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.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 9

It all started out like a normal day. We ate breakfast and loaded the cars up for Ramona Trail on Thomas Mountain. Now that I look back on it all it had not been such a scary experience. It had been more like an adventure in which I was Batman. We started going up the trail and I had already drank one water bottle. Keep in mind we are in the desert and its like 300 degrees out there. We decided that on the way back we would collect plants instead of on the way up. I asked Rusty how much farther and just like always he says " a little bit farther" which means 300 miles. We stop for one last time, and after that it was all a blur from there. I remember getting very weak and dizzy in-between all of this... Monica was the first to notice how bad I looked. Rusty started talking to me very loudly trying to get me to answer him and I would not do it. He decided that it was time to make an emergency phone call. I remember them trying to take me down the mountain by walking, but I kept forgetting to open my eyes and tripping over my own self. We were already 3 miles up, and Shannon said I cannot walk and picks me up on her back and beasts me down the mountain for a mile or so. All of this of course is what they are telling me after I got back from the hospital that night. Shannon said she would scream for me to say anything to her, and previously they had put this metal sheet on me to prevent me from going into shock. All I ever said to Shannon was a few mumbles and then finally said I'm Batman. Okay, there was seriously wrong with me for me to utter that statement. haha. SHANNON IS NOW MY HERO BY THE WAY. Everyone could tell that she was getting very weak so Rusty puts me on his back for a few hundred yards and then these men in yellow interceded. Then followed men in orange which I am soon to find out are convicts who work for the Fire Stations.

Ok so HC has now retired and wanted me (Shannon) to fill everyone on her experience down the mountain. So it's as crazy as it sounds but the situation was handled perfectly with everyone playing an important role. Rusty sent Skadoosh and Robert down the hill at a nice safe sprint as they would call it because we couldn't tell if people had heard our radio emergency. Needless to say they sprinted their butts off and Katie, Mon-icka, and Anthony went down the mountain with pounds of packs running fastly. Then Julie (nursing HC down the trail) and Rusty (calling for help and taking control) stayed with me while I took HC down the mountain. It was hot and hard but I wouldn't say I was a hero at all because everybody did something really important.
But everyone stayed in control and it all ended up perfectly. There are funny facts to know about the day though and they are: 1. That like 20 vehicles came to help HC (ok 6 seriously but still a lot!) 2. HC only remembers me huffing and puffing down the mountain and forgot all about the jokes and me screaming at her to stop muttering. The most interesting conversation being "Hannah how are you feeling?" "Mmn." "Hannah when I ask you a question you need to answer me with a real word." "Mmn." "Hannah! How are you feeling?" "I'm Batman." 3. Monica did a power knee slide down the mountain that she bounded up from which I'm sure she did just because of sympathy pains 4. Everyone was bounding with joy when they saw all the rescue people (especially some key firemen) 5. HC is the only person that would use her phone to call someone in the back of an ambulance and 6. After the long day HC was in great spirits and everybody felt better and content to be at the James Reserve....
Needless to say we are all glad for the experience to be over and excited that HC was such a trooper about it because otherwise it would've been a sad day. One thing is for sure and that is that we make a great group, definitely worthy of the title Team Dominate :)

And now Hannah picks up during the ambulance ride...

Well now that Shannon told us the funny things I will add to all of this. I got in the ambulance and the IV had definately helped me. Julie rode with me on the way to the hospital, and it was the longest ride of my life... though I do admit it was pretty sweet laying on a bed inside of a moving vehicle, but thats besides the point. Then, I told the lady " Julia" that I had to pee very badly! She said," The best I can do for you is a bedpan." I had to go so badly that I just said to give it to me. She asked me a series of questions in which I really did not feel like answering at all. I had literally been asked if I was pregnant like 30 times that day. I was just about to get rude with the people and tell them... do you really think that I would be climbing a mountain if I was carrying an embryo in my stomach? NO! Ughhhhh I was sick of that question. Well after about 20 minutes the bedpan was a success!!!!! Victory! We then arrived at the hospital, and they wheeled me in on my domination bed. I looked rough but I felt much better! I waited for a while in the hallway watching everyone pass by. I really felt like I was in a movie. Haha. Next, I got the neat armband and doctor to go with it. Its like a 2 in 1 package. I was almost airlifted. How sweet would that have been? Well, I was eventually discharged right after I put on the hospital gown. After a few crazy pictures and car rides later I was back at the reserve telling everyone that I was indeed okay. I have to say out of my 16 years of life that day was the most legit of them all. All in all I have the coolest story to tell my kids when I am 30. :) I love firemen! ( and convicts)

