Friday, August 29, 2014

Through August 2014

    Scotland,  Antarctica,  JoshuaTreeNP,  New Zealand,  East Africa,  Nepal SW--USA, Svalbard Norway-Iceland,   Family Photos

2014 has been much more exciting than 2013 was, at least for travel.

Biosphere 2 photos

 As I mentioned in my previous blog, I was heading to Biosphere 2 in Tucson in January for a week long hydrology workshop.  It was a great learning experience and a really interesting place.

Blue Agave B n' B

I also spent the final weekend at an Ice friend’s B n' B just West of Tucson—I highly recommend the Blue Agave B n' B as well as the lovely hiking environs in that area and Saguaro National Park  

research helpers

Over the winter I spent most weekends at the local ski area. It was a great snow season, but the management of the ski school was very frustrating.  I did not do as much cross-country skiing as the previous winter—my friend Cindy had a four-legged companion and so did not call me for company as often :  )
However, I did a lot more field days helping others with their snow sampling work, and I started my own small research project at lovely spot high on a ridge.  Several times I had help checking my temperature sensors or collecting snow samples.   

I have also spent quite a number of days in the field thus far this spring and summer on a variety of adventures.  I acquired 4 fluffy chicks in April—I actually took on 12, but 8 went to a colleague after they got a bit bigger, and he got his new coop set up.  I did post some photos on Facebook, but here they are again.  Unfortunately, the chickens decided they liked roosting outside better than in the coop, and foolishly, I let them until 2 were taken, possibly, by a prowling cat.   I now have them cooped up at night again, and I hope to keep the remaining two safe.  They should be old enough to start laying eggs soon.  My cat seems to be doing just fine as well.  

I took a seminar over the Spring semester on Darwin and the Galapagos and then the whole class went to the Galapagos.  The trip was rather different from others I have taken as it was a guided tour and included other people—15 other people!  I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it all went and how much I actually enjoyed traveling with these folks. I doubt that I will give up my typical, solitary, travels, but I did have a good time! 
The overall itinerary was Laramie to Denver to Houston to Quito, Ecuador.  Overnight there, then off to Bella Vista Reserve, a cloud forest park with lots of trails and oh so many new birds, many of them brightly coloured!  We did some birding, then a day trip to Mindo and a butterfly ranch, an orchid garden, and an artisan chocolate factory, then some more birding and hiking the next day back at the Reserve.  We did a quick return to Quito, then off to the Galapagos for 8 days.  We lived on a boat, the Reina Silvia,  (I was seasick essentially the whole time—too bad as the food [when I ate it] was terrific) and spent the days hiking on islands or snorkeling around them.  A return to Quito with a one day stay, then home.   For those of you who want to know more and to see the photos, there is a detailed itinerary at the end.


 In mid-July, there was a quick trip to Western Oregon to visit a friend, Hyojung, in Corvallis and then a wedding in Portland.  The Corvallis trip was great with a hike up Mary's Peak--the highest coastal range peak in Oregon, then a day trip to Crater Lake NP.  The wedding in Portland was lovely, but the weather was really hot, so I did not do any exploring in town.

tent site

Then one more big trip this summer, to tootle around with my brother in SW France.   Our headquarters were his tent site in Nant,  
a very small village near Cevennes National Park, not too far West of Montpellier.  
[Thanks to my other brother for the generous donation of frequent flier miles which made the trip possible!]

SW France

 We drove about the beautiful countryside checking out medieval churches, abbeys, a priory, and villages including a couple walled ones.  Fascinating structures—some hanging from cliff sides, or over cliff edges, on top of outcroppings, tucked into hillsides.  Quite picturesque. 

Causses and Gorges region

We also did a bit of mountain driving to visit a weather station on top of Mont Aigoual (1557 m ) that had great views and a terrific museum of atmospheric paraphernalia and history.


I am very excited to note that we spent an afternoon in Andorra—a country I have wanted to visit since I was 8 and acquired a postage stamp from there.  It is the 46th country that I have visited in the world.  The touristy part was quite shocking in its tacky urban development, but the countryside was spectacular and full of flowers.  I am sad to say that I accidentally left one of my favorite fleeces behind, but I have some lovely photos of the landscape and flowers.   

Toulouse and Banyuls
We spent an afternoon in Toulouse checking out a couple large and impressive cathedrals, and another afternoon in Banyuls sur Mer touring the Oceanographic Institute there for my brother’s work. The very sweet wine they have in Banyuls is quite tasty.

Finally, I headed back to Paris for an overnight with a friend from Dartmouth who now works there, Ioana.  She was so kind as to walk me to the Eiffel Tower for a few evening photos and dinner before I headed out the next day for the US.  

I did not yet quite make it home as I stopped in West Virginia for a 3 day hydrology conference at one of the nicest venues I have ever been: the National Conservation Training Center.  Wow, an entire campus of meeting space, pleasant housing, a very nice eating commons, delightful paths and trails, lovely natural setting along the Potomac.  I highly recommend checking it out for your next conservation-type training location!!

So, for those who want more details on the Ecuador trip, here you go:

 First stop was Bella Vista Reserve.

Mountain Tanager

Then off to the Galapagos:

Baltra and Santa Cruz

We landed on Baltra, a small island just north of Santa Cruz.  While Santa Cruz has neither the capitol city, nor is it the largest island, it does have the most folks on it and the largest town.  We got to see the giant tortoises and our first finches and a Scalesia forest.  In the evening, we boarded the Reina Silvia which was our home for the rest of the trip.

From there we headed to Espanola, stopping in Gardner Bay and at Puenta Suarez.


San Cristobal--Kicker Rock

The next day saw us at San Cristobal, checking out Isla Lobos and the quite iconic Kicker Rock in the morning and Punta Pitt in the afternoon.

Day 3 was Santa Fe

                   and South Plaza Islands




We then headed North, across the equator, to Genovesa for some stunning birding!

And climbed Prince Philip’s Steps near evening.

Then it was South again to Santiago Island with Sulivan Bay and amazing lava formations.  Then to  Bartolome—equatorial penguins!—and a late in the day hike to the top for a great view--the same view that is in the film Master and Commander.

Sulivan Bay lava formation
Bartolome at sunset

Then some small islands for more cool plants and animals, snorkeling, and great scenery! 

Sombrero Chino

From there returned to Baltra and flew again for the mainland. 


            There was one day in Quito for some sight seeing.

 Well, that pretty much sums up my adventures so far in 2014.  After all that, I don’t expect to be traveling far from the hacienda the rest of the year, but I expect that I will have a number of days in the field—my site and helping others at theirs—plus some weekend trips to boat or hike or mt bike or run.  I will probably get to go to the AGU conference in December in San Francisco as part of my job.  And then it is winter and time to snowboard again.

I hope that your lives are treating you well and offering you many opportunities to enjoy family, friends, and nature, and that you find joy in living.


a small, and I hear tasty, guest at our campsite near Nant in France.

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