Ahhhh, exams being over and fun needing to be had, the geology club (and their fearless empire-building leader) set out on epic adventure of "nerds in the wilderness".
Day 1 was a gorgeous day in the desert, and considering the date was December 12th, we were surprised by the warmth. The clouds were neat looking too.
The plan was to take Mesquite Canyon up into Red Rock Canyon State Park to get to Burro Schmidt's Tunnel, a different route than I usually go. We had 3 vehicles, countless cameras, a Middle East Feast, water, tow strap, emergency contact, energy, rock hammers and a bottle of dilute hydrochloric acid.
Some things were quite different: puddles of water, signs (usually when I go I don't see any signs... so this is an improvement I guess?), the original cabin was boarded up - so no one can get in anymore...
The mummified rat and separated soy sauce also seemed to be "new" - or at least uncovered - the 2nd and 3rd built cabins on the site seem to be undergoing "renovations" of a sort. Of the sort that involves removing scads of mattresses and other garbage, but leaving behind old soy sauce and dessicated rodents.
Other things, like the tremendous views, remained the same - breathtaking as ever.
After visiting Burro Schmidt's tunnel for the zillionth time, I suggested we visit the Bickel Camp, which I had actually never stopped at before. An old time prospector who overlapped in time partially with our old friend Schmidt, he was slightly less nutty and actually mined gold and sold it, rather than digging a tunnel from nowhere to nowhere.
Gas can collection that I was intrigued by.
56 years of canned beans.
Walt himself. Quite beardy. The remainder of the day was spent trying to not get stuck in the middle of the desert, which had a surprisingly wet sandy floor that day, which was remarkably difficult for our token 2 wheel drive truck to cross. Also, the "roads" would randomly be punctuated by a cliff or ravine or massive rock or fence or something inconvenient for even Snaggletooth (the Geomobile Jeep) to navigate.
The next part of the end of year geo club adventure series (day 2) was a garnet hunt in the moutains between us and LA. This was appropriate because garrrnets are the pirate ore (yarrr). We hiked up a mountain in a cloud.
It gave pretty spectacular, spooky, fairytale-like scenery.
So did the trees.
And then it actually snowed - which, for some, was their first ever snowfall. For me, it was like "huh, it's snowing... in southern California"
Once garnet hunting was deemed a success (and garnets were found), we continued on with the non-denominational end-of-year pirate-themed geology winter party - with a dino bounce house. For me, my first time in a bounce house - YAY! Thanks to one of the geo club students (El Presidente) who actually owns it (well, her family does).
After we bounced ourselves silly and legless we retreated to dinner, which included the traditional pirate feast of "fish loaf" (a fish baked into a loaf - kalakukko - traditional recipe). Captain Bear Beard actually undertook this task (and built the elephant pinata) - and went to the extent of shaping the loaf like a fish too. It was excellent. No fish heads were included on the inside. Nor was there bacon, as one of our young pirates does not eat meat. Yarrr.
Logically there were brachiosaur and elephant cookies to be decorated & eaten (thanks Lulu for the brachiosaur cookie/pancake cutter - still comes in handy). Along with loads of other treats.
The evening culminated with games (Apples to Apples & Cranium), and a white elephant gift exchange and white elephant pirate pinata (obviously). It was necessary to use the "double eye patch" blind fold method and eventually finish it off with swords. All in all it would have been tricky to squeeze anything else in, this was one of the best multi-themed adventure-parties I have ever done. Much laughter was involved.