~Hannah C. and Shannon

Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 8

Day 8 was different than many of the other days here, today was our day off! That means no hikes, no collecting plants, nothing but a day of relaxation. Which was well deserved. We had chores. I vacuumed and cleaned the tables off. Everyone else had their part, whether it was doing the dishes, or anything else; we did our chores like we do everyday. Then we met Mike Newkirk, the guy from the Durfee Foundation. He basically is the one who granted us our scholarships. (in the picture, he's in the middle.) Hey Mike! Thanks again for this lifechanging opportunity! Well, after he told us he was in the room when the Mars rover landed. (which is amazing) we talked about the program, and where each of us was from, and it was a nice afternoon. Afterwards, we went into Idyllwild and did laundry. It was hilarious watching us all try to do laundry, pushing the quarters into the washing machine and dryers. It was pretty fun. Afterwards we ate at "the greek place." Thats what it was called. The food was amazingly good there. After we got home, we started a bonfire in the back, and Rob's side of the fire started burning faster than mine. It's not fair though, he cheated. He's an eagle scout. Once we finally got the fire going, Taylor got some nice looking marshmallow skewers that we used to make smores. Rusty and Julie got to see a shooting star, so im kinda jealous. I tried to see one, but never did. I saw a bunch of satallites though. Maybe on the overnight I'll see a shooting star. well, time for bed. Wake up at 7 tomorrow.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 7

WOW! The sights today were flippin' awesome :)) We set off today with a longer and possibly more strenuous hike planned. So myself being from a flat landscape land I was rubbing my calves and feet in preparation for possible pain later that evening. But being the lucky duck that I am, we began our hike to Fuller Ridge at our decent pace and the sun through the trees and being surrounded by great people got me pepped up and craving more plant pressing. So no pain. haha I was the official "process" photographer of the day and I rather adore this position in the group. I get to catch the awkward moments on camera. Could it be better? NOPE! I took pictures of lichen and moss collected by Anthony, as well as those gorgeous lupines collected by Skadoosh. The hike was much more than the plants collected, yet the plants collected were of new orientation and at different altitudes than most of which we have already recorded and pressed. The ridge where we were hiking today was much narrower than those that we have been on before and a little bit more rough. Many rocks and more steep. But it was still an exhilerating experience. So off we travel one by one with our packs strapped on and humming up the mountain like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The only downfall of the day was when HC (Hannah) accidentally taped over all her footage of the day. There were some rather hilarious clips on that. But with this group there never is a boring day. We work hard, play hard, and adore every minute of it. Well unfortunatly I must cut this blog short for the day because the last time I blogged I got a little wordy. haha it's just so hard to keep back all the great experiences I have had here. So before I bid adew for the evening, one last thing.


-Monica (Ick)
hello mom,dad,and family from cali.
hello mark from cali.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Students

Because SCAP students have always proven exceptionally able, I look forward to meeting them and figuring out exactly how they are going to fit into the project … and how they will interact together. On paper, there would appear to be many reasons that this year’s group would have difficulty in finding common ground. They are from all over the country and arrived from highly diverse backgrounds and academic experiences. But they want to be here … and they’re teenagers … and in an incredibly short time period they have impressed me with their skill, work ethic and togetherness. So here they are. - Papa Bear

Hannah aka Skadoosh (Virginia): High energy, creative, funny, irreverent … and that was just the first five minutes I knew her. She is an enigma (like a Care Bear tattoo), but she is very good at translating her energy into production and has learned every aspect of the project.

