Saturday, December 17, 2005

I Fly, I Cry

Background: When I was five years old I had my eardrum burst. I lived in a lake town and each summer after spending the entire summer under water either in the lake or pool, I also spent one day at the doctor's office getting my ears cleaned and uninfected.

Now each time I board a plane I cringe. Mostly because I know the feeling I am going to feel during take off and landing. I also cringe because with each flight, I am becoming more and more afraid to fly. Nope, it doesn't have anything to do with 9/11. It has to do with the fear the plane is going to flip completely over when making a turn. Or that the wheels are going to snap upon landing. Or how the hell does a plane get off the ground to begin with. So more or less I hate flying.

So I board the flight. Lately I have been flying the cattle car airline Southwest where seating is wherever you would like to sit. I like to chose the first seat because it means a couple of things...when the plane crashes I will probably and hopefully be the first to die and it means I don't have to wait for the 900 other passengers to get their damn 40 bags of carrying on out of the overhead bins.

So I board and I take the first two rows if available. Lately, now that you can check-in online, I am normally the first group to board right after the screaming babies. And where do the screaming babies sit, but the first couple of rows. And each time I sit next to the mom flying with a child or more, they say I am brave. Really I secretly know that when the child starts crying because of their ears, I can cry right along with them.

My ears are so bad when the plane starts the descent that I become nauseous from the pain. And I am damn near tears. Individuals watching me squirm and wiggle to stop the pain would probably think I am some freak. But recently while flying to a funeral, I was able to lay on all 3 seats and my ears didn't hurt one damn bit. So I have learned that if I lean my head to the left that the pain disappears. So this last flight the two individuals sitting next to me thought I was snooping, which I was, into their conversation and staring at them. I finally explained when we landed that I just have the worst ears in the world.

And invisibly I wiped away my tears.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tuesday's Readings

Hello folks:

I assume that I might possibly get more than 2 hits in the coming days since I just spent most of my afternoon reading all the blogs under my Adventurists list. I am playing hooky from work. Honestly I feel like my body is going to explode, but I have yet to have the explosion. So instead of playing Party Poker, well actually, while playing Party Poker, I read the blogs. And there were two common themes that I found on most of the ones I have listed....

1. They haven't posted since the beginning of the year
2. They are apologizing for not being around, blogging, reading, posting, etc.

And I am right there with you on the last one. I've posted here and there, but I've been terrible with reading. Plus only a few people read mine so I feel neglected and unwanted. I check in frequently with Jack only to see if he is still alive. And I frequently read Trashman to see what kind of trouble he has gotten into. But other than that I've been lame and unfriendly in reading and blogging. But I've noticed I am not alone....
Have posted similar blogs about not being around or have just disappeared like TJ.

And then we have Jenn who is as busy as any of us running here and there, cooking dinner in between, throwing in some laundry, shuffling kids, and still has enough time to blog to tell us she is doing all that. Amazing.
More so, we're lame and don't take the time to just drop a short note.

But of all the ones I read today, I would have to list my favorite is the one below. You will have to scroll down to Christmas PSA because there is already a new post. It is great. And women will notice the truth and men will hopefully get the drift.
So like every one else, I'm back, alive, and will try hard to read more instead of spending hours playing poker. But then again, I believe Blogs are just like every other fad. They explode and then die. Kind of like my body today.
Everyone have a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


On Monday the 7th I left PINN heading south on I-5. It was 1211pm. At what time would I be arriving in the metro-LA area. Um, RUSHTIME. How the hell do you people that live in cities like LA deal with that traffic day in and day out. I called my friends because when you are going less than zero miles an hour according to my speedometer there is no need to pay attention. And then the traffic clears for a minute and rushes up to 90 before slamming back on the brakes for another hour. How, please explain to me.

I was heading down to the San Diego area for some training, but I figured since the training didn't start until the 9th and I had the 8-10th off, I would make a detour. So I made a 3 hour detour over to Joshua Tree National Park (JOTR) and to stay at the A&A Bed and Breakfast. Of course not a real B&B, but friends that I've kept in touch with so I'd have a place to crash. So about 9pm I rolled into JOTR and drove around the small housing area looking for Utah plates. Since there were only a few houses, it wasn't that difficult. Getting their attention was a little more difficult since they were in the backyard burning papers from their move. After some chats and catching up, I headed to bed in a comfortable bed unlike the prison mattress I sleep on.

I found that in southern California the sun comes up a lot earlier than northern California. And so when I walked out to the kitchen I was hoping it was like 8, but instead found out it was 645. AH Damn IT! So I chatted some more, had a brown sugar poptart with butter (something new to A&A), and some juice. Oh yea, in this B&B I had to make my own food. After spending some time with the dogs, I headed out to do some hiking in the park. This was my first time to the park and definitely will not be my last. Unfortunately, I have an injured leg so I just did little Interpretive hikes in the area.

I would be driving along when all of the sudden a bunch of rocks would appear. I took the short 1/2 mile hike to the Arch Rock. And in between all of it the desert would bloom in so many different ways. After this short hike, I headed out to the Barker Dam . And honestly, I did not and could not imagine a dam in the middle of the desert, but I was amazed at it all. In the park, there are several dams. And more than anything I was surprised to see water in the desert. I also saw some petroglyphs however they were vandalized.

After the hike, I drove up the dirt road to the gate to the Keys Ranch. There was a park ranger there and she said I could stop by and may be there would be room for me to do the interpretive hike. I didn't drop the parkie name at that moment. Looking back I should have because I would have gotten a much longer and more thorough tour. Come to find out that when BF worked at JOTR, she did as well. Anyway, I did another quick hike through the Hidden Valley before returning to the Keys Ranch.

When I went back for the tour, I dropped the parkie thingy and then BF's name and it started the ball rolling. I was then her little assistant.

After the tour, I headed out to the highway and started my way through the back roads to training. I believe I passed through some beautiful areas, but considering it was dark I am not sure.

Tomorrow I leave the southern California for my journey north. Along the way, I hope I don't see an accident like I saw on the way down and I hope I don't have to deal with an individual like I dealt with involved in that accident. N said this to me tonight "You've seen a lot for your age". And I had to answer with I'm thankful that my father could provide me with those opportunities when I was younger and instilled in me the adventure sense. So check out some more photos:

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Tragedy of Life

The time was approximately 930pm on Tuesday. I was laying in the hotel room watching some lame TV when my cell phone rang. I picked it up, flipped it open, and noticed the name. Surprised to see that the individual was calling this late as I am forbidden to call after 830pm to them, I answered the phone. I could tell immediately something was wrong by her voice. She proceeded to tell me that her brother had been killed in a car accident that day. I remember clearly saying "OH MY GOD". I probably said it several times really.

And you know, I have no idea why I said it because I clearly do not believe in a deity one bit. And each time a tragic thing happens in my life such as this, I run further (or farther) away from religion. And so once again I have run.

He is 34 years old. And he will forever be 34 years old. He has a 3 year girl he is leaving behind. And she is certain that daddy is still at work and will be coming home soon.

What do you tell a 3 year old? Definitely not that God has taken her dad because she will run from religion the rest of her life. I know.

But this isn't about me. This is about a family, mostly the parents, that had endured so much pain and tragedy in their life that I find it hard to fathom. And you know, they just keep on moving through the motions of life. That is what I think they are doing...just running through the motions just to be there for their grandchildren and daughter's family. A friend of mine said "the father has been dealt the worst hand in life, how can anyone be dealt a hand like that". And I couldn't answer it. It is so true. He seems to have endured one tragedy after another. And I am not talking about a setback or problem. I am talking about serious tragedy. Just doesn't seem fair. And you hear it all the time--life isn't fair--and we deal with that. But does life have to deal you four ace of spades of tragedy. No, I believe it should be spread amongst the crowd. Not just aimed at one person.

This will be the third time I have come to be with the family in some aspect because of a tragedy. And each time it seems the tragedies get worse. And really all I can do is stand next to them, let them know if they keep waking up life will get better, and give them my support. Because at this time in my life, I can't say I know what or how they are feeling. Honestly, even if you've had a death in your life, I have to say you still cannot know what or how this family is feeling.

