I just got back a few minutes ago from a three day long class in Springfield MO. Since I am an uber-geek when it comes to biology, a special class done by the Missouri Department fo Conservation struck my fancy, and I had to take it. It was a 'Cave Ecology for Teachers' class.
The first day (Wednesday) we spend doing classroom stuff, learning about a caves ecosystem, and things like that. Mostly for me if was a refresher, since I already had most of the information from other classes, but it was still neat. Most of my class mates were elementary teachers, those with several years in the field, so it was kind of cool to see the differences in how they approached things from how I did.
The second day (Thursday) was the best though - we went to two caves. In one we were in mud up to our ankles. We also got to go down a mud slide. LOL Which was a BLAST! The second cave was rather dry and easy going, except for having to hunch down most of the way, but we got to see lots of cave animals, so it was also incredible.
Today, the last day, we worked on taking the concecps we had learned and appling them to what we saw. Then we made small caves for our classrooms. That was a lot of fun to do. LOL They measure about 8 feet by 9 or so feet, and stand about 4 1/2 feet tall. Just big enough for a few people to climb into at a time.
On Thursday, after the caves, I managed to get in a trip to the Springfield Zoo. http://www.dickersonparkzoo.org/ That was a adventure in itself. First time in a zoo by myself. While it was kinda lonely, it was also nice to be able to set my own pace, and look at just what I wanted to look at. : ) I got to see the Maned Wolf, Gray Wolf, Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Malayan Tiger, River Otters, Cheetahs, and Red Fox. Some of those I had never seen, and others I hadn't seen in a long while.
The best part about the trip though was the fact that I was able to stay with D Musgrave while I was taking the class. In fact, the only reason I was able to take the class is because he lives within a decent driving distance from Springfield. We stayed up WAY too late talking each night, spend a lot of time tossing story ideas around, and generally just vegged out. It was fun as hell, and I'd do it again next weekend if I could, but I figure my family might object. LOL They are planning a trip tot he zoo soon, so we will swing by and see D. while we are down there.
The last time we had managed to get together was back in October. (http://eroticpen.blogspot.com/2007/10/fall-break-geology-field-trip-and.html) Winter, then classes, and all the crap that comes with every day life just got in the way every time we would think about getting together. So this class was really great.