Alexandra’s Logbook #2

TRAVEL NEWS

Local Time: 1pm

Time Zone: Western Europe

How far did we travel this week?

Just under 700 miles for this trip this week.

How far have we traveled on our journey so far?

So far on this journey I have traveled about 6,300 miles and will be adding a lot more on through this month while I am backpacking around Europe. I will be going to 14 different countries in 27 days!

How did we get around this week?

This week I got around the city by walking. Then I took a coach bus for our five day field trip up to County Antrim.

What was the most interesting place we visited this week?

The most interesting place that I visited this week was the harbor of Ballintoy in County Antrim, which is located at the very top of Northern Ireland. This was the most interesting place that I visited because I got to live out my childhood dream of being a paleontologist and dug up fossils from over 60 million years ago.

There is a type of rock called Lias which is more like dark gray clay that is from the Lower Jurassic period in our earth’s geological history. In a small part of the harbor of Ballintoy there is a location where there is an exposed section of Lias. It is here that we were able to use a tool that looked like a mining pick and break off chunks of the Lias to search for marine fossils that had died and been preserved over 60 million years ago. I was fortunate enough to find one that is called Gryphaea, more commonly known as “The Devil’s Toenail” because it is in the shape of a large toenail.

It was so invigorating, or exciting, to be able to dig out a fossil that had not moved from where it settled in the Lias over 60 million years ago. I also thought it was really interesting how we could only be there for a certain period of time because it was a marine environment and the tide was coming in towards the shore.

This Week’s Travel News: (short story about what happened this week)

I was lucky enough to take the class, or module as they call it here in Ireland, called The Geological Evolution of Ireland and as a part of this class was able to journey about seven hours North of Cork City to County Antrim and investigate some of the main types of rocks in Ireland. This was probably the best field trip that I have ever had the pleasure of being on despite the fact that half of our trip was delayed and interrupted because of a blizzard. Yes, folks you read correctly, there was a blizzard in Ireland!

The people that were in my group were extremely helpful in giving me some background knowledge on geology, since I had never taken a geology class before and they all had, and they were very down to earth and genuine people. My group leaders were also extremely willing to help me understand better and at the end of the trip asked me if I was convinced to switch my major from Education to Geology and stay at UCC. I did think about it for a brief moment because I had such an amazing experience throughout the entirety of the trip.

NATURE NEWS

Weather Tally (enter the # of days for each weather type):

Sunny: 0

Cloudy: 6

Partly cloudy: 1

Rainy: 0

Snowy: 5

Windy: 7

What is the air temperature right now?

The temperature outside is about 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

How was the weather this week?

The weather this week has actually been awful for the activities that we were attempting to do while on this field trip. First, of all we were stuck in a blizzard while driving up to Ballintoy and spent an extra four hours in the bus.

The next day we could not get to our first stop because there were five feet deep snow drifts up through the mountain pass which the bus could not drive through. When the bus driver attempted to turn the bus around we ended up getting stuck in a snow bank for three hours, but our class made the most of it by going for a walk, taking photos and of course having a snow ball fight!

The next three days were quite terrible to be out in the elements and especially out along the coast, where we were, where there is zero shelter from the harsh wind coming off of the sea.

Although there were snow flurries the entire ride home it was partly sunny which made up for it!

What animals did we see this week?

The only animals I saw this week were seagulls along the Antrim coast, dozens of sheep because there was a sheep farm right next to the hostel that we stayed in, and the cutest little spaniel, which is a type of dog, named Amie. She belonged to Ed, one of my trips group leaders.

What was the coolest thing we saw in nature this week?

The coolest thing that I saw in nature this week was the Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway was formed about 62 million years ago at the opening of the Atlantic Ocean. The Giant’s Causeway is made up of a type of volcanic rock called basalt. It is very dark in color, just a touch shy of black, and is relatively smooth to the touch. When the earth split huge volumes of magma were generated in the Earth’s mantle and erupted into and onto the earth’s crust forming the start of the Giant’s Causeway.

