Wow this post is super late as in an entire quest late and I’m really sorry about that. Everything just started moving so fast after the last quest, turning in all of my equipment, saying goodbye to my co-workers and then getting on a plane myself and heading back to family in Vancouver. Even though I unpacked the day after I got home and saw the majority of my family and friends within a week of being back, I still don’t feel settled and I’ve had trouble getting my thoughts together to write this post about my last quest, hence the lengthy delay.
The final quest was a lot different from all of the other ones we had done so far where we woke up at dawn, went on a 3 km hike while birding every 300 meters or so and then walked back while doing habitat assessments then moved to the next place and waited for the next day so we could bird again. There was no way we could rush it, do extra work one day and get an easier day another day, it just wasn’t possible because the timing had to be right.
With this quest we didn’t have to worry about the timing because there was no birding involved. We spent the last 10 days doing all the rapid and intensive habitat assessments that we hadn’t been able to do after we birded the sites initially. The best part was that the plants had a tendency to stick around and they didn’t really go anywhere so we could work whenever we wanted to. Our schedule was really in our hands but of course we still started working at or before dawn so that we could work as much as we could before the sun came up as it was getting to be really warm and that slows down our working pace considerably.
Katie and I set off Monday morning and knocked out some veg with another some of our co-workers in another truck and then were off to find the next location that we needed to finish up the habitat assessments where nothing had been done earlier. Unfortunately, we didn’t get one of the handy little maps that our boss makes for us so we were on our own and got pretty lost in the mining area and it was full of roads turning off the main road all over the place. Every time we found a good way of getting where we were going, we were blocked and needed to find another way. Needless to say, we actually didn’t make it to our site Monday night and ended up camping on the road in the middle of nowhere when we didn’t have enough light to continue. After some rest we had clearer minds Tuesday morning and were able to find our co-workers who were also working in the area but of course we also had a very slow tire leak so after helping them out, we went into town to get our tire fixed and we got the handy little map our boss made for the area from our co-workers. Just looking at the topography and hearing that it was a difficult transect worried us. As soon as we got our tire fixed, we found our worksite late afternoon, looked at the hills surrounding us and immediately we got to work. We lucked out because where we had decided to camp was in the middle of the transect so we finished four out of the ten points that night (we needed to have our headlamps on for the last little bit
because we were out there until 10 pm and it had gotten pretty dark). The next morning we hiked to the furthest point before 5 am so that we wouldn’t have a long walk in the heat and after much willpower and determination from both of us we got it done. Didn’t feel like walking ever again, my legs were so exhausted from climbing up and down the hills. We decided to reward ourselves with a trip to Pyramid Lake nearby and spent a bit of time in the water relaxing and taking it easy. While we were recuperating from our day of hill climbing, we found out that we would be working on a transect that I had done that ran right through my area search. I knew that after the first 3 points, it was flat as a pancake. Not to mention that Katie and I had already done a lot of the work on it already throughout the season.
For the next couple days we got to work on flat land as we worked our way through the Monitor Valley area. I was thrilled that I was going back to my favorite transect (Fourmile) where there were plenty of wild horses. In the morning we saw a herd with 3 foals jumping around and playing together and when we returned later in the afternoon, we encountered a herd of about 12 horses. They actually sent a pair of horses over to check us out before the whole herd came to see us out before taking off into the mountains, it was quite the experience to be so close to them.
Our time in the field ended earlier than we expected as we thought Monday night would be our last night camping but it ended up being Sunday night as plans changed and we would be working on the Truckee River on Tuesday which allowed us to stay in a hotel Monday night. After finishing up our work in Beatty (yes we made it all the way south to Beatty) and when surprisingly nothing went wrong (as it usually does it Beatty) an 8 hour drive later (along with a few errands) and we were back in Sparks right beside the marina.
My experience working on the Truckee River can be summed up by one learning experience: fire ants are accurately named. The site of the bite feels like it’s burning for about an hour after being bit. Moral of the story, do not let ants bite you, (I’m just glad it wasn’t a bullet ant which I don’t think are found in Nevada). After a couple of hours of down time, we met up with our boss at the Great Basin Brewing Co. and had a dinner all together for it was the last night we would all be together as we were parting ways the next day. Wednesday was a day of goodbyes, Dave and Sue left first as they were headed south to do some more habitat assessments, Zoey left next for her flight home then it was time to say goodbye to my boss (I’m still in touch with her because she is pretty awesome) and then I had to say goodbye to the truck I had lived in for the past 3 months. Katie and I cleaned up the truck inside and out and she was sparkling and clean as we returned her to Hertz. After that Katie left and a few hours after that I had to say goodbye to Kelly and Dan as they dropped me off at the airport in Reno.
My flight ended up being delayed by about an hour because of storms in the Seattle area but I eventually made it to Portland, got off the plane and then back on the same plane to get to Bellingham. That was about two weeks ago now. The first week back was spent seeing friends and family but in the second week I’ve been getting restless. Yes it’s great being back in Vancouver (despite the fact that my body is having trouble re-adapting to the humidity levels here) and it’s beautiful here but I feel myself settling into a life that I don’t want. One where the television is always on and where nature is something to look at from the comfort of the couch not something to experience and explore. I’m not ready for a sedentary life, every job I’ve ever done has had me on my feet the entire day and spending days upon days sitting down and working just seems very unnatural to me.
My grandparents are pushing for me to find a job in the Lower Mainland, they don’t care what it is as long as it’s close and safe. My dad seems to be hinting that there are lots of environmental jobs (permanent, forever type jobs) up in Fort McMurray but there’s a part of me that isn’t ready to settle into a permanent forever job. I don’t think I’m done adventuring and exploring the world before settling down in one place. I can already feel the world calling as I’m starting to crave another adventure in a currently unknown place. Guess I better start looking for my next job!
Until next time,