It’s finally the weekend! Well the weekend for me anyway, working 10 days straight then getting 4 days off can be tough but it can be great when the weekend rolls around and suddenly you get 4 days to do whatever you want to do. I have redefined my idea of sleeping in, it’s now about 7 am and if I get a chance to wake up after the sunrise (anytime between 6 and 7) it’s a real treat! No crazy adventures for me this weekend (I had plenty during the week) but I’ve just about finished up establishing things here in Nevada so I no longer have to worried and I can get paid too!
I finally understand why each 10 day work week is referred to as a quest, we’re constantly going to new places, trying to figure out where we need to be and then adapting to the situations quickly at the drop of a hat when plans change in a moments notice. My quest started with an area search this week which is a beautiful place once you get over the unmaintained hilly dirt road you need to get there. It’s interesting how the desert always looks so sandy as if plant life doesn’t exist when looking from above when really it’s fully of plenty of plant species (I’m having to learn the Latin names of all of the woody plants I come across and there are a lot). They just so happened to be spaced out and very small so that there is ground between the plants making it pretty easy to maneuver through and around them, especially when they are friendly plants and don’t prick or scratch you.
After area searching, we had a few hours to kill and being so close to Red Rock Canyon we decided to kill a couple of hours exploring the area and hanging out on the rocks before we got going to our next campsite. We called it an educational visit because really there was information on the birds you see in the area, the different plants you can find, even their Latin names and lots of random bits of information that may not have been pertinent to the job but were still interesting nonetheless.
After our little adventure, I headed out with my field partners Kelly and Katie to a new location, Kelly had to do some avian surveys while Katie and I were assigned to do some intensive veg work on the transect. So far the desert had been quite pleasant, but we quickly learned that when you wake up before dawn it’s freezing cold. Add in gusts of cold wind and no sun and loss of feeling in both fingers and toes happen. While trying to figure out something new and freezing isn’t a good combination plus not knowing any of the plants in the area made for quite a frustrating day. It got better after that though, Kelly helped us out and the storm passed after a little downpour of rain overnight.
The rest of the days passed pretty well considering it was our first quest and when we finally got to meet up with the rest of the team, we were in f
or a real treat. I have always loved horses and have always thought wild horses had ceased to exist but they do! Wild horses really do exist! We found them on our way down the road in the Warm Springs mountains. We were having a botany lesson so we got to sleep in until 6:30! It was so nice to be able to wake up after the sun. It’s so much warmer in the mornings when the sun is already up. Throw in a lack of wind and you’ve got an ideal morning!
Our next big adventure in our quest took us out to the border of Nevada, pretty close to California’s east coast as we actually went to The Death Valley. The major difference I noticed in The Death Valley was while it didn’t seem to be warmer or different than the rest of the desert, it’s plant life was certainly dwindling. When people imagine the desert and they think of barren land and sand all around no trees and very minimal plant life, they are most likely thinking of The Death Valley because things are super sparse out there. Since we all had different transects, we were going to split up for the night, do our transects and be picked up in the morning once we were done. Mother Nature had different plans for us! We had dropped Katie off and I had just been dropped off, established myself in my tent and was out to do some veg work when Kelly came back for me. Turns out the insane winds that I was conveniently ignoring were actually too insane to work in and we were heading back to the field house that night. On the way to picking up Katie I noticed a cloud in the sky, only it was a massive cloud of sand. No wonder everything in my tent had a nice covering of sand on it when I went to pack it all up.
We managed to get back to the field house at around midnight to discover that another team had gotten winded out as well and had made their way back to the field house as well. It was unfortunate that we had driven 400 miles that day to have nothing to show for the drive and time investment but it was nice to be able to do some work around the field house to recuperate before having to go back out into the field.
Since our surveys are greatly dependent on the cooperation of the weather, which doesn’t always happen, we have built in make up days into our schedule in case we do get winded out. Back out to The Death Valley it was for us. We managed to drop Kelly off to her site and as Katie was dropping me off at my transect site, turns out we got a flat tire. Neither of us had changed a flat tire before but we had all seen and helped to change one at the field house before we left. Everything was going really well until our jack stopped working. We felt bad having to call our boss to come and help us out but at 4 am she showed up with a new jack, took our flat tire to the local tire shop, got a new one put on the rim, came all the way back to where we were to leave it for us with instructions to get it put on before we left to go to our next location. Our boss is absolutely amazing. So Katie never did get to do her transect but she helped out with mine and it wasn’t so bad, despite the fact that in order to go 300 meters you had to go up a hill, down a hill and back up the side of another hill. Ended up getting a great workout and seeing some pretty amazing views though!
So that rounds off the adventures of my first quest here. Not heading anywhere super exciting, just waking up super late (7 am!), reading and cross stitching. I’ll probably get around to some bird songs too
because there are lots of them to learn and I still need to get quite a few in. A very relaxed weekend in the grand scheme of things but that’s not such a bad thing because I have a feeling my upcoming weekends will be full of adventures to new places very soon. Not to mention there’s a second quest just around the corner!
Until next time,