Written by: Steph Dreessen

It’s only been six weeks. Only six weeks of data collection, analysis, fun times, frustrating situations, and unforgettable adventures. 

The data collection is basically a habit for us now, we know what equipment goes where, when everything should start recording, and when to pack up for the night. We continue to analyze our data from the previous night, but we’ve definitely had some hiccups along the way. For instance, we found out one of our software programs was performing the right functions, but not in the order we intended. There should be some signal window in programs that state “operator error” – it would make my life way easier! (A lot of frustrations come from this) The analysis time has gotten shorter for us, but can still take up most of our day depending on how determined we are when we wake up. 

Cassi and I have also submitted our first abstracts for our first conferences (potentially), which we will find out if they are accepted at a later date. We are also currently working on submitting another abstract for a different conference! Hopefully, we will be getting good news near the beginning of the fall semester.

We are now back in New Mexico and we are enjoying the swamp cooler! We were tent camping at our last site in Texas, and the temperatures were probably in the triple digits. I say that because one, I didn’t really want to know and two, my phone was recooperating from some mild water damage. While in Texas, we visited Davis-blowout cave, James-River cave, the Chiroptorium, and Bracken cave. The Davis-blowout cave was extradinary in the aspect that we were so close to the emergence! The James-River cave was neat because we were able to sit close, (but not as close as the Davis cave) and we also met another research scientist! We met Dr. Gary McCracken at James-River and couldn’t have been more excited since we’ve read a few of his papers!

The Chiroptorium is a man made bat cave that is amazing for research. Mr. Bamberger built a batcave for his ranch! He was so passionate and inspirational about maintaining nature and the ecosystem. The Bracken cave was a sight to see and experience! The emergence was impressive and the staff was too! They were all engrossed in the emergence while we were there and their interest in keeping the cave and the surrounding area in prime condition is always awesome to see.

While we were conducting research at the Chiroptorium, we were able to walk inside and see leucism in some bats, which is a condition where the bats have a lack of pigmentation causing white patches of hair! When we weren’t researching, we got a tour of the ranch. My favorite part was seeing dinosaur footprints of Acrocanthosauras! We also were able to take a swim in the spring fed lake. It was gorgeous!

Then, while camping at Bracken we headed into Newbraunfelds, Texas which had a tourist attraction of floating down the river. It was the perfect thing to do while trying to cool down on our hot and humid camping trip. Here, as well as the Dos Rios campground, I was attacked by ants. They kept biting my feet and mine only! They must’ve been attracted to the sweet odor of my sweaty feet (hopeful but doubtful). Needless to say, I am not a fan of ants. 

Back in New Mexico, we’re greeted with some rain. The past two nights we have tried to record as much as possible, but due to weather web had to cut our nights short. I also had another run in with ants. This time they invaded my water bottle, and I only noticed halfway through gulping them down. At least I got extra protein, right?