Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Life Is Awesome

In the last week, I have done the following:
1. Gone snowboarding
2. Rode around the Mount St. Helens Crater in a helicopter.
3. Gone rock-climbing

Yeah. Pretty sure it's gonna be a while before I have a week that can top that.
I have the most kickass job in the world. Even though it's only for a summer, I can confidently say that I'm pretty sure no one I know has a job that can top this. I really don't care if you're getting $25/hr to log cores or some shit like that, I get paid to ride around in a helicopter. WIN. This summer has been all about the transition from being a college kid who (technically) still lives at home (i.e. goes home for holiday breaks, etc) to a young adult who is starting a career and a life. HOLYFUCKSHITSOMEONESLAMTHEBREAKSIMNOTREADYFORTHIS! But it's cool. I'm 23, and I gotta grow up sometime, right?
With all the scariness of this aside, I'm in a great place right now. This job is giving me great and valuable experiences in geology, that I can apply to just about any career I decide to pursue. I kind of left Western with the idea that I'd do the same thing that 99% of people with this degree do: go into the oil and gas industry and make a fortune ripping big holes in the earth. But maybe that isn't going to be it. I have (at least) a semester of grad school to figure this all out, anyway (since many of my graduate classes will be influenced by my intended career path). Options are a nice thing to have.
I'll be honest, I was fairly skeptical of the Northwest when I first moved here, but I was all like "well this is where I'm working for the summer, and it beats the hell out of going to Texas to work for an oil company" so I figured I would just roll with it. But I actually like it here. Never, ever thought that there would be any place in this country (or on this planet, even) that I would enjoy just as much as the West, but Oregon and Washington are pretty cool. I'm not a fan of the humidity, and I'm sure I'd hate the winters, but the fact that I got to snowboard in JULY was pretty awesome.

Me and my fellow USGS intern, Tyler Kent (aka TK), after snowboarding on Mt. Hood

We drove up the night before and slept in the back of my SUV (there really isn't anywhere to camp there). Woke up around 05:00 on Sunday morning and hiked up the climber's trail (adjacent to the ski area) ... well, I hiked, TK skinned up because the lucky bastard has a splitboard, psssh. It's a slog (which I knew, having been up to the summit of Hood last month), but it was kinda nice actually having gotten some sleep the night before. The wind sucked, because when you're carrying a snowboard it acts like a giant sail, but it wasn't like I had anything else to do that morning. We continued above the top of the Palmer lift to about 9500', and enjoyed the ride down. The snow above the ski area was pretty crunchy, and my legs were sore as hell from going to CrossFit the day before, so it was nice to get on the slush of the actual ski area. About 4 hours up, 15 minutes down, haha, but it was worth it.

Ok, on to highlight #2 (chronologically): riding around Mount St. Helens in a helicopter. The USGS has a bunch of monitoring equipment set up to monitor volcano-related hazards (not just eruptions, but also lahars and the like), but due to the remoteness of the sites and the sheer volume of equipment that must be transported, the easiest way to set up this stuff is to fly it in with a helicopter.

Slinging a load out of one of the geophone sites

I was with two other scientists, working on a geophone setup in one of the drainages below the actual mountain. We were out all day, and it was hard work (digging holes, pounding in fenceposts, mixing and pouring concrete, etc), but it was awesome. Fucking awesome. At the end of the day, they took me up and flew around the crater and down one of the canyons. It was amazing; helicopters fly really low so you can get great views of the geologic features.

I don't really have a picture or anything to say about the rock climbing other than that there's a pretty sweet sport climbing crag relatively close to the office where I work that I've gone to with TK a couple times now.

But, to recap:
1. I have a job that I like, it pays decent money, I get to go cool places for field work, and it is giving me great experience for
any career path that I choose.
2. I live relatively close to some nice climbing/mountaineering/snowboarding destinations.
3. For a big city, Portland is pretty cool. It's the first
real big city I have lived in. It was definitely a bit of a culture shock, coming from western Colorado, but I really dig it. There's a great Farmer's Market downtown on Saturdays, and because we're so close to the coast, there's vendors that even sell fish/seafood! Awesome.

In conclusion, my life is awesome.

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