Monday, May 31, 2004

Gosh, do I have a great job

Today started out as any other day does at my job. Walk out of my residence and boom I am at work. So technically, I am never late to work because I am always at work. Anyway, I had to pull some data from traffic counters this morning. Boring stuff really. Actually, very sucky because while I wait for the data to download on the computer, the fricking gnats eat away at my eyelashes and hair follicles. Oh so pleasant. I radioed Forrest Gump and asked his location. Told him to disregard. I would be arriving at his location shortly because out there is one of the traffic counters that works occasionally. We met and I discussed I would be taking the off shoot road to check on some bird's nest. You know, radio if you need me, but my response time is going to be hours. Have a good day! Just a quickie-Forrest Gump has been saying all this busy weekend how he can't believe that we haven't had some sort of injury. Remember that comment because it will come up later.

I headed up to patrol the road and to locate the nests. The first three nests were those of red-tailed hawks and the other nest was a great horned owl. I checked the first nest and saw that cobwebs were growing in it which is a sure sign that there wasn't any birds hanging out and producing other birds. The second nest, well honestly, I thought it was a bush growing out of the rocks, was inactive as well. But then I saw something in the other nest. At first glance, I thought I was looking at two white owls on this nest. There was no way those were red-tails. I walked closer and closer. And then one of the 'kids' screamed out. And then something screamed out behind me. I turned so quickly I almost fell down. I couldn't see where the behind scream was coming from and then out of nowhere the adult swooped near me and hesitated in the air. This always makes me think they are going to dive bomb me like you used to see in the cartoons and stick into my head. (Could you imagine the radio call there---) Anyway, I sat down behind a tree and out of view from the adult. The adult flew away to somewhere I don't know. Actually she/he was probably high above me, but the sun was right overhead so I couldn't see. One of the kids laid down and then I saw another one get up. Now that makes 3 kids. And then that kid spread its wings and flapped them, but didn't leave the nest. I don't think it is ready. Then it stepped on the head of the one laying down. I laughed. But what, is that a fourth one behind the flapper one? I think it was, but couldn't get a positive id. I stood up. SWOOSH! Adult came out of nowhere again. Not happy. She/he landed to the right of the nest and started screaming. Louder and louder. (You know when you have screamed at a game all night and your voice starts to go)--well this is what was happening here. She/he moved to another location. I am not sure if she/he was saying get the heck away from the nest or calling for another adult. What I wanted to see was the adult puke in the baby's mouth. Why? I have no idea since I am a total gagger. So I left the area because I felt I was disrupting their lives.

I stopped on the road and hiked towards the owl's nest. Last time I checked there was this fluffy gray owl baby and two adults pissed I was in the area. The baby had come out to take a peek and mom and dad yelled something. I can only guess that it said 'get your ass back in the nest'. Today, I would try to get across from the nest without disturbing the adults while arriving. So I am walking through the desert to the location and I found 3 old tin cans---cigarette can, lighter fluid can, and a can that would hold like beans. I didn't pick them up because for some reason they are called history not trash. Don't ask. Then I found all these piles of flecks (these are what the Native Americans left behind from making spears and such). I kicked the piles over and then thought may be G-Baby put them there to help him find his way. Oh well. I climbed up and over rocks and around to the area across from the nest. I was too high and couldn't get a direct view. Then I saw one sitting in the tree. The myth that owls only operate at night is not true. He/she hadn't seen me yet. Then the head spun all the way around and the beady eyes peered upon me. I sat still scanning between the nest and owl. I eventually climbed down to peer across to the nest. There was nothing. I think that the owl sitting in the tree was actually the child I had seen earlier this season. No adults around. Must have been booted from the nest. But as I looked at the nest which was primarily white from droppings, I just kept thinking--how can you live in that filth. And then I thought back to Jack's blog and realized heck even humans do it. Instead of going an easy away around, I jumped about 5 feet down onto the hard slickrock. I cussed only momentarily as the pain radiated up my legs and through imaginary needles into my pads of my feet. Just what I need was a broken leg.

