Saturday, 12 March 2011

Every Now and then I Wake Up From This Dream

So. Out of San Francisco. 8 am, on the bus, I see rolling hills, overgrazed by cattle, give way to almond and orange trees, farmland, small sage bushes, scrub and then sand.

The bus stops every few hours for washroom breaks. My ears have popped countless number of times as the bus goes through mountains and my eyes have been half-open, half-closed in attempts to sleep. I am half blind and half deaf as I stumble groggily from the bus into the gas station stores. I notice the prevalence of cowboy hats around here. Black, beige, white, lots of different colours, worn both indoors and out.

We pull in to Las Vegas at 10 pm. I am so sick of sitting on the bus - coach buses may be comfortable, but less so when your feet can reach neither the floor nor the footstand. The first word I think of for Las Vegas is - excess!

The next day, we go to Death Valley. As we near the hottest and driest place in North America, everything that I learned during my time as a "earth scientist" in 2008 came back to me. All that "training"* I did wasn't futile after all! I recognized the rhyolites, outwash, could identify morains, drumlins, ridges, and noted the direction of the clasts and observed shear strength of past glacial activity. I couldn't believe that geology was making me esctatic. When the bus reached the badlands, it reminded me very much of Landmannalaugar. There was a geology class there and I edged closer to the group the better to listen to the professor. He was talking about how bedrock determines everything, further bringing back dear memories of my "training". The professor continued, "How is it that we can economically exploit this knowledge? Water is most likely to collect on the foothills so we can put springs there." what?! Only in America would a geology class switch from the topic of describing alluvial fans to exploiting the resource in one breath!
The geology team with their cowboy hats.

That evening there's a tour of The Strip in Las Vegas. It was pretty cool to be able to see the sights of New York City then turn around and see Paris. But there was something inextricably inauthentic about the whole place. Maybe that's the point, and I kept on telling myself to embrace inauthenticity - whole fake venice included - but it was difficult. The attitude that people seem to wear in Las Vegas didn't help, either.

Oh, and I went to the Grand Canyon. It was nice.

*I put "earth scientist" and "training" in quotations because I did not care one pinch for earth science while I was studying it and as for the training, all the concepts covered were much too advanced for me and I was in way over my head during my studies

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