Anthony aka Tony the Tiger (New Jersey): Self-professed “super shy guy”, Anthony broke out his dancing shoes at the zydeco concert on Thursday. He has become quite the lichen hunter during our field hikes. He turned a laptop, a hunk of tin foil and a ball of twine into Friday Night at the Movies. And he waits for Julie to catch up on long hikes.

Monica aka Icka (Iowa): Monica is the most expressive manipulator of the English language I have ever met. And she laughs heartily at every joke I tell … even when it’s not funny … and even when it’s not a joke. I’m not gonna lie, she keeps everyone in a good mood and has become my best “process” photographer.

Robert aka St. Jerome (Missouri): John is the All-American boy, an Eagle Scout but with a better sense of humor. Ron has become a workhorse, volunteering to carry the big framepack even when he’s not responsible for the press. When Mark wants to relax it usually involves a comfortable cot and his I-Pod. And he answers to almost any male name in the book.

Katie aka Katie (Montana): Katie processes data the way enzymes digest human waste. OK, that’s not exactly the analogy I was looking for. But she has taken on the important Recorder position, assembling all collection data, pictures and geo-coordinates. She loves keeping things organized … and now that includes me.

Hannah aka Arky or H.C. (Arkansas): Hannah loves the camera and the camera loves her. But I’ve put her in charge of the video for this project. So if we can avoid it becoming an outdoors version of “The Office”, it’ll probably be the best project video yet. Arky’s from my mother’s home state so I gave her the nickname.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Introductions for the group

Well hello there everyone! It is here tonight that three girls sit in front of the glow from the computer: "Skadoosh", Katie, and Mon-ick-a. We have the coolest blog assignment of them all... to introduce the gang of temporary mountaineers. So let's get this shin-dig started already eh?

Rusty (the ring leader): "I think this is the road here... well at least I thought it was."

The 'papa bear' of the group. Rusty is the most resourceful (except when it comes to a flat tire), kind-hearted, and greatest joke maker around. His quick wit and vast knowledge of all the plants around him constantly surprise us and his general concern for our safety makes him a MVB (most valuable botanist) in all our eyes. This crazy botanist has inspired all of us to be the amazing people we can be. It might just being just like our 'Papa Bear' or getting out and doing things we haven't done, this man manages to excede all of the above. Whether it's his constant desire to learn more and more about his workers for two weeks or new found love for bar-b-que pizza, Rusty makes sure that everyone is well informed and being educated on the California mountains. Always leading the pack with his eagle sharp eyes and 'papa' like personality. Rusty made sure that everyone was comfy and cozy from the moment we met at the airport. He's definitely a keeper in the science world and in all of our hearts.

Julie (mama): "Who's joining me on the dance floor?!"

Julie is defiantly the peace keeper of the group. She maintains a good pace on the trail and brings up the rear with pride. Her great sense of humor and multitude of never ending card games keep all of us entertained. We can all agree that it was Julie who pushed us to be more of a group. Especially those first couple of days, where social awkwardness could not be found in this lovely woman's vocabulary. While hiking Julie is the caboose eyes and makes sure we've gotten every specimen possible. Never leaving a breadcrumb behind. When we travel off into town to refresh our engines at The Lumber Mill, Julie ensures that everyone is full and happy. Driver of the red car, she can sure maintain her composure while the ruckus in the backseat seems to explode from all of us excited campers! Although she may use ski poles while hiking, we still adore this inspirational leader.

Shannon (the one who couldn't get away): "DROP AND ROLL!"

It's fair to say that EVERYONE on this trip absolutely LOVES Shannon. You couldn't meet a more intelligent, beautiful, and warm souled young woman anywhere else other than the James Reserve in California, maybe the world :) Her experience with Rusty has helped him immensely and helped us new kids decoding some of his crazy plant talk! Her crazy and wild stories have filled us with tears of laughter during those many a car rides to trail spots. Always lending a helping hand or a welcome opinion when needed and making sure everyone is up to speed on the plans of the day. No doubt about it, Shannon is a fabulous mentor. Her maturity and friendly nature make everyone feel as if they have known this gorgeous young lady their whole lives. Thank-you for returning Miss Idaho :D

Robert (the boy with many names): "I don't remember anything that happened yesterday..."

