News from the Field: Day 1--Las Vegas to Death Valley

We made it! After a short night of sleep, most of the group met at Hamburger's house at 4:30 AM, got to the airport by 5:30, in time to meet the out-of-towners and check in on the flight. An on-time departure at 6:55 and a smooth flight--well, as soon as we got past the midwest thunderstorms--allowed the exhausted passengers to catch up on lost sleep. Spectacular view of the Grand Canyon, and Lake Mead. We arrived safely in beautiful McCarren airport, ran off to get the rental cars, and headed off into the desert. A gourmet lunch at the Indian Springs Casino got us ready for some afternoon adventures: a view of the Nevada Test Site, a geologic overview of Death Valley from the spectacular overlook at Dante's View, and a view of the unusual badland topography of Zabriskie Point. We headed to the Furnace Creek Ranch for a swim, a dinner at the Wrangler Steakhouse, and an evening display of stars.

    May 22nd
The bleary-eyed travelers arrive at Hamburger's house at 4:15AM!
5:45 AM.  Finally, the group can relax before heading out.
Liz and Debby are ready to go!
Liz, Matt, and Mia--we're ready to do Vegas!
Our first stop--the glorious Indian Springs Casino--and we're greeted by the "Rock-ettes"!
The group checks out the wonderful all-new vegan menu...
We've been up for 12 hours already--but everyone's still smiling (well, almost everyone!)

While we're waiting for food, Liz provides some entertainment--the famous Indian Springs spoon trick!
Now, which way to Death Valley...?
Our first scientific target--the Nevada Test Site.  The group poses by the security perimeter.

Discussion time... John tortures poor Michael with another one of his Socratic questions...

Our entrance to Death Valley: the Ryan borax mine
3 P.M.  We made it to Death Valley.  On to Dante's View!
John pauses to enjoy the spectacular overlook over Death Valley
Michael discusses Basin & Range tectonics at Dantes View

And the students get to work on their field notebooks.

Ryan diligently records his observations.

The long trek back to the vehicles
The spectacular deformed Tertiary sediments at Zabriskie Point
Nice backdrop for a group photo!
Some of the group heads out for a little exploration

And some relaxation back at the overlook

And what a perfect way to end the day--a session of water aerobics at the Furnace Creek pool--in 85 -degree spring-fed water!