A Travellerspoint blog

Ash Meadows Day #4

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Day four got a little tricky. The morning was more carrying and transporting of rubbish, but the afternoon got tricky. There was one tiny little piece of fence in the middle of nowhere. Half the crew had ripped it out in the morning leaving my half to carry the rest of the rubbish back in the afternoon. There were no really large posts and most of the stuff wasn't too heavy. However we had to carry it for a 30 minute walk through swamps, bogs and streams. In very attractive waders:

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I say waders. For me usually waders are waterproof. These had more holes than a second hand dartboard.

I'm still not sure why we had to rip out this fence. We were removing fences to make access easier for the general public. But no member of the general public in their right mind would ever wander out there. Even if they had good waders.

Posted by MrKWatkins 14:26 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Ash Meadows Day #3

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The work suddenly got a lot harder... We moved to a new area to rip out more fences, however this time all the posts were very large lumps of wood. Cue a day carting heavy stuff... Helps keep me fit I guess, although it did rip the hell out of my shoulders.

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Hardly the romantic way one usually spends Valentine's Day. But then again Al Capone once ruined a romantic night out for many diners by massacring them so there have been worse.

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The sunset did help increase the romance content of the day, but the lack of shagging brought it right back down again.

Posted by MrKWatkins 14:12 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Ash Meadows Day #2

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More barbed wire fences on the second day, but only for the first half. The second half of the day was an educational day. We get these every trip or two where we learn about the local area from someone who works there. Amber, the project manager at Ash Meadows, gave us a talk about Ash Meadows and some of the endangered species there. The one that we learnt most about is the Devil's Hole pupfish. This little fish lives only in Devil's Hole which is a small geothermal spring in Ash Meadows. There were various caves formed in Ash Meadows around half a million years ago. These got separated over time, meaning various species were cut of in the caves and evolved slightly differently over the years.

There are only 38 pupfish currently in Devil's Hole. Man made irrigation earlier this century caused the water level in the hole to drop which in turn killed a lot of the pupfish. After various court battles in the 70s they were eventually protected. However the population has still declined since then. Largely due to the people 'protecting' them; in 2004 they put a few cages down there to trap pupfish for studying, came back the next day to find the traps had fallen into Devil's Hole and trapped and killed about two thirds of the population... Attempts to get them to breed in hatcheries aren't having much luck either; currently most of the fish that are bred are born with leukemia. They also currently have a feeding station which gives the pupfish food everyday at the same place from three. Of course this has had the effect of domesticating the pupfish which doesn't help for the long term survival of the species...

Personally I reckon let them die out. The little buggers have had millions of dollars thrown at them so far which I'm sure could be better spent elsewhere.

Towards the end of the educational day we noticed a dust storm starting in the distance.
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I'd never been in a dust storm before; it's certainly an exhilarating experience. I just wish it had died out quickly so we didn't have to camp in it that night...

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Posted by MrKWatkins 13:51 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Ash Meadows Day #1

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Our next eight day tour was to Ash Meadows. Ash Meadows is a wildlife refuge in the Mojave Desert that is home to several endangered species. I guess it's kind of an oasis of sorts in that there are lots of springs which makes it rather wetter than your average desert.

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Our first day was spent ripping out barbed wire fences. This meant trimming the barbed wire, rolling it up, removing the posts and transporting the old wire and posts to a container nearby. Pretty easy work to be honest, although it does tend to cut and bruise the hell out of you. And being in the middle of a desert makes it pretty damn hot during the day, so it did end up being quite demanding work.

Posted by MrKWatkins 15:18 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Fort Churchill Day #3

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We finished tidying up the trail by lunchtime and packed up in readiness for our next site. However first we were given a tour of nearby Buckland Station, an nearby building currently being restored. The building is not yet open to the public and the restoration is only half complete; they ran out of money before they could completely restore the upstairs portion of the house. The plan is to charge $1 for a tour of the building when it opens so hopefully they should soon get the cash to finish the restoration.

Next stop was Dayton State Park for more trail work. (With a brief stop to indulge my chicken wing addiction) Again the trail was already there so only tidying was necessary.

Posted by MrKWatkins 14:48 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Fort Churchill Day #2

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More trail work, most of it on the banks of the Carson River this time.

