Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bernie Falls

One last set of pictures from the night before I turn in, this set from Bernie Falls. It was well over 90F last Friday, a hot enough temperature that gets most people thinking about swimming prospects, so as there was little else to do on late Friday afternoon a small handful of us headed over to the local state park for some swimming. We'd heard there was a waterfall, of course, but nothing prepared us for this beauty-
All in all, a 150ft waterfall cascading down a cliff with rivulets of water all around it. The secondary waterfalls came straight out of the ground, as they were essentially snowmelt (meaning the water temperature was about 45F). Here's the view from the bottom-

Getting to the bottom was also refreshing because it was about 20 degrees colder than it was at the top of the waterfall. Hooray for natural air conditioning!

Because our group was so enamored by this waterfall (which is one of the prettiest I've seen, and that means something from a girl who toured New Zealand), we ended up spending a lot of time here, primarily occupied by staring at the falls and trying to see how wet we dare get in the freezing water from the tiny side waterfalls. Here's a good example of them-
Basically, if you stood on the edge you could still get into the freezing stream and get your hair wet or whatever, but the water was just too cold for swimming. So we ended up going to the state park's lake for a more respectable venue, which was also cold but actually swimmable.

Friday was alas our last day up at Hat Creek, meaning we headed back here to Mountain View on Saturday. The most eventful thing on Saturday by far happened just a few hours back to here in a story I want to share now lest I forget it...

The setup: there were 19 people on this REU trip, so in order to get around we rented two 12 passenger vans for the week, one driven by Jill Tarter and the other driven by an older student. Jill was going a bit over the speed limit on the way back, which isn't a big deal in California until a cop notices you, which this one did... and he was not happy. When he came up to our van to talk things over, no one doubted for a second that she was going to get a ticket.

Then the cop went back to talk to the passengers in the second van and we waited. And waited. Upon looking back, we noticed that everyone in the second van was laughing, including the cop, and after a five minute discussion he came back all smiles and let us off with a warning. We were on a cell phone within moments of him leaving with the second van in an attempt to find out what had happened.

Apparently what happened was this- the cop had asked who our group was and where we were from, and the student driver told him we were from the SETI Institute. Upon hearing this the cop got really excited, even mentioning something about an acquaintance of his in Texas who had seen a UFO- something that made Jill visibly cringe in the telling. She needn't have, however, because the student driver had been quick to retort "oh, well we look for real aliens!" which was enough to send everyone bursting into laughter for what seemed an eternity.

So all in all, the cop let us go because we were SETI. I didn't realize this summer job had an element of celebrity when I started, but it's definitely given us a story to joke about for the rest of the summer!