Geology Rocks: A Trip to Enchanted Rock

Great news! I’m starting a new job next week as a Senior Project Environmental Scientist, meaning you can expect more exciting reports from the field as I take NYC by storm in the coming months!

With impending full-time employment looming in the near future, I naturally took a trip to the lovely state of Texas to visit my awesome siblings. They’re in San Antonio – a city with more Walmart’s and HEB’s per capita than anywhere else in the world, but also home to an incredibly rich history and vibrant culture unlike any other city in the south. Oh, and AMAZINGLY authentic barbecue!

The reason I visit San Antonio at least 2x per year - my hilarious family!

The reason I visit San Antonio at least 2x per year – my hilarious family!

My latest discovery in the San Antonio region is Enchanted Rock. My brother and sis-in-law had visited a half-dozen times, and were more than happy to take the geologist of the family (aka me!) along for the hour drive this past trip.

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There she is! Enchanted Rock. Humans for scale.

Here she is in all of her geologic glory – Enchanted Rock! I had to keep my siblings in the frame so you could get a grasp of it’s size.

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I’m totally in my element here at the base of the trail…

Enchanted Rock stands 425 feet above the base elevation of the park, and is 1,825 feet above sea level. According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, climbing Enchanted Rock is like climbing the stairs of a 30- or 40-story building. The meandering route my sister and I took in-between taking selfies broke things up nicely, and was a leisurely little climb. Wear good shoes!

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Geology Lesson 101: Around 1,000,000,000 years ago, magma rose from beneath the Earth’s crust and pushed up the overlying rock surface. The magma then cooled VERY VERY slowly and turned into a granite dome/ pluton/ batholith (take your pick!). The overlying sedimentary rock crumbled away over millions of years of chemical and physical erosion – Granite is a very hardy rock and is able to “weather the storm” against erosion, and that’s why it’s here today!

From below, looking up.

From below, looking up.

Enchanted Rock is just the tip of the iceburg – it covers an area appx. 62 square miles with most of it remaining underground. Maybe in a few million years we’ll be able to climb on more of it!

My brother Edwin and wife Jenna run up the rock face like it's no big deal.

My brother Edwin and wife Jenna run up the rock face like it’s no big deal.

Another neat thing to note about Enchanted Rock is that it’s technically classified as an exfoliation dome – it’s not completely immune to erosion, and it can be seen breaking apart in many areas similarly to the structure of an onion.

Exfoliation: We all benefit from a bit of some!

Exfoliation: We all benefit from a bit of some!

Why does this happen? Well, after the overlying sedimentary rock eroded away from the surface of the granite dome, it began to expand just a little bit due to the lack of pressure bearing down. This expansion caused fracturing of the granite along its “curve”, resulting in a “peeling away” appearance. Enchanted Rock continues to exfoliate today!

My sister Amanda looks like she's on the surface of Mars (except the sky would be a more hazy-brown color!).

My sister Amanda looks like she’s on the surface of Mars (except the sky would be a more hazy-brown color!).

So if you’re looking to get out of the city (that is, San Antonio!), I highly recommend a drive to Enchanted Rock. The drive itself is almost surreal: beautiful winding roads through hills, endless acres of woods, vast grazing fields home to many happy cows, and even a couple wild bobcats (!).

View looking down: vast open landscape of central TX.

View looking down: vast open landscape of central TX.

And the vistas from the top of the rock – so gorgeous and expansive! I especially loved the mini oasis that grew in the center of the dome… it’s incredible how resilient nature is and how determined some species of plants are to live!

Little sister, little oasis.

Little sister, little oasis.

The climb is very kid/ dog/ family friendly. If you have bad knees, the walk down could be a bit intense without hiking poles. And definitely don’t roll or run down unless you don’t mind seriously busting your face open! I took my sweet ol’ time and soaked in the warm sun as much as possible.

Climbing the mini rocks is safe though! The granite had excellent traction!

Climbing the mini rocks is safe though! The granite had excellent traction!

Ah yes, another week done, making the start-date to the next chapter even closer. Sure, I won’t have endless open days to hang out with family and waste away on my Netflix queue, but I’ll definitely have a more structured life/ routine! Stay tuned for more lady-engineer-scientist adventures from NYC… I’m so excited 🙂

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All photographs taken with my Sony A99 Full Frame SLT Camera 🙂

Tuesday Inspiration – Happiness

“No single decision you ever made has led in a straight line to where you find yourself now. You peeked down some roads and took a few steps before turning back. You followed some roads that came to a dead end and others that got lost at too many intersections. Ultimately, all roads are connected to all other roads.”

-Deepak Chopra

Footpath on Cayman Brac

Footpath on Cayman Brac

I am entering my second month of unemployment, or what I’d like to call “fun-employment”. Don’t feel bad for me – it was a path I chose for the well-being of my body and heart, and I took all precautions in preparation for the monthly income drop.

It’s been an incredible experience to literally hit the pause button on life, to reconnect with myself, and deepen relationships with the ones I love. I have also learned a few important lessons on happiness…

My friend Keino and I on Cayman Brac's bluff edge.

My friend Keino and I on Cayman Brac’s bluff edge.

