05 April 2009

Packing a lab for Florida

This afternoon we are taking Amtrak's Auto train to Florida. When I'm down there I spent most of my time collecting data and photographing snails. That's my idea of a vacation, believe it or not. I enjoy it a lot and I guess that's what matters.

But if I am going to do research during my vacation, I have to bring everything I need with me. The nice thing about taking the Auto Train, as opposed to taking a plane, is that we can pack the car up to the ceiling. That means I can practically take a lab with me.


The red box in the back has an old dissecting scope and the large plastic box leaning on it is for sorting seaweed (for the tiny Truncatella and the tinier Assiminea, of course). The cardboard box has my old scale and a bunch of containers of all sizes for samples and for use as temporary aquaria for intertidal snails. The box with the green lid on the right has notebooks, fieldbooks and papers and books to read on the train. The red and blue tool box has all the small but essential equipment: thermometers, calipers, forceps, marking pens, magnifying glasses, various small vials, GPS receiver, a little bit of alcohol, a little bit of glycerol, tape measures, etc., etc. The green bag holds the camera, lenses, flash, spare batteries and all the other photography paraphernalia. The small box on the left is holding the must-have clamps and stands mostly for positioning lights and things. And then there is Marissa the cat, but she is staying behind.

In addition, there will be a small suitcase for clothing and probably another box for some food items. Why be away from favorite snacks, right?

Actually, I am all in favor of traveling light.

I will be gone until the afternoon of Monday the 13th. But don't despair; I have 4 posts scheduled to appear every other day during next week. And regular postings will resume probably in the evening of the 13th. Until then, take care.


Anonymous said...

Have a good trip Aydin, and happy snailing. On the 19th we leave for 3 weeks on Nevis and I too will spend my vacation researching mollusks for fun.

My "lab" is by necessity much smaller than yours, crammed into half a duffle bag, and involving a good light for sorting, a head magnifyer, GPS unit, small ziplocks, vials, plastic dishes, labels, field note books, reference books, my data file, knee and elbow pads, etc. I spend a lot of time literally crawling along the beachdrift on hands and knees for 2 hours at a time wearing strong magnifying glasses such that my nose is only inches from the surface. I do this sometimes three times a day in different localities. I do get to snorkel a bit too, but that usually does not yield much, it just tells me more about the ecology. I don't get to dredge or scuba. There is not much of an intertidal zone on Nevis, the maximum tidal range is only a foot. Maybe this time I will be able to find Assiminea live, I have one idea where to look.

All good wishes,

Susan J. Hewitt

Cindy said...

I've never heard of Auto train. What a great idea! I wish they had it from LA to San Francisco.

Have a good vacation.

John said...

I was wondering if that was your lab assistant.

xoggoth said...

Hmmm. An interest in snails would have provided a good excuse to the wife on a few occasions. Why didn't I think of it?

Anonymous said...


Any room for the family?