My Addiction to Office Supplies Goes Outdoors

New school supplies still make me happy. When I started college as an engineer, I graduated from loose leaf paper and spiral notebooks to logbooks. I learned that a scientist has to use a bound book so that evidence is documented in a tamper-proof way. I liked that. Ok, I loved that! Then, I discovered logbooks with page numbers and graph paper pages. Ah, heaven. Soon I justified buying a scale instead of a plain ruler and next thing you know I had a few French curves and a lot of colored pencils to my name.

Now, as I prepare for my journey to Iceland (sounds awfully adventurous!) I was instructed to buy a geological field book. This notebook, my professor explained, would be turned in for grading at the end of the course. It needs to have accurate drawings (uh oh) and be kept in chronological order documenting all of the sites we visit. The date, GPS coordinates, and observed weather must be recorded along with geological observations.

I ordered my notebook online. I learned that there are many profession-specific field books. They are rain-proof, as long as you use a pencil or a waterproof pen. I scoped out the proper notebook and added two mechanical pencils, one red and one black. I wanted blue and maybe even green and yellow, but they didn’t offer anything but black and red. I also found a cover to keep the notebook and pencils together.Geologic Fieldbook

Looking at this notebook, the epitome of all scientific notebooks, I think about why I am so drawn to it. The empty notebook is a new beginning, the blank pages waiting to be filled with new experiences. Back in college, I began each new semester as an adventure and a challenge. It was tough going and as I progressed through the years, I started to count down the remaining semesters at each new start. Better to just enjoy the journey, tough as it may be.

My new notebook has a table of contents. I like the orderliness of this. Life is chaotic, but with this notebook, this one aspect of my life will be chronicled in an orderly way. Built into the back of the book are twenty pages of reference materials. These aren’t the random references that some notebooks capture, but information very specific to geology. When I am out in the field, with no internet, this will be my only reference. It’s nice to know that most of the basics are already at hand. Before I leave, I will add references of my own, particularly a map of Iceland.

Opening up the notebook, I find that each left-hand page is a blank table and each right hand page is graph paper. I wonder if my observations will fit neatly into this format. I doubt it, but this is where I need to be flexible. Hidden in the back of the notebook, I find a treasure…a scale! It’s flat and waterproof with an arrow and a big N. In the field, I can set it next to a geologic feature and point it north. Then when I take a photo of the feature, I will know its exact size and orientation.

It’s often said that planning a vacation is more fun than the actual trip. I hope that they are equally pleasurable, but I do know that I am enjoying the preparations for my next adventure. I have my precious notebook and I intend to follow up with my professor to get it back after he grades it. I am already making plans to take his fieldwork class next year…Cypress or Puerto Rico.

Who knew that a passion for notebooks could mesh with my newly unleased passion for adventure! Find the Joy in the Journey…What’s your next adventure?



Time To Plan A Trip To The Equator–Minus the Tarantulas!

About two and a half years ago, I started asking my husband where he wanted to go to celebrate our 25 year wedding anniversary. He was pretty noncommittal; usually he’d say, “I don’t know”, or “let me think about it”. This got us nowhere for the first year. Then I decided to start suggesting places, already having my heart set on France. We deadlocked on France for me and Hawaii for him for about six more months, meanwhile the milestone anniversary came and went.

One day I was watching TV and saw a House Hunters International show about a couple looking for a vacation home in Salinas, Ecuador, and an idea was born. I cautiously brought it up to my husband and was shocked when he enthusiastically agreed. It turned out that he’d written a school paper about the Galapagos Islands as a middle-schooler and all these years later was still excited about the idea of seeing it in person. Phew, place chosen!

The next hurdle was having enough frequent flyer miles to get us there. I had enough for one first-class ticket and hoped he had enough for another. I was determined that we would have a memorable trip and flying first class was part of the dream. In the end, I got tired of waiting for the miles to accumulate and booked economy class tickets with my miles. Phew, dates chosen!

When I started telling people where I wanted to go on vacation, I got two responses. Some people asked me why…and I told them about the TV show and wanting to check out Ecuador for myself to see if it was too good to be true. The other response was that we had to go to the Amazon. After checking things out online, I decided that due to time constraints, we had to choose between the rainforest and the Galapagos. Since the Galapagos was the thing that captured my husband’s imagination, I went with that…plus I was not too excited about the amount of work it would take to get to the rainforest…or the bugs.

In doing some more research today, I ran across a series of articles on traveling in Ecuador in the Detroit Free Press by Ellen Creager, including this one about the rainforest titled, The Greatest Vacation You Never Thought You’d Take…very timely indeed! I was drawn right in…especially to the part about how one of the nicest places to stay was being renovated and opening back up right when we are planning our trip. Then I realized that a lot of the accompanying pictures of the diverse fauna were of, well, BUGS! And there was conspicuously missing, a picture of what she described in a companion article as “harmless” salad-plate sized tarantulas.  As an arachnophobe (which I wrote about here), this was a deal breaker. I think the mention of snakes would be enough to discourage my husband, should it come to that! But, what a shame, one of the most unsullied locations in the rainforest (thanks to donations to keep it that way)…

Ecuador is a small country with four, unique climates. The other three will keep us busy enough. We can travel from colonial treasures and straddling the equator, to quiet mountain towns and trading centers, to thriving beach resorts, and ultimately to Galapagos, where the flora and fauna are diverse in their own rights. Galapagos, where the finches adapted to each island’s unique ecosystem thereby inspiring Darwin’s study of evolution, to penguins living on the equator, to blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises…we shall have plenty to see and do in Ecuador without treading on the same ground as tarantulas.

It doesn’t seem real yet, but let the planning begin!

Find the Joy in the Journey…and may that journey take you to places you never imagined!

Related Post:

Packing For Ecuador…Or Romancing The Stone?