GIS class field trip

This weekend my GIS class left town for some good ol’ geologic mapping.  The class is mostly computer based, and we collected data in our attempt to better learn ArcGIS software.  The work wasn’t difficult, and the area very pretty.  Be ware though, cacti are everywhere!

Our site was the Mason Mountain Wildlife Refuge: a place where the plants are all native, and the animals are all imported.  We saw animals, but I didn’t get any photos.  Silly me.  Out job there was to map outcrops of a very old granite formation that is being uncovered by erosion of the sedimentary deposits above.  Our group stayed in cabins last night (not all of us slept inside though – the sky was just too good to miss), and we even got to watch UT beat Missouri at football.

I’m just going to show some photos here and link to the rest.

Professor Helper giving instructions on what we were to do and our fearless TA, Ephraim ready to go.

An outcrop, our trucks, and my lab partner, Trisha. We traded off quite a bit, but there are no photos of me working. haha

Trisha again on the “big one”, the largest outcrop we found on the first day. This one caused us to be 20 minutes late and Ephraim to be sent out after us. We beat him back.

Last night was gorgeous. The sky had a few brushy clouds – the kind perfect for nice sunsets, and there was a slight chill on the air.

I took a lot of sunset photos, you can see some of them here.

I slept outside, and on Ephraim’s recommendation did so on top of the van; he chose the suburban because of the rails on top to keep him in place. It made for an interesting place to sleep, and the view of the sky was fantastic, as I so rarely see it these days. It was too good to even take photos, they wouldn’t do the scene justice. There were a lot of stars, and I must have seen 7 or 8 shooting stars to add to the wonder. I woke up once, and there, right over my head, was Orion and the entire winter Hexagon. The best part was finding the Andromeda Galaxy, The Perseid Double Cluster, and the Little Dipper, all three of which are invisible in the city.

This morning the sun came out nicely.

And then we were back to mapping. Today we were busier, and it took all morning for Trisha and I to finish even the closest outcrops (which were far larger than yesterday).

Here’s me celebrating UT’s great football team and Trisha working again, and then some of the biggest red ants I’ve ever seen. I kept far enough away not to find out how bad they bite

On top of the big outcrop we could see the horizon miles away.

And then our group picture.

On the way back we stopped at Coopers Barbeque for lunch 😀

You can see all of the photos here.

Ok, Rome pictures! and my lunch at the Colosseum

As always I’ll start with the trip there.  It began slow: we took off late due to congestion on the runway.  The skys were clear though, and we even flew over Nacogdoches. In the second image you may be able to understand why I’m not a big fan of chickens. These things were all over East Texas, and if the wind blew your way it might make you want to hold your breath. Thankfully I didn’t live near any (but my dad did), so I didn’t have to smell them very often. enough of that!

Dinner on the plane was great. It started off with my own bottle of wine and ended up with some fine French food. I had lamb, but they had other options. My dinner reading was a book about the 17th century artist Bernini who holds some sort of record for most sculptures in Rome or something like that. His work is amazing, and I made it a point to see some (you’ll get the pictures later)

Dinner was right before we flew over Manhattan. What a sight! The Dutch guy sitting beside me couldn’t get his camera out fast enough, so I shared the ok quality photos I took with him.

The rest of the flight wasn’t special except for breakfast. We landed in Paris with not enough time for me to catch my flight. I did catch it, but I had to find an alternate route through immigration. The one that led to my next terminal had >500 people, and I had 15 minutes. Such is the way in CDG, and on the return trip it was just as hairy.

Italy from the sky is beautiful. It was overcast, but I got photos upon descent that turned out pretty well.
The airport isn’t actually in Rome, so I have no photos of Rome from above.

After making my way to the hotel (I made it to the right street but the wrong hotel – that happened more than once) I stopped at a store across the way to get some cheese, bread, and olives to make lunch. 😀 But first I snapped a couple shots from the Hotel. It overlooked a small piazza with 5 restaurants and a couple of convenience stores selling cigarettes and soda. You can get cigarettes everywhere there, and even tough I was on the 3rd floor I could smell the smoke at night wafting up into my open window.

I took my bag of food for a walk. The sights in Rome are very easy to find. Down the street from my hotel was a view of the Roman Forum which I’ll show in another post. I walked along a wall showing the extent of the Roman Empire through time. That was cool.


And along the way I saw countless old buildings still with the architecture from centuries ago.

Then finally (after a <10 minute walk) I reached my destination! The Colosseum! Before walking up to it I stopped for lunch on a wall to admire the structure and watch people walk by. This was cool!

I enjoyed the food (olives were delicious) and made my way up to this historic building. It is really big. And you can see how much work was put into making it. Remember they didn’t have the same building materials or heavy equipment we do not. This was cut and moved by hand.

I took a lot of pictures there. Some of which turned out pretty well. I’ll show a few

And of course I had to take one of myself 😀 I carried a tripod with me for moments like this (and night pictures). The one I had then was brand new; this was my first time to use it. Well, the leg broke on that first try. Needless to say I returned it once I got home. 🙁

But the picture still turned out okay.

There are a few more pictures from that walk, and you are invited to see them all here. Also, pictures of the flight if you are interested.