Vanessa in Taos

Vanessa is a senior majoring in biology and anthropology in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. During summer 2012, she is studying at SMU-in-Taos.

Mud and more mud

Today was bittersweet. I went on my last field trip with my botany class to Ojo Caliente, or the Hot Springs, even though that's not the correct translation. The spa was only about an hour from campus, and some other Taos students were able to join us for the trip. I had shared the trip information with other students earlier this week, and several of them kept telling me that I would have such an amazing time. Although I wasn't sure what exactly I would be doing, I knew that the highlight  of the trip would be to have a mud bath. One of my friends kept saying how gross I would feel when applying the mud, but how amazing my [...]

2012-06-28T21:36:54+00:00 June 28th, 2012|Vanessa in Taos|

A day in Santa Fe

The next day was the complete opposite of our hike. I was able to get dressed for a day touring Santa Fe. It was going to be a more relaxed trip with plenty of shopping and sight-seeing. Our first stop was in the town plaza, right in front of the St. Francis of Assisi Church. Just the view from the outside was enough to convince me that we needed to stop here first. Just as I had thought, the view on the inside was gorgeous as well. Gorgeous tapestries, and the main worship area was incredible as well. The security was more strict about pictures that could be taken because they were getting ready for Mass. So, most of my [...]

2012-06-26T22:16:07+00:00 June 26th, 2012|Vanessa in Taos|

11,000 feet to Williams Lake

By 8 a.m. the next morning, I was on my way to the Taos Ski Valley for my final hike of the term. My class was going to climb up  part of the entire 13,000-foot mountain area to see the beautiful glacier-made lake! Dr. Ubelaker had been discussing this trip for a while. As is custom before we begin any hike, he urged us to drink plenty of water and to ask for time to rest. I knew that this was going to be our hardest hike yet. But, it was still exciting for us to be able to see the lake! We started off very slow, taking our time. Dr. Ubelaker identified some plants along the way, like the geranium [...]

2012-06-26T22:22:01+00:00 June 25th, 2012|Vanessa in Taos|

Native plants tour

Even though the week went by faster than I thought it would, it still took a very long time for Friday to come around. The Parasitology students were finishing up their dissections and identification of parasites, while the other Botany students and myself worked diligently on our projects. Dr. Ubelaker also had us clean out the biology lab. From the way it looked, I assumed it hadn't been cleaned for almost eight years! There were so many old mounts and plant specimens everywhere, not to mention very dated papers from botany classes in the early years at Taos. It was a lot of work, but the lab looks spotless. After lunch that day, both the Parasitology and Botany students decided [...]

2012-06-26T22:26:42+00:00 June 24th, 2012|Vanessa in Taos|

Retail therapy

Later in the week I decided to go into the Taos Plaza with Laura and Kim to do some shopping. We had been working hard trying to finish up the final touches on our projects, so some retail therapy was much needed. As soon as I got there, I understood why the location was so popular. There were several shops that both locals and tourists could stop at to purchase anything from scarves to authentic, handmade Native American pottery. Not only that, but there were plenty of street vendors selling noodles and tacos. We had only planned to stay a short while, but it turned into six hours very quickly. The highlight of the day was that we were able to [...]

2012-06-26T22:28:08+00:00 June 23rd, 2012|Vanessa in Taos|

The joy of plants

Today was another day of research and preparing my final draft of my booklet on the Mint family. Once work ended, the fun begain in the evening after dinner. My botany class went into the town plaza to hear a lecture being held at the Taos Convention Center. The topic of the lecture was to discuss the top ten plants found in New Mexico, which was definitely fitting for our class since we have been studying plants for the entire June term thus far. It took a while for my class to find what hall the lecture was being held in, but we eventually found our way after circling around five or six times. Luckily, thanks to the guidance from Dr. Ubelaker, we left early [...]

2012-06-21T23:11:02+00:00 June 21st, 2012|Vanessa in Taos|

Weekend in Taos

This weekend was longer than usual and filled with plenty of sightseeing and activities. It was also a much needed break from spending hours in the library doing research on my mint plants. Our first trip was to the New Buffalo Center near the Hondo Valley. I affectionately call it the "hippie house" of the group of gentlemen who came to New Mexico in order to establish the center. After we had arrived around 9 a.m., we split into two groups to help with landscaping and gardening. My team was paired up with Andrew and Michelle, and we were responsible for pulling weeds from the garden. Kim and I were able to use a de-weeding tool that made the process so [...]

2012-06-18T22:06:49+00:00 June 18th, 2012|Vanessa in Taos|

Hard at work

Today I was finally able to start mounting my mint plant samples that we had collected from the field earlier this month. It was great to be able to see how all of my identification work had come together! Aside from the mint species that I had identified, there were so many other plants from past Taos Botany courses that needed to be mounted as well. Each one had to be marked with the scientific name, the date when it was found, the location it was extracted from, and the name of the person who found it. Needless to say, the process became a bit tedious, but I was able to get the job done. My classmate Jewel had more to identify, since her [...]

2012-06-19T20:16:04+00:00 June 18th, 2012|Vanessa in Taos|

Trip to Bear Country

This weekend we had another field trip. For this adventure we went to the Taos Ski Valley to take a hike in what Dr. Ubelaker affectionately calls "Bear Country." I was excited about the trip, but I was desperately praying that I wouldn't see any bears during the hike. That idea just freaked me out quite a bit. The drive wasn't as long as I had expected, so I still had plenty of energy left to explore the Italionalis mountain trail. Once again, the scenery was gorgeous. The fir, alder, and spruce trees were so beautiful and complemented the clear blue sky that morning. Our hike began at 8 feet above elevation and Dr. Ubelaker led the way. We made [...]

2012-06-12T21:56:32+00:00 June 11th, 2012|Vanessa in Taos|

Weather report: Gorgeous

So, all this week I've been stuck in the library finding more information about my mint plant family. There are 20 species alone within the north-central region of New Mexico. Thankfully, since all of them don't begin to flower during June, it narrows down how much I have to include in my report. Jewel, Laura and I are extremely driven to completing this assignment the best way we know how, although there hasn't been a lot of clarity as to what the format should be or how much to include. But, at least we have a topic, so we can just take baby steps from there. Even still, we find ourselves getting distracted on occassion. The view of the campus from [...]

2012-06-08T16:02:34+00:00 June 8th, 2012|Vanessa in Taos|
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