Laura, Z Julie, Jill, Ellen, Hika and I got to explore a part of California that none of us had ever been to. Our Subaru Forester blew its head gaskets on the way down, so we got to drive a brand new Forester while exploring the wilds of the southern California desert. Palm Springs Subaru is great, BTW and made the pain of $3500 feel like only $1000. Enjoy the nearly 200 photos!
Laura said she'd like to be surprised for Mothers Day this year, so Zephyr and I hatched a plan to show her just how deep our love for her ran- by adventuring deep into the Earth at California Caverns near the Calaveras County town of San Andreas. The majority of the cave was still flooded from winter rains and elevated groundwater tables, which abbreviated our tour... but the good news is that water is what helps the caverns grow! It's pretty amazing to think that the carbonate minerals in these caves use to be tropical shoals several hundred million years ago. It's even more amazing to think about how subducting ocean crust scraped these deposits-off and accreted them to California. Awesome!
My colleagues and I were lucky enough to bring 47 AWESOME students from the THS Newcomers Academy to Yosemite for a cultural experience they won't soon forget. Our trip had originally been planned for late-March, but had to be postponed thanks to an epic atmospheric river storm that delivered over seven inches of rain to the foothills and washed out several roads near Yosemite.
The postponement was very much worth the wait. The students got to experience Yosemite at its grandest. Clear blue skies, torrents of water leaping off of every cliff, chutes of supple green grass filling-in the valleys and... squirrels. Except for the five students who are in our WildLink club, this was *everyone's* first time in Yosemite. If smiles on kids' faces make you happy, you'll definitely want to scroll through the pics in the album!
The entire gang from high school was finally able to spend a weekend together. We rented a sweet cabin in Truckee and took a nice stroll to Stampede Reservoir along Sagehen Creek. The trail 5.2mile round trip trail was a bit icy in spots and muddy in the sun, but the worst snow pack in recorded history made this trek doable in February! It was great to see Aric, Steve, Dave, Jon, Alex, Gaska & Web all in the same place at the same time. Memories galore.
Zephyr and I headed out on an adventure to the coast range to let Laura concentrate on her studies. We were investigating whether or not the cold storms had dusted the hills with snow, and although it was very nippy out, there was no snow to be had. However, on our return to Turlock we were treated to a grand show of thousands of geese flying overhead. I managed to snap a few photos and a video too. Z was very impressed and wanted to know why the geese flew in the shapes they did. He's a budding little scientist!
Laura had to stay home and study for her masters program, so to give her some study time I took Z to Yosemite with Grandma H to have a fun day throwing rocks in the Merced River and being mesmerized by a brief rainbow-bright version of Yosemite Falls. I'm very lucky that such grandeur is a mere two hour drive from Turlock!
Laura, Zephyr and I set out to take advantage of the 65 degree late-December weather at the oft-overlooked San Luis National Wildlife Refuge near Los Banos. It's the best time of year to go! We saw many migratory birds, elk, deer, owl pellets, and squirrels. We also got to hear the coyotes yipping as the sun was setting. Great day!
A quick note of thanks to the GSA for hosting such an amazing conference in Seattle this year! The positive response to my Immersive Virtual Field Experience was beyond my wildest dreams. Below I've posted all the materials needed to implement the experience in your class! Enjoy.
I guess there were many lessons from today's attempted presentation of my Immersive Virtual Field Experience. Both classroom lessons and life lessons! It was quite an experience and I greatly appreciate everyone's willingness to make lemonade out of lemons.
Here's the list of resources I promised. Please feel free to shoot me questions via twitter (@phaneritic) or email once you get to use the IVFE over good internet.
Ryan J Hollister - Geoscience & EnviroSci Educator, Avid hiker, Landscape photographer, WildLink Club Advisor, Central Valley Advocate.