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It should be noted that the banks are unstable and can be dangerous; please be careful if you're ever there!

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For some reason after a hard days work we decided to go and climb a nearby mountain.

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I'm not exactly sure why this was a good idea at the time given that I was stone cold sober. But it was. Of course we are muppets and missed the easy route up. Thus meaning we only got halfway up. We could have probably climbed further but wouldn't have been able to get down without plummeting so we decided against it. Call us unadventurous if you will.

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Posted by MrKWatkins 14:11 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Fort Churchill Day #1

sunny -2 °C
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Another 4 day trip, this time actually doing some conservation work! Who'd thunk it.

We started at a place called Fort Churchill which is a small state park around the ruins of an old fort.

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We were doing trail work. The trail was already there which helped; just giving it a bit of a tidy up. Which basically involved clearing up the trail with a McLovin, chainsawing the crap out of any big trees in the way, lopping overhanging plants and blocking of unofficial trails. Or 'user developed routes' as some people have termed them.

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It was quite a nice area we stayed in; very picturesque with wildlife that didn't want to kill me. I increasingly find such wildlife to be a bonus in this country.

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Posted by MrKWatkins 13:49 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Two T-Shirt Day

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What seemed like a simple evening out turned into a two T-shirt night. The plan was to go to the Todd Snider gig at The Nugget in nearby Sparks. We piled down there on the bus and started at the Great Basin Brewing Co. for a few pints. The beer was pretty decent; up to the standard of any English brewery. 'Twas a tad strong though; the Ichthyosaur IPA was around the 6.2% mark which caused me problems the next day.

After beer and a bite to eat we piled into The Nugget. We managed to get seats right down the front in the middle so we were about a metre or so away from Mr. Snider himself. The gig was awesome. Although he played with his backing band The Nervous Wrecks which meant there wasn't as much banter between the songs he was still bloody good. Even chucked in a Chuck Berry number and finished off with Great Balls Of Fire. Fantastic. Which meant I immediately bought a T-shirt when I got outside.

Then we headed back to The Brewery where a local ska band called Keyser Soze were playing. Several more pints got me quite drunk, saw me dance around like a twat and get my second T-Shirt of the night.

Met a few people there. The best was a guy who looked a bit like a ghetto pimp; baggy clothes, green hoody, lots of chains and bling. However anyone who says to you "hi, my name is Derek but all my friends call me D's Nuts" then you know he has to be a decent bloke. And he was; we had a few drinks with him. Not every day you can say you've been out drinking with D's Nuts...

Posted by MrKWatkins 17:13 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Fernley Day #4

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Last day in Fernley was a bit dull... Picking up and sorting through items for charity. I did get to go to Taco Bell for the first time ever though, which I was rather chuffed about. We don't have Taco Bell in England, but due to the fact I've watched Demolition Man about 30 times I was keen to go. I had a taco that was both a soft shell and a hard shell taco at the same time. Simply genius.

We got back to Reno in the evening and had a few light ales at Fritz's. And found the delight of $2 burgers. A very fast foody day. Awesome.

Posted by MrKWatkins 17:10 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Fernley Day #3

semi-overcast -2 °C
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A fairly easy day. Only a few houses left to do so we had finished by lunchtime. Which meant I had the afternoon to peruse the religious texts in the church. One that I particularly enjoyed was "Communist America - Must It Be?" by Billy James Hargis. It was a version updated in the 1980s. (The original was from the 1960s) Apparently watching pornography is just as bad for your mental health as smoking is for your physical health. And AIDS is basically a plague sent by God to destroy homosexuals. And Ronald Reagan is great. And communism is bad. (Although he never actually explained why communism was bad, which I though to be an oversight...) Hilarious book, I strongly suggest you read it.

I should point out that the people associated with this church were all reasonable, good people and not at all like Mr. Hargis which is why I was surprised to find the book on the shelves. The preacher even apologised for the contents of a sermon that a few of the crew attended given at the church; apparently they had someone from out of town preaching and he was a bit fire and brimstoney. The church is more interested in the good elements of the Christian religion rather than the more whacked out ideas. They were good to us and helped a lot of people in Fernley so fair play to them.

The evening was bowling; Sod's law meant we turned up on league night and had to wait two bloody hours for a game...

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Posted by MrKWatkins 16:45 Archived in USA Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

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