6 Days & 1045 miles

Spring Break 2019 – 6 days, 1045 miles & 24 images.

I had the opportunity to go along with Dr. John Whitmore and six Cedarville University geology students on a spring break petrology class trip out west to Anza Borrego Desert & Death Valley National Park.

On our flight out west, Dr. Whitmore prepares for our week out west.
Lake Havasu
Ramsey Mine, outside of Quartzsite, Arizona
Sunday morning devotions at Canyon Sin Nombre outcrops
Canyon Sin Nombre
Anza Borrego, Fish Creek Wash
Taking sand grain samples at the barchan dunes near the Salton Sea.
some sand dune jumping …
Dr. Roberto Biaggi from Argentina, showing the student a variety of stromatolites.
CU alum Sarah Maithel, showing students one of the geology labs at Loma Linda University.
Dr. Whitmore giving a short geology class at Dante’s View in Death Valley.
Zabriskie Point, Badlands viewpoint in Death Valley.
Badwater Basin, 282ft below sea level. Dr. Whitmore looks on as the
students check to see if it’s really salty.
Dr. Whitmore and students discuss Devils Golf Course in Death Valley.
Storm clouds followed us to the Stovepipe Wells campground in Death Valley.
We found a little friend at our Stovepipe Wells campsite.
We woke up to nearly an inch of rain
Before leaving Death Valley National Park, we went to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
Can’t leave Death Valley without one last group photo. It was a good week.

Day 7 – Anza-Borrego / Geology Trip

It was our last day in southern California and it started as early as all the other days. We packed up the vehicles and took off from the hotel and headed to Loma Linda University. Dr. Leonard Brand, Professor of biology and paleontology gave us a grand tour of the facilities. We had the opportunity to meet many of the other geology department faculty.

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Dr. Leonard Brand explains how he got the young fox he has in his hand, among others in the collection.

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On the basement floor, it’s important to read all warnings on the doors before entering.

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Alex calmly holds Alexandra, an adult female tarantula.

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Dr. Kevin Nick demonstrates the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and how it works.

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Dr. Paul Buchheim shows a collection of his cut & polished rock collection.

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After our time in Loma Linda, we headed off to the airport to drop off the vehicles : / and to fly back to Cedarville. It was an uneventful return trip and relatively quick.

I shot about 680 digital images during the week & 6 rolls of 120 BW film, as well as about 20 Polaroid images. I was have a seperate post of some of my favorite Polaroid images in a few days.
I figured we drove about 130 miles a day on average.

All in all … it was a great trip.

Day 6 – Anza-Borrego / Geology Trip

Our last morning in the park.

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As we completed our time in the Anza-Borrego Desert, we took a tour of the Begole Archaeological Research Center guided by Collections Manager Dr. Lyndon Murray.

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As we drove throughout Borrego Springs during the week, we would to see these large metal creatures. As we drove out of town for the last time, the students take a moment for a fun group shot.

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Dr. John Whitmore explains sand dune migration at the Barchan Sand Dunes at Salton Sea.

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Dr. Whitmore describes how sand dunes form.

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Students are asked to identify the different sand grain structures throughout the dunes.

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Dr. Whitmore gets in on identifying sand grain size.

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We stopped at the Salton Sea.


It smells really bad! Dr. Whitmore enjoyed taking a picture of me reacting to the terrible smell.


Dr. John Whitmore explained the history of the 50 mile long manmade lake & why the fish die and are washed to shore to rot and dry up.


Just behind the students, you can see a row of dead fish. The entire shoreline consists of crushed up fish bones & barnacles.

Day 5 – Anza-Borrego / Geology Trip

Wednesday morning several of us got up at sunrise, only to find out it was fairly overcast towards the east when the sun was coming over the horizon. I turned the camera around to the west to watch the sun hit the Santa Ysabel mountain range.

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Can’t pass up a group photo. CU students w/ Dr. Austin & Dr. Whitmore.

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Dr. Steve Austin gives directions for the students to form groups and measure strata along the Fish Creek Mountains.

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Dr. John Whitmore assists Matt on using the Brunton compas.

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Dr. John Whitmore explains how to use the Jacob Staff to Chris & Matt as they prepare to measure the strata.

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Taking a moment with Dr. John Whitmore as he walks around to the several groups around the mountain range.

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Alex measures the dip as Matt looks through the sight and tells Chris where to place the next cairn marker in measuring the strata.

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After all the mapping is completed in the groups, they all got back together to discuss the project and share their findings.

