Sunday, June 7, 2009

Setting the Scene IV: Cast of Characters

This trip has is a party of three. In addition to me, I’m joined by Louis, a geology and trumpet double major from Oberlin, and my buddy Paul.

I’ve already written of my needs and motivations for coming on this trip. Why are Louis and Paul here? I met Louis at Oberlin in March back in Ohio. My colleague Bruce, who’s really a fourth member of the expedition in absentia, thought he had potential to bee a good field assistant. Bruce has probably picked close to a dozen assistants from the pool of Oberlin geology majors. He’s guided by their competence as evidenced by their grades as well as personality. His picks have been pretty good over the years, though we have learned that it’s hard to tell how some one will behave on the far side of the world from home till they are there. Past experiences have ranged from the highs of students who thrived and were real benefits to the project to the lows of occasional depression and chronic flatulence. Louis seems self possessed and intelligent. Bruce described him as being very smart, quiet and serious – “kind of like you when you were at Oberlin”. I am looking forward to finding out what this means.

Paul and I have been travel buddies for most of this decade. This is our fifth long trip past destinations have included the American Southwest, New Zealand, and Australia. We have congruent interests and tolerances. We enjoy each other’s cooking. I think perhaps too we’re a good balance of extrovert (him)/introvert (me) and sybarite/acetic while being equally adventuresome. Paul is only attending the Northern Territory portion of the trip; his girlfriend is meeting him in Perth. From there they’ll go wine tasting in the Margaret River region and snorkeling in the Ningaloo Reef complex; both are gems of Western Australia. While Ningaloo is very cool, I’m not covetous. Besides tending to sink in water, I’ve never had a good snorkeling experience: something to do with the facial hair.

My goal is for us all to enjoy new places and experiences. Intuitively, I believe we are a good match up. I’ll note my accuracy as we progress.

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