What Birds Like to Do on Vacation

Dec 22, 2011 0 comments

A while back, I went to Socorro to see some migratory birds.  Migratory birds love Socorro.  There is so much to do, like eat at the crappy Mexican restaurant and shop at WalMart.  Who wouldn't want to go there?

Okay, Okay, I guess they don't really like to go to Socorro, but they do like to go to Bosque del Apache, which is near Socorro.  It's one of their favorite vacation spots.  They go there every year, and have been going for a very very long time.

It's quite the journey.  In case you were wondering, this is the route they take, according to the International Crane Foundation.

So, what better for a bunch of silly humans to do than go bother them by taking about a million pictures while they're just trying to relax and enjoy their time in sunny New Mexico?

Seriously, they are just trying to eat lunch.
Sometimes, they like to take a little walk down the road.

Or meet up with their friends at the pool.

Poor duck.  He feels left out.

And end the day with a sunset flight.

Then settle in to enjoy the view.

A Christmas Post to Liven Things Up Around Here

Dec 19, 2011 4 comments

It's seriously been forever since I posted anything.  I have so much to tell you but it involves looking for and adding in pictures and I've been rather lazy about that.  I got into Ann Arbor last night and will be here for the next 2 weeks, so expect to be hearing some more from me now that I have a break from the all-consuming work.  I hope to make a "real" post soon, but this seemed like a good fill-in post for now.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I think wrapping paper makes gifts look prettier and more exciting but gift bags are easier.  I'll probably wrap this time, though, because what else do I have to do?

2. Real tree or Artificial? It's fun to look for a real tree but lately I've been feeling sorry for cutting down the trees.  I haven't been in years, though, and I just have a tiny fake one at my place because a big one wouldn't fit.

3. When do you put up the tree? Pretty much whenever I get around to it.  This year I set it up last week.  

4. When do you take the tree down? Same as above.  I like to leave it up for a while though, so that I get to look at it while I'm actually at home.

5. Do you like eggnog? Umm... it's ok.  I haven't had it in a really long time.  I know I don't necessarily dislike it, but it's not my favorite either.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I really do not remember what gifts I received as a child.  Is that bad?

7. Do you have a nativity scene? My parents do.  It's kind of a random mismatch of actual Nativity scene and plastic animal figurines.  I used to pretend they were in an elaborate song and dance number.  But that was a long time ago.  Like... last year.  (Just kidding.  Or maybe not?)

8. Hardest person to buy for? It's sometimes hard to come up with ideas for my parents but I actually came up with a pretty good idea this year, I think.

9. Easiest person to buy for? My brother, for sure.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I like to send them in the mail.  It's more personal that way, especially since I don't send them to many people and I can write an individual message for each person.  

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Probably some white elephant gift.  The one I got this year was a plastic mug that smelled like mothballs. 

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Muppets Christmas (the one where they go to Fozzy's mom's house and visit Fraggle Rock and Miss Piggy gets caught in a snowstorm and the turkey tries to get the chef to cook Big Bird.  It's highly amusing)  And Santa Bear.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Depending on how much time I have, I usually don't start shopping until I get back to Ann Arbor, unless I want to get location-specific gifts.

14. Ever recycled a Christmas present?  We have a maroon box that has "What do sweatshirts and peanut butter have in common?" written on it.  We've recycled that box so many years that no one remembers the answer to the question.  It's somewhat frustrating.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? I don't know... green beans?  cranberry jello?  cheesy potatoes?  Everything is good.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I like the colorful ones.  They are pretty.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Oh I don't know.  There's a Frank Sinatra song called Mrs. Santa Claus that I like quite a lot but I haven't been listening to a lot of Christmas music yet this year so it's hard to remember them all.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I go "home" to my parents' house.  Maybe in the future I will do something different but that will be decided later.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, because of the Rudolph song (which my Jewish grandmother loved, by the way) and The Night Before Christmas story.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I made a Star of David out of construction paper and glitter when I was five.  It is still our tree topper to this day.  

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? My brother, sister and I exchange our gifts on Christmas Eve and we open the ones from our parents on Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Ridiculous holiday shoppers (seriously, this old woman at the mall today... oh my gosh), Christmas commercials, jacked up holiday prices and pushy up selling salespeople.

23. Favorite ornament, theme, or color? No theme.  We just put up what we have.  I guess the theme would be... eclectic?

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? I mostly want a new purse and camera but I kind of want to pick them out myself, so really... just money.

