Tuesday, April 27, 2010


So I took a few students to tag along on SSU's semi-annual PaleoPalooza field trip (combined with other schools as well). Kiki and Loki made valiant efforts to come along too, but the trip started without them and with a remarkably horrid freak April blizzard en route to Nevada...

the view out the window from my Jeep-hammock on morning #1

After we awoke to a snow dump and packed up wet gear and pushed and pulled the vans out of the wet sandy snowy campsite, we moseyed on to see some Ichthyosaur action in Berlin-Ichthyosaur state park, also coated in snow.

The next day we ventured off to find some Redlichid trilobites, but that too was covered in snow. Amazingly, one of the SSU girls found this awesome specimen.

Then a few of us took a break from geology and took a romp through an abandoned brothel, check out the snazzy wallpaper!

After some snooping we continued on to investigate some archaeocyathid reefs, which took us into the next day and up Mt Dunphy (near Goldpoint), where some oddly angled stromatolites can be found.

On our final day, the weather had cleared spectacularly and we hit the fossil jackpot with some pretty fabulous ammonites.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Extreme Chef decided that in order to prevent the onset of senility, we needed to learn how to play Bridge. Contract Bridge. One of these sessions occurred during the early afternoon, so I suggested that we do it with tea and scones and Devonshire cream. I volunteered to make the scones.

For some reason, our Devonshire cream source took it upon themselves to lemon and sugar up the cream, so the effect wasn't quite as authentic as we were going for, even considering the scones were fat little dinosaurs.

In completely unrelated business, except the photo of them was also on my phone, I received some delightful wildflowers from a student last week. So pretty!!! Naturally I did not have a vase to put them in, so I went with the tiki head mug instead. Thanks KM!

The Great Becky and Natalie Adventure 2010 - - - Part 5

The rest of the time, which was not much at all, was spent relaxing and making plans in Bakersfield and then visiting the Getty Center in LA.

Kiki caught in the act of being a "garbage cat" - what is he licking???

Loki "helps" us plan our day at the coast

I gave a (swimming) tour of Bakersfield's "mighty" Kern River, and the delightful scenery we have in the area by the bike path. More details in the video below...

the best place to eat in Bakersfield is Mama Roomba, it's fabulous, so we ate there

finally, last tour before the airport: the Hollywood sign

The Great Becky and Natalie Adventure 2010 - - - Part 4

To contrast the desert, we then ventured to the Central Coast for a little wine tasting and some Pacific Ocean.

Tobin James started the day off right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) with 18 tastes... GAH!

after more than enough wine, we made our way to Cambria and had a delicious dinner concocted from all things local, including, apparently, flowers

and finally made it to the beach - but it was a very gloomy, foggy, overcast day... so I guess these photos look somewhat ominous

The Great Becky and Natalie Adventure 2010 - - - Part 3

Death Valley - the lowest point in North America greeted us with some impressive wind; on the order of 50 mph (we were told it was closer to 100 mph up on the racetrack!!!) - as a result of this, the entire basin was pretty much a sandstorm when we arrived. We couldn't even SEE badwater, it was just a cloud of brown. So, we investigated the visitor center for a bit and grabbed a beer and pizza at the Furnace Creek Saloon before driving up into the Panamints to meet up with my Rockbuddy who'd saved us a camp site up at Wildrose - still windy, but no sand!

before entering Death Valley we stopped at Death Valley Junction to wash the sand out of my retinas, as I could no longer see (and consequently drive) by that point

the sand storm was still raging once we entered the park - I had to push the Jeep door open on my side with both feet!!!

the next morning at Wildrose camp - note the snow behind us, it was in fact pretty chilly up there

thankfully the sandstorm had quit (though the wind hadn't) so we were able to do a few hikes while we were there - I love the contrast of the highs and lows in Death Valley - snow on the mountains, 100% evaporation leaving behind salt in the basin

behind blown around by the wind at Badwater Basin

hike 2 - at the Natural Bridge - gave us some spectacular views back down into the valley

then we investigated Salt Creek for the pupfish that live in this most extreme of environments - not only a hot salty creek, but also a really bitc*y park volunteer, poor fishies!

then finally, the absolute best (and our final hike of the day), was Mosaic Canyon (any guesses as to why it is called that?) - it was amazing!!!

great views, great rocks, really astounding part of the park that I'd never even heard of before

the contrast of the breccia on beautifully polished smooth banded marble, was really outstanding - the Romans would have wanted this marble for sure

this 360 gives a good solid view of: 1. the wind, 2. the sandstorm in the valley, 3. the nasty thunderstorm we were driving rapidly away from, and 4. the sunny spot on the horizon we were aiming for to avoid flash floods

The Great Becky and Natalie Adventure 2010 - - - Part 2

After the Hoover Dam, we stayed at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. For me, the best part of the Vegas experience was stumbling across the "neon sign boneyard" - soon to become the neon sign museum. At the time of our visit, it was a couple of fixed up signs on Fremont St. with plaques and a massive pile o' signs in a parking lot in North Las Vegas.

The Great Becky and Natalie Adventure 2010 - - - Part 1

The Hoover Dam: We got a sweet tour of the Hoover Dam through tunnels from the original 1931 excavation, and this was all thanks to us going as a educational group - the BC Engineers' Club - our guide, Bill, was hilarious and the whole adventure left me feeling very small!

looking down nearly 600 feet to the water level

peering out of a 9 ft "window" (ventilation shaft) about 300 ft up from the water

the mandatory group shot from just about water level, looking up almost 550 ft

standing on the border... over the Colorado river