Tag Archives: GIS

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!!!!!!

Thanks be to the gods I don’t believe in, today was the last day collecting data in Utah.

Tomorrow, pack and roll. Saturday hit Bend and visit some fam, Sunday, home. There is no way to express how happy I am to be returning to my tiny home and friends.

Sure, the last post (so, so long ago) was full of “Oh, it ain’t too bad so far” but, quickly, it devolved into a brutal Groundhog’s Day slog of fighting the loneliness of severe isolation and intellectual stagnation. Unfortunately, the person hired to assist with the gig turns out to have the intellect of burnt toast, truly the most unremarkable, mediocre and dull human I’ve ever interacted with. Could be replaced with a bar of Dove soap. That, combined with being the definition of a Millennial stereotype, made the last 3.5 months a slog of epic proportions.

Were it not for the ability to explore the massive landscape off the clock, make a short run to visit friends in Colorado, and listen to a good number of podcasts, shit would have seriously gone off the rails. It’s been a daily struggle fighting the urge to elbow every last one of his stupid teeth out of his vapid clueless fucking head and cackling like a psycho. I resist the urge.

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Damn graffiti

Despite the challenges, there have been a staggering number of experiences, from huge vistas to deep personal insights, that have almost made this time worth it. The OT hasn’t hurt either.

Were I able to live in the deep desert with viable companionship, I could handle it for a good long time. Rising and setting with the sun, being immersed in the heat and having the chance to roam about such a varied landscape has been amazing.

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Sunrise from my morning perch

Another aspect that I truly loved was the feeling of being immersed in wildlife. every single day involved a wide array of critters in large numbers. Wild horses, Pronghorn, deer, elk, bison, black bears, cattle, sheep, turkeys, quail, bald eagles, golden eagles, Dumb birds (grouse), and a ton of weird fucking bugs. The best part was being here for calving season, getting to see babies of all the above critters. Soooooooooooo much cuteness!

“Where are the pictures?!?!” I was working, not here to provide a vicarious experience. If ya wanna see that shit, quite making excuses, get off yer ass, and come check it all out.

Fine, here’s an albino wild foal.

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Another little adventure that monkeyed with the gig:

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The Dollar Ridge Fire was right in the middle of the collection area and fucked things up a bit, but it’s really surprising what you can get away with with a yellow blinky light bar on your truck. Utards react to any color of flashing light bar as though you are seriously official, they just get the fuck out of the way. All other times they drive like LA style assholes.

Heading to Colorado to visit friends was the highlight of the trip. So good to see familiar affectionate faces and hang with old friends. Nate, Tera and the kids were happy to see me as well and I was in some kind of hot spring 3 of the 4 days.

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You’ll have to find it yourself, ain’t tellin’

This one was my favorite, can’t beat the view.

Met a fellow on a KLR at the local coffee shop and ended talking for hours. Turns out he’s a PhD candidate from Florida in Urban development and may be a good pipeline for interns to help out with summer data collection in the future. And generally, a damn good guy. Not too many times you end up hugging it out with a random guy you meet at a coffee shop.

Oh, fuck, it’s over. Been waiting for this day for 2 months. Finally here.

Just bought $115 worth of free range Bison from the Ute Market, I’ve eaten a bunch of it while here and might just have to come back now and again to get another big pile of it.

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On a different note, if you’re wanting a stunningly capable, reliable, and tough as fuck rig, get a Toyota truck. I am so impressed with this truck’s ability to easily handle the constant array of pure shit roads and off-road routes that would have hammered a POS Ford, Dodge or Chevy apart. The things are fucking tanks, well designed for real off-road work, no surprise they’re the go to truck from Afghanistan to sub-Saharan Africa. Having driven off-road professionally for various gigs since ’89 this is one of 2 rigs that blew my mind with their ability. Here’s the other one:

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This thing was truly awesome.

Well, that’s about it. Back home for a few weeks then off to NorCal for 2 weeks to tackle another project. Going to pack in as much friend time as possible and hit Common Ground a dozen times or so. Seat time on the KLR is high on the list as well, damn I wanna ride! It’s been way too long.

Smooches!

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One Month In…

Stunning how fast time can fly when you live in a tent in the middle of the Utah desert 6 days a week. Turns out the one day a week in Vernal at the hotel is PLENTY. Shit in a real toilet, shower off the grime, do laundry, sleep in a bed, then get the fuck out of dodge and back to the hills. Beats hanging with the hordes of young girls/women with hordes of fucking twat rats the average Mormon town is infested with. Not to mention fat dudes in jacked up trucks, many fat dudes in jacked up trucks.

