Carlos Plummer's 1999 Newsletter
As usual, the holidays and the end of the year raced behind me before I could get my annual newsletter out.
This newsletter features color photos, if you are willing to go to the accompanying website that has photos of some of the places visited during the year. Go to:
The "retirement" part of my semi-retirement ended in January when I returned to a semester of full-time teaching.
In April, Beth, Doune (her Scotty) and I piled into my Miata and spent a couple days in Monterey, CA, checking the geology and scenery of the coast and going through the wonderful Monterey Aquarium. This was the weekend when gas prices were skyrocketing and we kept driving from place to place, convinced that we could get beyond what seemed to be locally outrageous prices; but the prices rose faster than we could drive.
I flew more this year. I decided to get checked out in a higher performance airplane, the Cessna 182. This has been nice to fly, but more demanding and more expensive than the 172s I had been flying. Two of my flying club's 182 also have autopilots, which makes it easier to take pictures while piloting.
Classes for the semester and year ended in May, except for my field trip course (Geology 184) that I led to the Colorado Plateau. Beth came along as she had never been to that part of the country. The class was small, which made logistics easy. We drove to the Mojave Desert (stayed at Zyzzxx) and then to the Grand Canyon, where we camped at the South Rim. We spend one day hiking part of the way down the canyon. We then drove to Canyon de Chelly National Monument on the eastern edge of Arizona. I had never been to Canyon de Chelly before and was very impressed. The rim drive permits you to see wonderful land forms carved into the sandstone. Spider Rock, a large red pinnacle is noteworhty (check out the Website photo). We hiked to the bottom of the Canyon to see White House Ruins--Anasazi Cliff dwellings. The hike, scenery and geology are spectacular and I highly recommend it. We drove past Ship Rock (nearly getting blown away by high winds) to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Our next National Park was Arches, in Utah. We camped at a secluded spot beneath towering red pinnacles by the Colorado River not far from the Park. The next day we drove 365 miles through rain and snow to Zion National Park. Our final night was spent camping at Spencer's Hot Spring in the middle of Nevada.
A couple weeks later I flew to Boston, rented a car and drove up to my cousin's at Dixville Notch, N.H. Then south to hike to the top of Mt. Moosilauke as a prelude to my Dartmouth class' 40th reunion. The reunion was a lavish affair, great food (including the obligatory, all you can eat lobster bake) and drink, interesting panel discussions and programs. Afterwards,I drove to the coast of Maine, where I ate my last lobster. My last stop was to visit Jan Marx and her colonial home in Portsmouth, N.H., a lovely, historical and scenic town.
1999 was the year of the reunion. In July, I flew to San Antonio and attended a reunion of 50s vintage classes from Mexico City's American High School. I drove across Texas to Carlsbad Caverns which I had never seen before. After touring the cave and a night there, I drove south to Big Bend National Park.
In August, Beth and I took a trip to Elko, Nevada to search for a vertebrate fossil collecting site she thought might be useful. Nevada was on fire. We drove more than a hundred miles with numerous fires on either side of the road. We pulled into a rest stop to videotape a helicopter dumping water on a fire and were engulfed by smoke and ashes when we got out of the car. Visibility was next to nothing for a few minutes. When the wind shifted, we drove on. There were still uncontrolled fires when we drove back two days later.
Later in August I returned, with Beth, to the East Coast. We flew into Baltimore, spent the night near Annapolis at my sister's (Penny) house, then drove to Pittsburgh. En route, we stopped by Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Waters house and took the tour. The focus of the trip was Beth's father's 80th birthday celebration (a few months early, but at a time when Beth and all 6 of her brothers could attend). Saw the house where Beth grew up, the Carnegie Museum and other famous places. We returned to Maryland and spent a couple days at museums in D.C. notably the Smithsonian and Holocaust Museums. After our last night at Penny's we rushed through the Baltimore Aquarium and caught a good dolphin show before flying home.
Two California trips rounded out the year's travel. One was the Sacramento Vulcanologic Society's weekend trip to Lake Tahoe. The other was to Yosemite to show one of Beth's East Coast brothers the sights.
During the non-teaching part of the year I spent most of my time working on books, motivated by better than ever sales of the 8th edition of Physical Geology. Completed most of the work for the Upgraded Version of the 8th Edition, due fall, 2000. Soon we begin work on the 9th edition. I also worked on my "all new" general geology book; but didn't progress as far as I would have liked.
Charlie, now 24, had a better year with his schizophrenia. In July, he was switched to Clozaril, which is probably the best medication that is out, but one that doctors hesitate using until others have been tried. He has to have a weekly blood test before getting a prescription filled, because of a potential crashing of white blood cells. The improvement was dramatic, but he still has a ways to go to become self sufficient. He stays mostly at my house. I usually fix him supper on nights I go to Beth's (often cooking another meal at Beth's). He dabbles at a course or two at Sac City College.
Brian, now 22, may actually graduate from Sarah Lawrence College in May, and slow the financial hemorrhage. He has come close to making up for the semester he missed. This summer, he went to a Sac State program in Cuernavaca, Mexico and took intensive Spanish classes. He also got to see some nice places. At Sarah Lawrence, he is deeply involved with his jazz group and doing a lot of writing. He is enjoying a film making course. I don't think he knows what he wants to do after graduating.
In January, 2000, Beth and I celebrated five years of being together. We took a great trip to Mexico. Two whole action-packed days in Mexico City and nine days on the Caribbean, south of Can Cun. We took up SCUBA diving (actually, Beth used to dive in Wales many years ago) and became certified open water divers. Details in the 2000 newsletter.
Have a great year!