Please keep them in your thoughts.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

A Long One Pine Day

This contains gross and disgusting photos towards the end. For you sick people, scroll straight to the bottom
The day normally starts at either 8 or 10 AM. And it continues well into the darkness of night. The day starts with gathering gear, equipment, good books to read, and food. A drive out a dirty dirt road to a make shift parking lot is what sets the moment. The 30-40 pound pack that feels more like 100 pounds is slapped upon my back and the hike to
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starts. It takes me about 25 minutes to hike the less than 1/2 mile. I figured over time it would get easier, but it hasn't. Of course it seems like the hike is up a 90 degree angle. As you might notice the last little part is straight up hill. Actually the whole damn hike is uphill with a short reprieve of flatness that seems uphill. Once at the tree, I drop my pack. Then I take off my shirt and start twirling it around my head...oops that is my other job. But I do take off my shirt to let it dry off.
After catching my breath, peeing (for some reason I always have to pee), and catching my breath again, I set up the days office.
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I gotta say that I can't complain about my corner office. Has some of the best views in the world.
I primarily sit for hours on end looking through the scope, reading my book, using your tax dollars and mine to sleep, and exercising (not too frequently though). So what is it that I look at? Well the birds of course....
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And then the other birds I don't need to watch, but enjoy doing so
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Then eventually, I look down the trail and see my relief in site. And I take my last round of signals, pack my stuff, and wait to turn the chair over to her. But the day isn't even over yet. Later that night I must return to this canyon, slip on a pair of gloves, and head up the hill with a backpack full of rabbits (dead of course) or a calf.
At approximately 2030 - 2100 (8-9), we drive out to the parking area and pull one of the carcasses out. I usually gag as soon as the lid is pulled off. These days my partners try to make me puke by making gagging sounds, inspecting the carcass, or like the other day touched something wet and then smelled her hand. I just walk away, compose myself, and attempt to finish the job. The first carcass is hiked up the hill to the facility. If we are taking a calf, we use a modified like wheel barrel thingy. If we are taking rabbits, we throw them in backpack and walk them up to the facility. P and I used the wheel barrel thing to take up two bags of rabbits because we had more to haul down. Probably about 6-7 in each bag. The deal was that I would place the rabbits and he would pull the old even more smelling carcass from the flight pen. Pulling the old carcass is actually when I gag the most rather than placing the fresh ones. I would place the rabbits in the ISO pens.
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While I was placing the second bag of rabbits, P prepared the carcass hauler to take down the old carcass. I think he did a pretty good job. Image hosted by
Unfortunately, he was in the front on the way back to the blind and the smell welcomes the retching full blast. He was a trooper and definitely will receive a gold star (yes, we use them frequently) for being in the back on the way back down.

Now, normally P and I would then pull the second carcass and drive it up to Hilltop to place for the free flying birds. Tonight was also a 'pick up all old carcasses and take to trash can'. Tonight we lucked out because our supervisor came along and he went to Hilltop to do other repairs and finished up the work for us. The first Friday of every month we load up all the old ones and take them to the dumpster. Today was the first Friday. So J loaded up all the old carcasses.
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Then they are taken to the dumpster. Now, I got out of the last part kind of. Well yea, I got out of it. So we had some vehicle issues to contend with so they drove to the dumpster and I shuttled vehicles and then met up with them. They were almost finished. I slipped back on a pair of gloves, walked to the back of the truck, and gagged my way out of it. I would have succeeded, but they informed me about how when it is raining it is worst. And then J said you can't even do this during those times...and he bent down and took a big whiff of the death. I gagged away as they were laughing. And then when I was near my dorm, I heard J gagging as well. I was still gagging.

I walked into the laundry room, stripped down, and took a shower. And they wonder why I don't eat before I place those dead things.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Facility Day

The day always starts early on Facility days. The alarm never truly goes off because I am always afraid of missing it so I am constantly waking up to check if I missed it. I quit fighting sleep at 328 AM and rose out of the prison mattress bed and shut the alarm off. My stuff was already in the kitchen as to not wake the sleeping housemates even though most nights they keep me awake. I dressed, double checked that I had everything, and went into the kitchen to grab my food and head out the door. At the Access Road at 345 AM, I started my ascent without a headlamp because the moon was still bright. Mission #1: Find another crew member's keys that she lost last night. Mission failed.

Arriving at approximately 423 AM, I started right into my chores of the morning...flush the pools, clean the indoor and outdoor pools, fill the water tank, remove the wood rat nest, see if I could fix the door (unsuccessful), check the electric fences and hope not to get shocked, and hang the wag bag (poop bags) box so the wood rat doesn't keep getting into it. With all finished in ample time, I laid down on the unsteady cot for a quick nap. The birds awoke early and started feeding before I realized what was going on because they placed rabbits in the facility not a calf. I started taking notes. I had already missed sunrise and the sun doesn't allow for great photos. Well, the dirty one-way glass doesn't help matters either.

I walk into the outer room to use the facility which is a toilet seat with a bag attached and there is Mr. Wood Rat. I chase him down the hall. I absolutely hate rodents. They just look dirty. I chase him out the door and then I close up the bottom of the door and use duct tape to secure it. I am sure he knows a dozen holes to come through.

It is quiet in the observation room. And then I listen intently. I feel like I am inside of a wasp nest as a zillion yellow jackets buzz outside. The air is filled with them. They fly into the windows. They smell my fear of having to stick the Epi-pen in my leg if I get stung. I wonder where they are going to land the helicopter when they have to fly we out because I have quit breathing. And then I whip my attention back to work. But I can't get the wasps out of my mind.

And then I scan outside the mesh to my favorite part of the day most of the time. My friend has arrived. May be two of them. I am always excited when a guest of some animal species arrives to attempt to eat things out of the flight pen. But all of the visitors, this one has to be my favorite.


On this day, I got to see something I had never seen before in my life and that was a roadrunner flying. He flew for quite some time before returning. And there were two of them today. No other visitors expect a few turkey vultures.

I took my notes-checked their toes, legs, eyes, beak, nare, neck, and wings. Sometimes they make it pretty easy for me to check their wings.

With eating finished, they hung out together and by themselves lounging at the pool. Some of the birds preened themselves to look beautiful. And of course some didn't care what they looked like.

At about 10 AM, I called the person on the outside to ask where she might have lost her keys. She informed me that all the birds were out of the view of the facility and this would be my chance to leave. I hesitated for a brief moment and realized if I didn't go now, I would be stuck all day. I packed my stuff which I've come pretty good at doing in about 1 minute and headed out the door down the road. I had reached the S-curve when I noticed the first one flying over me. (this photo was not from this day)...

I hurried down the hill and drove back to the dorm where I took a long nap before returning to work later that evening.


Thursday, August 11, 2005


I went over to another park this weekend (mine are Monday-Wednesday). I went for two reasons--one because I had never been there and two because I had friends there to stay with. I mean friends there I wanted to say hello to.

I left Monday morning and headed down the two-lane highway. I saw the golden eagle, fing ran over the snake, swerved for the squirrels, and quietly drove on listening to XM channels. I listen to them like I watch TV switching every couple of seconds. I notice some stuff on the road which reminded me of blood until I rounded the corner to find 15 large ball swinging black bulls walking down the road. I slowed down and the rancher stopped and waved me up. "Just ease your way through". Now they were walking the direction I was going and every damn time I went to go around one, it cut me off. 20 minutes later with my vehicle splattered with cow shit, I was on my way. I watched as a coworker in her BMW (obviously paid more than me) was doing Mach 1 up the road. I flashed my lights and gave her the slow down sign (one finger point down). She said today she wasn't sure why I was telling her that, but decided she better slow down before the corner. Luckily she did.

I arrived at the park and met up with my friends. We did what all good park service people do--talk about everyone else and where they are, who they are with, etc. And then I went over to JB's house. We primarily laid around watching TV, playing with his cats, and discussing life. We finally settled on dinner in town (40 minutes away) and the Dukes of Hazzard.

Tuesday I finally climbed out of bed and went hiking. I hit various areas of the park all which seemed too damn crowded to me. I climbed up this rock and found my digital camera malfunctioning. I wanted to throw it off, but instead smiled and took pictures with my other one. So no photos. Then I went and hiked up to some falls. It was nice and there weren't that many people. I climbed down to the pool where the falls were cascading into and stripped down to my sports bra and black underwear. Then I climbed into the pool for a quick dip. Then people invaded my space and I went away meeting way too many people on the way up. I returned to the village, got an ice cream cone and headed back to JB's for a shower and more TV time on the couch.