This eagle scout surprised us all with plenty of quick come backs and a great sense of humour. He is a good hiker and sets a great pace at the front of the pack. Not to forget to mention his ability to carry the press pack with mucho gusto. This midwestern missourian sure does bring the fire in a game of egyptian rat screw (card game) and don't be fooled by his rough exterior, he has a way with close up photography and the natural beauty of flowering plants ;) Without Robert, the three men would only be two and two can be a lonely number. Robert is a wonderful sport when us girls tease him and pretend to forget his name. Also his adaptability in the field is super useful when situations get prickly. (like a chinquapin plant!) So as far as "John", "Ron", "Tyler", and "Jerome" goes he is one vital team member on this earthwatch expedition. Even if he refuses to play on his school's football team. We adore you Robert.

Monica (The girl with the laugh) " I just choked on my cough drop"

This girl is a survivor. She arrived sick and is fighting this cold of hers with nothing but cough drops and the fresh mountain air. But it deff hasn't brought her down because she is liveliest one of the bunch. Right off the plane Monica fell in love with California. The HUGE mountains and CRISP air was nothing like the Iowan landscape. So she said. Monica might just skip the flight next sunday and stay in this amazing place with the rest of us. Never knew that this crazy, loud (in a good way), amazing girl would soon become one of the many cool and amazing people in the group. Her loud laugh would add so much to the trip. Her energy towards the group has been amazingly amazing no matter what strange dream, odd cuddle sessions or late night conversations we had it didn't stop her to climb that mountain the next day. Monica's thing has been doing process photos. She absolutly loves this job. She gets to take all of the pictures we later laugh our butts off too. She has become on of my best friends and she is the kinda of person that anyone can talk to and without her on this expedition i would be lost, actually not just I but all of us would be lost. It is her amazing ability to adapt and love everyone to the fullest that we all love the most.

Katie ( the forest ranger): "I'm pretty sure that it's an elephant."

Holy cows, what can Hannah "Skadoosh" and myself, Monica, say about this extremely smart and kind young lady. Well we can deff say that we wouldn't know what to pack the first day. Her advice is ooberly important and her ever curious questions never seem to end (but it's a never ending goodness, sort of like how you wish a chocolate bar would be.) This gal is more mature than any other seventeen year old around. Her 'mama-ness' has been the nurturing kick in the pants every morning and every evening. Her love for plants runs almost as deep as their roots. She may be the quiet one, but her presence is surely missed when not around. Thankfully Hannah and I can say she's in our car 95% of the time. PHEW! GO TAHOE TEAM!! Katie has been named pretty much our official recorder. We would say that this is the most important job (other than us two who are the entertainment). She manages to keep all of us crazy teenagers in line with her positive and upbeat personality, but her firm hand only appears when numbers, descriptions, and plants are being collected without the proper "katie-how-to". We love this gal's organization, sweet giggle, and awesome plant knowledge :)

Hannah "Skadoosh" (the techno-pop queen): "I'm gonna shred you like cheddar cheese!"

Oooooooh boy. Where to begin... the very first day Katie and I were stuck in the same vehicle as this crazy Virginian. Little did we know what to expect until we got a not so slight sneak peek as she began to thrash violently about the car seats to some techno music that Katie had managed to get stuck on the satellite radio. We knew immediately that this gal was going to be a keeper that we'd come to love. Her curiosity is always thriving and her wit is never quite matched by anyone else on this trip. We love her running about the woods with her pants half-way down to her ankles (no worries, there are always shorts on underneath. Modesty still exists for this outdoorsy fisherwoman) and her 80's Donald Duck aviators about her blank stare face. And trust us folks when we say it just keeps getting better. Not only does this rough and tough girl run about with enough energy to match a day care, she can get down to work faster than a squirrel (her favorite animal) can run up a tree! She makes an awesome close-up photographer, plant presser/collector, car DJ, and best of all a wonderfully wicked friend. Her adaptability to every situation makes her vital to this group. Despite getting sick a few days in (yes, we blame Monica) she managed to kick the cold and get right back to work. Once up in the morning and paired with her red camelback, she hops in the car first ready to fly into action. Almost like those sugar glyders that she has spoken of so often!! We love you Skadoosh :)

Anthony (the new jersian w/out the accent): "It's not about the air, it's about the quality of the air."

