Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Who says only undergrads live in dorms? For thirteen days, this little beauty was my home. I've never done the dorm thing before and I've got to say that as a 39 year old pregnant lady it was not the most convenient or comfortable living space. I'm sure that as an 18 year old kid it would have been amazing. 

Luckily, I didn't have to share the room. I didn't sleep a wink until someone suggested stacking both mattresses to make the unforgiving platform bearable that I was able to rest. That was an awesome suggestion. Other people I met seriously went out and bought bed toppers for the time they were here. If I weren't so frugal, or walking everywhere, I may have done the same thing. I was lucky enough to get a mini-fridge and off to the left I had my own sink! Seriously, undergraduate heaven. 

The first day of my northern rocky mountain geology class we headed out to hike the "M." I confess it took me a while to figure out why there was an M on the mountain, and then I felt silly. There are evidently three trails, and naturally we took the steepest one (in the interest of time, of course). The week was blazing hot so we were out there in the direct sun and it was pretty brutal. One person turned around before we were even halfway, drove straight back to campus, and dropped the class. 

Once we got to the "M" we kept going. The trail continues up along the ridge and then comes down the other side. I couldn't quite keep the pace and the professor was not about to slow down, so I trucked along at my own pace until I just couldn't truck anymore. Then I turned around and waited for them in the shade where all the trails converged. I almost did the whole thing, but I'm glad I didn't. A few other students told me I made the right choice and I am choosing to believe them. The view off the back of the ridge was lovely though. 

Day 2 found us going to Palisade Falls and Hyalite canyon. Beautiful country, that is for sure. There were some stunning places and it was lovely. We saw several waterfalls and really, I came to find Montana remarkable. 

That night I had this brilliant idea that if I bought a humongous pizza (it was on special), I could stash it in my mini-fridge and certainly eat the whole thing over the course of my time here. I leave in a couple days and I am so. sick. of. this. pizza. It may not have been the best choice after all. 

Day three was gentle and kind. We did smaller trails and many of them had little to no elevation gain, a welcome break with sore legs from Monday's steep trail. We did however see many, many waterfalls (big and small). It was great. At one point we stopped for lunch and the professor said something about wading. In hindsight I don't think he expected anyone to take him seriously but I had my shoes off almost instantly. I was soooo hot and the water was cool and inviting. We didn't have a long stop for lunch, and giving advance notice to pack up and get ready to head out was not his strongest area, so halfway through my lunch and with muddy feet and no shoes, the class was headed on their way while I was sitting on a bench staring at the water. It was definitely an exercise in hurrying. 

Day 4 we spent at Big Sky resort and I didn't take any pictures. As much as I loved this class, I was exhausted and over it by then. It's so nice to talk geology again, but man, I'd trade it in a second to be home with my family.

Friday was the big hike day, at least that is what we were prepared for. We hiked to the top of Sacajawea peak which is only 2.2 miles each way, but with a 2000 ft. elevation gain. About 1 mile up there was a charming alpine meadow filled with dry streambeds that I imagined being filled with water during snowmelt. Due to steep elevations climbing out of the cirque, loose gravel, and balance issues that showed up out of nowhere, I chose to stay there while the rest of the class went to the summit. I ended up waiting there for about three hours, getting devoured by horse flies and finding a random doterra essential oil bottle in the middle of the wilderness. Anyone know what to do with "clarity?" 

Only moments after I remarked to the other class member who stayed behind "I'd love to see all these channels filled with water," we heard running water and were able to see the beginning of the channels filling up. I followed the water both up and down stream for a bit, then just sat and reveled in the charm of it. 

See? It was really lovely.

Fourth of July weekend was rather lonely. I wanted to be with my family, campus was basically vacant, and other students I'd met all headed out on adventures or had family coming to town to visit. The bus was shut down, the campus library was closed for three days, and half the food establishments were closed also. Good thing I had that pizza! Saturday someone was firing off illegal fireworks visible from my dorm so I laid in bed and watched until almost 1:00 am when I think the police shut them down. Sunday I was rewarded with a gorgeous sunset. I'm not sure what I was rewarded for, but it was lovely nonetheless and I'm choosing to think it was for me. 

Monday began presentations. Isn't campus cute and old school? Yeah, I thought so too until I sat in those awful chairs for three hours. I kid you not, if my students this fall complain about having no space or their desk being uncomfortable I will show them this picture and have no pity. 

Today was my day. I was lucky enough to get to present right smack in the middle of the week - noon on Wednesday. It doesn't get more in the middle than that! I liked that I was able to observe other presentations first but that it didn't allow me to completely procrastinate either, as I have been known to do. Afterward I had to meet with my advisor and my committee, which really was only one other person since my official advisor is on a leave of absence. They sent me out of the room to deliberate my candidacy for graduation and then called me back in. The program director said "Let me be the first to congratulate you on completing your Master's" and I almost started bawling. She then gave me a decal and a carabiner, which I admit seemed a little weird. 

I still have some paper revisions to make and some other responsibilities for the remainder of the week, but it's safe to say I have made it. I started this journey quite a while ago and I honestly have a hard time believing I've made it. I wanted to quit so many times, but just kept nibbling away and finally this time has come. It is entirely possible that I am completely done with school, and that is awesome.

Now, can I please go home? I miss my people. 

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