Wednesday morning I finally got moving about 10am. I had picked out several hikes from a book that said I would most likely see a bear. I came to a realization during this hike of searching for a bear---if you are searching for something such as a bear, goshawk, and I will even throw in religion here---you will never find or see it. When you find or see such things are at unexpected times in your life. And it is those times that are so much more special. So I didn't see a bear and I am not upset over it. I am rather glad because the damn thing probably would have chased me down. And I ended my weekend with a drive back in reflection of sorts...

This past week in the Park Service, a fellow park ranger, Jeff Christensen passed away. He died from a fall he endured while on a backcountry patrol. I didn't know him, but he has made an impression on me. He had told someone once this quote:

You know, if I ever die while at work in the mountains, do not cry for me because you will know that I died doing what I love. But if I die in a car accident on my way to an office job, then cry for me because you will know I was miserable and not doing what I loved. - - JC

And that is exactly how I feel. If I succumb to my end in the depths of nature, then I will forever be at peace. My living will explains to celebrate my life and not cry about my passing. I have lived a wonderful life up to this point. Sure it has had its downfalls, but those downs have lifted me up and brought me to where I am today. Loving life each day as if it is the last.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

What is Karma

On Monday, I left my safe haven of the solitude life and ventured toward the scary ass place of a city. I would pass through small towns, but I was heading to the big one-the capital. I was going to be a nervous wreck.


I was driving my usual speed limit self in the slow lane because in this state every other lane including the slow lane is 20 + the speed limit, when I noticed a woman in heels walking in the median. I also noticed her vehicle parked at an angle in the median as well. A clear case of "I've broken down and am walking where ever". I immediately pulled over. Why? Because I would want some nut to do the same for me. She crossed the autoban without getting killed and walked up to my vehicle. I asked if she needed a ride. She said how far you going? I said where you going? She said that town and I said get in.


She asked if she could use my phone to call her son. I said of course and was surprised that I had a signal because there wasn't a town for a while. She called her son and spoke in her native India language. She informed him someone had picked her up and she was going to that town. I was taking her to her other son's new two-story 4 bedroom two car garage home. Two minutes later my cell phone rings and since I had to dial the number I told her the call was for her. I could tell that she was telling him about me because after hanging up I think the son freaked out not knowing if his mother was in the car with a serial killer or a law enforcement officer. So I said tell him I am a law enforcement officer. And that seemed to appease him. (Then I cut off her head and ....) So I questioned her about India because I have decided to go there and asked her personal questions like "was your marriage arranged?" It was. I dropped her off 12 miles out of my way. Just before getting out of the vehicle she asked if I wanted to come over for dinner sometime. (OH SHIT NOW SHE WANTS TO CHOP OFF MY HEAD OR ARRANGE A MARRIAGE) So I said yes and she gave me her telephone number.


I drove back 6 miles to the interstate of craze and headed north. As I came into the big city, well the big city below the bigger city, I was traveling in the middle lane of 5 lanes. Is there a middle lane of 5? Anyway, all of the sudden there was a clunk and the vehicle lost power as it felt like it had shifted into neutral. I reached over and calmly hit my emergency flashers. And the most amazing thing happened-traffic slowed down and moved so I could get to the edge without getting myself killed or someone else. It was the most amazing thing.

Karma flashers are going, I get out of the vehicle and open the hood like I knew what I was doing, and then walked to the other side of the vehicle as to not get killed and picked up my cell phone. People whizzed by me going no where in a hurry without glancing my way. In the 40 minutes of sitting on the side of a busy interstate (India woman's road was not a busy interstate)--NOT ONE FING PERSON STOPPED.

So I ask where does the karma catch up with me? I mean I help some lady out and is my karma reward a traditional Indian dinner hopefully not too damn spicy? My karma reward was definitely not having to pay my arm, leg, and torso to get my vehicle fixed. And I realize karma is not a reward and that it will catch up with me.

But I am still just baffled about how no one stopped to help me or to make sure I actually had a telephone. I could have used something to drink. And you know what their karma is going to bite them in the ass.

I called my sister because I was bored waiting for the tow truck driver and she said are you just pissed. I said no, not really because it isn't something to get pissed over. I mean shit happens. But I am pissed that I helped out someone today, I get bit in the ass, and that no one in hell stopped to say "you ok".

So tell me, if you are out there driving (no kids in the car), would you stop and help in some way possible?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Retreat

After working four long days after my Hawaii vacation, I have another 6 off. Three of those days were a retreat for the condor crew and the other three are my days off. I am amazed that for the first time since starting work here in February last week was the first week where I didn't work over 40 hours. But nonetheless I am going to need my next three days off for recuperating.

We left Friday afternoon. Three in one car and four in the other. The hotel we were staying at was a 2 star hotel. Three of the seven people don't make too much money. The website showed a very nice hotel so we were very sketchy about the place. When we arrived and the place across the street was an Adult Entertainment Arcade and S. Spa Massages with little hearts under it, we were concerned. There was also a bar, but you wouldn't know it until 9pm when the line started. Nonetheless, the hotel was nice inside and actually matched the photos. I am not saying it was the Hilton or Ritz, but it served our needs of sleeping there.

Friday night was an easy night with Indian food. They walked us down this alley and into a back room. Of the two who had been to India before they said it felt like they were back there. We hit a couple of clubs that night, but me and another one called it an early night. We knew Saturday would be a hoppin booty shakin night.

Saturday morning we ventured around the city. Oops--this is San Francisco. On Friday night, we had decided to hit a Goodwill store and each pick out an outfit for someone else to wear out on Saturday night. Well, it didn't quite go like that, but we helped each other pick out wonderful outfits to wear out Saturday night. And this is what we came up with...

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We would get some wonderful comments throughout the night. There were seven us in total, but one didn't participate, so we were spread out while walking so often some passerby would comment about someone at the front of the group. We started our night at the Condor Lounge. It was a must.
The funniest of the night was about VT who was the only male of us who dressed up. In the photo he is the first starting from the left. This group of "I must impress the world of SF" girls passed us and one of them said "OH MY GOD, Birkenstocks with leather". We were dying laughing. He also got a "STUPID" from some guy. But all in all, VT got a lot of high fives for his outfit and for the fact he was surrounded by five women. Most comments were positive and were able to laugh with us.
We made up a code while dancing in case you needed to be rescued from some over zealous grinder. We would rub our noses and VT would come dancing in and bring us back to our group. We danced primarily from 1030pm until 2am when the bars closed. And then we tracked down the cops and found a place where there was afterhours. And 3 of the 4 oldest and VT danced until 4am.
Today I am one hurting pup since the last time I danced like that was never. Like I said I will need the next 3 to recoup. Hopefully I will have a more adventurous story at the end of the week. Jack said I needed to pep things up.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Hawaii Photos

I really don't have too much of a story. I sat on the beach, snorkeled, sat on the beach, went to the park units, snorkeled, etc. I will say that on the first day of snorkeling I had a turtle nudge me. I was taking a photo of something else and my BF watched this turtle come up behind me and give me a little nudge in the side. I almost died because I knew it wasn't a human nudge. Too bad BF didn't have the camera at that point.

Check out further photos here: Hawaii

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Wild Days

These past couple of days have been amazing for me. And the title has more to do with the things I have seen than something being absolutely wild. It is all about the wildlife. (I leave for Hawaii tomorrow)

On Tuesday night around 1700 hours, I saw a visitor near the visitor's center. The shop was closed up and I asked if I could answer any questions he might have. He said he just wanted to see what goodies we had inside. (I leave for Hawaii tomorrow)

"You want to see a rattlesnake" he said to me.

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Um, not really but sure.
"It has its dinner sitting right next to it."

