Saturday, August 22, 2009

a look in the life...

The video will be back up soon. I am going to edit and make it a wee bit better! So just keep checking every once and a while and hopefully by next week it shall be done. The video's main purpose is to show how wonderfully educational, friendly, and experience of a lifetime this trip was for me and I'm pretty sure the rest of the crew. Thank-you :)

-ICKA from the corn state!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 15

Bags are packed. Cars are filled with bags and kids. Off to the airport we go. Wake up was 4:30 but pretty much everyone was still awake so it was basically gathering luggage and heading out of the door. I was with Rusty, Skadoosh, Jerome, and Icka. The back seat was pretty silent due to the fact that everyone crashed. Rusty and I rode in companionable silence until we didn't see Julie behind us anymore. We pulled over and Jerome got a phone call from Tony saying that Arky got a little car sick and that they would catch up with us in a few minutes. They caught up with us and the caravan headed out onto the open road again. We drove a good half an hour to Ontario where Shannon and I were dropped off at Terminal 2 while everyone else headed to Terminal 4. Before they left I received multiple hugs and good-byes from a group of kids and adults who I will never forget. No one was crying yet. Shannon and I got my luggage checked in and I said my last teary good-bye to one of my new best friends EVER! Eventually I got back to good ol' Helena, Montana, where it was raining and cold-pretty different from the hot and dry climate I had just left hours before. I will always treasure the experiences and life lessons that I hvae gathered from this expedition ranging from new friendships to awesome data collection. I will miss all of our group and I have never had as much fun as I did with you guys. Thanks for making this the best summer of my LIFE Rusty, Julie, Shannon, Jerome, Tony, Skadoosh, Arky, Monica and Earthwatch!!!

Hey there to Montana, Mr. Schulz, and my friends and family. Thanks for your support in my educational pursuits.

Day 14

This morning Jerome and I woke up to the sound of Rusty's harmonica-a sound hardly describable, the closest I can get is a dying walrus. After everyone was awake, we spent time talking about our experiences during our expedition. This was the wrap up day. We all talked about the oohs and ahhs of our trip and laughed about our awkward introductions and how we are such great friends now. Everyone was doing fine emotionally until Julie dropped the crying bomb! She pulled out eight journals and had us guess which one belonged to which person based on the quotations that she used as a personality description. There was some major tearing up and I definitely let loose a water fall. The realization that our trip was coming to an end didn't damper anyones' attitudes and we all sucked it up and started cleaning the Reserve so that we would leave it in better condition that we found it. So by 3:00 p.m. we had the place spick and span and split into two groups to run errands because we had a PARTAY to put on that evening. Jerome, Arky, Julie and I headed into Banning to go to Fedex and to get the red-mean machine washed. Everyone else went to Idyllwild for groceries and to drop equipment off at the Annex for storage purposes. There was also some last minute souvenir shopping that had to be completed. Icka had me covered since I went with Jewels to Banning. So we looked all over for a Fedex and ended up who knows where on Orange street off the highway from Banning where we mailed Rusty's precious packages. We also printed off a couple pictures for Taylor, the best handiman I've ever met, as going away presents. Then we made a detour to McDonalds for some much needed medium chocolate milkshakes! Those sure brought smiles to our faces. Then we headed back to the reserve where we decided that we needed to get in some last minute "swimming" at Lake Fulmor before we went home. Icka, Jerome and I had some things to prove. Then we got the Reserve party ready, ate the marvelous meal prepared by Rusty, watched an amazing puppet show by Skadoosh and Icka and a rap performance by Arky, Skadoosh, and Shannon. I'm still laughing about it. The highlight of the evening was probably the epic pinata bashing. It was sooo much fun. Shannon spun us around and then we had to blindly swing at the pinata-it was hilarious and a workout. After we all attacked the candy that poured endlessly from the wreck of a pinata onto the ground, we cleaned up...again. That night everyone packed, except Shannon who didn't pack until 4:30 a.m. Actually no one except Arky went to bed. I tried to sleep but failed miserably. Overall, the day was action packed and really fun. No one wanted this trip to end! I still don't.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day 13

Rusty told us the previous day that we would get pancakes and an amazing breakfast at the Red Kettle and we did! For two weeks I have eaten Apple Jacks so it was quite a change! We went on a vehicle assisted ride up the Santa Rosa Mountains. It was beyond beautiful! Everyone was in awe over how fast the scenery changed from the desert floor to the lush green at the top of the mountain. Guess what? We got a flat tire once again!!!! Yeah, talk about bad luck. Haha. It's not so bad though everyone is so close to one another now we just make best of the situation and move on. We eventually end up laughing about it later. I have to admit that Shannon and I were pretty much cool in our tye-dye shirts that day.

