Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Cave...

Wanna know where I've been lately? For class, I wrote a paper on the recent adventures/field trip taken with my class. Enjoy. Please note: sarcastic comments and true feelings about the trip are italicized.

After spending weeks in the classroom learning about rocks, caves, and water (and other exciting topics) it was time to set out on the highly anticipated all day GEO-100 field trip. (This didn't need to be all day. Some of us have jobs.)  Our first stop after a quick half hour drive (that seemed like an eternity, but thanks to driving with our lab groups, the day wasn't as bad as it could have been) was the stop to the English-Sulphur exit ( I kid you not. Literally on the SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY. I thought that we had missed the stop and needed a place to turn around.) where the group spent the morning looking and “digging” for fossils that were over 300 million years old (What that really should translate to is pretending to find rocks, get bored after about ten minutes looking, decide to have a competition of who can get a rock closest to the goal, or throwing rocks from a cliff . Your's truly was not involved. I just watched.)  When we pulled in to the exit, I was not prepared for the search of fossils on the side of the highway. (No really, I wasn't.) While the brief hike was filled with trees, and rocks, the climb was well worth it. It was a great experience to get hands on with Mother Earth and find my own fossils. (That I don't know what to do with). Finding fossils takes a lot of work, but to find fossils that were over 300 million years old made the experience worth it, (taking fossils that old should be illegal.)  and made me pay attention to what I was looking for (Or thinking about my PFM prepared lunch.) Leaving with a nice size bag of red sand stones, and fossils, it was time to get back into the car where it was off to part two of the day; Hemlock Cliffs. (Oh boy. More climbing. I wore the wrong pair of shoes.) 
            (Insert yet another long drive farther from civilization.) The first glances of Hemlock cliffs were absolutely breathtaking.(This part was true.) Everything was so green and vibrant. I had been told that there was a waterfall somewhere down in the forest, but there was a good chance we wouldn’t be seeing it. It made me that much more determined to find this spoken of waterfall. Following the sounds of running water, I would stumble upon the site of the waterfall where I was greeted by boulders that made me think I wasn’t getting close with Mother Nature. I climbed (slipped down) the boulders and found myself standing under the waterfall with my hands cupped waiting to drink the water from it. (The highlight of the day,and something that you would see in an early 2000's Jessica Simpson romantic music video with now ex-husband Nick Lachey.) My peers had told me that the water was safe to drink, so I trusted them. It was some of the best water I have tasted; it was cold, clean tasting, (or so I thought) and refreshing. The waterfall and the subsequent hike was my favorite part of the day. (Partial lie. The hike? MISERABLE) The hike was strenuous, but invigorating.(Strenuous for a girl who doesn't hike, is allergic to trees, plants, pollen, grass, and didn't want to get her shoes dirty. At one point during the hike, I was with one half of my group, while the other half? No sight or sounds from them. My professor eventually caught up with my group and finished the hike, where at one point I heard one of my peers ask, if the waterfall water safe to drink. His answer? Ehhhh, I wouldn't personally drink it because it hasn't been filtered, but it won't kill you to taste it. Following the hike, it was time to devour my well earned PFM sandwich accompanied by enough snacks to last me a week. My professor had told us that there were picnic tables at the site. Negative. Instead, with half of my class still missing, we roughed it, and used the ground as our table.This is where I became friends with tick one and tick two. With less than 10 minutes to spare before leaving for final the main reason of the stop day, the other half emerged from the woods.)
           (Again, insert another 30 minute drive of four hot, sweaty, and exhausted people; at one point I saw a sign that read 48 miles to Louisville) It was time for the main event of the day (At this point I could have been back in civilization, earning dollars and hours at the PFM) and the reason of our trip; Marengo Cave. It had been a while since I had been to a cave, so I was looking forward to this part of the day. (Because I could see the finish line of the day). Plus, I was informed that the cave was a chilly 52° inside, and after the strenuous 1.2 mile hike, the coolness was a much needed relief. It was an added bonus that Sarah, alum of IUS was our tour guide. Once down 15 feet below the surface, (and no cell phone reception to be had) we were started our Crystal Palace tour that greeted us with millions of formations of stalagmites and stalactites. (I had to get some sort of scientific term in the paper.) Throughout the cave, there were two “attractions” that I enjoyed. (One because I really did enjoy it, the other, sounded like I really paid attention. The first was the mirrored lake illusion. It made you think that the water was twice as deep as you thought. (I'm tired, hot, and not in the mood to play mind games) The other was when Sarah turned out all the lights to show how Orris and Blanche (Blanche? She's one of my favorite Golden Girls) founded the cave; in total darkness. No screens of cell phones, no flashlights, nothing. (Okay, fine, maybe that was kinda sorta cool.) Sarah had lit a candle to show just the tiniest of light. When the tour was over, it felt like it had just started. I would love to go back and spend the day there and do some of the other tours.(Insert exaggerated eye roll here. That's about the last thing I want to do on an off day. Just someone get me back to civilization and cell phone reception.) 
            Overall, the field trip(s) were a great experience.(Compared to sitting in a basement with no windows identifying rocks and fossils.)  I found great enjoyment of getting to do hand on things, and spending time with my classmates outside of my lab group. (Almost finished with the class, and still don't know the majority of names.) I also really enjoyed getting to see different parts of the state that I haven’t seen before. (Because we all know about Sara's two mile radius) This field trip was something unique, different, and fun. (Insert the awkward sentence closer here.) 


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