Thursday, January 31, 2019
There's this suspicious storage container on our campus. It's been there for months, all through the construction of our much-anticipated Great Valley Outdoor Nature Lab. It's always closed and locked up and I've never seen what's inside. It's makes one wonder what could be stored there...
Monday, January 28, 2019
Does this sound intriguing, a kind of place that you might like to visit? You could be there in a few weeks, and learn the details of the geologic story of this unique and precious place. I'll be teaching a 2-unit course on the geology Death Valley through Modesto Junior College on Feb. 14-18. We'll be camping out and spending our days hiking and exploring this fascinating place. If this all sounds interesting, join us! If you live in the Modesto area, we'll have an informational meeting on Thursday, January 31 at 5:30 PM in Science Community Center Room 326. If you can't make the meeting, all the trip information is available at the class website at: http://hayesg.faculty.mjc.edu/Death_Valley_Field_Studies.html. Information on registration for classes at Modesto Junior College can be found at https://www.mjc.edu/.
Come and join us!
Sunday, January 20, 2019
Friday, January 18, 2019
Join the Geotrippers! British Columbia, the Channeled Scablands, the Olympic Peninsula and the North Cascades, June 26-July 10, 2019
From Nanaimo, we'll take a ferry back to the North America mainland at Howe Sound. We will spend several days in the Vancouver area, exploring both the coastal mountains and Fraser River delta, and also the extensive museums in the city.
When and How? The group will come together in Renton, Washington (near SeaTac Airport and Seattle) on June 26 and will return to SeaTac mid-day on July 10. We will travel in rental vans, and stay in hotels.
Costs: The trip will cost $1,600, which includes transportation, admission fees, accommodations, and teaching materials. Students will be responsible for getting to and from Seattle, and for meals (many of the hotels offer free breakfasts, and some rooms will have microwaves). There will be the tuition costs for six units of semester credit, and the fees for getting or renewing a passport.
Accommodations: We are staying in a variety of motels and hotels. We are assuming double occupancy for married couples, and double to triple occupancy for singles. We will try to accommodate requests for single rooms for a surcharge, but cannot guarantee it. (The earlier your request, the better the chance for getting extra rooms).
Academics: The field courses are worth three semester units each (total of six). Participants will be expected to keep field notes and to complete worksheets and quizzes during the trip.
There will be an informational meeting on Wednesday January 23rd at 7:00 PM in Science Community Center 326 on the West Campus of MJC. Contact the professors if you cannot attend (hayesg - at - Yosemite.edu or kerrs - at -Yosemite.edu).
For up-to-date announcements, check out the trip Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1920712791360611/ and the MJC Geology information page at http://hayesg.faculty.mjc.edu/GeologyPacificNorthwest.html
Friday, January 11, 2019
Thursday, January 3, 2019
This year just gets better and better (I have a futile hope that this trend continues for the entire year...). Yesterday I get the best look ever at a Bobcat on the Tuolumne River, and then today, another marvelous sight: River Otters up close and personal.
I see River Otters once in awhile during my walks along the Tuolumne River Parkway Trail in Waterford, but they've always been pretty far away, and I characteristically see a nose and eyes sticking out of the water. Today I was along part of the Don Pedro irrigation infrastructure near La Grange looking for a rare bird that's been reported in the area. I was on a highway bridge and looking down I saw ripples along the bank and immediately figured it was some ducks hiding in the brush, but then I saw whiskers. I started snapping pictures, which were all practically unusable except for the one above. I then remembered to turn on the video and I got a pretty nice, if short, bit of one of the otters exploring the bank.
River Otters have a decent future as California rivers get cleaner and flows become more generous as planners start to see rivers in the context of an entire ecosystem that we are part of, instead of as a faucet solely for agricultural interests. A pair of River Otters was even seen in Yosemite Valley recently for the first time in decades. It is such a pleasure to see these playful animals in the wild.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Here's some unexpected fun...Mrs. Geotripper and I decided on the spur of the moment to watch the sunset from upstream on the Tuolumne River near Turlock Lake. Of course I was watching for bird species, but something moving in the field a few hundred yards away caught my eye. I realized it was a Bobcat. It didn't notice me watching. I was snapping pictures at first, and all it was doing was showing me its tail, but I finally realized I could also do video. Eventually I got two pictures of its face. It's the first one I've ever seen long enough for pictures of any kind.
Bobcats are a North American species with a range that extends from Central Mexico to Canada. They are smaller than Lynxes, but about twice as big as a domestic cat. The ancestors of the Bobcat came across the Bering Land Strait around 2.6 million years ago, and the modern species appeared about 20,000 years ago. They've done pretty well adapting to the expansion of the human species despite being hunted for their fur or to prevent predation of farm animals.
It was a thrill to finally see one for more than a brief glance!
Tuesday, January 1, 2019
|Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park|
|Merced National Wildlife Refuge, south of the city of Merced.|
|Zabriskie Point and Manly Beacon in Death Valley National Park|
|Natural Bridge in Death Valley National Park|
We survived a phenomenal windstorm on the last night of our trip. I hate to say I littered in a national park, but somewhere out on the dunes there is a tarp that blew away from under my tent in the night.
|The Ghirardelli Store in Hornitos within the Sierra Nevada Mother Lode|
|Yosemite Falls in Yosemite Valley|
|Mt. Rainier in Washington|
|Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado downstream of Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam|
|House on Fire Ruin in Bear's Ears National Monument|
|Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park|
|Valentine Cave in Lava Beds National Monument|
December arrived and along with it came the holidays. We have family all along the coast from California to Washington, so Christmas for us was a very long road trip. On our last night we stayed near Mt. Shasta in Northern California. The sunset provided beautiful lenticular clouds around the summit of the second and third highest volcanoes in the Cascades (you'll have to check out the last post to learn about that one).
And that was the story of my year and that of my students and Mrs. Geotripper. We saw a lot of incredible things, and my whole purpose in describing these places is to encourage you to explore them for yourselves. I know that this is impossible for many, which is quite literally why I write this blog. But if you can make time and get away, seek out the wild places where you live. If your local college offers field studies courses, consider getting back into school for some personal enrichment. I guarantee you won't regret it.
If you live in the vicinity of Modesto, the Modesto Junior College Geology Department will be offering a great line-up of field studies courses. We'll explore Death Valley again in February, the Southern Mother Lode in March, and Yosemite Valley in April. In September we'll head out to the Eastern Sierra Nevada and Owens Valley. In October we'll travel through the Mother Lode, and in November we'll be back to Pinnacles National Park.
But our premier trip with be on June 26-July 10 when we head to British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. We'll be exploring Olympic and North Cascades National Parks, Vancouver Island, and the Coastal Mountain Ranges around Whistler and Pemberton. It will be a memorable experience. If you are interested, keep an eye on this blog, follow our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1920712791360611/, or the class web page (soon to be updated) at http://hayesg.faculty.mjc.edu/GeologyPacificNorthwest.html.
See you on the road!