So we walk over to this area where we usually hold weekend talks and sure enough Mr. Rattler is waiting for his prey to die. (I leave for Hawaii tomorrow)

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The visitors went on to go on a hike as I talked with some other visitors about snakes, flowers, trees, and other questions. I now had how I was going to waste your good tax dollars for the next hour. Watching the snake eat dinner. I talked with Mr. Russia and Ms. Ukraine for quite a while. Then Baker came over and she watched it with us. Heck, we thought the poor baby squirrel was dead and the rattler was just waiting for us stupid people to stop watching it. I mean could you eat if someone was staring at you the whole time. Gosh, if the condors only knew they were constantly watched. Like they don't. Anyway, we sat there watching it. (I leave for Hawaii tomorrow)

And then the squirrel moved back into that hole. We all kind of jumped. Then the snake mouthed it back out. And then a Stellar Jay and Scrub Jay landed near the snake. I pictured it in my mind. One of the birds grabbing the snake and swinging it around. Once it let go, it would clap on one of our faces. And then that person would go screaming around in circles all the while, we snapped photos. Luckily, it didn't happen, but darn. (I leave for Hawaii tomorrow)

A little bit went by and BEP joined us. Now, I was the only one on duty, but we were all in uniform. Then the home schooling family joined us. They took some photos because they can use that for a school project or something like that. This was a family who hadn't found the condom isle in the store because these kids could not have been more than a year apart. The kids all thanked us for answering their questions and showing them the rattler. All the visitors left and we all sat there waiting, waiting. We decided we would go eat dinner ourselves and come back up. (I leave for Hawaii tomorrow)

About 8, Pete called and said the snake had half the squirrel in its mouth. We jumped into the vehicle and headed up the hill, but now the snake was in the hole and probably a little stuck because we definitely could see the bulge. I wanted BEP to pull it out by the rattle---JOKING. (I leave for Hawaii tomorrow)

Just another day in the park. Life is hell sometimes.

And then today rolled around. It is Wednesday and tomorrow I leave on a vacation somewhere. You might have figured it out already. Anyway, I drove down SZ Highway to another Town. During the drive I saw the usual---cows, squirrels, hawks---but I also got to see a deer. No antelopes today. On the way back I saw a mom deer with twins and another female without kids. Still the bachelorette.

I got back to the park and was finishing up work when I came out of one trailer to go to VT's trailer. I looked up and thought when did VT get a cat. But then I realized the cat was a little bigger than a common one. He (or she, but I'll use he) looked at me and walked away. I told VT about it and he came out from playing his stupid video game, but we couldn't see it. Then VT went back inside, but I called him out again because I thought Kitty was going to pounce a rabbit. VT said the rabbit was too big because it was a youngin'. But the gopher that we watch Kitty pounce on was not and then we watched him eat it down. VT gave me the binos just as Kitty looked our way and it was the most amazing face. One you could love forever.

I got in the car and started down the road only to be met by mom and bambi near the road. I paused and bambi challenged me for just a second before racing after mom. As I was waiting, I looked over to my left to see another mom and baby. And I slowly drove away not to startle either into the road.

I put away my equipment and was heading down the hill slowly because Skinny Minny had just rode by on her bike and it was dark so I didn't want to fill out the paperwork of hitting her. I came around the corner to a bright red light in the road. I stopped and before me were two nice size raccoons doing I have no idea what. Again, the vehicle was challenged. I had to drive by real slow because one had just stepped off the road a short distance and I am sure was going to try to get into the 'raccoon club' by racing under the car.

And that folks was my wild days. Off to the island. While I am away check out photos here

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Known Unknown Man

I would say it was about 10 years ago when he walked into my life. Well, he didn't really walk in. Came into my life would be a better sentence.

I went into one of those chatrooms. I can't remember if it was a Romance or General one, but I used to go into them to just chat and see where people were from. Once in a great while I would catch someone from my hometown and eventually figure out we knew each other.

That's where we met. I am pretty sure I initiated the conversation. I know why I initiated the conversation because his screen name had the word cowboy in front of it. I didn't care what came before the cowboy or what came after. I was after the word cowboy. Hell, we all know women can't resist that Wrangle ass. So I sent him a PM (Private message) and we started chatting.

Eventually, we added each other to our messengers and we would frequently chat well into the night. We talked about everything there was to talk about. Except sex. We never went that route like most chatroom conversations go.

He has walked me through heartache, love sickness, depression, deaths, and everything else in between. He's helped me endure the life that I live. He's given me pointers on chess and shooting. He's helped me realize that a relationship is a good thing sometimes. He's listen to be babble about being in love. Listen to me call men assholes. Explained to me why some men are assholes and to please not put all men in that category. Mostly, he has just listened.

And I think he does that with a lot of us.

He's went AWOL from my life before. And in knowing what he does for a living I am always concerned. When the war picked up, I feared he would be sent overseas. And he hoped he would. He would rather be with his brothers than watching from afar. He's helped me understand war in some way. He's helped me understand life in some way.

He is pretty smart as I quiz him on my daily words from MSN and he mostly knows them. He seems to have been around the block but not in a bad way. He plays a mean game of chess. He sometimes loses to me, a female. And doesn't come up with excuses when I do win.

He's explained, actually tonight, why my ass is getting bigger and how to reduce it in size. I was mighty grateful to him for that. He is so honest and that is what is great about him. He won't lead you down the wrong path.

I hope to someday meet him in person. We've talked about it before. Just two people finally meeting to tie the whole friendship together. So I can actually meet the man who has helped me be the person I am meant to be.

Thanks... Cowboy

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ticks, ticks, ticks

On Monday, I went hiking with my father and his friend. It was an easy hike with lots of stops to check out the birds, listen to the noise, and talk about the area. It was a trail I had been on before so I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary. It was a flat hike so it was easy for them, who are both senior citizens. The trails holds about three to four water crossings, but we only did one. Down the trail was a red-shouldered hawk's nest, which held two to three babies. We only saw two of them. And at least one of them saw us.

I rolled up my pants and pulled them up to my calves as best I could so I could stand in the water to help my dad's friend across the creek. I did have sandals on of course so the shoes weren't an issue. I had to do this twice, once down and once up. And this is where I think I encountered the family of ticks. Probably twice.

I felt something crawling between my breast and grabbed through my shirt to whatever it was. As I pulled it from my shirt, I saw the little sucker was a tick. Have you ever had where you have encountered some type of bug and then feel like you have them crawling on you for days. I have it quite often with the maggots on the calves.

We returned to my residence and I picked another one off me in the parking lot. I mentioned to them that they needed to check themselves. My dad's friend found one on her hand. While in the kitchen, I felt one of my back and pinched it between outside the shirt and then got it out. I pulled up my shirt and asked my housemate to check for any more. He said yes, you have one and went to pull it off, however; he needed the tweezers to do so. AHHHH!

We left my residence in separate vehicles and headed down the road. I was playing with my hair when I pulled one out which made me swerve all over the place. Several miles later I would pick one off my back.

Upon arriving in another town, I found another in my hair and once again had someone check me. After they found nothing, I felt something crawling on my stomach and pulled off another one. As I turned to go to my hotel room, my dad pulled another off my shirt. AHHHHHHHH!

I got into my room and stripped down. I found yet another one on my arm. I showered and then checked the rest of my body. Yea, I am not going to tell you how I checked the other parts so just use your imagination.

After returning from dinner, I took a nice bath and laid in bed watching TV or stupidity. I was running my hands through my hair when the last one I found fell upon my arm. Of course after that I couldn't go to sleep because I feared that I would have them crawling all over me by morning.

And now, after writing this I once again feel like they are all over me. AHHHHHHHHH!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

California Drivers

When I lived in Arizona when someone quick stopped a Stop Sign, we called it a California Stop. I am not sure why. Probably because we knew back then they were crazy drivers. Now I live in this crazy ass driving place.

The last town I came from held 7,000 locals, more than several stop lights, a lot of California stop signs, a lot more yield signs at intersections, and a speed limit that was followed by locals, but usually not visitors. Of course most of the visitors were foreigners hailing from the Autobahn, which I believe is much like the California interstates. So little to say, my driving was more like Driving Miss Daisy.

Now, I live in a park with about 20 residents plus some in the campground and most of us do the speed limit in the park. But as soon as I turn onto Highway Speed Zone, my palms start to sweat and my heart races like I just have 20 Starbucks double triple whatevers. The crotchrockets rocket by me because I am doing the speed limit and still admiring the green rolling hills. They aren't aggressive. At least not on that road. They normally wait until safe to pass and pass in passing zones. I've only had one close encounter and I wasn't driving. The motorcyclist would have definitely died if my driver would not have reacted probably.

So I head north on Highway SZ into a city of 35,000 people. By the time I hit the city limits, my clothing is drenched with sweat and it isn't because it is hot out because I have yet to feel hot here even though I am constantly reminded it will get hot. The reason is because it has 28,000 more people than my town. I am constantly calling my friends that live in cities and ask how the heck (I normally use the f-word though) do you live in something this big.