This boy is not the so "shy guy" everyone expected. Other than his unfailing humble and kindness, Tony is a hardworker. Just like his fellow earthwatch SCAP boy, Robert. Tony came a day late, but worked that much harder to make sure he caught up on missed information. He has become the official lichen and moss collector as well as Julie's company towards the end of the pack. This boy certainly loves computers and without his help we would be lost. He has been able to willingly help us fellow computer dummies all the time. He has an answer to almost everything and a deep thought to share. Anthony is willing to ease anyone's load and carry it for them or take a picture here and there. While he may not always be the first one out of bed at 6 in the morning, he is the first one to be ready for the unexpected. His flexibility and calm demeanor is the final piece to our jigsaw puzzle during our August adventure. We enjoy this New Jersey boy's addition to this team. Without him we'd be lost in a world full of lichen and moss!

Hannah (Arky): "I just freakin' ran up and down that mountain with your nasty flowers!"

What's better than a gal from Arkansas with an awesome accent and mad actress skills?! A gal from Arkansas with an aswesome accent, mad actress skills, and on our earthwatch trip obviously! H.C.'s down to earth personality has helped floor all of us and keep us focused on our task at hand to press these plants. Yet this girl is not all business, in fact she is very much party too. (On and off the hiking trails) Whether she is singing in the cars, dancing at an Idyllwild concert, or video taping the day's collections with pizazz, she has brought the much needed relief in the group with one of her jaw dropping smiles! She is daring in every way whether it is dancing with the people of Idyllwild or climbing a huge mountain this girl never gives up. Hannah has been away from home for awhile and yet her attitude towards the adventure is outstanding. :) Without her on this expedition the team would be missing a corner to its puzzle. but thankfully with all of the greatness including Hannah on this trip we are 100% compelte. Hannah we all love your smile, laugh and awesome jokes. Keep it real girl!


-Katie, Hannah "Skadoosh", and Mon-ick-a.


Hmmmm..... Let me think about it. Today was awesome!!! Every single person was mentally prepared for the longest hike of their lives, and then Rusty said oh lets just stop here and collect a few specimens. I dont know about everyone else but I was saying THANK YOU JESUS!!!!! I am still worn out from the first hike we did. My job today was camerawoman. Yeah, I know what your thinking, Hannah Culwell has the coolest job of them all. BINGO! WE HAVE A WINNER! I basically get to catch what all of the photographs and recordings can not. The visual contemptment of the research and data that everyone is collecting. We collected different specimens such as the Indian paintbrush, Eriogonum, and lupine. After we collected them we went to different elevations and often found the same specimens. With such a lack of water it makes you wonder why these species thrive at such high elevations. After gathering up all of the equipment(I call it gear it sounds cooler) we parked the cars and set off for a mile hike up the mountain. When they told me that we were going to the Black Mountain Lookout Tower that made the mile go by so much faster. On the way up I fell in love with the view. The peace that the mountains give to you is often breathtaking. We arrived at the lookout tower and met its keeper Mr. Joe Jackson. He had been stationed at this particular lookout tower since 2003. Underneath the tower there were chipmunks running around eating whatever they could get there hands on. I started feeding them peanuts, and Skadoosh even attempted it out of her hands. We said our goodbyes to Mr. Jackson and and the beautiful view. Heading back down the mountain was an interesting experience, and thats something I will say is Earthwatch talk. After arriving back at the reserve, we all got ready to go into Idyllwild for dinner and as Monica says, " My food baby is not liking me right now." A few of us headed back to the Reserve and here I am now typing this blog to you guys. Robert and I who I call " John" ( He just looks like a John to me) are watching an episode of The Office. I am looking forward to the days ahead because you never know what Skadoosh will do next. We are keeping it cool here in Cali. Peace :)

- Hannah (Arky/H.C.)


