Three Strikes and We’re Out

January 3rd, 2011

4:00am – I left my sleeping wife Mary and three children and flew out the door towards Weatherford. I packed everything I needed last night so I slipped on my clothes and took off.

5:30 – Arrived at a dark and cold Weatherford College parking lot and joined a cluster of cars awaiting the arrival of our instructor for a prompt departure at 6am

6:38 – departed campus in three suburban’s and a cargo trailer.IMG_8167

Geologically we are traveling from the cretaceous period to the Pennsylvanian period

Approaching the town of Ranger we were told that this was the site of former coal mining sites during the 1920’s

9:00am Exit 270 – Stopped for fuel at a Shell station

9:26am mm(mile marker) 247 – Mr. Poston pointed out Gypsum mining for use in sheet rock production. Along the way we also observed countless wind turbines

9:58 – unexplained humidity caused windows to fog at mm210

10:12am – mm194 – Our vehicle inexplicably ran out of fuel and we had to pull over to the side of the road while another vehicle ran to get a gas can full of fuel.

10:41am on the road again – observed clay outcrop as accelerating up to speed

10:47am exit 188 returned borrowed gas can from Fowler’s station and stopped for fuel!!

11:07am  Beginning to see remnants of Pleistocene lakes. mm174

11:29 am entering Permian basin. Evidenced by clusters of oil rigs. Mm151 IMG_0698

11:42am Stopping for fuel exit 138
lunch at Jack n the Box

1:00 on the road again. Poston said he was going to "Eeeaze own" and I had to translate for Dania, a Lebanese student who was not prepared for Mr. Poston’s significant Texas drawl. He was saying that he was going to Ease on (down the road presumably), but it sounded more like Eeezown.

1:20 mm109 visible meteor crater? – I didn’t see it, but it was claimed to exist.

1:40 mm86 All around there are great dunes of sand like the sahara dessert – except with varying degrees of dessert grasses. These are the Monahans sand dunes which are the remains of an ancient shallow sea having ground up Gypsum into a beachy sand.

2:04 still seeing sand dunes! It is flat for miles and it really is easy to imagine this all being underwater long ago

2:07 Yucca plants begin to emerge and Davis mountains are visible in the distance mm56

3:03 pulled over by fuzz Apparently Mr. Poston did not see the speed limit change and the local highway patron felt the need to pull us over to inform him. Mr. Poston is a former highway patrolman and teaches criminal justice courses at Weatherford College, so this was something of a humorous moment for him – especially because half of the students on this trip a from the criminal justice program.

3:27 Davis mountains made up of primarily Rhyolite, a form of Granite

3:43 Differential weathering and lichens (which break rock down into soil again.

5:00 – settled in to our bunk house. The males are in one half of a bunk bed house at the Prude Ranch. The girls are sleeping on the other side of our bunk house named Harmony.

5:20 – we humorously discover that there are two bars of cell phone reception to be had if you stand in a very specific spot but he telephone pole out side about 50 feet from our bunk house. Otherwise, there is no signal whatsoever. This led to some rather humorous, Can-you-hear-me-knows as we wandered a rounded looking for the mysterious wandering cell phone reception.

6:00 – Ate at Cueva de Leon Restaurant IMG_0651

6:40 dinner finished headed to observatory – The city of Fort Davis has a low light system of illumination and residents are strongly encouraged to keep light emissions to a minimum so as not to impede the astronomical research efforts by the nearby McDonald observatory.

6:50 – the observatory is closed. We’re not having the best of luck today. Hopefully we’ll be back tomorrow evening for a star party

7:34pm arrived back at the bunkhouse. A contingent of male students has hiked off into the wilderness. Mike trombone playing friend, Mike, and a couple others opted not to risk it and have remained back at home base. Mike says he saw a coyote walk across the field. Maybe I’ll see him as I hill down the hill in search of WiFi to post this blog…

Tomorrow starts at 6am!

Update: After I posted this blog and headed back to the bunkhouse we all saw a huge havalina hobble into the darkness followed by a lone coyote howl.  I grabbed my digital audio recorder and hit record just in time to record a large gaggle of coyote’s howling.  click here to hear the coyotes howling at the injured and squealing havalina.  (The voices you hear are Constance and Tiffany)