Back to the flat tire though. Jerome is the "eagle scout" so he apparently knows how to change a flat tire. Then Shannon got underneath the thing and when Papa Bear got there the job was finally done. We all got into the Tahoe so we would not weigh down the red fire truck. We then went to a campsite and met this very nice couple, collected a few plants, and ate our fine tuned lunches. Mine consisted of salt and vinegar chips and a turkey sandwich. After that we headed down the mountain to get the tire changed. We were with Dani so we went to the Santa Rosa visitors center and got a tour of the place. Monica and Skadoosh put on a beautiful puppet show that lifted all of our spirits. We got into the cars and headed back to Idyllwild to pick up dinner for the night. After a long day we ate at the Reserve with our new addition Charles, Romeo, and Smokey ( the stuffed animals of the day). We all took showers and then realized that we only have one more day with eachother. It all flew by so fast, but the relationships we gained will last a lifetime. :)

-Hannah ( Arky)

Day 12

Zzzzz...Today we woke up under the bright glare of the sun by the solar panels. Today was fairly easy because it was a data entry day. Icka, Tony, and Shannon worked on organizing Becca's (the director of James Reserve) herbarium collection stored in the meeting room of the reserve. While those three worked on that, I made folders for each of our specimen and got our collection organized. Jerome worked on entering a previous researcher's, Tom Jones, findings from the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto area.

While we were inside working on the data day, H.C., Skadoosh, and Julie headed to Idyllwild to do some shopping for food and necessities. When they came back they had a giant pinata for our BBQ party on Saturday.

We also went on a day hike around Lake Fulmor with Dani, an amazing hiker and guide, who pointed out all sorts of interesting wildlife that lived in and around the lake. My favorite was the tarantula killin' wasp. We had a blast with Dani and it was very relaxing before we had to glue ourselves to a computer inside.

We later went to a Blues concert and danced for about two hours, I, of course, tentatively danced and laughed at everyone's AWESOME dance skills. It was amazing.

We came home and went to bed because we were so exhausted.


Day 11

Today technically started last night when we packed for the overnighter. I had never packed so much stuff in such a tiny day pack before in my life. (Except sometmes during school my school backpack can be full of books on occassion.) Here's a little sneak peak at some of the things that we earthwatchians may have had packed into our bags: food for 2 and half days, sweatshirt, change of shoes, sleeping bag, pillow, pajamas, LOTS of water, and there's so much more my mind cannot recall! So off we went to Palm Springs to ride on the tram. The tram would have probably been mind bottling, except for my spacial complex. It was a little tight and in close quarters but what do you except when you are traveling up to 8500 feet in elevation!?! Defiantly not a master suite, yet the views were absolutely breath taking and being able to see everyone grinning from ear to ear from excitement just made my day. Now off we began to hike when the tram had landed and shortly before reaching our destination of the day, the Admin. camp our gang of earthwatchians had to deal with another minor health set-back. Skadoosh being the crazy gal pal of ours, didn't see the log that had fallen across the path and as her right ankle caught and twisted, we all watched with flashbacks of H.C. being medically evacuated from the mountain and began to panic slightly. Luckily she was fine after walking it off and using an ice pack for about 20 minutes. Yet for the better of the group and to ensure everyone would be healthy for the remainder of the trip we decided to cancel the overnighter on Tahquitz Peak and just make an overnighter at the reserve where we could still watch the meteor shower and have a blast! Once down from the mountain, a quick stop in Idyllwild for pizza, and back at the reserve the sun was setting and we were setting up the bonfire!! Toasted 8 smore pile-ups (Skadoosh is a marshmallow champ), entire bars of chocolate eaten (What can I say? I love it!)beautiful Californian stars, and wonderful company is something that I will treasure forever. The earthwatchians took a small jaunt to the solar panels on the reserve holding sleeping bags, pillows, flashlights, and anxious giggles for the meteor shower. There we slept folks, all huddled together for warmth and comfort. I saw 16 shooting stars and together we all made a wish at 11:11. (My 11:11 wish was for blueberry pancakes sometime before we left and guess what? WE GOT 'EM!) I have never slept on the ground before, especially not with crazy people whom I have begun to love and adore for all their kooky characteristics. Let's just say I slept rather great.

Hello To Iowa

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 10

Today was a vehicle assisted collection on Apple Canyon road and Fobes trail. We split into two teams with Jerome, me, Shannon, Tony, and Rusty went into a meadow area and collected a few plants. It was uber hot but was still a lot of fun. We were going pretty easy just to be sure that everyone was up to par health wise. After we were done collecting, we came back to James Reserve and pressed all of our plants. As we were pressing, Anthony suddenly stands up and calmly says "Snake" which we all didn't comprehend until we saw a four foot rattle snake, which we later learned from our snake catching hero, Taylor, to be a Central Pacific Rattlesnake, slithering out from underneath a picnic table. Monica and Shannon disappeared right into thin air while Jerome, Tony, and I went inside to get Rusty. It was pretty cool and very exciting for everyone especially if you had never seen a rattlesnake before. Taylor caught it and put it in a trash can so he could relocate it on Black Mountain. Then a bunch of us went to Lake Fulmor and went swimming. Shannon and Skadoosh jumped off a giant rock which looked like a blast. I'm pretty sure Icka and I will be jumping off of it fairly soon. Unfortunately, Jerome was all talk and couldn't muster his manly strength enough to jump off the rock as previously boasted about. That's okay though, we still love him. Shannon actually broke one of her huge blisters jumping in the lake which was disgusting. Then we all, except Skadoosh, swam across the lake to the other side where we waited for Julie to come pick us up. Then we came back to the Reserve, got all of the Lake Fulmor dead body scum off of us and ate fried chicken, corn on the cob, and baked spuds.

All in all, today was really exciting considering the near death rattlesnake experience, swimming, and most of all the awesome plant collecting day we had.