Written by Cassi Mardis

It’s crazy to think we have been on the road for 23 days! It feels like much longer.. But really though, for a trip like this with three women, we are doing surprisingly well. We have learned each other’s moods fairly well too. For example, when Dr. Kloepper gets frustrated with equipment, you just do NOT make eye contact! We get frustrated as well, but what Dr. Kloepper said was as long as we still laugh everyday we know everything is still okay!

Our first day heading to a new place begins with packing up from the previous location and turning the trunk of the car into a game of Tetris. Which Steph is very good at by the way! Once our car is packed we head off to the location of our trip. For example, we’re headed to our first of many locations in Texas right now! This drive is eight hours and we will be here for four nights. When we arrive we unpack everything we will need for that location. The sleeping arrangements very with every location. The last place was a hotel, this place is a bunkhouse, and the next place we camp. 

For those days at each place we spend our time working extremely hard doing data analysis. We don’t get much time off, but when we do Steph and I take advantage. In Carlsbad, we got to swim for a bit and lay out. It was relaxing and just what we needed and wanted. The last day we got to tour the caverns, which was spectacular. At the other site, we got to go to the lake and get icecream. 

Now, it’s not all fun and games. We have a camping stove that we use to cook our dinner at hotels and when we’re camping. We eat canned food everyday. We have many different options and it’s honestly not even that bad, but having a meal out is a nice treat. 

For me, the longer I am away the harder it is getting for me. I am really close to my family and of course miss them, my boyfriend, and my friends like crazy. These next few weeks, however, will go by very fast because for the next four locations we only spend four nights at each. 
I have been seeing some new animals too since my last post! It is so fun and I have been keeping a list because so much is different from the southwest than Indiana. Like rattlesnakes. So it’s official, I will forever live where there are no possibilities of rattlesnakes. Anyways, some new creatures I have seen include a badger, some lizards, an oryx, a gazelle, and even a desert tortoise. We couldn’t get close to the tortoise because their defense mechanism is to pee, but then they lose all of their water and usually die before they can find more. 

It is still exciting to see the new places because every cave is different, every sleeping arrangement is different, and all the people are different. We are still going strong. The journey continues for another 33 days! Three women, a dog, some bats, and 3100 miles into our trip!