Sunday, June 09, 2013

Eleuthera, Bahamas

Today's the last full day on Eleuthera, Bahamas. Figure I should write this now before I get back to Minneapolis and get thrown back into the regular mix of things.

Lighthouse Beach, the most beautiful beach I've been to on Eleuthera. Spent 3 days there doing work. Look at those sand dune layer deposits, incredible!

"The three best-looking guys on the island", says Luis, a fish researcher from Mexico. My new friends at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI). Niels (middle) is a past student at CEI, he was visiting for a couple of weeks before he sets on a 6 month backpacking journey through South America.

Sunrise view from my bedroom, go to bed and wake up every morning to the sound of wind and waves. No air conditioning at CEI, but no problem, this place is designed to always use the wind to flow through buildings.

Field trip to the middle part of Eleuthera, this was at the Glass Window, the narrowest point of the island. The Atlantic has whipped up some good storms in its past. Not too far from Glass Window are some very large boulders named The Cow and The Bull, those were deposited up a steep cliff and onto land by a tsunami.

Found a good place to snorkel on the south side of the island at Fourth Hole Beach. The corals have seen better days but still plenty of beautiful fish to look at.

A night out at the Conch Fest with Brady and Luis. We all have pineapple pie to go. It made a yummy breakfast next morning. Students at CEI had a booth at Conch Fest promoting eating the invasive lion fish. Students at CEI did a study that showed that almost half of conch harvested for human consumption are sexually immature, this means at this rate that conch can disappear in 25-30 years. So eat lion fish, not conch!
Oh and there's my 10L dry back which I started using as my purse, since I didn't bring one and it kept everything dry. At night in my room I started putting my snacks in there to keep them away from these tiny little bugs that found their way into my snack food one day.

Gary our cab driver in Nassau, Bahamas. A few of us had to stay overnight in Nassau, Bahamas on our way to Eleuthera. Gary was entertaining us with dual 15" subwoofers and told us we should eat at The Poop Deck. Poop Deck was delicious that evening.

Doing work at Lighthouse Beach.

Asia, Molly, and Me at the end of a long day of coring. The first several days on Eleuthera it rained and rained. After the 3rd day of solid cold rain I borrowed a wet suit instead of dealing with quick-dry clothes that don't ever dry if it rains all day and being soggy. I wore the wet suit all day and it worked like a charm. I also wore NRS Titanium kayaking booties for most of the field work. Walking in/out of water and over sharp karst terrain, and into some caves we explored, I couldn't think of a better shoe for the job. I also fell in love with my Stohlquist rash guard, with UPF 50 and long sleeves, I was protected from the sun and it felt so nice to wear in the field when it was 89F and real hot every day. I was very comfortable and way better than wearing a sticky t-shirt. Also essential was my Hyrapak. Several days in a row I would have that thing drained by 14:30 in the afternoon, not including the water I would drink from my water bottle. With the healthy food at CEI there were a few days where I had to add salt to my food. I felt like I wasn't retaining water and losing too many electrolytes. The cook staff at CEI were great, they made us field lunches every day. All the food in the dining hall was reminiscent of food that my Mom makes. I felt right at home.

View from the caves at Boiling Hole.
Well, it's been an interesting time here on Eleuthera. I've been driving every day on the left side of the road, too, I'm sure I'll quickly adjust back once in Minneapolis. I didn't get to ride a bike on Eleuthera as much as I liked. Looking forward to summer in Minneapolis and riding my bike again.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Grand Isle

It's that time of the year where patience runs thin when we get a new layer of snow. I'm just glad I got in a nice little ride yesterday. I subscribed to to keep me sane, too.
We got back from Louisiana last week, it's a beautiful but different place. Not sure why someone would want to live on a house on stilts. We spent a week surveying sand dunes in Grand Isle State Park, mapping out the changes that are happening to the barrier island, Grand Isle. I learned quite a bit about barrier islands and how sand dunes provide natural protection from storm surges. Jon and I worked with a professor from Rochester Community and Technical College, Dr. Moosavi, on this on-going beach restoration project. He started this project when he taught in New Orleans.
It's good training for me, since I will be spending a couple of days doing similar work on Eleuthera in the Bahamas. I'll be there for a couple of weeks end of May/early June as a lab TA to some student interns this summer. For the remainder of the 2 weeks on Eleuthera we'll be coring small lakes on the island. Then we come back to Minneapolis to the lab for the rest of the program and do various analysis on the sediment. On Eleuthera my group will be staying at the Cape Eleuthera Institute. It's a totally environmental campus. No napkins, 2 minute showers, re-using gray water, etc. It's going to be cool to see how it all works first-hand. Our group is overlapping what will be the end of a semester for a high school group that will be at the Institute. For the high school kids' "gym class", they have to train all semester for either a half-marathon or a 4 mile swim, so our group will be participating, too. I'm planning on the swim since I can still swim alright with having decent overall fitness and without serious swim training, however, I can't do the same with running. I'm not much of a runner anymore. The only other times I've done any open water swimming was on Hayden Lake in northern Idaho, with my friend Traci. We've done a 1 mile swim and a 6 mile swim. That was a long time ago! I miss living in the same state as her, sad. So I guess I need to find a place to do lap swim.

