I was on vacation (ish) this past week in sunny humid Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. My purpose in going was to present a paper I'd written at a technical conference. But my advisor graciously allowed me a few extra days before and after the conference. So as a result I was both insanely busy with the conference and being scared out of my mind for my presentation, and also loving the very essence of life because I could walk with no shoes along the beach for hours on end.
First I'll get work out of the way. I mentioned earlier that I've given presentations before, but this one had me really nervous. The reason for this comes all the way down to the field I'm in. This field is really only 40-50 years old. This kind of seems like a lot but when you look at it in terms of technical conferences, it means that the same people who started the field, the ones who invented the concepts I'm researching, are all still attending these meetings. So I'm presenting my research with my one year of grad school to back me up, to people who invented the field. I admit it. I was intimidated. There were two days of conference before my presentation and while I didn't go to much of the conference (I was glued to my computer and power point) I did get to know people better, and they became more people like rather than the pedestal-sitting entities I had made them out to be in my head. So that made me less nervous. And I also got more familiar with my presentation and realized that what I'd heard really was true; "No one knows more about my research than I do." I also get much more comfortable after I start talking. So while the beginning of my talk was a little rocky (my dad said I was "tense", I'm hoping he's the only one who noticed), it got much better towards the end. I was actually really proud of myself because every time I practiced I was only about 16-17 minutes long (I was supposed to take 20 mins), but when I gave it, and I got more comfortable, and started pointing more things out, I was within 20 seconds of the time. Small successes!! So it went well. The questions I got I could answer them all and I think they'll help me with my future research.
Now the fun part (and also the reason I haven't been able to bring myself to put on real shoes since I've gotten home)! The first day we were there my prof took us kayaking up this river. He does this every year because if you go at the right time, low tide, you get to see the dolphins that come up river to eat fish. And also a plethora of birds. Here are some of the highlights of that fun trip :).
This cute little buddy was not so sure about us...
One of the two dolphins we saw. So dang cool.
And then my personal favorite and what made the ENTIRE trip for me:
I adore otters and this one was SO cute. Right before this pic he was eating the oysters out of the oyster bed there. I wanted to die he was so cute.
During the week we also spent massive amounts of time on the beach, and in the sun. And one morning we even got up early enough to go sit on the beach and watch the sun rise. It was fantastic even though it was 6 in the morning (basically that whole week I didn't get more than 6 hours of sleep a night and averaged about 4..). Just beautiful though.
This was the beginnings... about half an hour after we got to the beach. It was cloudy so 'official' sunrise wasn't when we actually saw the sun.
And then it fully up, and what made me want to live on the beach. I realized I could walk on the beach for hours and not get bored. I don't really ever go in the water (we were night swimming and something large definitely grazed up upper thigh......) but just walking in the sand right where the waves barely reach is pretty much heaven.
And the last fun thing we did was parasailing. It's so peaceful I love it (have to say it was better in Mexico though because the water there was clear).
Such fun such fun.