Californians have yet to realize that the stick like thing coming out of the leftside of the steering column is used to signal they are fricking turning one direction or the other or changing lanes. I've seen about two people use them. Blinkers were used to send coded messages, especially between ships, to avoid interception of radio signals during World Wars I and II. So they've been along quite a long time. I couldn't find the exact date that Ford put them on his vehicles. (Yea, I didn't search that hard either)

Remember how I said the drivers above weren't aggressive. Well, wait until you get into the city over 35,000. Because if you are kind enough to allow someone to pull into traffic that probably has been waiting 20 minutes at the exit of Starbucks, you get honked at for being courteous. And then the honker normally gets my hurt finger waved that them. Why honk? Wouldn't you like the same damn courtesy?

And low and behold that they give some slack to an out of state individual. Hell no, it is worse because I have another state plate. Wait until I move back to that state and Californians come visit. I am pulling over each and everyone of them because I know their asses will be speeding.

I attempt to do the speed limit because in my profession a ticket means big trouble. But I get other's hurt fingers waved at me or looks or honks.

But I just continue to be Miss Daisy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Hello folks: Yes, I am still alive and well. I am scheduled to work 4 10s a week and my normal schedule is Thursday thru Sunday. Usually by Friday evening I have 30 hours though and so by the time I return home from working, have pringles and a beer for dinner, and walk into my room; I am usually too damn tired to think about writing a story. Or for that matter getting into trouble. I spent the last weekend in the Burbs again. I think I mostly go there for the comfortable beds and nice shower/baths. I'll send out a post about that later this week if you are lucky. There are some photos at Monterey. And now on to this week's story...

(If you are a woman, child, gagger, or puker this section is not pleasant and should not be read further)

Last Thursday it was my turn to assist with a night carcass placement. I am pretty sure I have already gone into detail about how we place calf carcass for the birds to feed on. Well, here is kind of the process. On the night of the placement, we take some frozen ones out to the thaw boxes (freezers not plugged in) and remove the ones that were placed there last time to put out. Now, again the thaw boxes are out in the sun and the calves are sitting there, um, yes, rotting.

So we go to the Comfort Station (used to be a bathroom, but now the place where the frozen calves are kept) and retrieve 2 carcasses. So they are all frozen together and we can't get them out. The one on top must have also killed its mom in the process because it was huge. That's important to remember. Well, we can't get them unfrozen so we wait a little bit with the freezer lid open and they finally loosen up. The calves don't freeze in a normal position that makes it easy to carry them. So we pull out one first and stick it in a rubber maid container. If the company only knew what their products are used for. And then comes the big one. We struggled with it quite a bit because there was nothing to grab onto. The only thing I could grab onto on my end was the frozen ear. And then it slipped and jabbed into my leg. Important to remember for later. I said ouch, wait, I have a calf ear in my leg. And we finally get it in the truck.

We drive out to the thaw boxes and prepare to load up the thawed ones. We take off the rocks from the freezers and the individual I am working with inspects them. We'll call her TD for Terrible Drunk (she called herself this one night while she was drinking at our place. I have 8 other witnesses who were trying to sleep). Now, she inspected them so damn long I almost puked. Plus it is already 9pm so I have already worked 12 hours +. We finally get them loaded into the Polaris and the smell is enough to keep the flies away and the mountain lions searching. So what does TD do? She starts fixing her shoes. Again, near puking. So I suggested we start moving so the wind blows the smell away from me. We arrived at the facility and carry the carcass to the room. We dump the carcass out and the smell just about knocks me off my feet. NOTE: I drank two glasses of OJ before leaving the house. NOTE: Don't do that if you think you might puke. I stepped outside into the fresh air and brought it up to about the esophagus. The burn was unbelievable. I did that about twice. TD was cutting into the calf's heel by the time and discussing that the placenta was still attached and there was cow shit all over it. This of course was helping the gagging quite a bit. Shortly there after I assisted in placing the carcass in the facility and had to lay my body across where we had just pushed the slimy thing. I don't know what my issue was. Oh yea, that it smelled like death. I believe I might be a vegetarian by the end of this stint. Look so forward to doing it on Friday when it has been sitting there since Wednesday night. YIPPIE!!!

I came home and disrobed at the front door and immediately threw my clothes in the washer with about 12 ounces of detergent. I then showered and climbed into bed.

The next day after work I went into the bathroom to shower because I somehow had gotten rather dirty at work somehow and didn't want to go to the BBQ smelling like yuk. I looked down at my leg and noticed a black mark and thought how did I get dirt there. When I went to wipe it away and felt the tinge of pain that went with the touch, I realized it was the mark of the ear poking me. I joked with the Safety Officer that I was going to fill out a CA-1 (worker's comp) form...Nature of Illness? Stabbing of Frozen Calf Ear. That night I discussed with BF the stabbing and had nightmares of calf ears stabbing me everywhere during my wonderful night's sleep. Ah the stress of the job.

Monday, April 04, 2005

A Sad Day in Condor History

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On May 3, 2003, the California Condor Reintroduction Program made a huge milestone when Condor 305 was hatched in the wild to Condor 123 and 127. Although other birds had laid eggs and some have produced offspring, those had never made it past the nest stage. Condor 305 was the first of three to have fledged (flew away from) the nest.
I could only imagine what it would have been like to be the biologist and possibly visitors who watched the first time Condor 305 stepped from the nest cave and dropped 60 feet before realizing those things on its side helped it fly. The bird made a short flight that first time and landed about 60 feet below the nest. The parents returned only to find their child was not at the nest and did a quick search. They landed near the bird, fed it, and continued to help the bird make progress.
Condor 305 was doing well and was making great strides for almost two years. However, sadness has fallen upon the condor community as on March 26, 2005 Condor 305 was found dead. The bird was fully intact so the bird will checked out to see what the cause of death was. The bird only weighed about 10 pounds which is highly underweight as they weigh about 25-30 pounds.
But we are not letting Condor 305 set us back. We are still moving forward. We have two more in Arizona that have fledged and another in California. Here is the information about the Arizona ones...
350 (the 2004 Battleship chick; parents 119 & 122) is flying well and getting around well. Mostly along the rim of the Inner Canyon, but he/she went to the top of the Battleship for a couple days recently. He/she is spending some time at Plateau Point (which is not surprising given his parent's habits), and has let a few people approach it a little too closely. But mostly 350 is doing well, and has also met and interacted with other birds besides his/her parents.
342 (the 2004 Vermilion Cliffs chick; parents 149 & 114) is only being fed by his father 114. Since the chick's release after his surgery, 149 has had almost nothing to do with him. So much of a condor's behavior is hormonally controlled, and it is possible that after 2 weeks of while it was in Phx for treatment, it may have appeared that the nest had failed. So, hormonally, she may have just switched gears. But given the proximity of the chick to the release site, there is plenty of food available to the father to feed the chick by himself. Also, it is thought that the chick could become independent relatively easily with the release site so close, and since the chick has already been to the release site.
And more pairs are starting to breed. In the 80s the last of the wild condors were caught and brought into captivity. There were about 80 left if I remember right. Today, in a combination of wild and captive, the program has over 200. The program is working, but like any progress in life, it takes time.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Big Bird Up Close

So the other day, I got to go into the facility where the Big Birds are kept. I can't believe I have such an awesome job. Although that day kind of sucked because I am still sick and worked for 17.5 hours. But the next day, I worked from home laying in bed reading. Such is life.

I started worked at 4am. But I was able to nap twice during the day so it wasn't that bad. The first chore of the day was to place a still born calf carcass inside the facility so the birds can eat. The reason we have to go at the dark of dawn is so that the birds won't associate the food with people. We first picked up another calf off a free-flying bird site. And I had to laugh so hard as I watched my vegetarian coworker drag the calf back to the vehicle. Then we removed the old calf from the facility and placed the new one. I was surprised I did not puke, but I survived.

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We then spent the next 14 hours watching the birds eat, preen, fly (inth the mesh), eat, preen, fly (into the mesh), eat...ok, well you got the idea.


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WOW, that's big...

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Hanging out...

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After all that, we cleaned the pools and then had to drop the old carcasses off. I almost puked during this as the smell was so terrible. And then the maggots crawling on the other calfs in the location we dropped them. AH, I felt like I had them crawling all over me. But I survived the night with no bad maggot dreams. (NOTE: Click on the Title to take you to more photos)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Kiss the ANWR and pristine places GOOD-BYE

Back in my college days I wrote a paper against the drilling of the ANWR. That was in 2000-2001. They were fighting to drill it then and looks like the fighting has come to an end. A bitter end at that.

