We drove out of Moscow on Sunday morning, at about 6:30 AM (we being myself, Zack, Tyler, and Drake, Zack's dog). We headed south into Boise, turned east through the Snake River plain, then dropped south again into Utah, turning east again at Salt Lake and then meandering down through Moab and the Canyonlands. I had the last turn at the wheel and took over early Monday morning, coming down through Espanola and getting us to Tyler's house in Los Alamos, NM at 5:30 AM, just before sunrise. We'd driven for a straight 23 hours.
We slept for about 3 hours at Tyler's house, had a nice breakfast with his parents, and then headed out on the road again around noon. Tyler did much of the late-night driving earlier, so I drove through Santa Fe, Albequerque, and Socorro, and then Zack took us the rest of the way to Silver City...including the meandering little back highway through the mountains in the Gila Wilderness, where we'll be working this summer.
We got rooms here at the hotel and got some much needed rest after the rushing of the past few days, only to discover that our supervisors were much less organized or hurried than we. It took us a day to even get in contact with Penny, since the phone numbers she gave us did not apparently apply to the two cell phones she has, and she left Tucson quite late. So the three of us have been hanging out, resting up, catching a couple movies (X2 two days ago, My Big Fat Greek Wedding yesterday, and Matrix 2 tonight), repacking, and nipping around town picking up supplies, checking in, and tying up loose ends.
The cuisine is excellent. New Mexico green chile, aw yeah. Tyler is very happy.
We'll be packed in for our first (very long) stint out tomorrow morning. It will normally just be the four of us, but this stint will include Penny (our supervisor), the packers, and about 4 other researchers. We went to the packer's house yesterday to start putting the loads together, which was very annoying. Here's why.
1. Penny left for lunch 5 minutes before we got there, and was gone for an hour and a half. We sit around some more. She's been virtually unreachable for days.
2. Instead of tying mantied loads, as we've been taught, we're loading panniers (not even canvas ones...big metal missile boxes that take up a significant portion of the 80 lb limit per side). This is a huge pain in the butt, because a tied load doesn't rattle, since everything is held tight (rattling = very bad...damages stuff and spooks the mules). A pannier will rattle if it isn't full, so you have to fill it, which is hard when you're trying to balance panniers evenly on both sides of the animal. It's inefficient. A tied load is like hiking with a backpack. A pannier is like carrying shopping bags into the wilderness, in my opinion.
3. Penny went shopping and is providing food for this stint, even though I already bought plenty. However, Tyler and I are vegetarians and non-drinkers, and will not be eating a lot of this food. Penny will probably divvy the cost among us evenly. That total cost was $1,500, which includes a bottle of chardonnay, 3 bottles of merlot, a bottle of whiskey, all sorts of meat, bagged salads that have already spoiled, and various expensive items, like a large wheel of Brie. For a 12 day hike in the wilderness. Also, a heinous amount of cooking supplies...17 metal knives for 10 people, 2 frying pans, 2 huge cutting boards, 6 or 7 pots and pans.
4. After packing all that nonsense yesterday afternoon (97 degrees out, btw), Penny advised us to bring very few personal items (such as clothes, tents, sleeping bags), because we didn't have much room.
Still, at least Zack has this nice laptop, so I can check in on all my LJ stuff from time to time. And pester you folks. :)