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.
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.
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.
Another little adventure that monkeyed with the gig:
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.
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.
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:
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.