WASHINGTON - By a vote of 51 to 49, the Senate Wednesday defeated a measure that would have banned oil exploration and drilling on the 1.5 million acre coastal plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

It was a victory for Alaska’s two Republican senators, Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, (I am disgusted to see they want it) and for the Bush administration, but as both Stevens and Murkowski acknowledged in a news conference immediately afterward, substantial legislative hurdles remain before drilling could begin. “Some people think we can send the exploration rigs out there tomorrow and that is not the case, we still have quite a ways to go,” Murkowski said.

A tense roll callOn the Senate floor, the final minutes of the roll call were tense, with a few senators waiting until the end to finally cast their vote. One of the last was Sen. Arlen Specter, R- Pa., who voted against the drilling ban. Murkowski gratefully shook his hand after he voted.

“As we move forward and go through additional procedural hurdles, you will see a consistency with the vote,” Murkowski predicted. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to take for granted that everyone who has voted this way today will remain the same. But it is a marker.” She explained that “the biggest hurdle we have is that we don’t (yet) have a budget. This will be a component of that budget, and now all this rides on the success of having a budget.” The climactic vote will not come until late summer when the Senate is likely to vote on what is called the reconciliation act.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that bids for ANWR leases would yield federal proceeds over a 10-year period of $2.6 billion.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s estimate of the economically recoverable resources is about 6 billion barrels at prices at or above $35 per barrel. My question: Is that 6 million a day? And those against the drilling have this to say "The United States Geological Survey estimates that the Refuge has less than a single year's supply of oil that would not reach the market for at least 10 years." The United States imported an average of about 9.7 million barrels of crude oil per day in January. Well if we, and I am one of them, didn't all drive SUVs then we wouldn't need all that damn oil.

Budget measure as vehicleSenate Republicans are using the fiscal year 2006 budget resolution as the vehicle for authorizing oil exploration in ANWR because under Senate rules it requires only 51 votes to pass and is not subject to a filibuster, which can only be overcome with 60 votes.

The Senate is expected to vote on the budget resolution by Friday night.
Speaking a few hours before Wednesday’s vote, Melinda Pierce, a lobbyist on the Arctic issue for the Sierra Club, said there was no assurance that the Republicans could pass the budget resolution due to “a whole host of things” including proposed cuts in Medicaid spending.
ANWR drilling foes may be able to join forces with other opponents of budget cuts to defeat the budget resolution, she suggested. And she added, “definitely litigation is a tool still available to us way down the line” to prevent drilling in ANWR.

In the next two days, Democrats also may try to attach an amendment to the resolution that could derail the budget plan when Senate negotiators meet with their House counterparts next month to devise a compromise blueprint.

Last year, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., was able to attach to the budget resolution a spending limitation amendment which resulted in deadlock with the House; thus the Senate never passed a budget resolution last year. Potential snags This year Feingold has re-introduced his amendment. And the Medicaid amendment also poses a potential problem for proponents of drilling.

Murkowski indicted she’d urge senators to vote against amendments that would jeopardize the budget resolution and thus ANWR drilling. “I’ve got a very vested interest in making sure that we’ve got a successful budget.”

On the vote on a Democratic-sponsored amendment to ban ANWR drilling, seven Republican senators voted with most Democrats for the drilling ban. The Republicans were:
Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island; Norm Coleman of Minnesota; Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine; Mike DeWine of Ohio; John McCain of Arizona (always liked John); and Gordon Smith of Oregon. Three Democrats voted against the drilling ban: Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

In comments after the vote, Energy Committee chairman Sen. Pete Domenici, a strong proponent of ANWR drilling, said the message to the American people was “It’s time to wake up. The United States is in a terrible crisis. I don’t know how we can make the point that we are so vulnerable. … To be almost 70 percent dependent on oil from overseas is a crisis, a crisis waiting to befall America.” (Well hell, it seems like we are in war to get control of how we want things run)

Interior Secretary Gale Norton said allowing drilling in ANWR ought not to be seen as a precedent for allowing drilling elsewhere. (And it kills me to know this)
“ANWR needs to be judged on its own merits,” she said. “There are people who have said, ‘if you go into ANWR, you’re going to be going into all the parts of wilderness areas in this country.’ That is clearly not true. … People have said if you go into ANWR there are going to be drilling rigs right off the beaches of Florida. That is clearly not the case. The president has ordered a moratorium that will protect Florida waters.”

But for newly-elected Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, the concern about Florida's Gulf Coast waters was a factor in his ANWR vote. Martinez said he had persuaded the White House to send a letter saying that the moratorium on oil drilling off Florida's coast would be extended from 2007 to 2012. "I don't know if it was a legitimate concern, but it was an issue being raised by those who wanted me to vote against ANWR," Martinez said. Referring to the moratorium extension, he said, "I worked very hard to make it happen." Martinez said he had not made his final decision on ANWR prior to getting the White House letter on moratorium extension. He will introduce a bill to make the moratorium on Florida Gulf Coast drilling permanent.
Democrats protested both the idea of drilling in ANWR and the budget procedure Republicans used to authorize drilling there.

Threat to other areas?“It is our duty as elected officials to fight to commit the federal government to recognize some of America’s pristine lands as ‘off limits’ to development,” said Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., after the vote. “There are lands in our nation with pristine value we should protect: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of them.” Opening ANWR to drilling would, he said, “set an ominous precedent. Coloradans and Americans alike should know that once this door is unlocked it will be that much easier to unhinge the protections of every refuge from the Alamosa Natural Wildlife Refuge in my home San Luis Valley to the Florida Everglades Wildlife Refuge.” There is a lot of information here that I think is useful. Check out this site for more information against the drilling. There is a template to send your senator an email.

I disagreed back when I wrote the paper and I disagree with it all now. Here is a plain example of why....

For example, there over 400 spills every year of crude oil and other toxic substances at the oil field in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, just 30 miles west of the Arctic Refuge.

Prudhoe Bay has failed for numerous reasons. They said then it would produce what we needed so we didn't have to rely on the others. And if so, then why were we still getting 70% from the others and if it was working then why drill ANWR? Just a thought.

You saw the photos above and the beauty that awaits us in the ANWR. Well that is going to soon be replaced with this image....

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

OP to NW and back

For the past two days, I have been laying (or lying) in bed with some sort of chest/nose sickness. I've kept myself isolated from the rest of the house, but it didn't see to help as someone else has come down with it. I found that what I miss most about BF is his taking care of me when I am sick. Anyway, I vowed that the sickness wasn't going to ruin my entire 4 day weekend and got up this morning with the intention of hiking. I awoke with the first toilet flush of course, checked the weather via the window, and sat at the computer for a while. I figured I would let my lungs and nose adjust to sitting upright for a while before deciding to hike. All went well and by 930 A.M. I was out the door and headed up the O.P. trail for the N.W. trail. I figured since I would have some creek (pronounce that are crick) crossings that I would slap the Tevas (those are sandals) on the tender boot cladded feet for a change. Let me just tell you that the sand here is not my usual sand of Utah, which is warm and soft on the feet. The sand here is more like gravel. By the end of the 10.5 mile hike, my footsies were hurting. I guess I should have eased into the sandal hiking with a shorter hike, but oh well. Live and learn as always.

The hike as I said was 10.5 miles. 7.0 was the N.W. trail and it was rated as strenuous. The O.P. trail is one of two trails in the park that doesn't have a bit of uphill and I love it. I left the house and started walking to the trailhead. The air was crisp and cool. Not the kind of cool that chills the bones, but that soothes the skin and awakens you with each breath that you take. And I knew the sun would soon steal away the chill.

The first view besides the regular beauty was a bald eagle soaring effortlessly down the trail toward the highway. I was in a world of my own when I caught the white head out of the corner of my eye and as it soared in silence above me, it soared loudly through my veins. Ah, to be an eagle.

As I type this, I realize I should start taking photos of certain items that would help the story along. Like I should have taken the photo of the big log that I was cautiously climbing down when I slipped on the moss, landed hard on my ass, and slid off into the water onto my feet. I hit my already damaged shin pretty good and put a nice bruise and small cut on it. I think this is where I also cut open my toe, but wouldn't realize that for another two hours when I looked down and saw the blood trickling from it.