Last Weeks At Negrito

Nov 30, 2011 2 comments

I spent my last couple field weeks alone at Negrito.  There were a few people there, besides me.  But mostly I was just by myself.  It was not my favorite, but I lived through it.  I missed my field buddies.  (Yes, I will include both of them) Whether it was out digging holes or back at camp, we always had a good time together.  That's something I've rarely experienced in my 3 and 1/2 years here.  The nice thing is that J still works in our office while he goes to school, so I see him a couple days a week.  It's nice having at least one person who I can talk to at work.  The office is more highly populated than the forest, but it can still be lonely at times.  I like being back.  I like being able to work 8 hour days and then go home and relax.  But I miss the quiet stillness in the air, and the stars at night.  I wish you could see them.  So many, so bright, so unlike anything in the city.  It's like living in two different worlds.

No Crying At Air Shows

Nov 25, 2011 3 comments

I have a boyfriend who likes airplanes.  He knows how to fly them.  He knows how to build them.  He knows about pretty much every airline and airport in the world.  He can tell you the history of every fighter aircraft since World War II.  Sometimes... it drives me crazy.  But other times, it's pretty darn cool.

Even though it's not my first choice for a hobby, it's been interesting getting to see and learn about all the different kinds of planes out there.  And recently, we got the opportunity to see a bunch of them in action at an air show hosted by Albuquerque's very own Kirtland Airforce Base.

When we arrived, the first thing I noticed were all the attractive military men in uniform.  What girl doesn't like that?  They were very efficient, directing us which way to go to get on the bus, giving us the rules and return procedures, etc.  Before getting in, they had to wave metal detector wands over us (which I didn't mind one bit... hot uniformed guys, remember?) and there were also law enforcement dogs at the entrance.  We were admiring one of them when they told us that there would be a demonstration with the dogs in a few minutes.

Let me tell you, these dogs are talented.  It was pretty impressive, the things they could do.  One thing I was not impressed with was my camera's video feature.  For some reason, it can't handle bright lights very well and everything ends up washed out, but I did manage to get this one of a super awesome dog jumping into a truck.

After the dogs, the air show activities began with a demonstration by the 58th Special Operations Wing.  First, the Osprey came out.  And I have no idea why I don't have a picture of it, because it is awesome.  It's like this weird combination of an airplane and a helicopter.  One time, I saw one flying over the Gila, and I was like WTF is that???   Anyway, back to the air show.  The next thing that happened was these guys

dropped out of this plane, the C-130.

Then, there was a Black Hawk that came and picked the guys up when they were done with their "mission," or whatever.  I don't really remember all the details.  We went to this kind of a while ago.  Here's the Black Hawk.

The next event of the show was a fly-by of a pretty darn cool plane called the B-1.  For all of these planes, it was really hard to take a picture because the sun was blaring in my face and these guys were going by suuuuper fast.  Here's the closest one I could get.

But, honestly, what is the B-1 without the incredible, spaceship-esque B-2?  Again, the picture really does not do it justice.

There were also a variety of static ground displays.  This is the giant C-17.

And if you don't believe me when I say how big it is, this is what it looks like on the inside.

I also took a picture of this B-52, mainly because I like butterflies.

The grand finale, and probably one of the coolest parts of the show, featured these guys.

The Thunderbirds.  The pilots of these planes are incredibly talented.  It takes a lot of training and skill just to make a plane take off, fly in a straight line, and land.  Which makes the stunts that these planes can do pretty amazing.

P.S. I got the title for this post while we were walking around looking at the static displays.  A man said it to his kid.  I thought that was pretty awesome.

P.P.S. And this whole event -- totally free.  Yep.

Because I Feel Like It

Nov 15, 2011 6 comments

And I'm a copy-cat.

What if I were to get pregnant? Ohhh....hmm.... well, my mom would be upset and my employer would probably also not be too happy.  Pregnancy and baby and my job do not mix.

What if I could have any job in the world? I've talked about wanting to do research, and that would make me really happy.  But if I could do anything I'd want to work for a magazine or some other form of print media, writing and editing and page layout.  Maybe taking pictures.  I think it would be fun and I'd be really good at it. 

What if I had a day to myself?  I would spend the entire day at the mall, shopping and eating Dairy Queen.  Oh, yes I would!
What if I could get married all over again?   I have not been married, so I am not sure.  Although my friend who recently got married told me that I should just elope because having a wedding is STRESSFUL.  Haha.

What if I could live anywhere in the U.S.?  I'm not sure.  I like New Mexico.  It's not my favorite place ever (not gonna lie) but it has some cool aspects to it.  I miss Michigan but I don't think I'd move back.  Same with Vegas.  Maybe Colorado?  I really don't know.  NOT Alabama.

What if I were to have more children?  MORE children???  See question #1.

