Sunday, January 8, 2012

Perplexing Behaviour Solved

Earlier this winter I was doing some geology work on Lopez Island. The geology maps of the area indicated "undifferentiated glacial deposits". This is a frequently seen map unit in areas where the late unconsolidated sediments (non rock) have not been figured out or the variety of units and map scale preclude designating more specific units on the map. I kind of like working in these areas because it means I get to try to figure it out on my own.

Geology aside, it was a cloudy, chilly mid week day in the San Juans. Not the height of the tourist season and a time when island population is low. I drove out to the very end of Sperry Road to access some exposures along the shore. The road actually does not end. It continues across a causeway constructed over tidal areas between Lopez Island and what is essentially a separate island.  However, the road at this point becomes a private road. This separate island was formerly a camp that was purchased by a wealthy Microsoft executive. 

End of public section of Sperry Road

The swimming pool

I expected the location at the end of the road to be very quiet on a cold cloudy midweek day. Unexpectedly for me cars would drive to the end of the road and park next to mine in the turn around area. No one would get out. They'd simply sit in their car for awhile and then drive away. One fellow was reading a newspaper. I was able to solve the geology puzzle, but I remained perplexed by the behavior of the Homo sapiens. It simply was not the kind of day where people would be out enjoying the shoreline and no one got out of their cars. Was it a security detail keeping an eye on that odd guy (me) walking the shoreline?

A wet land scientist I work with later explained to me the odd behavior. Turns out that the location is a spot where cell phone coverage is available. Its a bit spotty in the San Juan Islands so local residents drive to this spot to make calls or await calls.   

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