mojave green rattlesnake

Mojave trip: In Summary!
  1. I scaled and traversed a lava flow.
  2. I climbed a volcano.
  3. I got stuck on a beautiful spot on a mountain.
  4. I saw a desert tortoise, a gopher snake, a Mojave green rattlesnake, a horned lizard, a dormouse, and a raven, among plenty of other critters!
  5. I pet no less than eight dogs, including a Border Collie mix named Lucky Boy.
  6. I tapped the high points with the mountain goats (geo dudes 1-4).
  7. I watched the sunrise and sunset over the desert.
  8. I splayed on the ground like a snow-angel under the stars.
  9. I collected some cool rocks.
  10. I led the charge on more than half the hikes, steering my group in the right direction.
  11. I got a date!  (From the China Ranch Date Farm.  Known for its date shakes.)
  12. I washed the van (twice!).
  13. I surpassed expectations on every single climb.
  14. I made it down into the lava tube.  (It was magical.)
  15. I saw exquisitely beautiful art galleries and got bear paws at Big Bear Lake!  (Giant fuzzy slippers.  They’re awesome.)
  16. I spent time on a beach at 5,000 feet, with my good foot in the water.
  17. I walked around a ghost town called Calico.
  18. I spotted my buddies ice cream at various points as thank-yous.
  19. I used a laundromat!
  20. I dropped some bucks in an assortment of tip jars for awesome locals.
  21. I met an Australian hiking the Basin.
  22. I bonded with Team Sacramento.
  23. I made friends with the herpetologists.
  24. I ate at Jack-in-the-Box!
  25. I only got sunburned once.
  26. I slept in a sleeping bag on a cot!
  27. I was served fabulous meals three times a day, including a bagged sandwich with chips and fruit for lunch.  (Gonna miss our cook!!)
  28. I ate at Café 274, an awesome joint recommended by our awesome cook.
  29. I swung on a swing set for the first time in over ten years.
  30. I got to use a flashlight to wander around the research center at night.
  31. I used an awesome makeshift walking stick found by our TA.
  32. I worked my geology magic and finished my assignments.
  33. I woke up to cool weather after scorching hot days, a gloriously refreshing change.
  34. I got to see the world’s largest thermometer tip 106 degrees Fahrenheit.
  35. I wore my UV protective gear and looked great while doing it.
  36. I slid and climbed and crawled and skated down countless cliffs.  Loved every second.
  37. I got over 150 splinters in my hands from a cactus.  (I and a bud then pulled them out, me with my fingers, bud with tweezers.)
  38. I roughed up my geology book and water bottle by tossing them up and down mountains, and both survived the trips.
  39. I took some fabulous photos with my camera.
  40. I learned what every geo buddies’ belly laugh sounds like.
  41. I was a literal shoulder to lean on and a listening ear on plenty of occasions.
  42. I acquired dozens of well-earned bruises.
  43. I got heat stroke and lived.
  44. I showered in the desert!
  45. I bumped along in a van over fantastically uneven dirt roads for hours.
  46. I laughed.  A lot.
  47. I told good jokes.
  48. I slept fantastically.
  49. I climbed on boulders in a geologist’s playground.
  50. I clambered partway up Kelso Dunes.
  51. I watched trains rumble by towing hundreds of cars.
  52. I saw Joshua trees!
  53. I dipped my legs in a small pool, outside, in the desert.
  54. I saw a giant grasshopper in the girls’ bathroom and named him Sherbet.
  55. I listened to Just Guys Being Dudes: Dirt Edition in the boys’ van for a third of the trip.
  56. I survived 100+ degree weather out in the field for 6+ hours a day.
  57. I looked out for my pals and they looked out for me.
  58. I came out to have a good time and I had a blast.
  59. What didn’t kill me made me stronger.  What a trip.  I already miss it.

We’re off to Death Valley tomorrow, and then it’s Vegas for the night before flight home in the morning.  It’s surreal to think it’s almost over!  I wish it wasn’t.  I’m physically exhausted, bone-deep tired, and ready to rest, but wow, trip of a lifetime.  I loved it.  I love it.