Geology club takes weekend trip to explore Southwest

by SERGIO MADRID//Editorial Assistant

geology trip geology club group photo on boulder in big bend canyon

The Rock Whisperers explored some of the Southwest’s most beautiful and interesting sights, applying classroom knowledge during a much-needed weekend getaway.

The geology club is one of the more intriguing groups at South Plains College. We can agree studying the Earth is fascinating enough, but to actually experience the Earth is what draws students to it.

Aaron Greene, geology professor at SPC, has led the group for quite some time and with much enthusiasm. He has made an impact on many students, such as geology club president, Garret Fowler, who says Greene’s class is the reason he is now pursuing geology as a profession.

A trip of a lifetime, or at least one worth remembering, definitely helps leave a mark on students. This year’s geology club trip was just that.

On April 22, the geology club, better known as Rock Whisperers, set out for a weekend exploring Carlsbad Caverns, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and Big Bend.

The first stop was at a local BBQ joint in Carlsbad, (N.M.) Danny’s BBQ, where some students filled up a little too much before the long hike through Carlsbad Caverns.

Once we arrived at the caverns, Greene allowed for the students to check the Gift Shop, where a multitude of handmade goods, such as pottery, colored rocks, and small animal sculptures were sold.

On the way inside the caverns, there is a scale model map of the caverns, with information about different regions of the caverns.

There is a theater right outside the main entrance to the caverns, and a point-of-no-return spot where a park ranger explains the basic do’s and don’ts of the caverns, as well as to spit out your gum, for whatever reason. There is a spit bucket specifically for gum.

Inside the caverns, you are continuously walking at a downward angle for a couple of miles. The deeper you go, the cooler it gets, and there are a multitude of forming and broken stalactites and stalagmites. Some have even reached points of contact with each other.

This is a fascinating sight, as it takes thousands of years for these structures to form, usually at a pace of less than 10 centimeters every 1,000 years.

By the time you make it through to the other side of the caverns, your feet hurt and your neck is cramped from looking every which way, as there is something to see at every twist and turn.

Another amazing feat they managed was building an elevator inside the caverns to get people from the bottom to back up top near the place you entered the caverns from.

After the caverns, the group gathered back on the buses and headed to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Upon arriving at the park, the group set up camp. By that time, it was late and time for dinner. Ryker Allison, a geology major at SPC, and a couple of other students began cooking fajitas marinated by, Sean “Rader” Reilly’s wife. Reilly was one of a couple student-veterans in the group.

As the sun was setting, I broke out my guitar and played a few songs until Fowler set up his telescope and everyone peeked at Saturn and its four moons. It was hard to see but still very much intriguing.

In the morning, the group broke down the camp, took a look at a small museum inside the information center that displayed the wildlife within the park, and headed for the next campsite in Big Bend. The ride was long and dreary, filled with desert sand, mountain scape, and winding roads.

On the bus, students passed around a spiral notebook to write a story with everyone contributing a sentence. In our epic, a mean man named Bjorn came across a shell named Marcel, and I hesitate to tell you the rest.

Nonetheless, this was a great way to get everyone interacting with each other while also passing time.

Upon arriving at Big Bend, the group once again set up camp, and a few students went down to the river to look at Mexico. It looked just like the United States side, but there was something about knowing you were staring into a completely different country.

After resting a bit, the next step was an old mining town inside of Big Bend National Park called Terlingua.

Terlingua, now a “ghost-town,” has some rich history that mostly involves the mining that took place there. But it also has a great view of the canyon and a famous restaurant.

That restaurant is the Starlight Theater, famous for being an old movie palace but now offering the infamous “Diego Burger,” a pound of beef from hell.

Four club members attempted to finish the burger, but only three were victorious. We paid the price though, as it weighed heavy in our stomachs for quite some time.

The group then headed back to camp and waited for an arriving meteor shower. As we laid under the stars, deep conversations began, and the group shared stories back in forth, pointing and counting every shooting star we saw.

The following morning, Fowler and I woke up before everyone else and got a good look at a bunny that seemed like it was being hunted by a low-flying vulture.

Also, a roadrunner worked its way through the campsite just as we were taking it down. It was cool to see how these animals unassociated with people tend not to mind or stray from humans in that matter.

On the way back to Lubbock, the spiral notebook got passed around. This time, each of us added to a drawing, dealing with Bjorn and Marcel, and, of course, professor Greene. It was quite the masterpiece.

[Photo by SERGIO MADRID/PLAINSMAN PRESS]

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