Aaahh, the beauty of wide open spaces. Views for hundreds of miles. Dirt roads that never end. Dead ends are seemingly everywhere and overgrown trails are easy to miss. I seem to luck out with my exceptional map reading skills that are getting better every day out here due to necessity. I must learn precise map measurements as I maneuver my way through and around private chunks of land looking with my head down at my Trimble for the 3 tiny plots of “accessible” BLM land. “Am I there yet?” “How about now?” “Hmmm, maybe just a little bit further.” “Another locked gate!” “Oh no I must have passed it!” “Where did the road just go!?” My internal dialogue seems to be on constant repeat as I turn around for the fourth time, feeling only slightly foolish at the nearly impossible job of backroad navigations in search for the Holy Grail of spots.
A feeling of accomplishment settles over me as I look out over the land I’ve been searching for. The steep, craggily, north-facing cliffs where my intended plants all abound. An accessible site! YES! As if that isn’t enough to pat me on the back, I feel more accomplished as I see the site full of Festuca idahoensis and patches of Artemisia rigida mixed in with Eriogonum thymoides. SUCCESS!
As good as it feels to find my target collection specimens, nothing is more rewarding then when I so happen to stumble upon an uncommon, like the beautiful Calochortus elegans or the funky balloon seed pods of Astragalus reventiformis, or the unforgettable shyness of Areneria franklinii. AND not only finding them, but being able to key out these plants in the field by myself, having never been seen before.
Oh how I love plants! So much in fact that my summer of outings for the SOS Program has put me in prison…willingly of course (although I was tentative if they would let me out). We helped a team of inmates propagate Sagebrush seeds in their hoop house. Due to the excellent turnout of committed inmates, it only felt right to stay all day and help propagate the sagebrush seeds. Both Kevin and Lee kept us working hard, filling over 700 plugs with seed to try and reach an end goal of over 4,000 plugs. It was both an incredibly rewarding day and an unforgettable experience, as I can confidently say it is my first time ever in prison.
For the love of plants, I also went on a wild adventure through Moses Coulee, in a search to better understand Rangeland Management and Rangeland Health Assessments. Now, I learned many things this day, including the beauty of precision navigation and the luxury of wilderness driving. Going back to the notion of dead ends, overgrown trails, and fences blocking your path, I think I prefer using my two taken for granted legs, ah thank you.
The amount of exploration available, as all of us fellow interns can agree on, is insurmountable. I seem to have managed a fine balance out here in Wenatchee, WA. By living in Leavenworth, I’ve opened my off time to Mountain Time and my work life to explorations in the Columbia Plateau…and I’ve got lots of maps!!
The adventures always continue out here in the vast Shrub-Steppe. Until next time… Ima get a mountain bike =)
~Here’s to the healing side of Nature~
Calo Girl and her Mischievous Mutt