June and July Video Craze

Throughout June and July, in addition to snappin' as many photos as possible, I took a number of videos.  These videos include Yellowstone paint pots, mud pots, Old Faithful, and a herd of bison running next to the road in Yellowstone.

The most exciting video is one in which my classmate, Bobby, caught a rattlesnake.  Before he was a teacher, he actually used to catch snakes and small crocodiles.. so he knew what he was doing!  There were plenty of rattlesnakes to be seen at Makoshika State Park!

Also, last night I created a 2 year anniversary video for Collin, to the tune of Jack Johnson's "Do you Remember?"  I twisted the lyrics and put our own story to the music.

Enjoy the videos!


Week 3 and 4 of my Montana Adventure

During week 3 and 4 of my Montana adventure, I spent lots of time hiking (I hiked Sacagawea Peak- the highest peak in the Bridger Mts), hanging out with my new friends, and digging up dinosaur bones! Yes, that's right, I got to be a paleontologist for a week.  For paleontology class, we went to Makoshika State Park, which is in Glendive, MT, about 20 miles west of North Dakota.  The heat was relentless; every day the temps were in high 90s and even over 100 at many points.  This combined with hiking around hills every day for 9+ hours was not a good combination, but I still had a blast!  I found quite a few little caves to seek refuge in or eat my lunch.  Some of our class findings include: scoot (the bony structures that form the bumps on crocodiles' backs), teeth (most likely from T-rex), a femur (most likely from a hadrosaur), a rib bone (we had to reassemble it), gastropods and other marine life (this area was under the ocean at one point).  We even got to cast some fossils and bring them back to study and to donate them to the Museum of the Rockies.  One of the places we prospected was a landfill; behind the area with all the garbage, there is an abundance of dinosaur bones waiting to be discovered.  Only MSU students and paleontologists who work for the Museum of the Rockies are allowed to step foot on this land and excavate bones.  Cool, huh!? 

I learned something fascinating this week... did you know that a "mass extinction," by definition, is an extinction that takes 2 million years or less?  Growing up, I had always imagined a mass extinction happened in a few days or weeks.  This opens my mind to the theory that dinos could have died out very gradually, or they died gradually and an asteroid finished them off.  There is evidence of iridium and there are actual asteroid craters, so I'm not sure where the asteroid came in, but I do believe there was one. 

Studying science this summer has really allowed me to focus on God and my faith... it has actually grown stronger, having seen so many amazing sights.  I had so many breathtaking moments this summer that made me think, "wow, there's no way this could have been created by anything other than intelligent design."  I've just been struggling to align biblical events with geologic events... one of my new friends did suggest I read The Science of God, so that will be the next book I check out.

I made so many amazing friends this summer that are just as nerdy as I am when it comes to science.  It has been super fun to spend my time with people who have so much in common.  I'm so thankful for this experience! 

Below are pictures from my last two weeks, including my 11.5 hour drive home from Bozeman to Olympia!

Kid on Sacagawea Peak

Nannies and kid on Sacagawea Peak

Crossing a snow field on Sacagawea

Touching the top of Hardscrabble Peak.. right next to Sacagawea Peak

4th of July with Cara (from Dubai) in Bozeman!

Bozeman fireworks

My hiking buddies.. Cara from Dubai, Stephanie from Chicago, and Josh from Pennsylvania

Grizzly in Yellowstone

Take a deep breath... serious......

there we go!  Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Spring

ridges caused by rainwater falling down slopes of sandstone

Taking a break... this was a hard hike with no trails... lots of gracefully falling down cascading rocks!  Luckily there were plenty of hands to help each other.

resting on my ledge :)

Went and checked out the sunset from top of camp.  I also watched an amazing lightning storm that took up at least 90 degrees of the sky.  It was so far away you couldn't hear it, but you could still see it.  BIG SKY COUNTRY. 

View from top of camp... looking at Hell Creek.  I hiked down there.

taking some alone time at night to soak up God's awesomeness behind me

pretending to be dinos, while taking a break from the sun.

hadrosaur femur

one of the sites we were at was just a huge, steep hill with terrain like this.  I used a pick-axe to create steps for us.

This is what happens when you ask Matt if he wouldn't mind taking a picture.  Smart alec.

Hanging out with Hank in the seats we dug out of the hill.  They were nice and cool and we caught a breeze. Hank said I reminded him of his daughter, so much of my time was spent telling him the things I appreciate about my dad... he's going to try some of the things I talked about.

mine and Hank's seats

rattlesnake caught by Bobby... will post a video in my next blog!

Most of the paleo class... out for dinner on our last night in town.

Bobby holding a giant vertebra

Paleo class

T-rex tooth

Stopped for a break at the Columbia River in Vantage.

Wild Horse Monument in Vantage

Maybe next time, Eburg...

Here are my beautiful Cascades! Sorry MT, mountains are one thing you are definitely lacking in.

it's been so long since I've seen a 4-lane freeway!

Ahhh, home!!


Week 2 of MSU

Just a warning... I wrote 7 pages of graduate level essays today, so I am extremely sloppy with my writing in this blog... and I am a bit frustrated right now because I wrote an entire, very detailed blog, and then the page had an error when I was finally adding my pictures and I lost all of my work.  I even had a detailed description of each of my friends I've made... anyway.......

