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."  .


Return to Loco Mountain

Oct 6, 2011 2 comments

It was late when I got back on Friday and no one was in the office.  I wrote an email to my boss updating him about the week and told him about the truck.  Then I went home.  On Monday, I talked to him about it some more and he told me to take it to the shop.  One of my favorite jobs at work is taking the vehicles to the repair shop.  For one thing, it gets me out of the office for a while, and I also really like chatting with the owner/manager, who is a friendly old Czechoslovakian man.  Sometimes I'm not sure what he's saying because of the accent but I enjoy talking to him nonetheless.  Anyway, he told me that the fuel injector was leaking (For about 2 weeks, I thought he had said ejector until I told J about it, and he was like, no... you're wrong).  Sooo...  the truck was broken and I wouldn't be able to go to the field.  Well, not alone anyway.

It was decided that my boss and I would go to the field together and work on his mapping.  The campsite he chose was in my old quad from last year, so it felt a little like deja vu.  I'd been back on those trails with my old nemesis... ahem, I mean, co-worker, many times. 

And I could see the hill where my boss and I dug out my field review site that we never went back to.  I wonder if it's still there.  I hope no little woodland animals fell in it and died.  That would be sad.

It also has cool looking fog
It ended up being rainy and really muddy that week, so the first day my boss spent a really long time walking down the road to see if it was drivable while I stood around and enjoyed the sunshine.  Nice.  When he came back, he told me it was too muddy and that we would be going to my quad instead.  Also very nice.

The drive was a lot longer than if we'd been staying at Negrito (which we could have because the firefighters were back) but whatever.  We listened to a lot of Rush Limbaugh.  Yeah....

My boss spent a bunch of time looking around for a "perfect" spot to dig a site.  I still don't like doing site descriptions because they take forever and there's a bunch of stupid crap to do with them, like counting sticks.  Yes, we count every single frickin stick.  I like coring trees, though.  It's sort of relaxing.  Unless the corer gets stuck in the tree, then it's a pain.

We ended up spending the next two days digging and describing two sites and then went home a day early because of the rain and mud.  It was late when we got home on that Wednesday night, but I couldn't really complain.  I was a home a whole day early! 

Matt was over at a friend's house so I went over to meet him, hung out for a while, went home, and slept in my own bed.  Lovely!


Alone in the Woods: Week 1

Oct 2, 2011 5 comments

As of today, I have spent a total of three weeks working alone in the field.  The first week... well, it sucked.  I hated working alone with a vengeance after that.  Since then, I still don't love it, but it did get a little better.  And I'll tell you why.  But let's start from the beginning, shall we?

Here is a picture I took of a fuzzy caterpillar that week.  It doesn't have much to do with anything but I will keep it here for symbolic purposes. 
My first week by myself started on a Tuesday, the day after Labor Day.  First of all, I hate starting field weeks on Tuesday because that means I have to stay until Friday, which is a huge bummer.  My boss decided to take leave and stay in the office that week (lazy!) so he wouldn't be even close to where I was, which he normally would be if he were working on his own mapping.  Therefore, I would be alone, and naturally, thought I would probably get attacked by a bear and die.

When I got to Negrito, the gate was locked and no one was there.  I had been warned this might happen, and remembered to bring my forest key with me to unlock the gate.  However, my forest key was not actually my forest key, as I would later find out.  But I didn't know that at the time, so I was like, WTF?  And ended up having to camp on some stupid hill outside of the base.  I put my tent up in the trees so it would be harder for random hunters to see me from the road but I had to park far away, where it was flat and not rocky so every time I was in my tent and needed something from the truck (or vice-versa) it was a trek to get there.  That was annoying thing number 1.

I couldn't drive into Negrito but I could walk into it, so the first thing I tried was getting into the kitchen/mess hall.  But it was locked and my "forest key" didn't work on that either.  Sadly.  But no matter, I had my camp stove and could cook dinner on that.  For some reason, I could not get that thing to work.  I filled it up with gas and pumped it a bunch of times but it was no use.  The pump handle thing kept locking and therefore gas was not releasing from the container into the stove and it would not light.  I had chips and salsa for dinner that night.  That was annoying thing number 2.

Later that evening, while I was in my tent, I came up with a brilliant idea.  Tomorrow, I would build a fire using the Negrito fire pit and cook my dinner on there.  Yes!  I was a genius!  The next night, after work, I gathered all my cooking materials and hiked up to the base to begin making my fire.  At this point, it was still raining pretty regularly during the day so all my potential fuel was wet.  It took a while, but I was persistent, and eventually burned enough pine needles to get the firewood dried out enough to create fire.

Ta-da!  Small, but fire nonetheless
The second dilemma was finding a method with which to cook my dinner over the fire.  Lucky for me, the Hotshots left a grill sitting outside on the ground.  I propped it up with two rocks on either side of the fire and was able to cook my sausages.  Hooray!

The nights were strange that week.  It was weird being alone and I had lots of odd dreams.  One night I dreamed that there was a coyote outside my tent and I was trying to get up and move so I could defend myself, but I couldn't.  Then I dreamed that a snake was crawling underneath my tent, and I could feel it moving.  Another night I dreamed about contra dancing.

Since I'm done with Pitchfork Canyon, I'm now working on the quad next door, and it's a farther drive.  It takes about an hour just to get from one end to the other.  By Wednesday or Thursday, I realized that the gas in the truck was getting really low and I started to get nervous.  I really really did not want to run out of gas out there.  I'd already had enough vehicle issues this summer and didn't want to have to call for help again.  That was annoying thing number 3.

Finally, Friday came and I could go home.  I was sooo happy.  Usually, we're supposed to do a little work on our last morning and then go home.  So I was a good little employee and dug one hole in a drainage full of Apache Plumes.  Then I began the drive back to Albuquerque.  I knew it would be a while before I made it to a town and a gas station so I didn't turn on the air conditioning, didn't listen to the radio and prayed that my gas wouldn't run out before I got there.  It got really low, the truck dinged at me, but I made it.  I was relieved.  But as soon as I got on the paved road, the truck started making a weird noise.  It sounded like creaking plastic coming from somewhere underneath the gas and brake pedals.  Weird, right?  I had no idea what it was and couldn't really do much about it at the time except keep going and hope nothing bad happened.  Lucky for me, the noise seemed to stop for a while until I was almost back to the office and then I knew I would be okay.  For that day, anyway.

But I didn't care.  I would figure it out later.  I was home.