As a break from the digging, to get our faces out of the trenches at the mammoth site, Dr. Lillquist, Bax, and I went on the Summer 2005 Tour of the Washington Society of Professional Soil Scientists (WSPSS) on July 21, 22 and 23. The theme of the tour, which met in Spokane at the NRCS field office and traveled in the area, dipping over into Idaho, included stops at Wetland Reserve Program easements in wetlands formed by the floods, ripple marks near Athol Idaho, and Farragut State Park. The talk during dinner on the 21st was supposed to be on forensic pedology, but the speaker’s mother died, and we didn’t get the speech.

While the tour did, technically, deliver almost everything that was advertised (meaning that we did actually meet in Spokane, and we did stop at those spots), I was pretty disappointed overall. A huge group of soil scientists, and we didn’t look at a single exposure as a group. One of the problems was that we got rained out, but still, you would think people would actually try to learn something. I think the real problem with the difference between my expectations and reality was that we went as academics, interested in studying the topics offered, while many if not most of the others were agency types, who probably came on the trip to visit (Just like I would do at a NMFS retreat or something).I was really disappointed about not having the forensic pedology speech, though. That was one of my main reasons for going.

In the end, we made our own tour. On the way to Spokane, Bax and I stopped at Lenore Lake Caves (although we never did find the main cave), and then did a tour of tiny county museums up toward the top of the state. We ended up finding pieces of something like eight individual mammoths that Bax hadn’t known about, and I think we significantly extended the Northernmost extent of mammoths in Washington, on Bax’s map. In spite of my disappointment at the fairly lame content of the tour, I enjoyed myself and would probably go on another.