It's a good thing I am blogging at least weekly, because even at this rate, everything seems to be a jumble!  I am so busy every moment of the day!  During week two, I took the class GeoEcology of Yellowstone Lake.  We listened to various speakers on Monday, but our field trip was Tuesday through Thursday in the a.m.  We left Tuesday morning for Yellowstone.

We did a 5 hour hike (about 6.5 miles), to the top of Mt. Washburn and back.  The elevation at the summit was 10,240 ft.  This was a really neat hike for so many reasons.  You could see the top of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, for one.  At the very top of the mountain, there was a fire lookout.  I LOVE fire lookout hikes (discovered my love for them in Mt. Rainier Nat'l Park).  The most difficult/exciting thing about this hike was the extreme winds at the top.  My professor estimated the winds to be at about 65 mph.  I can assure you I have never felt winds so strong! It was particularly windy at one curve just near the top.... I got a sudden blast of wind and got knocked back a little, but remained standing, pushing forward against the wind.  I sure as heck was not going to let the wind blow me off the cliff!  At first I was standing still, just trying to breathe (it's so hard to breathe with wind pelting your face like that).... I debated for about 20 seconds whether or not I should stand and wait it out, or just push through... well, I didn't know how long I could stand there because I was already getting tired of pushing back, so I ended up using all my strength to just suck it up and push through the wind til I reached the top.  A girl behind me actually got knocked down to the ground, and another girl helped her the rest of the way up.  The view from the top was amazing!  This probably has to go down as one of my favorite hikes I've done, just because the wind was thrilling!

On Tuesday night, we went back to camp to set up our tents.  My friend Amanda and I had a heck of a time setting ours up!  The guys offered to help us, and while Amanda said, "sure!" I barked, "NO! We can do it!"  lol.... I (somewhat) jokingly said, "we don't need a man's help!"   After we set up, we finally went to dinner at about 9pm at The Lakehouse restaurant near West Thumb.  It took about 2 hours to get our food and eat it, but it was fun getting to know people better.  I had a chicken burger and fries! Yum..  my favorite thing about this place was the view of the lake while the sun set.

On Wednesday, we went to Yellowstone Lake for some sampling.  We got to wear waders and use nets to catch macro invertebrates (including caddisflies---SUCH a cool creature!).  My group caught a 2 inch long (while compressed) mother leech with tons of leech babies attached to her underside.  She was disgustingly awesome.  We got to decide which organisms we wanted to preserve for lab testing.  We preserved Mama Leech and a few other organisms, including a Daphnid.  We also had a picnic lunch on this day... in the late afternoon we headed to the Lakehouse Restaurant for dinner again... surprise, I had another chicken burger with fries!  When we got back to camp, basically everyone stood around the fire, talked, laughed, and drank.  It was an interesting night.

I went to bed each night prepared with my bear pepper spray.  I am so thankful I didn't have to use it. :)

Thursday morning, we did a little bit of exploring of the park.  We went to West Thumb Geyser Basin and did some testing.  We tested the pH levels in various hot springs and geyser areas, and we also used an infrared gun to measure the temperature.  Much of the water was not very acidic, which was surprising at first because it LOOKS acidic... the reason it looks acidic is because of the colors created by the microorganisms living in the extreme heat.

We came back to MSU early Thursday afternoon and they allowed us a 2 hour break.  It was SO needed... we were all exhausted.  When we got back to class, we got to start identifying our organisms under microscopes.

On Friday, we did PCR testing on our organisms in the lab all day.  That's about all I have to say about that. haha

Friday afternoon, our professor invited the class to her house for a BBQ.  Half of us showed up with food and drinks.  The best thing about her house: 3 golden retrievers (Inca, Dash, and Marley).  I got my dog fix!  While everyone sat around the patio table like civilized human beings, I was stretched out on the lawn laying with three dogs and petting them.  I love dogs way too much!! We had a big dinner and dessert, and wrapped up the evening by playing a nice game of croquet.  I kicked butt for the first 3/4 of the game and then my game went down the tube.  I credit my skills (when I was kicking butt) to the croquet I used to play with my sister in the front yard. Fun times!

Yesterday, Saturday, a group of friends and I went hiking the Hyalite area, where we hiked to two different waterfalls. They were beautiful!  We then went to soak at Norris Hot Springs... so relaxing! At night, we watched Shakespeare in the Park's Twelfth Night on campus.  We had quite the spread of snacks on our blankets.  It was a hilarious play and a great way to end the night.

Today I did a TON of homework.. I won't bore you with the details, but I read 100 pages of text and typed 7 pages about them.  I also had to go to CVS to pick up a prescription transfer.  It took an hour and a half!! ughhhh.  Tomorrow looks about the same as far as homework is concerned.

 I have learned so much about culture around the US and even in different places around the world while being here; and I thought I was only going to learn about geology, ecology, and paleontology!  My wonderful friends come from: D.C. (she actually teaches at the school where the Obama girls go), Ohio, Chicago, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Dubai.  I do have one friend who actually lives in W. Washington and went to CWU at the same time I did, but it was a complete coincidence! 

Some of them are planning a trip to WA to come hike and camp with me at Mt. Rainier, and Collin and I would like to try to go to Dubai while I know this girl!  She said on the way here, the plane flew over Russia and the arctic, and she saw the northern lights below the plane!! How cool!!

Ok, here are the pictures...there are some better ones out there that my friends have, but I haven't gotten them yet.