Writing down data.


Bunkhouse where we stayed at the state park, on stilts.

Oil rig, you could see a number of oil rigs on the horizon, too.

Jon getting a picture of a dolphin.

Bourbon St., at Pat O'Brians before the line got ridiculously long.

Arrgh, mate.

Still a handful of flood damaged homes in Lower 9th Ward from Hurricane Katrina, 2005.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's finally winter

Never say never. I still did two more weeks of field work after I said I wrapped up my season in previous post.

Red sediment. This site had easy access, a nice boat launch and we used the motorized fishing boat since the lake was big.

Some of my NDNs up near Leech Lake Rez. They were out looking for manoomin. They lost their trailer that morning. They were bumping along and took a corner kind of fast, the trailer unhooked and went straight into some bushes while the truck made the corner. All you could see was the back end of the ricing boats sticking out of the woods. The trailer was attached to the truck with some straps. Good rez humor.

Doing work. I had to haul/tug the canoe full of gear 50 yards from the road through thick cattails on a rickety 2x4 planked path to get to open water, canoe around to find a place safe from the wind, and then get cores. I think this was the second site of the day, too, but I would do it again in a heart beat.

Jon got a nice deer this hunting season on the farm. My Mom took the liver, and Jon gave her some other cuts. I remember my Mom making me liver pate when I was a kid. One of Jon's friend took the heart, supposedly it tastes good fried up in butter.

We sent some of the venison to Kramarczuck's to get processed into sausage. It turned out amazingk.

Hiking earlier this fall up the St. Louis River in my old neighborhood in Duluth. I got to see a ton of flood damage to a trail I've hiked on for years, some of it doesn't exist anymore.

Hiking up the St. Louis River in my neighborhood.

Carved up the pumpkins that grew in our yard.

Fall time in Foley at Jon's farm.

Saved some kittens in our neighborhood. They were about to get hit wandering into traffic, couldn't find the momma kitty anywhere so we took them to a shelter.

Riding to work. I put studded tires on Jon's huge bike and lowered the seat. I'm keeping an eye out for a winter mtb. On the really cold days I've been using my ice fishing/winter field work Joka polar mitts as an over-mitten. I wear a smaller glove or Yoko lobster mitt inside the Joka polar mitt. I have some Bar Mitts for the road bike but they don't fit on my old school commuter brake levers very well.
We have snow!! I'm excited to get xc skiing, too. I'm planning on putting some more kilometers on the touring skis this year, so I can go places that don't require groomed trails, unlike my other classic or skate skis.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Well I did it again, wrapped up another summer field season. Since end of July I did four weeks on the road total, with one week in the lab in between. The size of our state still surprises me. Yesterday I drove from Bagley back to the Cities and that was 4.5 hrs of driving. Lots of hours of driving and living like a nomad. Then you run into other people living like nomad like you, railroad guys and construction guys. Sometimes I catch people peering into the back of the suburban wondering what the hell are we up to with pieces of polycarbonate tubing, tools, coolers and boats.
And I'm wearing a hat, field work is the only time outside of winter that I ever wear a hat. Besides hat hair, I can thank field work for being in canoe shape and being able to carry heavy things around. Sure doesn't do much for bike shape. I've been able to get in rides on my short 1.5 day weekends when everything else has to happen like laundry and having a decent home cooked meal.

Commuter bike with new bar tape ready to go. I got rid of the Deda chrome bar tape that I found on sale. It wrapped poorly around old skinny handlebar and I didn't want to be confused with a hipster. I was self conscious when riding with it. Oh, and yes our central ac unit is on a concrete pad with a cage and lock on it. The day before we moved in someone stole the copper out of the ac unit.

Jon and I went to a Twins game with the interns that were at the lab this summer.

Me and Lea with some of her family, Lea is on the far left. Lea is a former running teammate when we used to live in New Mexico and run under Coach Mike Daney. She's Navajo (Dine), she's got running in her blood.She's also the one person that I can randomly text quotes from Ghost, and she'll shoot one right back at ya.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I was up in Duluth last weekend for a geology conference, the 2012 American Quaternary Association biennial conference. The flood couldn't have had perfect timing for the topic of the conference, which was about floods and droughts and the Holocene. There were some good presentations and discussions. I met some people whose papers I've read or have done pollen preparations for, so cool when you get to meet them in person and that they are real people! I was a little star struck I suppose. I had my phytolith poster up for poster sessions and got some good feedback.