However, there is one very, very important thing about the formation of the Giant’s Causeway which is the factor that draws in so many visitors. This is the fact that the majority of the basalt rocks formed into hexagon or “almost” hexagon shaped. This is because of the way the magma contracted and shrunk during the cooling process. All of this quick contracting and shrinking caused the magma to form perpendicularly, which geologists call columnar jointing because all of the pieces fit right into together, much like the ball and socket on a machine fit together.  These joints do vary in length, width, and height but the majority of the 40,000 basalt column “pieces” are 50cm long x 50cm x 15cm.

This Week’s Nature News: (short story about what happened this week)

This week’s Nature New is the same as this week’s Travel News because I was so incredibly lucky to be on a Geology field trip for my Geological Evolution of Ireland course at UCC. Despite the terrible weather I was able to see so many interesting sites along the coast of Northern Ireland that I would have never know existed if I had not taken this class.

OUR NEWS

What languages are spoken here?

English

What type of money is used here?

The pound.

How much does a bottle of water cost?

A bottle of water costs about one to two pounds.

What was the best meal this week?

The best meal that I had this week was one that I cooked with my friend Andrea in the kitchen of the hostel that we were staying in. We cooked some chicken and onions and then boiled some rice and added vegetable stock and spices and mixed it all together to make a sort of casserole. We also had steamed asparagus for a vegetable and for dessert some dairy free chocolate! It was the perfect meal because everything was nice and warm and we were frozen to the bone after being out in the freezing rain in the Harbor of Ballintoy all day. Have you ever had a meal that just warmed you right up after being out in the cold?

What music did we listen to this week?

I listened to a lot of music on my zune while we were traveling on the bus to and from Country Antrim. I also sang karaoke with a few of my new friends when we were done with our homework for the day and on the last night was very lucky to listen to and sing with a man by the name of Patsy Bradely. He is known for playing traditional Irish music on his guitar, but also can play and sing more modern songs as well. My favorite Irish song is called “Galway Girl.” Take a listen, it is very catchy!

What activity was the most fun this week?

Honestly, every activity that I did this week was a total blast, despite the weather. The people that I was with really made the experience so enjoyable. The majority of the students that were on this trip had never seen snow before in their lives and could not wait to get out and play in it.

My absolute favorite thing that I did this week was getting to know the students that were also on the trip, now my friends, and learning all about them.

What did I read this week?

This week I read a lot of geology notes and articles online to prepare me for this adventure. Even though I was on a fun Geology field trip, I still had to keep up on my homework from the classes that I was missing so I had to read some of the Beowulf Manuscript for my English class, which is a classic story that you will most likely read in your high school English classes.

What games or sports did I play?

I actually played a lot of card games during the down time that we had on our trip. I played some of my favorites which include: Speed, BS, Egyptian Rat Slap, 21 and Spoons as well as learning a new game called 45. My Irish friends love, love, love this game and after a few rounds I was getting the hang of it, but in the end said I would stick to my other games because there were way too many rules for me to keep track of!

This Week’s News: (short story about what happened this week)

This week I was able to journey about seven hours north of Cork City to County Antrim and investigate some of the main types of rocks in Ireland for my Geology field trip. This was probably the best field trip that I have ever had the pleasure of being on despite the fact that half of our trip was delayed and interrupted because of a blizzard. Yes, folks you read correctly, there was a blizzard in Country Antrim!

When we got back from the trip we all missed each other so much that I offered to host a party and have everyone come over to meet up again. We even created a group and event on Facebook so that everyone could stay in touch! At the beginning of the field trip I was nervous that everyone was already going to have their cliques and unwilling to help me understand the more advanced geological aspects of the trip but I could not have been more wrong. So, next time you are dreading going on a school field trip keep an open mind and make the most of it because chances are you will enjoy it ten times more than you though you could and if people see you enjoying it they are more apt to join in on the fun of learning and in the process make some new friends!

Blizzard

 

Blizzard

Gryphea

 

Gryphea

Hiking along the coastline

 

Hiking along the coastline

Tide coming in

Tide coming in

 

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