Day 5 was amazing! We woke up, ate breakfast, got our gear ready, stocked up on water, and headed out to meet Dani who works with the U.S. Forest Service. We wen to Alvin Meadows where we collected 29 plant and moss species. Among some of the plants we collected were thistles, and those would have so bad without Dani's gloves. We actually told Rusty that we decided to classify these things as trees and that we should not be aloud to press them. He just laughed and insisted that we continue. We found a shrub that I saw that looked just like a strawberry, and we soon realized that this is not gentle at all. It hurts! Especially if you have to collect and bag the plants for pressing like myself. After pressing all of the plants, and eating lunch, we went back to the reserve and got ready for the long night ahead of us. Rusty told us that there was a concert in Idyllwild and of course every single one of us were stoked! All the girls got dressed up and Rob and I just put on shorts and a t-shirt. But when we got there, we realized we should have dressed in jeans, it was freezing! But the dancing part of the night was the best by far. I have never country danced in my life, but I can be sure it's something I will do again. Julie was a master of country dances, she showed me how to dance that night. Even though everyone else did not share the same enthusiasm that I did, they all enjoyed themselves quite a bit. I can say with confidence that I have never dance with so many people in my life. :) Goodbye for now!

- Anthony

Day 4

We all are now getting used to the semi early wake up, breakfast and then the hike for the day. We are all so beat, and today we had an easier day for hiking. It really was a day of car hopping. We got in the cars and headed down the hill to Mount Edna to collect some unusual suspects for plants, WEEDS. A lot of people wouldn't think about it but botanists all over are now discovering new weeds. Therefore, being the awesome scientists we are we collected some amazing plants and weeds. We split up into two groups and covered twice as much as area. The first group consisted of Rusty, Shannon, Monica, and the other Hannah. Throughout the blog you might see odd names for myself and Hannah due to the fact that we have the same names. Throughout the blog look for "Arky" and "H.C" for the other Hannah and for myself you can see that my nickname is officially "skadoosh". Team two consisted of Katie, Robert, Julie, and myself. The other team headed further up the trail to collect specimens. I was definately jealous that the other group got to see a rattle snake. It is my goal by the end of the trip to see at rattle snake from a great distance. Once we collected the plants we all pressed them and as we pressed on Robert got a bloody nose. His nose would not stop bleeding, so we had to take a trip down into the valley to get him all fixed up. All of us were so eager to go back out into the field, and we soon headed up the mountain to go to the Twin Pine area. We split up again and collected an abundance of amazing plants. Once we pressed our plants the second group headed back down into the valley to get gas and then back to the reserve. The first group came back uploaded pictures and chilled out. When we were about to drive up the road to go to the reserve, Julie decided a swim in the lake would be lovely. At first Robert, Katie and I said "NO WAY we're not getting in!" As we watched Julie take her dip Robert finally convinced me and all of us dove in. The water was disgusting but it definately felt very nice! Everyone was a little jealous we got to cool off, but our smell from the lake was horrid and noone would get near us or at least me. Haha :). Dinner was delicious and put us all in better moods for the night. It seems that every single minute that passes by we grow closer and closer to one another. I can definately say that I love every single person on this trip! In conclusion, today was the best so far. By next Sunday I will have 9 new best friends. After all that is the way it should be. TA TA for now :).

- Hannah (Skadoosh)

Day 3

Suicide Rock:
Just the name sounded bad to everyone. It started out as a normal day getting ready at the James Reserve. We got into the cars and made our way to the start of Deer Springs Trail where we got ready to get today's specimens. We set out on the hike and quickly realized that it would be a long day. While we immediately found lots of specimens it was a harsh uphill hike. After two and a half hours or so we reached the sign that warned "Suicide Rock: 1 mile." We thought we had reached the end, but the fun was just about to start! When we finally reached the top, the view was totally worth it. It was a giant rocky top, surrounded by cliffs with an amazing view of the surrounding country. We ate lunch there, everyone had something different. On the way down, we collected more specimens, and in total for the day, we collected a total of 33 plant and moss specimens. Most of which were found half a mile down from Suicide Rock junction (where the sign was) We ate dinner that night at the forest service headquarters kitchen area. But right before that we went to the annex and pressed our flowers so we could preserve them. Dinner that night was... RIBS! Ribs were a big hit with the man table. While the girls barely finished their own, Anthony, Rusty, and Robert downed slab after slab. After our feast, we hit up the local SnoCone place and everyone got a snocone, or in Robert's case, chocolate dipped icecream. On the way back to the Reserve we stopped at Vista Point. It overlooked the city of Banning and had an awesome view of everything around us for miles on end. We took pictures there and then finally called it a night.