You know how all philosophers, prophets, and parents say, “Happiness comes from within”? We hear this over and over again, and with such repetition we often accept it with blind faith as we trudge through our everyday lives. We allow ourselves so few opportunities to actually experience this inner bliss, so much so that we ultimately forget how to recognize it when it’s staring us in the face. The straight A’s, the fancy apartment, the fat bonus, the dozens of friends, the luxurious vacations, the handsome boyfriend, the newest iPhone, the size 2 dress… We’re still unhappy.

Carib Sands Dock, Cayman Brac

I’m not perfect, and have just skimmed the tip of the iceberg on tapping into this inner resource of happiness. It’s taken me 25+ years, a few broken hearts, hopping the globe from the Caymans to Iceland to Morocco, living on a relatively excellent paycheck to having $2.00 to my name, and feeling completely alone in the wilderness to realize that happiness can really only be expressed. Not ours for the taking and holding inward, but truly reaching from within ourselves and giving it back to others. It’s as if we’re each holding a little sun within ourselves – a bright resource that regenerates over and over again. The more we give, the happier we are. It’s a pretty simple science.

Growing, giving, light

Growing, Giving, Happiness.

It’s just not easily duplicated because of all the superfluous garbage in the material worlds we live in. Add an inner frustration to the mix as we perpetually put ourselves down, saying we don’t deserve happiness for all the terrible things we’ve done… What have I done to deserve this? Exist. Don’t let the question be, Why Me? – More like, Yes, Me!

Be Happy :)

Be Happy 🙂

There are many paths I have yet to take, but having come from one that was equally as exciting as it was intensely challenging, I’m ready for what lies ahead. I’m thinking of going back into the environmental field – whether it be working at a consultancy or state department, you can’t take the science out of me 🙂

Besides, I’m fully entitled to change my mind at any moment in time and hop onto another path! I just have decided to chose happiness over all. And the next time I’m feeling down, it’s time to take a good look at myself in the mirror and truly ask why. Life is pretty simple, and I truly believe we are all predisposed to living in a state of bliss. Again, I’m far from perfect, and the occasional trip to Anthro and frequent bowl of ice cream can bring some (temporary) happiness.

Be calm, be happy my friends!

-ps this entire post is my way of procrastinating in preparation for my interviews this week… back to it!

Rough Seas, Final Days on Cayman Brac

Before I dabble too deeply into my 3-month hiatus from society in the Cayman Islands, (it included a bit of construction oversight, management of a farm, little sleep, constant movement, alarms 6-days a week at 4:55am, and epic sunrises) I’ll share a few photos captured from my last day on the island.

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It’s been a week since I’ve returned home to Brooklyn and I am still processing the entirety of the experience.

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Inner-growth, isolation, meditation, endless work, introspection, and endless papaya.

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More stories to come, the most exciting of which is happening in the present moment. Home.

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Day 1: Family, Hope, Forgiveness

Whoever coined, “Family is Forever” couldn’t have been more right. The very first thing that comes to mind on this initial day of my Gratitude-Spree is just that. I am so unbelievably grateful for my family: whether related by blood, marriage, or just down-right love for one another, you know who you are.Bouquet

To my intelligent, creative, stunning younger sister: you are so brave, strong, and bring such a brilliant light to my life and all others who are touched by your warm rays of sunshine.

To my charismatic, hilarious, and savvy older brother: I look up to you in more ways than you can imagine, and am so proud of your strength and wisdom expressed during the many trials of life.

To my loving, talented, and cheery older sister: I only hope one day to be as incredible a mother as you are to Tuck, and may you continue to spread your boundless joy to others through your many talents.

To my mom, my best friend, sometimes my momentary enemy, but always a shoulder to lean on: thank you for granting me the gift of grace and compassion, so I may be a better citizen of the world.

To my step-mom, my comfort, my dear friend, and resource for wisdom: thank you for bringing so much joy and bliss back into our family, and especially my dad’s life these past years. You are a true gift.

To my beloved dad, my best man, my hero, my ever-friend: thank you for inspiring me to pursue my dreams, live a full and happy life, leave my worries and sorrows behind, and to take each day as a blessing and gift. You are deeply missed, and a forever-father.

To my Tom: my voice of reason, my rock, my soul. You make each day a thousand suns brighter.

To my friends – each a brilliant star in the universe, you all bring so much love, happiness, and light into my life.

I am grateful for Family.

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And with Family, we learn to Hope, and we learn to Forgive.

Hope is what keeps us going at the end of a stressful day of work, where we often feel lost, confused, and frustrated about making some “big man” rich, while we’re just doing it to get by. Hope is what we cling to when we feel like we’ve lost everything. Hope is that comfort we feel when we stare fear right in the face and tell it to “back off!” …. it’s all going to be ok.

Hope is what I am grateful for today. Because even if this wasn’t my best day, I can Hope and I can know that today was MY day. Tomorrow is MY day too 🙂

I am grateful for Hope.

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Forgiveness is often hard to come by easy, but a necessary ingredient to a happy life. Forgiveness is about letting go, finding peace within yourself, and ultimately about Love. True, unconditional Love is the key to receiving and granting Forgiveness. Deflate your ego. Abandon your Pride. Forgive, and be Forgiven.

I am grateful for Forgiveness.