“Whidbey Island is one of the very best places in the U.S. to see glacial sediments exposed,” says Julia Wellner, assistant professor of stratigraphy, sedimentology, and glacial processes at the University of Houston. As a scientist and educator who specializes in glacial deposits, she makes a powerful statement, but not what we expected to hear when we asked her why she chose to bring 18 of her students and research assistants to Casey earlier this year. She did add that they needed a place where they could comfortably fit, not spend too much money, and have a beautiful place to relax in the evenings.
“Casey was a great option for us,” she explained. “The students enjoyed making a fire and sitting around the fire pit at the end of the day.” Most of the talk at the fire pit was about how spectacular the thick stack of geologic strata was at Blowers Bluff and how the colorful and intricately stratified sediment from interglacial times was in plain view right above the beach.
This particular group used Casey as a staging area for various day trips to the glacial sediments around Whidbey Island. They started their days off with breakfast in the mess hall. Some students also used the gym in the mornings, and everyone enjoyed walking around the grounds. Several commented that it was an excellent way to start the day.
We often hear our campers comment on how beautiful Whidbey Island is; however, the excitement around the local geology is something a bit rare. Now we know, Whidbey Island is a fantastic place to see glacial deposits while enjoying some seascapes. The lesson learned from chatting with Professor Wellner about her experience at Casey is that the number of reasons to come for a stay has no limits and will sometimes surprise.