Written by Cassi Mardis

Our journey begins in a short 42 days. As each day passes I get a little more nervous, scared, and extremely excited. We meet once a week for roughly 3 hours and work with our equipment. Stephanie and I have also been working with Matlab. The more we do it the easier it is (I do think that was the point).

We each have our own topic of interest we will be researching this summer. Mine includes environment factors and how they affect Mexican free-tailed bats emergence time. I am looking at wind, barometric pressure, temperature, precipitation, and other factors as well. The past couple of weeks I have worked with my new Lascar-ELUSB 2’s, which are data loggers that take measurements of humidity and temperature.

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I have also been working on a run through of ImageJ and the worst part is renaming the files. Stephanie and I had to rename approximately 347 different pictures to help us further down the line. It is boring and tedious. And by boring I mean awesome and so much fun.

Today I received my last rabies shot, which is honestly the most exciting thing. When I first told my mom about this trip the big question was if I got to go into the caves and how exciting that would be. Unfortunately, I had to tell her Dr. Kloepper isn’t allowed to take us into the caves. We were both extremely bummed. However, one day in Dr. Kloepper’s office, she started writing down information and nonchalantly said that with the grant we received we can get the rabies shots and go into all of the caves. At that moment I teared up and my insides were screaming with joy. The first thing I did when I left her office was called my mom of course and she screamed out loud for me. It has definitely been my favorite news about the trip.

On another note, do you know what REAL camping is? Well to be honest I had no idea until a couple weeks ago. When I learned what the cute, little, orange hand shovels were in the office I was laughing because I was embarrassed by multiple things. Have you guys caught on yet? They’re for us to use to go to the bathroom while were in the middle of nowhere. I’m over the shock now. Now I just enjoy telling everyone what the shovels are for.

This journey is a once in a lifetime opportunity for some people and I am honored to be going on this two-month trip with Dr. Kloepper, Stephanie, and Kaipo. Three girls, a dog, the open road, and some bats… what could possibly go wrong?

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