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These are my favorite flowers although I have no idea what they are called. They are so bright and depending on the light and age, they are sometimes yellow and orange or just orange or just yellow. They are quite beauteous. There are a couple of things I don't like about this park--the ever talk about ticks and poison oak. I am so damn nervous of getting one that I am constantly worrying about them. Every time a bush touches me I freak out and I am constantly searching my body for ticks. One again, I didn't find either today. However, if you were hiking with me you would have laughed hard when some sort of lizard ran across my foot and my reaction to its attacking me.

I watched a gopher snake commit suicide by silvering into the rapid of the creek and disappearing. And I watched two red-tail hawk courting each other in the sky. Remember how I said the trail was rated strenuous. Well, up to this point I didn't think it was because it was relatively flat.

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But right after this photo, the uphill started and the strenuous rating kicked in. I saw one other person on the N.W. trail and he was surprised to see me as well. Mostly, I walked in silence with the flowers, lizards, birds, and butterflies.

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I call this photo the Yellow Flower Path. As I believe I have said in the past, the wildflowers are in bloom and I wish I could capture the true colors that surround me while out with the nature Gods. I think it was about here that I realized the toe was trickling blood. Upon reaching the Ranger Station on the West side, I stopped to pet Lucky the chocolate lab and then to the Ranger Station to fix up the toe. The hike back was going to be 3.3 miles if I went through the caves and so that is what I had planned to do. Spelunking it was. Flashlight required or headlamp. I pulled out the flashlight today and went through with no problem. Except I remember the water being a little warmer last time I went through them and the waterfall flowing with much more water. But it was peaceful to be alone in the darkness with the only sound my beating heart and the water falling around me. I left the caves and headed back on the OP trail and started seeing a few more souls. By this time, my feet were screaming STUPID at me and my chest was starting to feel like may be 10.5 miles was a little much after laying in bed sick for two days. As I type this, the coughing isn't subsiding and actually has started getting worse. Thank goodness others have been sick in the house as they have good drugs to hand over to help me. Check out the rest of the photos: Morephotos

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sunday Stroll

I awoke this morning with the first toilet flush. I live in a dorm and any sound brings me out of my sleep and into the world of the next day. The first thing I normally do upon awaking and actually climbing out of bed is open the blinds to see what the day holds for me in terms of weather. The sky was blue and cloudless and it looked like it would be a good one. I could hear the C. Creek flowing across the street and in some sense I could taste the refreshing water in my lungs each time I took a breath. Oh yea, I believe it would be a good day. I am amazed at how green it is here coming from the desert, even though from what I understand the Arizona desert is green as well right now. The flowers are blooming here and the water is running in the creeks. From what I have been told except all that to go away in the next month. So I am trying to get the photos to see now. Photo blog site

Like I said, I awoke this morning and opened the blinds. I sat down at the computer to check email and looked out the window. There were five turkeys gobbling down the road toward The OP Trail I am sure to do some hiking. And then I watched the LE vehicle race down the road with lights flashing. Um, must be something happening in the area. 5 minutes later the rotor blades of a helicopter could be heard. When I went up to the VC to sign some paperwork, an ambulance and fire truck were in our parking lot. Welcome to the first touron of the season for me. This guy was staying in the campground and woke up his friends and said I believe I need some medical attention. They said ok and turned over and went back to sleep. So he drove past the telephone, out of the campground, and into the park where he then collapsed in pain at the front door of the VC. The VC doesn't open until 9am. Oh yea, he was also five feet from another phone. The maintenance staff went and got the person scheduled to work the VC who then called a ranger. And touron was then flown out. Possible appendices. Little to say, I didn't get the paperwork signed.

So later in the day after awaking from my nap, I walked up the BG trail to the VC to sign the paperwork.


The park was very busy today and I am amazed that this is our busy season rather than in the summer. I guess it is too hot for the state's people then, but I think it is because everything is in bloom and the water is flowing. Supposedly when the creek across the street stops flowing on top, you can lay on the ground and hear it flowing underground. I can't wait for that.


Anyway, I saw a ton of people on the trail I walked today and they don't seem to be that friendly of people either. But that's fine with me. I have other things to think about than saying hi to strangers.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

The California Journey

The boxes and containers have been packed for over a month now. I found out about January 12th that I had a job in California and I have been wanting to get there every since. The time has been going so slow. But now, in two days, I will embark on that journey, and the time has been flying by. This past week has gone so fast and now I am not ready to go. I mean I am, but I don't want to leave behind BF and Jenna.

I of course wanted to pack my vehicle about a month ago, but BF put a stop to that. Now I have to pack it tomorrow and I am not even sure if I am ready to pack it. I feel like I am not taking enough where as a week ago I thought I was taking too much and downsizing. I have sorted through my clothes a zillion times. Hell, in the PS you wear a uniform, come home, and put on the same clothes you had on yesterday. I always have too much clothes, but this time I think I am not taking enough.

I keep telling BF that I am having anxiety separation. And yes, I typed that exactly how I am feeling. My mind is swarming with a zillion things and nothing is going in the right direction. But it is a journey I must attend to and I am going to do it with full force.

As to my blogging community, don't you think I have left you as I might be computer/internet-less for a short time. Blog On.

Jenna has a few words to say as well.

Monday, February 07, 2005

My Friday Hike

Jenna and I went hiking on Friday. The place was somewhere we had never been and some place that I don't ever feel like I need to go again. The hike was straight uphill. Yea, I realize (thanks) that it was also straight downhill when we came back down, but it was hard going.
We pulled into the parking lot to see a bunch of jeeps parked there with the owners milling about. I had the hope that they were just parked there to go some place else to destroy the desert. I slapped the leash on Jenna and we headed away from the people. When I felt we were far enough away, I unhooked the leash and let her run. She is always about 20 yards ahead of me running from one side to the other. She probably walks, runs, explores about 5-10 more miles that we actually walk.
As I said we walked up slope during the first part of the hike. I would walk a while and then rest. Jenna would stop and look back wondering if I was going to collapse or actually make it. When she realized I was carrying water, she would run back to me every once in a while to drink out of my camelbak. The sun was shining warm and the ravens were out playing in the wind currents bouncing off the rocks. The day was silent except for that occasional airplane I heard overhead. I couldn't even hear the trucks rambling down the other side of the river. It was just me, the dog, the rocks, and the silence.
Jenna and I did meet Holly and her captors. Jenna and Holly sniffed each other and the humans talked about the beautiful day. Jenna and I reached the top and I attempted to have her hold still long enough to get a good photo of her and the town, but only was able to capture this one...anytown. As you can tell the dog isn't in the photograph. We hung out at the top for a while before heading downhill.
We rounded the corner where the shadow is in the above photo and had our silence shattered. Jenna got pissed because she was leashed up. I was irritated because I don't understand the sport I guess, but more because I like the peace and quietness. I like to hike where I am one with the Earth and nature.
I call them the desertdestroyers. Our town attracts 1000s of these during the jeep rally. All I could hear was the revving of engines. The sound bouncing off the rocks. Nothing close to the sounds the ravens make. Then I hear the tires squealing across the rocks. I hear the leader coaching the others through the lips and tight squeezes. I knew I would encounter them because when I was about 100 yards up the trail I noticed them coming up. I went up and back before they probably reached 200 yards. How boring is that? Plus, I think you miss so much. They wouldn't hear the raven talking to them. They probably wouldn't see the lizard scurry from shade to shade crack. They would smell engine smell over the smell of the river. And their hearts wouldn't feel the river flow. almostup
As I believe people are entitled to their opinions, they are entitled to their hobbies. But as they are entitled, I am entitled to bitch as well so that is what I am doing.
But I would much more prefer those two photos above to what they are seeing. Just what my heart beckons for. What does your heart sing for?
Jenna had a story of her hike as well.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Men and Manuals

Women, help me out your male counterparts ever seem to read the manuals that come with the products they purchase? Or have they or will they ever ask for directions?

Men, help me out here...WHY NOT? Can you explain to me why it is so difficult to read the manual in order to know how to use the machinery or likes properly?

My BF bought a digital camera last summer. And it is a nice camera that can do a zillion and one things, but he wouldn't know that from looking at it. He read enough of the manual to turn it on and take a photograph. He doesn't know half the things that camera can do. I was the one who loaded the program onto the computer and the one who downloaded the photographs to the computer the first time. And it was simple to do after I read the directions in doing so. Just the other day I downloaded some more photographs and noticed he had downloaded them already. Of course the same photographs were downloaded 3 times to the same folder. Um, direction reading would have probably solved that problem.