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There is no end to the beauty here. Well, Vernal is a shithole, but I mean out of town.

We end up going for hikes almost every day after work for 2-4 hours exploring the endless massive landscape, get back, and exchange notes on what we saw. We hike solo, get plenty of each other sitting in a truck 8-9 hours a day. A side benefit of all this hiking at 6500-7000 feet is developing wicked endurance. Combined with a Primal/Paleo diet and intermittent fasting (16 hours a day) I’ve dropped 15 pounds without even trying. Between that and the hair, gonna look much different when I get back home.

It’s about time to relocate camp again, need better access to the work we’re doing and the current area is almost hiked out. The new area is primarily PJ (Pinyon/Juniper) forest and promises great exploring. And cougars. And bears. It’s always a hoot getting back into the food chain.

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See what I mean?

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Things have settled down concerning the severe homesickness felt upon heading out to here. Having been so long since I’d last had a proper home it was hard to leave it knowing I’d be gone for so long. Now, I’m in the groove and am pushing the tempo to hit my target of celebrating the 4th of July with friends in Portland. Time will tell.

On days that hiking doesn’t sound good it’s been sitting in the camp chair and reading or staring at shit listening to podcasts, but a new activity can be pursued: Archery. Got myself a Diamond Carbon Cure compound bow and all the associated goodies for a steal and flick 25-30 arrows a night to get the skills buffed up. Next year the skills should be ready to try for deer and elk.

The transition from fire fighting to this work has been fairly smooth, many of the skills translate, but the compensation and work conditions are far superior. The allowance of freedom is so wide it’s been an adjustment. Basically, I was given $100k worth of shit, a credit card, and a human I picked, and told to have a good time, get it done. Being allergic to authority and control freaks, this is a match made in heaven. Thankfully, projects this long will be rare, once every few years, but I’ll still get to travel on the company dime every summer for a few weeks here and there from Alaska to Oklahoma.

Which is all a way to say that at 47, I’ve finally found what, for me, is the perfect gig. Good pay and bennies, a great deal of freedom and most importantly lots of room to grow and apply my broad and eclectic range of skills.

Time to take advantage of this hotel room.

 

Tomorrow, back to this:IMG_20180408_193144529_HDR.jpg

Desert, Dinos and Dirt

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Fantasy Canyon formation

After finally getting myself the long illusory setup of a cozy home base from which to explore, I find myself pulled from it for yet another summer away from friends, family and familiarity. It’s a “same first letter triplets” kind of post, folks. Yup, got me a real job and all that and still have field season, this year in Utah for 3-4 months then up to Ketchikan, AK for a month or so after that.

The land we’re collecting data on is the dead middle of fucking nowhere Utah, where the Northern Ute got told to fuck off to after getting the boot off their ancestral land in the Salt Lake and Provo basin areas. Needed to build temples and too wide straight roads I guess.

Currently I’m in Vernal, UT, dirty little backwards shithole that it is. I can see 3 Moron, ahem, Mormon churches from the hotel. Thankfully, town is a once a week thing for a day off and groceries, the rest of the time is spent camping near the Green river, made famous by both John Wesley Powell and Edward Abbey.

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Evening boot about near camp

Having already seen some amazing sites, many spectacular desert destinations await exploration, and I’m getting paid to camp with a new trailer, for cooking and storage, I’m in a sweet tent, and roam around with a former co-worker from Apple I hired to work with me at this gig

Way better than in fire, but this has got to be the last summer of disappearance. I don’t mind a month or so here and there, but 4-6 months is a fucking haul. It’s been weird adjusting to having my own place after so long in some form of shared housing, love it, almost to a fault. The social life slowly builds, but will go on hiatus til the fall. That fact was what made it not hard to just do my own thing most of the time here, I hung with friends, but didn’t dive deep into building up a tribe seeing I’d be heading out soon.

The goal is to make the best of the situation, explore my ass off and see what can be gained from the experience. I’ve already advised the boss that next year a week or 2 here and there will be good, but no more disappearing for a season, done with that.

A former GF told me it was much harder on the one left behind than the leaver, was quite adamant about it and refused to hear argument on the topic. Now that I have the floor, I shall disagree. Yes, it is hard, I’ve been in the shoes of the one left behind, but at least your entire world isn’t disrupted by the event.

