9 June 2011

The annual summer routine of Mr. Callan X. Bentley

Posted by Callan Bentley

I confess that the reason I went into teaching was that I could get the summers off. In my career-planning mind of a decade ago, this is the #1 perk of the job. Since committing to the career, I’ve gotten much more “into” geology, such that I have come to fill up much of my leisure time with geological pursuits… but I still love the break from routine. Summer is great, and summer is here.

I work a 9-month teaching contract at NOVA, and every summer, I escape the DC heat, humidity, and overall rut, and head west. Out in the high mountains of the Cordillera, I find my refreshment. Amid open, arid vistas, glaciated peaks, and charismatic megafauna, my proverbial batteries get recharged. Montana and places like it are a part of my annual peregrinations, and next week –one week from today– I leave on that happy wander.

As with the previous five summers, I’ll rent out my place in DC while I’m gone — a wonderful thing to be able to do: have someone pay the rent and take care of Lola in my absence, freeing me up to be gone for two months. There is never any shortage of responsible individuals who have federal or nonprofit internships and are looking for a fun, lively neighborhood to stay in.

I’m driving out to Montana this year, and plan to make stops in Carbondale, Illinois (to visit Steve Gough and the crew at Little River Research and Design); Fort Collins, Colorado (to visit with my favorite professor from William & Mary, who upon his retirement returned to professing, but now at Colorado State University); Laramie, Wyoming (to visit with GeoEvelyn and tour a museum and maybe some outcrops); and probably a night of homage at Devils Tower or the Bighorn Range. If all goes well, I’ll roll into Bozeman, Montana, in time to meet up with Garry Hayes and his students, and then pick up my fiancée Lily at the Bozeman airport.

Then we’ll have a few days of wedding organizing, and on Saturday my colleague Pete Berquist flies in with our Regional Field Geology of the Northern Rockies class. We’ll tour, hike, sketch, sample, and map from Red Lodge to East Glacier over the next two weeks with a great group of students.

Following the field course, it’s Wedding Week for Lily and me. Our friends and family will journey to Bozeman from the four corners of the world to have fun rafting, hiking, tubing, hot-springing, eating, drinking, conversing, and finally celebrating our wedding. We’re very much looking forward to it.

Post-wedding, we’ve got several weeks of exploring the Rockies: one goal is to attempt to climb Granite Peak (Montana’s highest, in the central Beartooth Range) with our Montana State University grad school adviser John Graves (he’s an accomplished mountaineer). Another plan is to spend time in the Canadian Rockies (Waterton, Banff, and most particularly Yoho, where we are scheduled to hike up to the Burgess Shale in late July).

Come August, Lily & I will be in Sheridan, Wyoming, for a nine-day workshop on teaching energy (Lily is a teacher too). We’ll be checking out some of the fossil fuel resources of Wyoming on several field trips, and exploring the Bighorns on the downtime before delving into curriculum development for our respective jobs.

Jobs?” Wait, teaching… that starts when…?

…Sure enough: the energy workshop’s conclusion will indicate that summer is at an end, and then we will drive back across country in a few days, as I have to be back at work for the fall semester by August 16. The long season of roaming will come to an end, and I’ll go from the mountains to back inside the Beltway.