Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Appalachian Field Trip
This past weekend I went on a nice field trip to view some geological outcrops in northern Virginia and central Pennsylvania.
I'm a graduate student in geology, and this, I thought, was what geologists do. They go to the field. They whack on rocks with their hammers. They gain insights into the history of the Earth. That's why I got into geology as an undergraduate: The geology department had more field trips than the biology department!
But grad school has been different -- it's all lab work and computer modelling and reading dense papers.
It's not as much fun to learn the nitty gritty of modern geology as it was to get the "big picture" ten years ago when I first started learning about this stuff. Furthermore, since I started grad school in August of last year, I haven't gone on any "learning" field trips at all! What a disappointment! I have gone on a few trips with the undergraduate geology students that I teach -- some photos (and other junk) available on-line at my geology site: http://www.geol.umd.edu/~cbentley/.
So it was a big delight to me to get to join Julio Friedmann's sedimentology and stratigraphy class trip this weekend.
I don't know how it is with the other users of this site, how it is with other readers of HOBOPOET, but I hate being so tied down to my job (even though my job is to learn). It's rough to have sipped from the cup of Vagabond, and then be denied the freedom to wander. My trip this weekend was grand. I spent it exactly how I like to spend my weekends: rolling about the country, looking at rocks, collecting fossils, watching birds, staying up late drinking gin around the campfire, hanging out with interesting people. It was a breath of fresh air, this trip: I felt great; I felt like "This is how I want to spend my time." The reality is that I returned worn out from the 600 miles of road, the strain of hauling a 60 pound sample of fossilized mudcracks down off an outcrop at Horseshoe Bend (near Altoona), and the lack of sleep and high alcohol consumption of the weekend. And then I had to start another week of The Grind, when I all I wanted was to rest.
AJ's goal of working as little as possible is a damn good one. (Though as far as his bathroom techniques, I'll not comment.)
Happy Roaming.

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