Robert & Tony

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 2

Today was amazing! We got up at 5:50 am and got ready to go by 7. We had our first bout of training and where we each were assigned a role (recorder, presser, photographer, or collecter). We went to an open meadow around a radio tower and many specimens were collected. We all pretty much got the jist of it fairly quick as well as working as a team. Although the experience was new for many of us, we worked together very well. But, because Anthony was layed over in Jersey because his plane was missing a part (fire extinguisher) making it so that he could not fly in on Sunday with everyone else, Shannon and I had to go to the airport in Ontario to pick him up. We also had a flat tire on Rusty's rig so we turned in the vehicle and got a new shiny Chevy Tahoe which is pretty nice except for the fact that it lacks satellite radio. After we went to lunch, we headed to Wal Mart to get groceries-that was uber sweet. Most of our food consists of junk food (i.e. mini donuts, chips, candy). Then we went back into the field on the Nature Trail with Anthony to get him into the groove of field work. Okay, since I'm pretty straight forward and didn't add any pizzaz to my writing, I'll hand it over to Monica who is a hilarious and creative story teller.


Where to start hmm?? I suppose I could begin with Monday morning eh? Or even better, we'll backtrack a little to Sunday evening... I was WORN OUT! If it wasn't for all the plane travel, new faces, new places, emotional and physical exhaustion well shoot, let's just say I was tired. Sleep was a little rough being in a new and strange mountainous cabin reserve (James Reserve). I was unsure what to think of the winding roads, tall trees, and all the sky! It was beautiful and I couldn't wait to get up and get started on the day. Waking up in a room with a bunch of girls: one who later I'd discover to be named Hannah "Skadoosh" to be a crazy good dancer, Katie the plant genius and great listener, Hannah "H.C." the hysterical actress. (and to think we're only on our 5 day and I'm looking back with so much left of our adventure together) But anywhoos... back to day 2 right! As I woke up and rummaged around the room for my belongings, asking the girls who seemed to be more experience at hiking than this looney Iowan gal what to pack, and looking for some delicous and nutricious breakfast in the kitchen I began to realize that this experience could be either amazing or on the flip side absolutely awful, yet I was keeping toes and fingers crossed for plan A. (I still think the plants have decided that that's the best choice as well) Everyone then proceeded to gather in the meeting room directly off of the kitchen area and put on boots, finished packing bags, and kept their ears open for instructions from our good sir Rusty Russell. The leader and papa of the group :) We discussed the plan of attack for the day. We'd take a small hike in the morning, pick young New Jersey resident Anthony up from the airport (the airplane was missing a vital piece of equiptment... dun dun dun a fire extinguisher!), return to the house, and take another small hike to help Anthony catch back up on the equipment and roles of the day. So back to the morning at hand here, I listened intently to Rusty for my "job" per-say and was quick to ask any question that came to hand. I still consider myself to be the most inexperience camper/hiker/botanist around, yet I am learning and that's all the counts... right? At this time I heard my name and my job, RECORDER! Woot, I think?! When we left the cabin and off to a small trail directly across the road I began to wonder if I should have broken in my boots a little bit better. Too late now! "Off we go!" I carried that green clipboard with pride and looked on as others carried cameras, press material, and the nerves of meeting new people. The hike wasn't too bad afterall, perhaps I was in decent shape afterall and these boots would do me well :) By the radio tower I saw bunches and bunches of plants. Some recognizable and some unrecognizable. Either way I was eager to help. So I began to listen to Rusty shout off words and acronyms that I was completely clueless to but nodded my head in aggreement. I figured a little brown nosing wouldn't hurt the first day in the field ;) To this day I still say that being recorder is the toughest job. The whole plant collecting process relies on that one single person... I'll stick to giving a helping hand where needed. Yet if that helping hand requires me to be recorder, my hand is shot up as a volunteer. I have learned not to hold back on this expedition so far. Even after the second day! Around 9 Katie, Shannon, and Rusty went to get Anthony while the rest of us remained at the reserve. When they returned we were still getting used to the thought of being around eachother, yet I knew it wouldn't be hard. What's so difficult about getting along with fellow science nerds? The best part was going off to grocery shop. This is where I learned that not only do science nerds adore science (shocker eh?! haha) but that we all pretty much love the same food. Or is that just a teenager thing? We drove our two vehicles into town with a grocery list in hand and as those air tight Wal-Mart doors opened I could smell the gorgeous smell of semi-fresh produce, pre-packaged foods, hygiene deficient employees, and even worse hygiene deficient shoppers. It was going to be a blast! Yet my dear readers, the hardest part is describing to you the exact emotions I felt while roaming those aisles with two shopping carts, 3 boys (yes, that includes Rusty), and 5 beautiful ladies ;) So I believe the best solution is by having you read a few quotes that will forever be imprinted in my 17 year old memory: "Did anyone get the granola bars... yet?!" "GO GET THE SMORES STUFF!" "...We need more food..." and the ever common, "I thought those kids were with you... or are they getting that food? Wait, we already have it... what is going on!?!" Yes indeed my readers, Wal-Mart is an exciting place for 6 teenagers, 2 adults, and all suffering from a curable disease called hunger. Once home though all was well. We unpacked our newly purchased goods, went on one more hike, joined a game of egyptian rat screw (card game my dears), and hit the sleeping bag like it was a king sized mattress covered in the softest comforter you had ever had. So in conclusion....


