Gilles continues his daily work day in his neat, perfectly-ordered office in the basement. He gives lots of lectures on “Minerals and your daily life” to beginning classes in the department, and lectures and field trips on north campus for a conservation class in the College of Environment and Design. He also gives many lectures in various settings, campus or town. Aging has slowed his travels, which are limited to geological conventions (GAC in Canada, Northeast-Southeast GSA in Baltimore). In January, bearer of a still valid Canadian passport, Bern and Gilles visited the children in Toronto and took advantage of cheap and frequent charter flights to go to Varadero in Cuba where they joined a group of 13 for a one-week trip around the western part of the island. The cold front which came down to damage the orchards in southern Florida extended to western Cuba and gave us record lows...unexpected. It was very educational to see the history of the island, the economic problems, and the political situation. Canadian tourism is very big and now brings in more money than sugar cane.
From time to time when I visit the department, my colleagues frequently ask if I’m happy being retired (I’ve been retired now for several years) and what I’m doing with “all this spare time.” My response is always, yes, I’m enjoying retirement and believe it or not, I’m as busy now as I was when officially employed. I certainly now can enjoy the opportunity to travel off season. For example, early this month (April), John Dowd and I spent a week in the Mojave National Preserve in California working with the park service to survey and study some springs. Later this month my wife, Helen, and I are doing our first rafting/hiking trip through the Grand Canyon. Spring is such a great time to travel, nice weather, few tourists and it’s easy to make reservations for difficult-to-secure things like Colorado River rafting trips. I also keep busy with volunteer activities. I’m still a board member with the local watershed group, the Upper Oconee Watershed Network, and volunteer periodically with the blood services division of the Red Cross. Also since I retired, I’ve had time to pursue two new hobbies, touring the back roads on a motorcycle and studying astronomy. Since I had never even driven a motorcycle before, I had to learn this at the ripe old age of 66. That pursuit is going nicely (no accidents so far), and I’m hoping to do a couple of extended tours this summer or fall. Not thinking of Daytona Beach or Sturgis though. As for astronomy, I just purchased a 10-inch reflecting telescope. Like learning to master a motorcycle, it takes time. I want to observe some of the numerous deep space objects such as nebula, star clusters, and galaxies and maybe someday to photograph them, and to attend a star party. Back yard astronomers everywhere love to attend these events, where like-minded people assemble to observe the night skies and talk about their latest observations and, I imagine, their most current telescopes and associated gizmos. Finally it’s worth noting that I will work a few weeks with the IFP honors field program this upcoming summer. Not managing it, mind you, like I did for years (Paul Schroeder is taking on this onerous task), but just serving as an instructor on portions of the trip (Glacier National Park, Butte, and Yellowstone) where I worked with students on projects in the past.