What if I could have any talent in the world?  I would like to have really good ideas on a more frequent basis, and to be able to express those ideas coherently.  This is difficult!

What if you met me in real life?  You might not like me.  The way I write in the blog is pretty much my personality, I think.  But I'm pretty shy/socially awkward, and sometimes I think I come across as weird or mean, even though that is not my intention at all.
What if I went back to school?  If I could, I would.  School is my favorite.  I miss it.

What if money weren't an object?  I'd buy a house, travel, and write books

What if I could meet one celebrity?  Oh, I don't know.  Most celebrities are pretty dumb.  If I met one, I'd get my brother to go up to them and say, "you're dumb!" and run away.

What if I could only shop at one store for the rest of my life?  Sunflower.  It has food and important hygiene items.  It doesn't have clothes, but I could buy some canvas bags and make clothes out of them, I suppose. 

What if I could choose an animal/pet?  I would get a black pug.  They are expensive but so cute and sweet!

What if I could go on a trip right now? I would go to the beach.  I'm not sure which beach.  A really awesome, warm one with not a lot of people. 

What if I had to choose between a house cleaner and a professional chef? Definitely a house cleaner.  Can I have one?

What if I had the option to get plastic surgery?  No.  People who have had plastic surgery look all fake and weird.


Weird Animals, And the Bad Mood Week

Nov 12, 2011 1 comments

I'm pretty sure this is where I last left off in my field adventure tales.  I had finished up the rowdy party week with the firefighters and then spent the next week camping in a random spot (closer to my mapping area) with my boss. 

Okay, this might have not actually happened during this particular week, but I remember it happened on a Monday, and I'm pretty sure I haven't mentioned it yet.  I saw a strange animal in the woods.  It sort of looked like a badger, or maybe a wolverine.  It had light brown fur with a narrow dark stripe on its forehead.  Four short-ish legs and a kind of round body.  I tried to take a picture of it but I was afraid it would attack me with its ferocious sharp teeth (which it may or may not have had) and didn't get too close.  This is all I could get.

There it is, right there, inside of the red circle
The more I think about this, the more I'm pretty sure this didn't happen during that week, but whatever.  On Tuesday, I worked by myself.  My boss decided we would get stuff done faster if we split up and worked in separate areas.  Ok, sure, that's fine.  So I went off to my little area for the day. 

On my drive over to where I wanted to work, I had to go up and down three hills that I called the "evil, hell hills."  The worst part about them was the way that they were positioned made it hard to tell where the road went after the hill.  On one of them, I had to turn around a sharp corner, go down into a ditch and then back up a steep slope.  This particular day, I happened to arrive at just the right time for the sun to be positioned right above the hill in such a way that I could not see a darn thing.  I had no idea where the road went, and if I went too far off the path, I would either end up in a  deep rut or off the side on a steep, tree filled slope.  I ended up having to stop and get out twice just to see where I was going.  It was super stressful.  I spent the rest of the drive shaking because I was so upset about it.

I had to stop about 1.5 km away from where I wanted to go, and walk in the rest of the way.  I have a hard time navigating.  Have I mentioned that before?  Probably.  So, most of the time, I use the GPS to help me.  But the GPS was being bad that day.  It led me all over the place and I never seemed to get closer.  I was getting so angry that I started yelling at everything.  I yelled at my backpack for not zipping when I put my sweater in.  I might have yelled the f-word into the sky when I found out I forgot to take a waypoint for the truck, even though J reminded me I should always take a truck waypoint.  "Always, always, always, " he said.  Nevertheless, I was very grumpy.  Arrrrrggghh.

I finally found two spots I wanted to dig holes, and then called it a day.  I figured out my way back by following a drainage to the road and then walking up the road back to the truck.  It wasn't really that hard but I like knowing where I'm going a little bit more than I did that day.  Perhaps I need to improve my navigational skills. 

The next day, my boss and I worked together.  I was still grumpy plus I had cramps so I was definitely not in a mood for a lot of hiking and digging, but what can you do?  I had to dig with the heavy Montana sharpshooter instead of my wimpy girly wooden sharpshooter that was shortened specifically for me (or so I heard).  It was no fun. 

The camp site itself was pretty decent, as campsites go.  It was really cold that week, so nighttime was not super awesome, but it could have been worse, I suppose.  That was the week my tent zipper started ripping open and my headlamp started not working.  But it was the week before my sleeping bag zipper started being a jerkface.  So, not everything was bad.  Yay! 

Balloons Are Even Better at Night

Nov 2, 2011 3 comments

Something I've always wanted to see at the Balloon Fiesta, but never have, is the night glow.  Until this year.  And it was awesome-tastic.

