Quest 4: complete!

Blooming cactus
Blooming cactus, they actually do flower when they get enough water.

My time in Nevada is over halfway up as I have officially completed my 4th 10 day work week. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for over 2 months now, it feels like I’ve been here forever and that I’ve just gotten here at the same time. The whole field crew knows that the season is coming to a close because we only have 5 more scheduled days of bird surveys and we have moved out of our field house in Moapa. Now our weekends will be spent in hotels in Sparks-Reno. I never really understood why people would go stay at a hotel and not go out and explore the town until now. The hotel room has essentially become my home, poorly equipped as there is no kitchen or fridge so I have to eat out a lot but it’s the only place I have to stay. I’m not complaining considering that I’m constantly camping and sleeping in the back seat of the truck I drive around during the week so having a bed and access to a shower is pretty awesome.

The fourth quest started out with a bit of a twist, finding out that Katie and I would be separated for our quest and I would get the chance to work with Zoey this week. The week started out a bit differently since we were leaving the field house in Moapa, we had to clean. A LOT. Everything had to be scrubbed down and cleaned. We had to go through the fridge, pack all of our bags and grab tons of data sheets to last us the rest of the quests we would be on for the season. Since some of the crew had driven across the country to get to the field house in Moapa and we were now going to be based out of Reno, all the personal cars had to get to Reno as well which meant an 8 hour drive  for everyone followed by another 3 hour drive to get to our campsite for the night after dropping off the personal cars. I lucked out because Zoey’s car could easily travel down the road we needed to go so we just went to our campsite and did a 6 hour drive to drop off her car in Reno on Tuesday instead. After we dropped off Zoey’s car, we had to go scope out the roads to get to our transects for Wednesday. Zoey’s was easy enough to find but when we were trying to find mine, I might’ve high-centered the truck slightly getting us stuck so we had to call our boss for some help. She showed up at 4 am to help us out and after jacking up both front tires and putting some rocks under the tires we were able to drive away and do my transect. Our day seemed to be looking up but as soon as we hit the highway we realized we had a flat tire. We were able to make it to the nearest town Tonopah (about 50 miles away) and we were able to snag the last tire for our truck in town.

After all the craziness we were excited to meet up with Katie and Dan to camp together as it was Katie’s birthday in the Shoshone mountain range.

Shoshone Mountain Range
Shoshone Mountain Range

There is something absolutely beautiful about those mountains, there’s just something about them that seems borderline magical. Unfortunately our trucks tend to randomly lock themselves and Katie’s truck locked Katie out with all of her stuff in the truck so Katie and Dan were delayed and were unable to camp with us that day but it was suggested to us that the 4 of us camp together Friday as well.

Friday was quite the adventure to say the least. Thursday afternoon we spent 6 hours scoping transects. Zoey’s was a breeze but mine was a 3 hour drive away from hers. Even when we got as close to my transect as we could I still had a 4 km walk before starting my transect which translated into a 3 hour hike because the road that was supposed to be there was all overgrown. I ended up walking for 8 hours that day but it was one of the greatest hikes I’ve ever done. I had to go up and over a mountain range getting to see some great views and I got to see herds of wild horses roaming the land and antelope running as they saw me.

Not quite sure what he is, people suspect he is a Common Poorwill though!
Not quite sure what he is, people suspect he is a Common Poorwill though!

Spotted a little fledge running along the ground between a couple of points but the best part was when I was heading back to my pickup spot. I was able to find the road that we were looking for the night before but there was only one of the 2 tire tracks left because it had become an animal highway of sorts as all the wild animals would use it to get through the mountain range (turns out you could go around the mountains in one spot). I ran into two herds of horses that were coming the other way, they would stop 20-30 feet from me and the leader of the herd would check me out and then they would canter away as they seemed quite confused as to what I was doing there.

The rest of the week went relatively smoother after that day. Since we had had quite a few long days we were able to take a few 6 hour days to makeup for all the overtime we had been putting in and things went pretty smoothly after that. The highlight after that was Tuesday when we were able to check into the Western Village hotel in Sparks-Reno and shower. It’s great that we had a view of the marina and right across the marina was an outlet mall and we were only a couple of miles from Reno, the birding is beautiful and it’s stunning. I’m actually considering spending my next weekend in Sparks-Reno just so I can enjoy it as it’s great for morning walks.

Wild horses off in the distance.
Wild horses off in the distance.

Hard to believe that this job is almost over, no luck finding a new job though for when this is over. I have sent out a couple of job applications for the fall but with last weekend being in Flagstaff all weekend and being in a new city which I want to explore and enjoy, it’s hard to sit and send out job applications as I tend to get cabin fever pretty easily on weekends without my minimum 6 km hike. Either way I’ll try to get on that this weekend while preparing for the upcoming quest.

Until next time,



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