Published: March 11th 2012March 11th 2012
Flying high over the Rockies!
After an eye piercing 5AM wake-up, our trip began. I could’ve done without shutting down Haakons with the MilVets last night, but I woke up with steam in the tank and excited for the adventure! As is customary, I arrived early to help lug the bags from the Faculty lounge in Schermerhorn down to the shuttles that were waiting to take us to JFK. After a few phone calls to a few oversleeping, post-midterm Ivy Leaguers, we herded the cattle and made our way from Columbia’s front gate to JFK.
Weighted down like pack mules, we arrived with a healthy 15 large duffle bags of gear to accompany all of our personal necessities. We checked into our flight to the tune of some good news! Using my military ID, I was able to get the group 10, yes 10, free bags checked which undoubtedly saved this wonderful University some serious dough-ray-mi. “Join the Navy, see the world” pssshhhh “Join the Navy and check some free bags!”
After loading onto carts, unloading from carts, loading onto shuttle, unloading from shuttle, loading into vans, un…. You get the point, we were exhausted. The plane ride was a welcomed opportunity to unwind,
Over Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam
nap, watch movies, etc… It also provided some scenic views of the Rockies and Hoover Dam (photos attached, but hoover dam not seen on the opposite side of Lake Meade). After long-last we had arrived in Vegas. VEGAS, BABY!!!! As expected, slot machines and advertisements alluded to what is certainly an appropriately bestowed nickname of “Sin City”. (note to self, if in search of fun and mischief, return with the boys).
We loaded up all of our gear and rogue team of geology nerds and went shopping for rations at Trader Joes like a family! We did our best to reach the $1,000 mark in groceries, but capped out around $950. After an impromptu game of the price-is-right vs. the cashiers, Abby even made off with a group of organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups which she lovingly shared with her brothers and sisters. We then capitalized on a moment to capture Dr. Hemming in a pose with the receipt after reassurance we wouldn’t share the photo with the Department’s finance folks. On the way out, I was able to snap a street sign that holds dear to my heart!
Without further ado, it was time to start
Dr. Hemming and our grocery bill!
some geology! We decided to make a brief pit stop at Red Rock Canyon where we had an opportunity to snap some inaugural photos (attached). Rafael, who is completing his PhD based on research in this particular region. With his expertise, he was able to give us a rundown on what we were seeing. Most notably, we were able to pick out evidence of a thrust, which is a geologic phenomenon that results in older rocks actually being placed over younger rocks, defying the stratigraphic law of superposition. This can be attributed to the subduction zone that resides along the coast of California. When one plate subducts beneath another and is backstopped by a continental boundary, the lithified sediments (in this case, sand that has been heated and compressed over time) push up the existing geologic structures. The boundary between the younger and older rocks is distinctly marked by a coloration difference. The sandstone is called Navajo or Aztec sandstone and is a distinct red color. This rock is dated to Jurrasic period of about 120ma (million years ago). The other is a greyish carbonate limestone deposited approximately 520ma when the region was tropical and covered by a shallow sea.
Home sweet home... except with palm trees
This fact is known because of the source of the carbonate being shells that inhabited such areas. We are going to return to this spot to discuss in further detail, but for now, we are in the van and headed to Cynthia’s to crash for the night!
Quick updated and requested additions:
Professor Hemming (from here forward referenced as Sid) mashed on the gas pedal while two students were attempting to get in the car, leaving them behind in a cloud of dust. It is also notable that Meg almost crashed no less than 6 times in 2 hours. It’s possible that only 1 of the 3 drivers is actually qualified to do so.
Shower pressure at Cynthia’s is incredible! Best shower I’ve had in quite some time. While I was unpacking groceries and helping the group get settled in, I missed out on snagging a bed. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I was able (after a little bit of trouble) to inflate my air mattress at the top of an observation tower under the beautiful desert sky. This marks the first time I’ve ever slept outside and not in a tent
Red Rock outcropping
(save for one time that my father likes to remind me of when I impressed the neighbors by passing out drunk on the front lawn). What an incredible moon that sits just over the tops of the mountains. Unbelievable experience, unbelievable feeling, great first night.
There are more photos below