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1985 Field Camp

Frank Pazzaglia's Memories About 1985 Field Camp

The 1985 summer field camp seemed to be plagued by endless vehicle problems, but a great group of students, staff, and faculty participated in a number of sanctioned and non-sanctioned activities that provided much comic relief.

     The vehicle problems began with a speeding ticket in Ohio on the first day out.  That was my van.  I was the driver.  I was just following Duff in his "blue-green mamba cruiser" station wagon.  He told me to slow down.  Problem was, when I did, we lost complete sight of the mamba cruiser wagon.  The radios were no help because the mamba cruiser wagon had an electrical short that prevented normal communication as we know it.  Next, in Wisconsin, Duff Frank Pazzaglia - 1985 Field Campwas convinced that we had a bad batch of gas, because one of the vans (mine) and the mamba wagon kept cutting out at high speed.  He figured that gas filters were clogged.  So one of our in-house mechanics, Ray Kassab, took apart the gas lines of both vehicles and, using a pen, poked big holes in the gas filters.  That'll fix those filters for sure, we were certain.  Seemed to work for the mamba cruiser, but not for the van.  By South Dakota, its performance got so bad, we had to pull over and transfer everyone and everything to other vehicles, which headed on forward to the Badlands.  I stayed behind with the van, along with another one of our in-house mechanics, Mark Saccarelli.  Mark was convinced that the problem now was in the carburetor, because the big holes in the gas filters had spurted dirt throughout the gas line.  So he took the interior hood off the engine and had me begin driving down the highway as fast as the van could go.  At the same time, he took a rock hammer and "tapped" lightly on the pan of the carburetor, sure that this technique would help "blow" the dirt on through.  Unfortunately his tapping was a bit too strong, and he shattered the plastic pan, which then proceeded to spray gas all through the van and of course on the hot engine block.  That was way less than average.  Somehow, we pulled off the highway and avoided an explosion and fire. 

     This near-explosion was enough for Duff.  He forbade us to drive the van.  He went ahead to Kadoka, where a very helpful gas station attendant rebuilt the broken carburetor and returned it to the stranded van.  The van limped into the Badlands several hours later.  It was two days later, when Duff limped it into a Chrysler dealership in Rapid City, that the problem was discovered -- a clogged fuel filter way back on the gas line by the fuel tank.  Ray did not know about that one, so he could not use his trusty pen to blast a hole through it.

     That poor van was destined to suffer further.  A few days later, in the fog and rain near Cooke City, Montana, our TA, Al Lacazette (who is a story unto himself) backed the other 15 passenger van into the left, rear quarter panel Frank Pazzaglia - 1985 Field Campof the hobbled van.  That put a huge dent into it.  I've got a great picture of it in front of columnar jointed basalt at Yellowstone.  Al's description of the event to Duff was that he "touched-up" the van a bit.  Good choice of words.  Al certainly has a certain joy for life.  Everything from his multi-colored happy Converse sneakers to dining choices, one thing for certain is that you can't say that Al is a boring person.  He apparently does not care much for park rules and regulations, either.  In the driving rain, fog, and cold he climbed atop Soda Butte, in the northeast corner of Yellowstone Park, to stand on top like a modern-day Moses parting the seas.  You have to climb over the sign that says "no climbing" in order to do this.  Dr. Whu, our visiting Chinese professor, was very impressed by all of this so he climbed up too.  See the picture for proof of this.

     Never one to cry over spilled milk, Duff forged ahead, finally reaching our first base camp at Northwest Community College.  Powell had two great bars -- Grandpa-pa's and ???.  All that I remember is that one of the students, who will remain nameless, was lucky to get out of that town alive.  Mapping in Elk Basin was pretty uneventful, and "Turbo-Tommy" Gardner behaved himself for a change.  Funniest two things Tommy did the whole time were make friends and bum some smokes from a drunk Sioux in Scenic (see picture), and come up with great nicknames for everyone, the best of which was his nickname of Karen Bergmann.  That nickname will remain lost to history until we have Karen's OK to use it. 

     On to Utah -- Alta, Marysvale, then back to Alta.  Dave is right, Marysvale was really, really hot, which made staying at a hot spring not really maybe such a great idea.  But hey, who am I to argue with the staff.  Food was not good at this place, but it was calories.  There was a major run-in among cultures in Marysvale, because Jeff Berta, who does not take crap from anyone, was bunking with Fidele Tchinda, who was from the social elite in Cameroon and well, did not like to make his bed.  In fact, Fidele told Jeff that it might be a good idea if Jeff made his bed for him.  Not a good idea.  Fidele was feeling a bit under the weather in Marysvale, which might have led to his being a bit cranky.  We had to convince him that in standard English, your nose "runs" when you have a cold; it does not "leak".  Student maps were of variable quality in Marysvale, perhaps because some students chose to escape the heat by wading in the Sevier River, rather than mapping.  Good idea, except that it was a mixed-gender group that did the wading, and it was definitely a clothing-optional activity.  The names of the culprits have been withheld to protect the innocent.

     Alta mapping proceeded fine, with no major problems with the geology.  However, no matter how you slice it, it just is NOT a good idea to have a Mormon girls summer camp at the Alta Peruvian at the same time that geology boys are coming out of the field after being away from their significant others for a significant period of time.  To make matters worse, these girls brought along a trampoline.  Yes, that's right, a trampoline.  And they proceeded to jump up and down in their bathing suits on this damn trampoline while we were supposed to be drafting maps in the late afternoon and early evening.  Enough was enough after a while, and we decided to engage these young ladies in a friendly game of two-hand touch football.  The emphasis of the game quickly devolved into the whole "two-hand touch" thing, which forced Dave to break the game up after he too, inadvertently, found himself engaged in non-recommended touching.  Good job, Dave.  We were angry with you then for breaking the game up, but we are older, wiser, and not in jail because of you.

     The other very interesting thing to happen in Alta was that one group -- Fred Flint and Art Lee -- was a bit dysfunctional.  In fact, one day they ended up pretty well separated.  Fred started calling for Art when he got stuck on a cliff face, convinced that he could not lower himself down.  Art came to the rescue and also to the conclusion that Fred could not lower himself down.  So Art told him to "hang in there" and he ran for help.  He headed back to the lodge where he called for emergency help.  In no time at all, there were sirens blaring everywhere as fire trucks and EMTs and all kinds of helpful people showed up to get Fred down.  In the meantime, I am pretty certain Fred found a way to get down by himself.  Duff spent the rest of the evening trying to convince the rescue squads not to bill field camp for their appreciated, but unnecessary, efforts.

     Anyway, these are some of the amusing things I remember from camp in the summer of 1985.  Other campers from that year should add to, or correct, any inaccuracies I report.