While I am checking nests, I often turn my radio down because I don't want to disturb them anymore than necessary. I also think it sometimes gives me away when I am trying to sneak up on them. Anyway, I get back in the vehicle and hear a commotion on the radio that can only mean one thing--there is a rescue of some sort. And then I heard Forrest Gump saying the patient was in and out of consciousness. OH NO! I radioed to find out where he was located. Not even within our area, but he wanted me to respond anyway. It wasn't far. They were going to need all the help possible. I was still an hour out, but I started that way. The patient was rock climbing when he fell approximately 30-40 feet. I responded just as they were starting down the slope. Since at this time I was the only one that was going to respond if our area had an incident I stayed close to my vehicle. The helicopter had been called in and was in a staging area. We were ready for the helo so I went and got coordinates and prepared for the helo's arrival. Last time they broke my watch when a rock flew into it. I let BGO land this one. The patient had a head injury and was pretty combative. Screaming to let him up, unloosen the leg straps, let him lay on his side, etc. When he said he wanted to lay on his side, I walked away because I was sure he was going to puke and then I would. He was tied down to the backboard because he was trying to pull out the IVs. They explained he was in a helo and needed to calm down. But how he took that I am not sure. I think they finally gave him 'something to take the edge off' and they lifted off. I will post photos later as I don't have my digital.

To think the day started with traffic counters, moved into bird's nest, and then bringing in a helo. Nothing is ever dull in my line of work. And every bit of it is rewarding as hell. Hope your day was a winner.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Day at the office or on the trail--SAME THING

I awoke way too early this morning, but started the day as planned at 0700 hours. Around 3pm today, I noticed my normal schedule was from 10-630pm and I eventually got off at 1900 hours (or 7pm). Anyway, the mission for the day was to locate the individuals belonging to the two vehicles that were parked at a backcountry parking area. The vehicles had been there for 3 days and we didn't have any record of them having a permit to backcountry camp. Price of backcountry permit---$0. Price of ticket for failing to get backcountry permit---$150.00. Ummm. So much easier to just get the permit. Oh yea, by the way that is $150.00 per person. There were other missions like finding coopers hawk nest (found one, but no birds), checking for illegal fire rings (found one), and other such things.

I arrived at the trailhead almost at 7am and started hiking. I finally found them at about their vehicles. But there is more to the story than that so I will get back to that. While out hiking I often get myself into situations that require first aid, near death incidents, pulled muscles of the arms and shoulders from catching myself by my fingertips from sliding down 100 feet, impalements, and other bodily harm. Most of the time this is accomplished on my days off and sometimes while hiking. Knock on wood I have never had to be rescued from my journeys. However, where I work we have two radio codes just for me. They are SS and SSS (or triple S). The first one is a Sara Situation--these are minor--locked keys in vehicle, flat tire, etc. The second one is Serious Sara Situation---these are major---will need to be carried out, hanging from cliff, etc. Like I said I haven't had to use one yet, but there is still time.

So today I take off hiking up the trail. Ah, the great smell of illegal cow dung, urine, and water mixed together permeates the air and the ground. You probably think I am joking, but really I kind of like the smell of it. (Yea, I like the smell of feed lots as well). We had some cattle break through a fence and cruise the park for a while. Heck, there might be some still in here. Anyway, I hiked about 3 miles up the wash and found no sign people.

I did find these things though--lots of poison ivy and poison oak, a wonderful spring, several cool rock formations, a fire ring in an archelogical site (a no-no), and a Igloo 30 cooler. Now I destroyed the fire ring, didn't roll around in the poison stuff, took some photos, and enjoyed the peacefulness. Yes, I carried that dang cooler for two hours. It was pretty torn up and it sucked carrying it. But now the wash is a little cleaner.

You are waiting for the SS aren't you. Well, here you go. I was crossing this drainage and should have thought twice since I created a minor rock fall just seconds eariler that I probably shouldn't cross here, but then where would the adventure be. So I am standing on the top of this rock with my right foot and I have my left foot on this tiny ledge on the rock. And you always here it give before your foot slides out from underneath you. I somehow managed to catch myself somewhat. If I hadn't, I would probably be telling you about the edge that was taken off when they put stitches in my head. But anyway, I am hanging/laying there and taking inventory of myself. Two feet still attached and moving, two legs, can still move my hips, body looks ok, and I know I have arms as they are holding me in position. I don't feel anything moist on me which would mean I was bleeding. I know each time my supervisor hears me call her, the hair on the back of her neck stands up and she cringes. I climbed up and out of the area quickly after that. And continued on...

Do you hear voices? Or am I the only one? I often hear them when I am alone out in the middle of nowhere. And I often here them when I am standing near an archelogical site. So I am standing there checking out a coopers hawk nest when I hear the voices. I sometimes hear the voice when a fly buzzes past me. I would also like to clarify that another friend of mine has heard the voices too. Back me on this Little S. Anyway, I heard the voices. And then I looked up to see two ravens playing/attacking/mating each other. I don't know what they were doing, but I would notice every once in a while a little dropping would fall. And all I kept thinking was don't fall on me. I am really into birds, but hate birds only because I have had a dropping land on me and also because a raven attacked me once. Anyway, the giant dinosaur lizard pulled my atttention away. Really the lizard is quite small, but when they move through the bushes they always make me jump. Here we have lizards on speed or otherwise known as desert whiptails. They are the ugliest things in the world. WOW! Something big just flew down there. I watched. I had seen gold, but thought it was a raven. And then he soared back out of the wash and there was a golden eagle. Ever seen one...they are huge. And then he flew away.

