Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Geology Lesson

On the remainder of the trip from Jackson to Seattle we made a few stops worth noting. First, the Grand Tetons are right outside of Jackson. They are absolutely gorgeous.

Grand Tetons.... looking very small.
Then we took a small detour to go see the Craters of the Moon lava fields in Idaho. Yes folks, you heard correctly; there are lava fields in Idaho! ... and you thought there only potatoes there! They are no longer active and haven’t been for about 10 million years. Side note; on the drive out towards the lava we passed the world’s first nuclear power plant, which is now a tourist attraction, but only during the summer L otherwise we would have seen that too! 

Why there are lava fields in Idaho makes so much more sense when you learn the science behind it. It is a vestige of the same hotspot  (or caldera)  that currently makes mud boil and geysers erupt from Yellowstone National Park! Side note; that caldera is a supervolcano, poised to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth, but we will save that blog post for when it occurs. So, back to the whys and wherefores of the Idaho lava fields. Back in the day, the continent's crust was moving Southwest as the hotspot essentially stayed in place, carving out the Snake River Plain and settling at its current location: Yellowstone! How fascinating! I found it to be a very satisfying explanation for why lava fields exist in Idaho.

This map is the interactive display. I added the colored shapes to highlight the lava fields (diamond), Yellowstone (circle), direction of continental shift (arrow), and Jackon, WY (orange spot). The dotted rings are the path the hotspot took as it progressed to Yellowstone.
Map of hotspot movement over the last 10 million years.

Lava formations

Us at Craters of the Moon
Sagan loved it !

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jackson Hole Wyoming

Andrew, me, Tess, Steve in the Elk antler arches in town square
On the way back we took a short detour to stop in to  Jackson Hole Wyoming to spend a few days with my friends  and snowboard. I did one day of snowboarding at Snow King Mountain, the steepest-on-average ski slope in the country. Being that steep wasn’t really the best thing for a beginner snowboarder such as myself, but it was still very fun. The view of the Grand Tetons from the top of the slopes alone was worth the cost of the lift ticket! Unfortunately our camera died, but here is a pic of that view I found on the internet.

View of Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons from the top of Snow King slopes

Jackson seems like a really interesting place. It feels as if it’s existence is solely due to skiing, although it is also home to the countries elk preserve. There are 3 major resorts in, or right outside of Jackson. It is a quaint ski town catering to ski bums, winter sports enthusiasts, and tourists, but it also has its fair share of shops catering only to the insanely rich. We stopped into several of these upscale places just to see how the other other half live [lately known as the 1%]. There was the art gallery filled with 100k+ artwork, the leather store selling $2k+ garmets, and By Nature Gallery.

By Nature Gallery is one the most interesting stores I have ever been in. It is where I will go to burn my first million, when I have a bazillion dollars. It was full of fossils, giant geodes, woolly mammoth tusks, and dinosaur bones! You know, the kind of things that every self-respecting museum needs. A narwhal tusk (the  white spire in the middle of the picture below) was traded to the shop by Leonardo Decaprio in exchange for some other uber-rare, bizarre artifact, or atleast that is what the lady told us. 

Narwhal tusk: $18,000

Table made of a cross-section of a petrified sequoia tree:  $250,000 

Snowboarding in this get-up: Priceless

Anyway Jackson seems like a nice town especially if you like snow sports.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas in Greeley, CO

To those of you who have checked and found nothing here for a very long time, I apologize. The lack of content here is partially due to lack of content in my life as well being busy and lazy. So I will catch you up on the goings on.

We didn’t make it back to the East coast this winter for any holidays, but we did decide, last minute, to  venture halfway back across the continent to Greeley Colorado to stay a few weeks with Tess’ family. When we packed up the car and went to put Sagan in, he just looked at us like, “are we really doing this again?”  It was nice to spend the holidays with her family: mom, dad, sister, niece, 2 nephews, and several dogs and cats.

The following pictures show what went on in Greeley.

So several of these probably need explanation.... We dressed Lela up as an Ewok. I found a rad snowsuit in a Greeley thrift store, which I later wore to snowboard (see future post). The others are the of the niece (Cypher) and nephews (Bastion and Chance) and aunt Tessy. We kept the kids in that dog cage for the majority of the time. : )

This is a picture of elk from a day trip we made to Estes Park.

We also took the opportunity to visit several friends in Denver, which was really great. We went to watch the Sugar Bowl at a large bar in Denver where the Hokie Alumni gather to watch games. It was fun to hang out with 100’s of other Hokie fans and alumni and interesting to see the Denver Hokie scene in comparison to what exists out here in Seattle.