Monday, October 18, 2010

Coastal Processes Field Trip

I got to go to the beach this weekend. I bet you're super jealous. Ok, maybe you're not, since it was a learning trip to the beach and not a leisure trip, but it was still a lot of fun.
We started off in Duck on Friday at the USACE Field Research Facility. We sat through a brief presentation, saw some cool equipment/vehicles that they use to collect data, and then walked out to the end of this giant pier. It was all pretty cool, and we even saw some dolphins. Although personally I think the diving cormorants were much more interesting than the dolphins. There were bunches of jellyfish too.
Then we went to Run Hill, a place that only Outer Banks locals really know about. We hiked around a bit, found a snake and ate lunch with this spectacular view of the sound.
Next up was more hiking through Nags Head Woods. It was a very pretty little hike. We saw dozens of Bay trees. I never realized that the Bay leaves used in cooking came from trees. I guess I just assumed they were some kind of bush or something. All that green stuff in the photo above is some kind of water plant. We speculated on the likely hood of alligators.
A nice view of the marsh.
The edge of the marsh. We took a core sample of the peat around here.
After that we went to Jockey's Ridge, which was pretty neat. I'd been there a couple times before, but had never hiked all the way out to the top of the dunes. This is a view of the sound from the dunes. There was a hang gliding class going on at the top of the next dune, which was kinda fun to watch.
Our last stop for Day 1 was the beach at Nag's Head which has this fantastic garnet sand. I totally brought some home. It's gorgeous. We also went to a section of the beach where everything's eroding and the beach houses are condemned and falling the ocean. We talked a bit about beach nourishment and management, etc.
The Atlantic at Nag's Head.

We spent the night at a tiny motel in Salvo, grabbed some dinner and some beer and just hung out for the rest of the evening. A few of us hit the beach in the dark, and tried to figure out what the mysterious thing out in the water was.

Sadly, I don't have any pictures from Day 2 because there's something wrong with my camera (sad face). We hit the beach once more at dawn to see if we could figure out what that thing was in the daylight (we couldn't) before heading off to breakfast. After that, we backtracked up to Oregon Inlet, New Inlet, the Haulover, Isabel Inlet and Cape Hatteras, so see where the light house had been and how the beach there is eroding. We did some ground penetrating radar too.

Then we hopped a ferry over to Ocracoke, hiked through all this marsh grass to talk to some Upenn students who were studying the overwash there, and then to the beach where we dug a trench to look at the sediment layers deposited by the tides. Then we caught another ferry back to the main land, which was really great. I like being on boats and this was a 2 and half hour ride across the sound. Much cooler than 2 1/2 hours in a van.

All in all it was a great weekend. I got to hang out with a different group of people for once which was nice. And while I did get asked about my work and what I do, it was nice to not talk quite so much shop. Or at least listen to people talking a different kind of shop. I got to see the ocean, which is always good for me, and collect some sand and some other cool things. I even got some input on how to fix the issue I'm having with my salt crystals for Salt in the Soul. It was exhausting, but good.

Now I'm buckling in for what's sure to be another crazy week. Thanks for reading!

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