Yes, that is Spider Pig

This was when they all lit up at once.  So cool!

This is Halloween

Oct 31, 2011 5 comments

My mom thought it was an angry bird.

iHeart balloons

Oct 26, 2011 3 comments

Tonight, I'm relaxing listening to Oasis on my newly re-downloaded iTunes.  It only took me forever to get around to installing it again.  But now that my field season is over -- did I mention that it was over?  It ended rather abruptly and unexpectedly, but yes, it's done -- I am finding that it's not as hard to be productive as I thought it would be.  I mean, yeah, it's still hard to want to do laundry and clean the apartment, and getting used to being in the office again is kind of making my brain explode but it's happening.

I want to get this thing up to date, so here's some pictures of balloons from Fiesta 2011.

dawn patrol
it snowed in the mountains that morning

the all blacks rugby team, for new zealand : )
fractal balloon

navy seal skydivers

There are actually a lot more but I'm going to split it up here.  Part 2 to come later.


Alone in the Woods Week 2: The Firefighter's Party

Oct 22, 2011 3 comments

After the truck was fixed (I use the term "fixed" here loosely, but we will get to that later) I returned to Negrito for another two weeks of working by myself.  Fortunately, this time, I didn't have to camp by myself.  Quite the contrary.  In the past, there were either a handful of Negrito firefighters or a group of traveling firefighters from another place.  This time, since it was the final week of the fire season, the entire Gila Hotshot crew was there for their last days before they went home.  So they spent their nights that week partying it up.  And I joined in on the festivities.

On Wednesday night, their last night, they had a huge barbecue grill set up to cook burgers.  I had brought my own food, but they let me cook it on their grill, which was cool.  They also had a ton of other food to go along with it, which they said I could have as well.  It was sort of a weird combo of stuff.  Like they had mashed potatoes and pinto beans, along with the burgers.  But it was pretty good.  They also had two kegs full of Blue Moon.

A little while later, the ranger from Reserve (and my previous disaster story, along with the guy whose house we camped at) showed up.  He asked where my boss was and seemed surprised that I was there by myself.  I've gotten that reaction several times since I started working alone.

After everyone got their food, they all went inside to watch a slide show that one of the firefighters made.  Their crew leader told them that it was going to be at least 25 minutes, so they'd each better get two beers to get them through it.  I thought that was funny.

This is where all the drunks, I mean, firefighters, watched their crazy video
I wasn't going to watch the video because I'm not a firefighter, but I think they felt bad for me, being out there all by myself, so they invited me to come in and watch it with them.  It was actually a pretty good video.  Mostly a picture slide show showing all the different fires that went on this year.  And there were a lot.  It was interesting seeing pictures of all the fires that I'd been hearing about all summer.  There was also some video of the airplanes dropping water and the pink flame retardant stuff, which was cool.

After the movie, I went to take a shower and when I came back everyone was completely trashed.  They were all extra friendly and called me the "soil girl."  Most of the firefighters were guys, but there were still two girls left on base (there had been a couple more before that) so I talked to each of them for a little while.  One of them lives in Reserve and had been working at The Rode Inn Motel when it burned down.  I had already met the other girl a while back when I was still working with J.  She admitted to me that she had been hitting on him and she felt embarrassed about it the next day.  I told her not to worry; he was probably flattered.

As the night progressed, many games of beer pong were played, people got rowdy, and one guy set his pants on fire.  As for me, one of the older guys kept trying to get me to take him back to my tent.  He asked me questions about what it looked like and said that he hadn't seen one like that before and he'd better go see it.  So eventually I just had to sneak away into the darkness and hope that he wouldn't notice where I went.

That's all I really have to say about that week's events.  Tonight I'm feeling sad because I found out a friend of mine from grad school died in a car accident last week.  I knew his girlfriend too, briefly, when she lived here in Albuquerque.  I can only imagine how she is feeling right now.

You know it's Friday when...

Oct 7, 2011 4 comments

1.   Something popular that I can't stand/just don't "get" is      twitter.  yes, it's still dumb.

2.   Something unpopular that I secretly love is    hair scrunchies.  they say no one ever wears them anymore but they're the only hair tie that doesn't get tangled up in my sulfide bonds (aka curls).

3.  When I've had a bad day I   eat chips and salsa and watch mindless tv  .

4. I'd prefer    weekends    to    working      any day.

5.  Something that makes me nervous is    a lot of things, mainly packing for camping trips at the moment.  small talk.  and money, to an extent.

6.  Something worth fighting for is     success.  I don't do this very well, but it's worth it and I want to do better.

7.  When people think of me, I hope they think    "she is really nice and fun!  I want to hang out with her."  .