I didn't get a chance to see a lot of the flood destruction personally but my family had some pictures from the neighborhood. There were no shortage of photos online and of course drama about the polar bear at the Duluth Zoo and seal swimming on Grand Ave. I feel bad for all the animals that perished at the zoo, too.

My family were going to evacuate themselves on Weds morning, the last open road to the neighborhood Fond du Lac (not the rez...I always have to specify because I'm Native and people always think I live on the FDL rez), was clear at 5:30am but by 7:45am when the family was ready to go, there was fast moving flood water over the road. They were later taken on an airboat out of there and finally went back home yesterday. The house was fine, just water in the back yard. Many other neighbors were not as lucky though.

The swimming hole where I taught myself how to swim at 5yrs old.

Hwy 23 by Mont du Lac ski area

Mission creek ("crick") carved itself a wider path, taking the road with it.

Thick mud covering everything, one foot deep in some places.

So I come back from the weekend and pumpkin plants going bonkers in the yard. Jon and I had a couple of pumpkins on the back porch last fall that we were going to carve out but the squirrels beat us to it, they took the seeds and buried some around the yard. 5 pumpkin plants sprouted where they buried them. We kept 3 of the plants where they were, but transplanted the other two up to Jon's family farm in Foley.

Out bike riding earlier this winter.

My Mom, Jon and I went to Montana for a conference in March, it was within an hour where two of my sisters live. I got to see two of my little nieces.

Flathead lake, Montana

Spectating at NVGP, I really liked the kits from the Mexican National Team and they have the best names, Hector Hugo y Diego, buenos dias.

It's field work season for me, I did a full week of sampling in May. I think I went to 35 lakes in 5 days, not so sure right now, it was kind of dizzying. I drove with my field partner almost 1300 miles. A few sites were in a park and couldn't feasibly drive or walk with gear to the 6 lakes within the park. We were fortunate to use a super long go-cart, felt like Jurassic Park.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Happy Ground Hog's Day

Winter? Pathetic. I think I have given up on xc skiing this year. I only went once, and that was out on my classic touring skis at Jon's farm. At least it's been ok bike commuting. I'm still on my old Miyata with 27" rims and 12 gears. It's 6 miles one way to work. The worst of the commute is the last 1/4 mi when I have to ride through UM campus, it's like the state fair every day there.

I've been working in a geology lab at UM. For work, I got to spend the month of September out on a different lake every day, sometimes two lakes in a day. I was out with my field partner, Chris, collecting sediment and water samples for a study. We drove 3000+ miles in 4 weeks, coming back to Minneapolis for a short weekend, then back out on the road. We went to 25 lakes around Minnesota. We hauled two boats at all times, canoe and a small fishing boat on a trailer. I learned pretty quick how to drive with a trailer, never had to learn otherwise.

Getting ready for a swim after a long day of field work.

Filtering water samples at the hotel room.

A few times we had to rely on friendly people allowing us to access lakes through their private property. This gentleman bent over backwards allowing us to use his Gator to get into the lake, we wouldn't have been able to get in otherwise.

Best cheap breakfast find on the road, we ate 3 times at a cafe when we stayed in Willmar.

Lady Slipper Lake

Me with the swedish gravity corer.

Where did this year go? It went by so fast. Working, doing some research, and spending time between Minneapolis, Foley, and Duluth.
I presented a poster at Geological Society of America's national conference this October in Minneapolis. My research title, "Phytoliths from food residues provide the oldest date for use of wild rice in Minnesota". I got interviewed from Science Sort Of, on Episode 109, about 27 min. into it.
Presenting a poster at GSA.

We have been ice fishing a few times, this photo was at Prior Lake.

Up at the Split Rock Lighthouse

My brother, Ted and Jon at Split Rock Lighthouse

Jon and I at Split Rock Lighthouse

My Mom's little Shih Tzu, Haga, passed away this winter. It was very sad. I sewed him a pope costume for last Easter. His name, Haga, means '3rd born son' in my Mom's first language, Ho-Chunk.

Jon goofing off on Halloween.

Me and the homies, it was Dress to Impress Daven/bar bike ride in St. Cloud. I remember I had homework that night but they went to Pesty's, Lincoln Depot, Ace Bar, ending at the White Horse, where I finally joined in on the fun.
I miss the road riding around St. Cloud, it's way better than the Cities. You can get out of town pretty fast and ride for hours.

Fun times in Foley, Jon moving stuff around on the farm, I was probably working on the fish pond in the photo.