Before anything else, let me just say that if you the reader are an employer and looking for a highly competent wildlife biologist, look no further!
Alright now more realistically, that’s five months wrapped up. An adventure that was absolutely worth driving across the country. I was actually a little slow with getting this up. So I am now writing this in a Starbucks in North Carolina visiting friends.
I am extremely thankful for all of the experiences gained through my work with the BLM Prineville district. But if I had to limit the lessons learned down to a handful of tid-bits, it would be this:
- Own up to your mistakes and you’ll learn more from it and faster. Especially when I first started working this summer, making mistakes was practically a habit of mine day by day. The worst moment was when I failed to write down directions to a specific site. I dumbly assumed that the roads would be easy to follow…they were not. This bold assumption making two of us marooned on dirt roads, unable to get to our site, with my coworker understandably considering strangling me when it turns out I never wrote down the directions. This leads me to-
- Keep a notebook on your person. Credit to Kathleen for this one! She’s right. Always keep a notebook around, old school style. It happens all too often that people sporadically tell you valuable info at the worst moments. Those notebooks can be a lifesaver, or at least help you find difficult locations in rural Oregon!
- I don’t know what the deal is with country songs, there’s nothing “fun” about driving a 4×4 through muddy roads. And if it is fun, then you’re not on a real dirt road or you’re an extremely dangerous driver. One of the two.
- At the specific moments you feel like you’re falling into complacency…push yourself out of your comfort zone. I was falling a little to much into a routine of just hanging out at my apartment in September, so I forced myself to go backpacking in Rainier. And I wouldn’t trade that weekend for the world. Even if it poured rain and I was on my own, which leads me finally to-
- Learn to be alone. There’s a world of difference between alone and lonely. I think too often in the past I used me being alone as an excuse not to do any adventures. And that’s stupid. I started to accept in Oregon that I may never be around here again, so let’s see it all while I can. Hiking alone is a skill that I think is fading away, and while it is nice to have other people join, I see nothing wrong with hiking in solitude so long as you’re smart about it-as in let others know where you are. With my girlfriend still on the other side of the country in North Carolina, I was certainly alone a lot. But that does not mean you have to be lonely, you just have to learn how to be alone, which in the overly connected world we live in today I think learning to be alone is vital sometimes.
I never cared for Dr. Seuss, but I do love “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” as it always alleviates my anxiety when life comes across as too much. So now, after driving across the country twice and countless adventures, I’m excited to see where I will go next.