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First Round of Data Collection COMPLETE!!!

June 10, 2011

As of Wednesday, June 8 at 5:00 MST, the first round of metabolic data collection was completely and utterly done! It was four days of non-stop data collection in Lander, WY followed by a trip down to Vernal, UT for another full day of marathon data collection.

The Lander data collection was particularly stressful and hectic. I had to weave data collection in with the typical NOLS schedule. We had decided it would be easier for the students if the data collection took place near where they pack their bags and organize their food rations. So, on Monday morning, I moved all of the equipment to the new location to find that there was a Stair master set up for me rather than a treadmill. This was an old school stair master where I could not get speeds or any real measure of work intensity performed by the subjects. I was not happy about this and decided to completely nix this whole stair master idea. I was already measuring out a track way for subjects to walk and run on when I was told that temperatures would reach the upper 80s that day – too hot for this part of the study. So, after having moved all of the equipment, I had to move it all back to its original location. Kate helped tremendously making sure the students got to me for data collection. The students (my subjects) were really a wonderful, fun loving group. They were enthusiastic about the project and seemed generally interested in the study and all the fun information that will come from it. The course proctor, Kate, and NOLS staff in general were absolutely fantastic about all this and really made it work, and it all got done with very few if any problems. Another potential disaster averted!

The next morning, Kate and I were on the road to Vernal, UT to meet the second semester I am following and collect the pre-course metabolic data. The drive down, a little over four hours from Lander, WY, was absolutely gorgeous. There were lots of fun winding, switchback heavy mountain roads. The first highlight of the drive through was stopping in Dutch John, UT for a bathroom break. This is what I found on the women’s bathroom wall.


How great of a poster is that?!?!?

The second highlight was Flaming Gorge Dam. It was beautiful and the first time I have seen and drove across a dam in person.

When I was in Lander, I was told that Vernal was a small Mormon town with absolutely nothing to do. When we got there, we were shocked! It was so much bigger than Lander, and it is the location of lots of dinosaur digs. They have a couple of nice looking dinosaur exhibits throughout town and little Mom an’ Pop fossil and rock shops. I did not get a chance to visit on this trip, but I plan on doing so in the future. When I got to the NOLS Vernal base, I was met by such lovely people. The staff there is really tremendous and they were very accommodating to the needs of the study. They were interested in what I was doing and had lots of questions and input which is always wonderful. We also met the NOLS Vernal bosses Red and Ocho.

Red the Cat - apparently the real boss of the NOLS Vernal base

Ocho the Dog

Ocho got into a wild turkey nest and managed to steal the eggs, gingerly carrying them in his mouth to a secret location for a late day snack. Poor mama turkey!


And this is the Vernal NOLS base.

Once we touched base with the NOLS staff and the course proctor, Kate and I went for a drive to Dinosaur National Monument. Here a couple pictures of the park.

Entrance into Dinosaur National Monument

View of Split Rock Mountain

Prairie Dog!!!!

And an awesome picture of this little ant moving a rock.


We got back in the evening, met with the students, set up a data collection schedule, and then turned in for the night. We camped outside near a horse stable. The horses were neighing all night long, and I barely slept, but science must go on.

The course proctor set aside Wednesday just for data collection to reduce competition with the normal NOLS curriculum. I measured out a track way outside for students to walk and run, and it worked amazingly well. Here are some data collection action shots!

Resting metabolic rate setup



The whole thing went very well, and we were able to drive back to Lander Wednesday evening. However, we ended up driving into the apocalypse! There were massive thunderstorms surrounding Lander, and we were driving right into them. I feel so bad for people who were up in the mountains because it looked like they were getting slammed with snow, rain, wind, and lots of lightening. I do hope they are all safe and doing well.

Once I got back into town, I shut my mind off for about 36 hours. I took all of Thursday off to just rest my mind and body after such a marathon. Today it is back to the grind, planning how the Fall/Winter semesters will run, working on a bunch of little different projects for NOLS, and the tedious process of entering data into excel files. All in all, I am feeling very good about how things are going. There was plenty of potential for disaster but things went rather smoothly; it imbues hope for the future!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. jessica permalink
    June 11, 2011 3:20 am


  2. Teddy Bear 2 permalink
    June 11, 2011 5:18 pm

    Okay, so I’m glad your data collection went well. This entire adventure makes me feel rather lazy and unaccomplished in my life. On that note, I do have a few comments. 1. Red seems like he has seen better days…as has that couch. 2. The ocho story makes me sad. 3. This whole harness and mask thing is very…well, yes, my mind went there. 4. That poster is cool…but i noticed no one was taking the number. That’s either very good or very bad. Not sure which.

    • June 11, 2011 5:44 pm

      So, Brian, I thought I should leave a comment here too. 1. Red was awesome. He seriously ruled the roost there. Where ever he went, Ocho, the dog followed but like 10 paces back with his head low. And yes that couch has seen better days, but it is Red’s couch. His ear is clipped because he has been neutered. Utah has a feral animal neutering program, it costs like $10 to neuter an animal there. The theory behind it is that if you have a neutered animal around it is more likely to keep other animals off your property. The issue with Utah (and possibly Wyoming) is that people hate feral animals and often shoot them on sight (cat or dog). This program tries to prevent such senseless killing by promoting neutering for cheap and that neutered feral animals will keep non-neutered, baby producing animals off your property. 2. Yes, I was really upset by Ocho stealing the eggs too. All the time and energy that mama turkey put into those eggs…gone to a midnight snack. You could tell he felt guilty though, when he carried the eggs, his head was hanging real low. 3. Dirty Dirty Brian! 4. See the post on facebook for that.

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