“Moonshot” part 2. “Lock and load up for Alaska”
“Moonshot” is a blog series by Heather Lavender, who’s Louisiana State University research team is headed to the wilds of Alaska to offer their expertise to help send a rocket to a moon of Jupiter!
I joined Dr. Brent Christner’s group in July 2013 and shortly after, Brent returned from an expedition in Alaska. In his presentation to our group were pictures of bears, including a bear’s paw print found one morning in the camp fire ashes! Despite, Brent assuring us that the bear in the picture was a black bear and reportedly not as aggressive as a grizzly, the only words I heard were, “bear.” Black, koala, panda, grizzly, they all have the same last name, which means stay away, because not everyone can be Christopher Robin. Due to even the small chance of a bear attack while in Alaska, everyone on the next expedition would be receiving professional fire arms training.
Flash-forward to early spring when Brent asked that I consider joining the group bound for Alaska. I couldn’t say “Yes!” fast enough. I’ll admit, I’m a science junkie. I have never worked in a lab where I was not fascinated with an aspect of the research focus. So, to be offered an opportunity to explore how microorganisms interact with the atmosphere around us…count me in!
It wasn’t long thereafter that I was learning how to hold, load and operate a 12-gauge shotgun. If you’ve never held a firearm, a shotgun might not be your starting point. However, for myself and fellow team member Erin Oliver, LSU junior and Charles S McCleskey award recipient, a shotgun was exactly where we started. We met Sgt. Robert Knight at the Baton Rouge Police Academy firearm training facility and learned that using a firearm to protect yourself from a bear should be a last resort. Hopefully, the rest of our preparations for Alaska won’t leave us near as sore and bruised.
Look out for my next post where I will show how The Backpacker of Baton Rouge helped me pick out the perfect tent, boots and more great gear!