We have grown close to these strange castaways and looked onto bigger and better things. Until the next time we blog my friends and it will happen again. We do believe our sleeping bags, pillows, and current bunk mates for the next two weeks are calling us. Goodnight.

-Katie and Monica

Day 1 arrivals

It all started off at the Dallas Airport. I met Hannah first. I knew that this trip was going to be amazing from the beginning. We started boarding the plane to Ontario California. We thought that we were going to be sitting together but turns out that we did not. I walked to the lavatory (I call it the bathroom) and at that moment saw Robert in his weakest moment. His mouth wide open completely vulnerable. Monica was quiet at first, and then we all realized she laughs really loud! The plane ride flew by, and before we knew it we were getting off of the plane in Ontario California. Honestly, my view of California was totally ruined! I thought that there would be a huge movie set and low riders. Instead it was the most interesting place I had ever seen. We got to our massive vehicles and headed to the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. There we met James Bryant the natural history curator of the museum. He explained how these beautiful mountains got here. It is pretty amazing how such a luscious ecosystem can survive on so little water. And you wouldn't know it but Riverside has one of the freshest aquifers in the area. We then got to meet all of James little critters. Ranging from huge snakes to non-native fish and frogs. He had to explain to us that this area is full of animals and reptiles we would not want to run into. So basically he told us to not pet the big cats they call mounatin lions or play with the rattle snakes. Once he was finished talking about all the great things about the mountains which would be our home for two weeks we headed to dinner. All of us were starving. At least for me I had not eaten since breakfast. I ordered a huge burger and ate every bite. We all appriciated the wonderful food. Now, finally we were off to the James Reserve. My ears started popping and I realized that we were getting close. We kept pushing up the mountain listening to satellite radio. I was texting and all of the sudden lost service and realized that I was not going to be able to reach civilization for the next two weeks. It was not such a big dissapointment. After all of the jetlag and different encounters of the 2cnd we arrived at the James Reserve. It is a large cabin with different experiments going on everywhere you look. We all greated each other once again with different approaches. We put away all of our belongings upstairs and gathered back together for an "official meeting". We all listened to the voice of instruction that we would be hearing for the next two weeks, Rusty Russell. With all of our equipment now organized we retired to our beds. I fell asleep listening to Coldplay, and that's when I realized this is going to be the most amazing two weeks of my life!

(By Hannah and Hannah)