Sometime last year, he bought a MP3 Player. Of course the music didn't already come on it and so I read the directions and very easily downloaded music for him. In order for him to learn how to do it, he just had me show him how. And to think he wants an IPod for his birthday.

Last year, I purchased a DVD player. I informed him he was not allowed to use it until he read the manual. He said he would just have his son do it for him. He claims he read the directions, but I think it was just the part on opening the door to put the dvd in because it starts on its own after that.

I believe reading manuals will help with the frustration down the road. But no, you men just don't do it. And I am not just picking on my BF. There are many more out there.

The other night I was getting my ass whooped (no, sickos not like that) in chess by
Jack, plus chatting with my nephew Idol and my friend Robert.

Robert had just purchased an IPod and told me he was downloading all his cds on there. I informed him I thought that took up a lot of space and he might want to download MP3s or covert his cds to MP3s. He asked me how. I said do you have Easy CD Creator and he said yes. I said use that program. He said but how. I said I don't know. Did you read the manual? NO.

I typed to
Jack and asked why don't men read manuals. He couldn't answer it outright. I think it is part of the man code that he can't discuss.

Like I said I was also talking to my nephew. He was wanting to send me a photo through the email, but didn't know how to attach the file. I attempted to walk him through it for a while, but he has an Apple and I Windows so I had no idea what I was doing on his end. He finally said screw it. And I then asked when he purchased the computer did he read the manual that came along with it? No. Well, actually he put in some other words, but No was the common answer.

So, men can you explain to me why you don't read the manuals when you purchase new electronics or such? Or women, can you explain to me why most of us read manuals when we purchase our males new electronics?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Got off my Ass

This morning my wonderful friend, Jenna, woke me at 5 AM. Of course I couldn't go back to sleep afterwards. And come to think of it, I am not even sure she went to the bathroom because she normally heads over in the neighbors to do her business. She woke up BF at 830 AM after I had just got back to sleep, but he didn't acknowledge her so he is in the doghouse with me all day. I got up again. After 4 bowls of POPS, a raw mouth, and 900 games of Freecell, I decided BF had slept long enough. I finally woke him up with a few smacks to the jaw.

I gave Flapper and G-Baby a call, but Flapper had overbooked and I am sure she had never even told G-Baby about the hike we had planned. After waiting patiently for BF to eat and get ready we finally embarked. We would be hiking in the park today so although Jenna came with us, she wouldn't be allowed to hike with us.

And yes this pissed her off. We let her walk for a little while before we headed up the canyon. She barked forever. Well, as long as we could hear her. I think she finally stopped once she couldn't see us anymore. We could see her head poking out the window. A window that was not lowered the much. She had pulled it down some more in an attempt to get to us. She didn't succeed.

We were searching for a rock art panel that I had been to before except in one stupid push of a button I erased all of my GPS waypoints from my unit one day. After reaching the top of the ridge and relieving ourselves, we started hiking in the direction I thought it was. My waypoint was an arch, but we never did find that arch. We came to another drainage and had to walk up this long incline. When we got to the top, there were some shoeprints. I figured they were looking for the same thing. We followed them for a while and came upon this arch. As BF took photos of the arch, I continued on attempting to get my bearings straight. I finally succeeded (I know which is unbelievable) and yelled for BF to follow his drainage up. And we came upon the Giraffe Panel.

These are two other photos taken at the site up close of the animals. Animal and Animal

I was then satisfied with my find, GPSed the location, and we went towards a drainage. When we reached the drainage, it was not the one I was looking for and by this time, I was getting the need to return to the vehicle and Jenna. What do they call that? Something to do with the mother missing the child sort of thing. Like when mom's drop off the kids at school for the first time and cry about it. Well, I wasn't quite there.

Hiking over slickrock just about makes you need new soles on your shoes each time. In the summer it is twice as bad because the heat radiates into your feet making them burn. We finally started back toward the road and to the car where it appeared she had finally settled down. We found little damage in the vehicle which we were surprised.

We let her run for about two minutes before throwing her back in the vehicle. We then stopped at another place and let her run on a road for a while. Of course her running is like twice the amount we probably walked.

We finished the day off with hamburgers at the Diner and then I finished my day off with a shower and a nap as usual.

Now read Jenna's to get her view on the day.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Days Roll By

Jack chatted with me the other day and said he was feeling under the weather. I think I caught whatever he had through the transmission of the keyboard. On Sunday I felt sick and pounded myself with Vitamin C after Vitamin C. All I really wanted to eat was pringles and OJ, but even that didn't seem to help matters. I am pretty sure I ate an entire box of Popsicles instead. By Monday, I felt better, but my chest was still hurting.

How do I describe my chest? Well besides the size of it, but how it has been feelings. Um, somebody very large is sitting on it, but I am not having trouble breathing. My sternum is cracked down the center, but that isn't the case either. Hell, it just outright hurts like hell, shit, and fuck. (Never really understand statements like: Cold as Hell, etc.) Anywho, it hurts. Hurts to lay down, hurts to sit up, hurts when I think, hurts when I don't. Did you get the point that it hurts?

Well my chest isn't the only thing that hurts. My nose hurts. And this isn't a hurt from blowing it because every time I blow it nothing comes out. Which I wonder why since I can't fing breathe out of it. It feels, and I can pinpoint this feeling; like someone hit me in the face with a tennis racquet. Now, I use tennis racket because I have never been hit in the face with a baseball bat, but Kurt hit me in the face with a tennis racket once. Purely accidentally really. Unlike Robert, who hit me in the face with a tennis ball. He claims that is how we got to be friends. WHATEVER. Well back to the nose hurts. It hurts when I touch it to blow nothing out of it. It hurts when I drink Chai. It hurts when I think about it hurting. Did you get the point that it hurts?

Besides the hurts, life is just rolling by slowly, but I know when the time comes to depart, it will roll too fast. I am just anxious to get over there and see what this next Journey holds for me. I know answers to questions, but there are so many more questions that I have to get answered. And those can't be until I set foot in the place. Until then as usual I wait.

A new blog page: ADog'sLife

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Journey of My Life Continues

In 2001, I bagged the city life and moved into the middle of nowhere Utah. My nearest grocery store was an hour and half away, but most made the three hour trip to Grand Junction once a month for food and every other craving. REI, a mall, Wal-Mart, etc. That was my start with the National Park Service and it was where I finally found my place in society. That first year I spent every weekend searching for some canyon or rock art or just a place where I had not let my feet touch the soil to explore and discover. After the season was over, I returned to the city, but knew my spirit was not where it belonged. I would return to Glen Canyon in 2002 and for a short time in 2003. I knew that the friendships that I had made during those years would be friendships that will last for a long time.

In 2003, I left the recreation area and moved to Arches National Park where I called home for a year and a half. Where I actually still call home. And even as I worked at the park, I found new territory to explore and discover. I found new places to hang off of and dangle by my fingertips near the edge of death. Unlike Bullfrog, I never kissed death quite like I did that year in Halls Creek, however; I had a few close calls. It was here at Arches where I would meet a new group of Parkies and I would eventually meet the BF.

My life has come to an end in Utah for a while even though I call the place home. I know there are many canyons that I have yet to fall into. There is red rock that I have not scrambled across or slid down in the hopes I would stop at the ledge. There are streams, brooks, and cricks I have not walked through for twenty-four hours (23 hours and 58 minutes to be exact) straight so I may lose another toenail and go through hell for over a year. There is rock art that has not been photographed by me. There is red clay that I haven't brought from the ground into the house. There is a lot I have not done in Utah that I know I want to accomplish before the life is sucked from my lungs.

But there is also a lot of the other world that I have not explored. Really, I am leaving Utah because I have accepted another job in another state. And although it will be hard to leave the BF, the dog, and the new Parkie friends, I know at this time in my life it is something that I must do. I leave on February 19th for another journey. Depending on which route I take, I will travel across Utah through some other states and land in California. The job is once again with the park service. This time at Pinnacles National Monument (NewJob). The job entails half law enforcement (or for Hornet's sake 51%). The other half of the job will be monitoring the California condors. I am pretty stoked about it.

All I keep thinking is that I will have so much more to explore and discover. The ocean is only an hour away and I hope to work out my ear problems to scuba dive. And I just keep thinking that Life is A Journey and this is just a small part of my journey. I will keep you posted and make sure you continue to check out my photo site (PhotoSite) for new and exciting photos.

Wish me luck...

Also check out the King (Hershey) and the Prince (Snickers)