream flow hydrogeology project which will actually be used by the Medford Water Commission in their analysis of the watershed system which is used to supply all of Rogue Valley, minus Ashland, with their water. Sort of looking forward to it, however the freezing cold water is definitely not a perk. Anyway, I need to be up in about 7 hours, goodnight.

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