Thursday, December 4, 2014

A month? Already?!

Actually, we've been here well over a month. We were really excited to come back to Florida, for many reasons - not the least of which being that since it is our second season here, we don't have to work as hard at learning everything. Then, we got here...

…and found out that one of our supervisors, who moved to a new place last May or June, has not yet been replaced. And our boss is interim for her boss, so not around our office much. So the supervisor for the other environmental education site is doing three jobs – and we’re helping out. Thank GOD we are nearly all returning this year. Less pressure to learn the ropes and do extra work all at once.

The situation should be remedied by January, so this is temporary, of course. It’s busy now, but we’re still basically keeping up with it all. We even have camp nearly ready to go.

Setting up tents. It only looks tough – once they’re up, they’re up for the season, so we’re golden now!
This requires some flexibility and dexterity – but I’m not talking figuratively, I’m talking literally. This guy greeted me as I was getting out of the car to close the gate to camp. Reflexes and dexterity are all that saved my life.

Ha! He didn't rattle, so we’re good.

Really, though, we've been finding plenty of time to have fun. One thing I like about this job is that we have real evenings and real weekends, where we typically don’t have anything we have to do for work. (Imagine that, teachers? Crazy talk.) We have pretty cool parties, like our Halloween shindig.

Smurfette and Gargamel
Crazy cat lady and Virginia creeper
Indiana Jones and Medusa
Plain old crazy lady and... actually, I don't know. Researcher on a weekend?
We get out a good amount, taking full advantage of the kayak we bought on a whim last year. A lot of people who live down here have boats, although many are not fancy – but a fancy boat would get beached out here anyway.

Chillin' in the slough.

There are a few wild foods to forage, like cattails, although they aren't that calorically helpful – but that’s okay when you’re desperate.

We paddled hard on this particular trip, but it was often too shallow, so we would sometimes have to slog through the water and pull the boat. But it was lovely anyway.

Once we were back to the car, though, the siren song of laziness got us. Our car rack can only hold one boat (ours), so we tied our friend's canoe, on its wheely cart, to the car.

To make sure the boat didn't get damaged, or the boat didn't damage the car, they had to run alongside.

Very efficient, I tell you. No pulling wheely carts by hand for us!

Really, though, we’re here because this place is absolutely incredible. It isn't the place of mountain valleys and crazy tangled geology. It’s flat, and many say boring. But those who are willing to look deeper will see an incredible coexistence of ecosystems, with amazing adaptations of plants and animals for survival in this strange and wonderful place.

And it’s in the 70s all winter. That too.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The transients at home

Our visits home are always too short. Now that we have work during both the summer and winter seasons, we have start and end dates for each job that are pretty non-negotiable. With the way our seasons have been lining up the last couple of years, we only get two or three weeks between seasons. In that time, we need to move across country, so two or three weeks become one or two weeks of vacation time every six months. (This, of course, begs the question what would we do if we had “real” jobs with only two weeks’ vacation a year? Simple answer: we’d go nuts.) Since we live so far from home, vacation = visiting family and friends in Washington, which is wonderful, crazy, and all too short. Here’s a glimpse into our last not-quite-two-week trip home:

Days 1-4: Kate’s home with MomSig, where we went to a fruit festival at a local orchard (hippies! yay!), put in a new faucet for her kitchen sink, sat and drank coffee in her living room with cats on our laps, went to a yearly doctor’s appointment, visited our old college campus for entirely too short a time, and ate salmon (oh my god salmon) and lamb burgers. I am sadly very bad with using my camera at home, since it’s home, after all.

Days 5-8: Jeff’s home with MomPen and Wally, where we went pumpkin hunting,

had an early birthday party (read: excuse to get together) for Jeff that was well attended,

went walking in the dog park with our baby and her sister,

and ate mussels (oh my god mussels).

Day 9: MomSig came down to join us for our last day at MomPen’s (oh my god in-laws getting along), and ferried us down to Seattle for the last leg of the trip. She had discovered a Washington geology blog that she got me into, and it advertised a well-timed tour of building stones in Seattle (hey, man, that’s pretty awesome). We took a couple hours to wander downtown and see some pretty cool rocks, like a 3.5 billion year old gneiss – do any of you realize how old that is? MomSig posed with it to remind all of us how young she really is.

We proceeded on to Kate’s brother’s place, to make our semiannual pilgrimage to see Mi Chicharron and Moonface, our nephew and niece.

Jeff, of course, charmed the nephew, Mi Chicharron, who was even willing to walk barefoot in the rain to look at rainbows and pick flowers for him.

Good to know we still have the touch!

Days 10-12 were spent at our last landing place, friends Jeff and Katie (yes, Jeff and Katie, friends of Jeff and Kate – ah, generational names; can you imagine the groups of Aidens, Jadens, and Kaidens that will be gathering in 20 years?). To be honest, we don’t “do” much when we visit them, but we talk a lot.

And we get pinned down by really (really) heavy dogs.

We even got others to come to their place to visit, including a mutual friend and Jeff’s cousin. Ah, Washington.

Our final full day at home was dedicated to the other niece, nearly sister, who moved there after living with us in Stehekin for a summer. Small town to big city switch, no joke! She introduced me to a very rare thing – a store where I could imagine myself going for retail therapy.

And we all geeked out together at the Pacific Science Center.

Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeks! Yay!

And then we flew out, back to our car and our long drive. All I can say about the long drive is that it was well described by this:

This trip was made possible by the generosity and chauffer services of MomSig, MomPen, and Jeff and Katie Lanning, and by visits from and with people like you. You all have no idea how much you mean to us – this crazy, wonderful life is only possible with the anchor of home!