However, little do her colleagues or students know that Cory frequently partakes in cross-country motorcycle trips! Cory’s summer has been full of adventure, motorcycles, and camping! Read more about her experiences in the interview below.
Motorcycle camping is something my husband and I have enjoyed for years. We used to have a Ural (two wheel drive Russian sidecar bike), which was great for off-road riding. Two of our longer trips on that bike were a winter trip through the Mojave Desert and also the ride from CA to CO when we moved. Last summer we got a regular street bike, which we made a luggage rack for and took on a 5000 mile, 2 week trip to Ohio (for a conference) and then down through the southwest. For all of these trips I was the passenger/navigator – either in the sidecar or on the back of the street bike. Learning to ride my own bike was the big change/challenge for the trip this summer.Good friends in California were getting married and we decided that their wedding was the perfect opportunity/excuse for another motorcycle camping trip. The plan was to ride two-up on the road bike we took on the trip last summer, however, an opportunity came up that changed that plan a bit. I took the MSF class that is offered at Front Range CC a couple of years ago and got my motorcycle license, but I’d been a bit tentative about getting out and riding. Then, about a week before we were planning to leave on our trip my husband discovered that a friend of his in SoCal was selling a bike that would be a good fit for me (I’m 5’7″ and a lot of bikes are too tall/heavy for me to be able to handle safely). So we camped our way out to CA as planned, then, after the wedding, headed down to SoCal to pick up the new bike.
This is where the adventure really got started! Up to this point my riding experience was pretty much all on dirt roads in and around Livermore and Red Feather Lakes – now I was going to attempt SoCal traffic on a bike that is significantly bigger and faster than anything I’d ever tried before. The first afternoon we went from Temecula to Palm Desert on a twisty two lane highway over the San Jacinto mountain range. The traffic and twisties were a bit of a trial-by-fire, but one that went well. Palm Desert required air conditioning, so after our first hotel of the trip we rode up to Prescott to startle my parents a bit; they were expecting us on one bike, not two. After a quick family visit we headed home – up through Northern Arizona, into Utah up past Moab, then into Colorado – north from Fruita to Rangely and Meeker, through the Medicine Bow NF in southern Wyoming, then south from Laramie. In total the trip was ~3000 miles, 1250 of which I rode on my own bike.
In addition to your motorcycle trip, you’ve been working on a proposal to the National Science Foundation this summer. What has this research entailed?
While on the motorcycle trip I submitted a collaborative research proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF). I’m working with Mary Kohn at Kansas State on a project looking at dialect variation and language change on the Great Plains. We want to document how people speak in rural areas basically between the Front Range and urban eastern Kansas (Kansas City, etc.). We also want to look at how the way people talk is changing and how those changes are affected by social factors – mostly social networks and how closely tied to urban areas people are. To do this we interview a number of people from a given community, then transcribe the interviews and analyze the recordings acoustically. We measure and plot each speaker’s vowels and then can look at how speakers differ and correlate those differences with social factors – age, gender, orientation towards a rural or urban lifestyle, etc. Several undergrads from the department are working with me this summer to start interviewing people in several Front Range cities. They’re doing a great job – as of this morning they have interviewed 18 people!
Is there anything else you’ve been up to this summer?
I live out of town a ways, up in the mountains, so one of my favorite things to do is to walk out my front door and go for a hike or a bike ride. I also like to cook – part of my plan for today is to make some ice cream. Another hobby is sewing – I make clothes and gear – I made several of my teaching dresses/skirts and the tent we use for backpacking/motorcycle camping. The tent is super light weight and pretty roomy for how well it packs. Oh, and of course, reading. 🙂
There are so many things I love about teaching, it’s hard to narrow this down. The primary thing, I think, is introducing students to language as an object of study, rather than simply a means of study. Giving students the tools to understand what language is and how it functions can enable them to be better writers, better communicators in general, and to recognize more clearly when language is being used in an attempt to manipulate them. I’m super excited to be teaching the Intro to the Study of Language class this Fall!