I gave up finding the people and started back the vehicle. Let me just tell you that I am not a big water drinker, which is surprising considering I am constantly telling people hiking to DRINK WATER (so I don't have to rescue your stupid self). But let me also tell you when you suck on the nozzle of the camelbak and it bubbles; that is the worst feeling in the world especially since I had another hour before I would reach my vehicle. And it is when the water supply runs out that I actually want some. I was already an hour from the springs so I was without water either way. And then I found the cooler which just added to my thirst sensation. At the last point of the trail, I am not sure what happen, but I felt a little pain in my right calf and then I felt something dripping down my leg. Now the cooler was pretty empty by now because the muddy water was all over my pants so there was only one thing that could be running down my leg. It wasn't a lot of blood, but there were two puncture marks. I just let it bleed. I was on a mission to get to the truck and to my house for a coke.

I was almost to the parking lot when I noticed the four people crossing the road and going to the vehicles that were suspect. I picked up the pace. I contacted them as they were starting the vehicle.

ME: Hey, you camping down there?
One of the four: Yea.
ME: Can I see your permit? (I knew they didn't have one)
One of the four: Ah, permit? What do you mean?
ME: Well, you can't just camp anywhere, you have to have a permit.
One of the four: How much?
ME: The permit is free, but the ticket you are going to receive is $150.00. Can I see all your licenses? (Now these were all about 21 year olds that you know didn't have $150.00 each.) I had them read out loud to me the information on our brochure that indiciated backcountry use permits. You know, primarily made them feel 10 inches tall.

I wrote down all their information. Asked some questions and sent them to get the permit with a ranger waiting to write them a ticket at the bottom of the hill. They had told me they were 1.5 miles down the wash. We require 1 mile from the road. They also informed me they didn't see or hear the coopers hawk which they would have had to pass the nest if they were 1.5 miles down the canyon. Either that or our coopers hawk left the area.

Around 430pm, I decided to go check on my new found friends. I walked down to the coopers hawk nest and didn't get the welcome they normally give. Well, really it is a get out of the area or I am going to dive bomb you. And I walked exactly 1.5 miles when I heard the voices of reason or insanity hooting it up. I invaded their space again. Informed them they walked through poison ivy to get to their camp and hoped they enjoy the rest of their stay. The four I had contacted at the vehicles had drawn the beer straws for that day and were required to go buy 3.2 beer in town.

So the question is did they get tickets? Let me know if you think they should have!

Thursday, May 27, 2004

I Saw Bugs

Last night I was sitting at my desk with the computer on and writing a letter when I noticed a lot of little flying insects landing on the paper and the computer screen. They were smaller than gnats, but that type of insect. Didn't really think anything of it because after all I had the main door open and the size of them would mean they could fly through the screen. And even if I had the main door closed, they could have flown underneath that because there is an inch gap there. Matter of fact, there are quite a few cracks they could have come through. But this isn't to complain about housing that I am provided. Because really the housing is quite nice. So really I didn't think anything about the bugs that were on the paper. I just kept blowing them off and it was fine.

Then I got ready for beddy bye by taking a bath and brushing my teeth. And it was when I was brushing the incisors that I SAW THE BUGS. Not just a couple of them landing on the sink, but a whole colony of them. It might have been a village, but either way there were a lot of them. And I blew them off the sink and splashed some water on them. Yea, yea, I am sure both acts killed them. Matter of fact, I hope it had killed them. But nonetheless the thought was in my head that they had invaded my entire house. I climbed into bed to play my 5 games of Yahtzee on my wonderful Verizon phone. I was afraid to take a hard look at my bed because I sensed there were 1000s waiting for my arrival. At this point, I didn't even know if they were biting insects, but that didn't stop my rapid thoughts. There was one flying towards the light of my phone. And then I finished the games and all sources of light was gone. But that didn't keep my mind from wandering. I felt them all over me. I threw the covers on and off creating a little wind to dispell them from my bed. It didn't work in my mind because they continued to crawl all over me. They were flying in my eyelashes, up my nose, crawling on my legs, biting my neck. They were attacking me. They encompassed my dreams all night. Really? Probably not.

But since I saw 100s of them, possibly millions of them in the bathroom, I felt they were everywhere. To be honest, they probably weren't even close to the bed, but still my mind carried them to bed with me.

I hate bugs! And to think I am a nature chick.