There is still YOUR home, friends, stores, hangouts, town/city, schedule, it all stays the same and provides what it always has without disruption. There is no need to try and reinvent a temporary version of your entire life in some random place every summer that may or may not suit you. Camping 6 days a week is a little rough, but Vernal is such a miserably generic cracker assed small western town that 1 day a week is plenty.

That being said, the best shall be made of the situation as the option is unpleasant. I’ve tried both routes and the effort put into self care, reaching out to friends and straight up bucking the fuck up always pays off for the better.

We shall see…

Meanwhile, here is another stunning desert photo:

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Standard Desert amazeballs

Being All Adult and Such

Cheers, good readers!! How’s it been?

As typical, much has happened since the end of the big trip. That interview I cut the trip short for paid off well. I’m 2 weeks in on being a Field GIS Tech with a sweet small engineering firm that I’ll never name here. Like to keep personal and professional firewalled. Suffice it to say, it’s a good place with potential. Plus I get to drive a sweet Toyota around in the beautiful mountains in Washington, eventually all over the West.

Tomorrow I’ll be moving in to my new place, the first non-roommate place I’ll have had since 2007. Glory be!!!!! Cheap, cute and chill. 5 minutes from the office and the Salmon Creek Greenway with trails and such. Not that I’ll be there much as it’s field season so I spend weekdays in the field and weekends home. ¬†Still, it’s mine and it’ll be a great place to be able to come back to and have how I want it.

Having moved over 60 times in my life (living in Govt dorms, on couches, in the dirt, with shitbag roommates) being able to have a homey base to work/play out from is a very welcome thing. Hell, I might even go so far as to get plants again. So grown up!

Thumper got me out on a few more little Oregon trips the couple weeks after I got back from the trip, but isn’t in the best of health.

Exhaust is falling off, the starter switch failed in Astoria so I had to spend the next 2 days gear starting a KLR and that ain’t no goddamn fun at all. Got it back to Bend and will deal with it over the winter.

I will use this space to once again sing the praises of the lowly KLR 650. That fucking tank is one of the most broadly capable bikes on the planet and they’re cheap as shit. One seeking a tough bike to really get out in the boonies with could hardly go wrong buying one.

I’ve been flirting with new bikes, the Suzuki V-Strom 650XT in the lead unless the Yamaha T-7 comes out awesome and under $10k. Knowing the Strom is less off-road capable than the current ride, it would have been plenty capable on the stuff I rode on the big trip. My taint was so fucking hammered after 11,000 miles on a KLR that I decided a new ride was in the mix. I mean, I have ridden around 16,000 miles this year alone, not like some of the poor bikes out there, abused by neglect, sitting around collecting dust under the ownership of one wearing a Born to Ride shirt who sells it after 6 years and maybe 3000 miles. Sad, so sad, it’s a sad sad situation. And it’s getting more and more absurd.

Met with an eclectic group of delightful folks to memorialize a good friend who died last year and had the honor of taking some of his and friend Corey’s dad’s ashes together up to a feature on the back side of Mt Hood called Snowdome. Was a burly scramble and rolled the shit out of my already dodgy ankle, but totally worth it. He asked to be there and it was important to his wife and sons.

Memories of experiences and epiphanies from the Big Moto Haul still pop up on occasion. Little things can trigger a long 1000 yard stare moment where I’m still out there having the coolest experience dirty, tired and content. Many more such excursions shall come in the near future.

For a short bit, tho, it’s time to be a happy little homemaker and worker among workers. As well as coming to the realization that, once again, Portland is my home.

The Transition to ‘Fall’ here in the Land of No Seasons

Why, howdy!

Getting back to life here in Silicon Hell post big desert blast took a bit, but things are rolling along nicely again. Had a couple short adventures on Thumper out to previously tread areas. Not too exciting, but enjoyable all the same. I’ve been having a bit of a mental block about how far I can range on any given weekend which has limited my adventuring. Taking a solid looks at maps and rejiggering my outlook has kicked open possibilities. Plans for a few day blast up the 1 from the city exploring the coast and all the little side roads into the Mendocino NF is in store mid September.

