Brace yourselves. I am going to say something vaguely shocking. Today was one of the most fun days of my life! During the next few paragraphs and after you had read this (rather lengthy) post, you may start to wonder exactly how empty my life is, if today really represents a high-water mark…
I gave my talk today at the Casper Petroleum Club, which is housed in a beautifully-cited building on one the hills overlooking Casper. There was a great turnout (around 50) and I gave my talk on igneous systems to a crowd of more ‘experienced’ (again, their words, not mine) geoscientists and engineers. In all seriousness, one person suggested that c. 25% of the society membership were WWII veterans! My story of my struggle to get to Casper from Billings understandably fell on deaf-ears (metaphorically, but also possibly literally, because a few people came up to me afterwards and said they couldn’t understand my accent…). In attempt to try and blend-in, I wore a t-shirt with a cowboy on it (Wyoming is sometimes know as ‘The Cowboy State’), which seemed to help.
After we took the pledge of allegiance (I’m sorry Casper, but I didn’t know the words…), I then spent the next 45 minutes trying to convince people that studying igneous systems with seismic data was not only fun, but also economically important. The Q&A session was great and the audience seemed genuinely engaged. I got about half-a-dozen really thought-provoking questions, and had some interesting follow-up discussions afterwards. To top it all, they then presented me with a proper heavy core slice with the Wyoming Geological Association badge on it. Thanks!
After the talk, my host, Mairon, took me to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Centre and the Tate Geological Museum. The former was great, with much history about the indigenous population of the central and western US, in addition to the more recent history related to the first settlers. Some of this history is rather depressing and upsetting, but I feel better for knowing it. The latter was simply awesome; very well kept, lots of nice exhibits and a full-size mammoth (called ‘Dee’; the interesting story of its discovery can be found here). Marron arranged for me to have a tour of the fossil prep facility with JP and Matthew. They showed me a recently-discovered triceratops skull and loads of cool bones. They even showed me some fossilised dinosaur skin! To top if off, JP gave me a super-cool fossil fish (Knightia) from the Green River Fm (Eocene). Like I said, the combination of the unexpected enthusiastic response to my talk, the unbelievably friendly nature of everyone I met (apart from the security lady), the American history lesson, and the fossil tour and gift, made this one of the genuinely most fun days I have ever had. In Casper too. As you Americans like to say, “go figure”.