Camaraderie over happy hour after dusty days in the field, friendships forged under the hot desert sun, new personal and professional connections: Although these things may not be what lured attendees to the GSA Foundation’s first-ever Death Valley Rendezvous in 2019, they are the kinds of experiences and connections that 25 participants left with after our six-day trip together based in Shoshone, California, USA.
GSAF decided to pilot this type of trip because we wanted a meaningful way to show appreciation for those who support GSA and its programs through donations to the Foundation. Offering unique field experiences for donors and their guests proved to be an ideal avenue, and when one of our committee members suggested we call the trips “rendezvous,” all agreed it was the perfect reference for the fellowship we hoped to foster.
Some attendees were longtime friends of the Foundation, and some we were meeting for the first time; some were students, some current professional geologists across disciplines, others retired from long careers, and some were family members of geologists attending. The trip held interest for all: Death Valley and the surrounding area offer a fascinating spectrum of geology to ponder, from the towering walls of Titus Canyon to the Amargosa River Valley. Trip leader Darrel Cowan (University of Washington) led lively, rich discussions at each site. In addition, we spent time talking about the ecology of the area with a local Nature Conservancy naturalist: from pupfish once thought to be extinct to the curious migration of the Phainopepla. One of the students—a Wright-Troxel Research Grant recipient—gave an evening presentation on his research focused on a nearby site. And Shoshone Village was a welcoming homebase conducive for us to gather, relax, share ideas and reflections on the days over meals, and explore on foot between scheduled activities.
After two seasons on hold due to the pandemic, our second Death Valley Rendezvous this past spring was another grand Stops during GSAF’s 2022 Death Valley Rendezvous excursion. Feedback from participants has been so positive, and the slots filled so quickly, that we have a third trip to Death Valley coming in the spring of 2023.
This September, we will travel internationally with a Rendezvous in the Mountains of Saint Francis. Our trip leaders are Alessandro Montanari and Paula Metallo (Osservatorio Geologico di Coldigioco), Frank Pazzaglia (Lehigh University), and Jan Smit (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), each with extensive experience in the Apennines and the Marche region of Italy. We are eager to bring together another group of geology-minded friends for a rich experience exploring the area’s geologic wonders and cultural history over six field days, from a medieval landslide on the coast to a walk up the Bottaccione Gorge and the original K-T boundary outcrop, with geoarchaeologic museums, caves, Jurassic ammonoid collections in a Renaissance castle, historic villages, and, of course, food of the region to round out the trip.
GSAF will continue offering one to two Rendezvous each year for our donors, and we have a growing list of potential trip sites as you have responded with such interest in continued opportunities. Please watch for 2023 trip announcements, and feel free to contact Debbie Marcinkowski at +1-303-357-1047 or dmarcinkowski@ geosociety.org if you would like information.