Trail running has been taking up the slack and it’s good to be getting back into a solid routine after almost 2 years out due to injuries and recovery from the resultant surgeries. Despite all there is I find to dislike about this place, its expansive network of parks and open space preserves makes for some damn fine trail running. Having gotten back into the flow in the spring of ’14 and all prepped to do the Dirty Half in Bend, the goddamn 2 Bulls Fire ripped right through the race course canceling the affair.

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2 Bulls Fire Bend, OR 6/14

Soon after, the fucked up shoulder was too painful and fire season too busy to get back into it. Sitting out the shoulder surgery and awful plantar wart through the fall and winter of ’14-’15 knocked me back to zero, but fire season 2015 was gonna be the return to it. Until I blew out my fucking knee. Another surgery, YAY!!!!

Getting the gig here in Cali, I showed up eager to work, but seriously out of shape. 2 years of sitting around will take it out of ya. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the lifestyle here, I will say it provided a great opportunity to get back at it. Having no social life can really open up some free time.

Not having been into racing for a good while I was inspired to get back into them by 2 good friends: Sam DLV,a bad ass broad who is near 50 and destroys ultra trail runs and former GF, current friend Amanda J who has always offered a ton of encouragement and inspiration. She is a goddamn animal and crushes every race she enters. Found a race hosting organization that puts on some really top notch trail runs here and have gotten a few under my belt. This weekend I’m doing a trail half up Mt. Diablo which is gonna suck, but all the trails here have wicked elevation gain so you can’t help but get good at dealing with it. The ultimate goal is to run the Peterson Ridge 40 miler next spring with Sam, then get in a few 50k-50 milers in per year. Ultimately, it’s to build up and stay fit to do solo trail runs the like of The Wonderland Trail around Rainier and Timberline around Hood. Combining moto adventures to places to do big trail runs is the ultimate fucking sweet plan for the foreseeable future.

The day after the run I interview with PG&E for a GIS Tech position. It would, ironically, be in the town I was born in: San Ramon. Staying in Cali long term is not going to happen, but doing a few years to build up skills and pay off all my student loans is a much better option than anything being offered in the NW right now. Having lived as a paycheck to paycheck wage slave for years, the option to have financial security and do some career building seems a worthwhile price to pay to be here a bit longer. That being said, options in PDX are being explored, but are a significantly longer shot.

Time will tell.

Trust me, the next one will have more pretty pictures and adventure chatter. I promise.

Map Nerd Shit

Between morning cup of coffee 1 and 2 the little dinger on my phone went off letting me know of a new email. Fuck it, gonna get cuppajoe # 2 down before I read that.

Half way through #2 I decide to check it out and what do ya know, school got cancelled due to the .01 inch of ice. Woohoo, free day!

Got all the typical AM business out of the way then hit the computator to do some editing in Open Street Map. There, I tied it into the title. OSM, as us mappie types call it, is basically a spatial data version of Wikipedia. Anyone who opens an account can add, delete or edit the data in the map. The advantage of it over Google Maps, Bing Maps, etc. is that it isn’t up to the company to decide what gets edited/added. Have a favorite restaurant that isn’t on the map? Add it.¬† The map data is also shareware so it can be used by other developers without worry of copyright issues. Esri, the company that makes ArcMap, the primary GIS software platform, has it as a base map option, some phone apps, such as Maps.Me pro use it as their base map as well.

To get off on a side tangent, Maps.ME is worth having. You can download maps with built in routing so you can use them for route finding without having any data connection. The great benefit of them using OSM is this: if there are specific things you want to have in maps, you can add it to OSM and be able to access it at any time. Whenever the app updates, all the edits that occurred since the last update are automatically added. How can this be cool?

I’m a moto dork as well, if you couldn’t tell by the title of the blog. I like to do long solo treks on old highways and dirt/forest/desert roads in the middle of nowhere and there are a few things I like to know the location of: gas, water and food. So I go through areas I plan to explore, find any sources of aforementioned stuff and if it’s there, but not yet added to OSM, I put it in and voila! No data needed personal updated maps for the shit I need to know about.

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Spent tonight with a Meetup group called Maptime which was an absolute hoot. Played with editing in OSM, looked at some Strava data as it can be streamlined and uploaded and basically babbled map nerd shit with some cool folks for a few hours.

It is rather rewarding to have thrown it all in to return to school to retrain for a new career field and see how huge it is, how fun it is and to see that I’m pretty damn good at it. It’s obvious my writing isn’t going to put food on the table so it’s good this is working out so far.

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