Friday, October 5, 2012

Accretionary Wedge 50: Bad Karma or the Giant Spaghetti Monster? Microburst at Grand Tetons

Evelyn Mervine at Georneys is the host of this month's Accretionary Wedge, and the topic is a delightful one: Share a fun moment from geology field camp or a geology field trip. You can share a story, a picture, a song, a slogan, a page from your field notebook– anything you like! Thanks loads, to choose from 30 years of geological journeys??? If you have followed my blog at all, you know it is mostly stories from the road. So how to choose? I finally settled on the story that convinced me that the Giant Spaghetti Monster must really exist, or at least some level of karma...

It was a while back, in the 1990s. We were on our way to Montana to assist at a dino-dig at the original discovery site of the Velociraptor cousin Deinonychus. Excitement was high, as this took place right after Jurassic Park premiered, and we were working at one of the excavations directed by Jack Horner. It was a long drive, and we stopped for a night at Grand Tetons National Park.

What happened that particular evening became one of our department legends. One our students had a knack for fomenting trouble with the powers-that-be in the Universe. On various previous trips he had speculated about what it would be like to get stung by a scorpion, and within a day, he had been (unwillingly) stung by a scorpion. At a stop, he asked if we would see any rattlesnakes. He stepped on one moments later. There was a karma that hung about Craig like a hangman's noose.

There was a discussion that evening at Grand Tetons in the twilight about whether we would experience any bad weather on our journey. The skies were clear that night with just a few puffy clouds about. For some reason, Craig looked towards the heavens, raised a rock hammer towards the sky, and said "I dare the gods to make it rain!". I'm not kidding about what followed. Within ten minutes of his brash statement, our campground was enveloped in a violent storm, our vision obscured by thick blowing dust, and high winds were knocking down old cottonwood trees all around us. Fifteen minutes later the winds died, the dust cleared, and the camp was a shambles. Tents were ripped apart, and branches were down all over our camp. Our vans were undamaged, but a tree had crushed a van in the other part of the campground (people were in it, but were unhurt). We thought we had been hit by a tornado, but more likely it was a microburst from a storm that approached us unseen from the east.

Needless to say, Craig spent much of the rest of the trip muzzled....but this is not the only Craig story. The other involved rattlesnakes, deer, and a lost student. If you are interested, it can be found here....

1 comment:

entropy said...

A violent storm like that is a bit further than I'd go, but I love it when weirdness strikes.

Definitely going for the further adventures with Craig. His pattern certainly does have that stylized instant-karma (just add rocks) / "be careful what you wish" sort of thing going on.