Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nerd Field Trip.

"You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity,
he will continue the learning process as long as he lives."

~Clay P. Bedford

Bingham Canyon Copper Mine

So, maybe I'm a little nerdy (I like to think of it as avidly curious, always wanting to learn more), but for some time I've really wanted to go see the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, which is owned and operated by Kennecott Copper (part of the greater RioTinto family). The mine is open to visitors from April through October. And this year, I finally did it, went on the very last weekend it was open, getting in just under the wire before they closed it to the public.

Can you see my car in the reflection with KDJ taking a picture out the window?!

After I (easily) convinced KDJ to come along for my nerd field trip (she's kind of a nerd, too), we met up at Zupas for lunch. You know, we needed sustenance for our journey out west to the mine. And Zupas is just the place to find delicious sustenance. Side note... I just love their soups and salads and somehow the thought of getting a chocolate covered strawberry with every meal makes it all the more desirable.

Anyway, back to our field trip. So fun. I have to admit, it was really beautiful out there. Being so far out west, we were able to get a view of the Wasatch Mountains that I normally don't see, from the vantage point of the Oquirrh Mountains. Utah really is a visually stunning place. I kind of felt like I was in another world.

And for some reason, I really felt like Erin Brockovich or something, not that Kennecott is knowingly polluting the area's water supply, but just the way we were driving out in the middle of what seemed like nowhere, and going to check out this mine. (And then yeah, there were some holding tanks of nasty murky looking water, which really made me want to pull out some test tubes, shimmy over on my belly and get some water samples... if you haven't seen Erin Brockovich, then this doesn't make any sense.)

KDJ was the primary photographer, you should be happy to learn, since I was the driver. I was pretty good this time and only took a couple shots while driving. :) But take a look at those clouds. Beautiful.

Kennecott was like it's own little city complete with tonka trucks driving all around and miles and miles of road. In fact, the brochure said if you stretched out all the roads within the open pit mine, you'd have enough roadway to get you from Salt Lake City to Denver (approximately 500 miles).

So apparently there is copper in nearly everything. Who knew? I mean obviously we think of pennies and copper electrical wiring. But did you know these facts:
  • The first known use of copper dates back 10,000 years.
  • To make all the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters in 1999, the U.S. Mint used about 36,000 tons of copper. That's about as much refined copper as Kennecott produces every 41 days.
  • Each American uses more than 40,000 pounds of new minerals every year.
  • It takes about 15 different minerals to make a car ... 35 different minerals to make a television ... 30 minerals to make a computer ... and as many as 42 different minerals to make a telephone.

I always find myself very curious about major operations like this that exist and daily produce things that I never think about. Does that make sense? I mean, I guess I'm just fascinated by these productive processes that I have nothing to do with and never will, but I rely on them on a daily basis.

See the standing water pit at the bottom... that's the one that made me want to be Erin Brockovich for a minute.

Have you ever wanted to have a job for a day? There are numerous things I can think of with which I'm intrigued enough to want to have the job for a day. Driving one of these trucks or operating the chomper shovel (that's my nickname for it) would be cool... for a day. I mean, just take a look at these facts about all their equipment:
  • The giant electric shovels in the mine can scoop up as much as 98 tons in a single bite -- about the weight of 50 cars.
  • The newest electric shovels each cost more than $20 million and weigh 3.2 million pounds.
  • The trucks that haul the ore are larger than many houses and weigh more than a jumbo jet. They stand over 23 feet tall and can carry from 255 to 360 tons of rock.
  • The truck driver rides about 18 feet above the ground -- nearly two stories high.
  • Each tire on these big trucks costs from $18,000 to $26,000 and lasts just 9 months.
  • The crusher in the pit takes in about 140,000 tons of ore every day and grinds it into chunks smaller than the size of a basketball.

The whole process seemed pretty labor intensive to me but very efficiently executed...

Very interesting, indeed. I suppose, in a way, visiting the mine made me really happy to have my desk job. Being outside all the time for work wouldn't be bad, but driving around in a truck round and round for days and weeks and years on end would get old for me. But I'm happy that there are people who work there and love their jobs enough to be committed to them because apparently I, along with every other American, cannot live a day without copper and all the other minerals they mine.

Love my nerdy partner in crime.
Just in case you were really wondering how big the tires are...

And to extend our nerd field trip, we drove by and toured the UP Home in Herriman, Utah. Now let me just say that I've driven out to Herriman before, but not for a long time. It is out there. Just out there. It's amazing that I live in the city, but so close to "out there" where there are random horses, trailers, fields, and water tanks next to people's homes.

Anyway, the UP Home is in a much more populated, residential area and doesn't feel "in the sticks" at all. It is a authentic replica of the home from the Disney•Pixar movie "UP." I'm not the biggest fan of animated movies, never have been I guess, but I still like them every once in awhile. And UP was one of those that I liked.

I see me.

Love the turquoise appliances, giving the kitchen its retro look.

Love the subway tiling and the black polka dot backdrop.

I love how true to the movie and the era they were when decorating the inside of the home. I've always loved walking through homes for sale or model homes since I was young. My mom and I used to taking Sunday afternoon walks around our neighborhood looking at homes. Examining the wood floors, the colors of the decor, the arrangement of the furniture. There is always something to observe and learn and then maybe implement in your own home one day. This home was no different for me.

I liked the curve of this sofa.

Do you see the double shower heads? :)
This hidden reading room or play room behind the built-in swinging bookshelves was really fun!

 Very fun. I don't think I would want to live in such a brightly colored home, but it might be fun and the inside decor could be entirely yours. I wonder if it will ever have a buyer or if it will always be a PR draw as a model home for the company. Disney•Pixar gave express permission to Bangerter Homes to construct this replica. Pretty smart of Bangerter Homes, I'd say, seeing as their new tag line is, "If you can Dream it 'UP' we can build it."

Overall, a very fun day and a successful nerd field trip with KDJ. We all need friends with whom we can just be ourselves, our nerdy, goofy, silly, wonderful selves.

1 comment:

Lindsay RC Wilson said...

I wish I could have been on the nerdy field trip with you. I have always wanted to go there, too. My friend's husband works there...and you know I love me some Zupas. Wisconsin Cauliflower=heaven in my mouth.