I just got back from a little over two weeks on the road - Wyoming, Banff, and Utah - for a mix of fieldwork and conferencing to kick off my summer of travel. Highlights from this trip include:
- My first rattlesnake (seen, not heard)
- My first scorpion
- My first wild horses
- Getting stomped at by an aggressive but small elk
- Accidentally making a dry ice bomb (is that a highlight? well, it's memorable, at any rate)
- Not getting stuck in mud on backcountry two-track
- Reaching one of the most remote ranges in the Basin & Range
- Getting a Canada stamp in my passport, finally
- Working with a fantastic undergrad in the field
- Amazing lightning storm over all of southeastern Utah
- So many stromatolites/microbialites
- Returning to a lush, green Michigan with a blooming garden
It was an exhausting but invigorating trip. In Wyoming, I was with my PI and a labmate for a field trip + mini-conference for a new Green River/Eocene climate collaboration with ~20 other folks, so it was great to drive around with experts and get a new perspective on the rocks out there. We'll be going back in late summer/early fall to do more sampling for that project. I headed to Banff for five days for the second Geobiology conference which, with about 200 people, was such a great and surprisingly diverse meeting (i.e., we talked about things other than sequencing). It was also breathtaking - I haven't been to the Canadian Rockies before, and they exceeded by expectations. I haven't been running much in Michigan, but as we were driving in, I just thought... I can't not run here. So I got up before the conference every day and ran. Like an adult. With motivation. What a concept.
After Banff, I met my undergrad researcher Katie in SLC and we drove down to Moab. If you haven't been, picture the reddest rocks you've seen soaring straight up in massive, vertical cliffs, with a rich blue sky arced overhead and a rainbow terrain dotted with bright green sage and juniper. (And soil crusts!) It's pretty spectacular. We were there for a whirlwind weekend of biological soil crust sampling, plus a little sightseeing since it was her first time in Utah. Aside from the accidental-dry-ice-bomb incident (which is apparently a second-degree felony in Utah, just a heads up), it was a fantastic little trip and a great way to cap off my first round of travel for the summer.
Next stop: the Faroe Islands!