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Alex using a grid in order to find the median grain size of the deposit.

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An overview look of the Fish Creek Mountains in the near distance.

Day 4 – Anza-Borrego / Geology Trip

After being able to sleep in Tuesday morning, we headed to Fish Creek Wash and Split Mtn. where we spent the whole day into the early evening. The weather forecast was for high winds throughout the day & we experienced the high winds the entire day. We followed the wash back 15 miles or more making stops along the way looking at folds, mudflow & debris flow deposits.

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Dr. Austin pointing out important details in this flow deposit

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Students discussing the evidence for three events or one event that formed this deposit

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Dr. Whitmore drawing students’ attention to the dessication cracks and ripples in the sand

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Students observing slicken sides and potential sand injectites in Split Mtn.

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I can’t pass up an opportunity to take a group picture along the way.

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Dr. Whitmore standing under a large anticline. The folds in this picture are evidence of soft sediment deformation. These layers must have been deposited rapidly!

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As we headed out at dusk, we neared the entrance on our way out, it was nearly dark and difficult to see the trial with the winds. Shortly after getting back on the highway, a huge dust storm came up & at times we had zero visibility … but all is well & we made it back to the Church for a wonderful spaghetti dinner.

I can hardy imagine what our adventure will be tomorrow.

Day 3 – Anza-Borrego / Geology Trip

Day 3 we spent most of our day looking at the Sin Nombre Canyon.

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Dr. Austin explaining the stratified layers at the entrance to Canyon Sin Nombre.

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Discussing the mineralogy of the igneous dike (white vertical rock face) intruded in the surrounding metamorphic rock

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Daniel trying to escape the hot sun.

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April & Chelsea both had birthdays today.

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Dr. John Whitmore discussing rock unconformity with Matt.

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On our hike up in a hidden slot, we take a quick group photo.

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A lunch break & quick lesson about using Brunton compasses to determine strike and dip by Dr. Steve Austin at the top after an interesting walk up the slot.

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Metamorphic rocks tilted almost vertically in the Laguna Mtns. overlooking Anza-Borrego State Park.

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Towards the end of the day after a long drive we stopped at a beautiful overlook.

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We went to Dr. Steve Austin’s house for a wonderful steak dinner & celebrated Chelsea & Aprils birthday with cake … and pie.

Another long day.

Day 2 – Anza-Borrego / Geology Trip

For the moment I am going to post images with a few captions & update the post on Monday with more details, but for now ….

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I’m driving the GMC Yukon … great car, I could get used driving this.

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On our way to breakfast, I could not help but take a morning sunrise over looking “downtown” Borrego Springs.

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At Font’s Point we took the official group picture.

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Overlooking the valley at Font’s Point, Dr. Whitmore opened the scriptures and shared with us somethings he is studying with Christ being tempted in the desert for 40 days & nights and the correlation with Moses in the wondering in the desert for 40 years.


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Dr. Steve Austin shares with use at Font’s Point and begins laying out the important areas & information in the Anza-Borrego Desert.

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I am fascinated with the plant life in the desert.

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There was some sort of off road vehicle rally going on because we saw jeeps of every type & huge RV’s pulling off road vehicles.

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April & Chelsey holding up a large rock.

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We headed to Calcite Mine & Slot Canyon in the SUV’s but the terrain was to much and we had to stop half way there. It did not stop anyone from looking at the rocks & formations & for Dr. Austin to the opportunity to teach.

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As Dr. Austin always says, “boulder boulder on the ground tell us something real profound”. Dr. Austin and students measuring the diameter of a boulder near the calcite mine. Using the diameter of the boulder, students can calculate the depth and velocity of the flow which transported these rocks.

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Students looking at an interesting reddish mineral in a piece of granite.

I have no idea what is in store for Day 3 … but it will be another early start.

Day 1 – Anza-Borrego / Geology Trip

It all started getting everyone together on campus at 4am and driving to the Dayton International Airport for a 6:35am flight out to Southern California via Dallas.

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We arrived in Southern California with no difficulties, everyone retrieved their luggage & after a short delay at the car rental, we took off for Anza-Borrego Desert in a Chevy Suburban & a GMC Tahoe.

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On our way toward Anza-Borrego, we stopped off on the side of the road in the Santa Ysabel and looked at rock formations.

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We then headed in to Borrego Springs to The Christian Center where we are staying for the week. It’s a very nice Church.

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After a LONG DAY and a nice dinner, we all headed to bed rather early knowing the next day would start early.