07 February 2011

Long time comin'

After a few months, I finally got around to uploading my spot messages from the Grand Canyon. You'd think that Google Maps would be somewhat intuitive to someone who spends most of their time looking at GIS, but it took me awhile to figure this all out. Anyway, zoom in on some of the rapids, because they look pretty sweet from the air.

View March Grand Canyon Trip in a larger map

Lots of changes are afoot here in Utahlandia. I have started a new job with HawkWatch International, Inc as a Conservation Biologist. I'm super excited to be involved. Working for the Army was good to me, but this is a little more in line with my conservation ethic, and a little closer to home (I can commute on a bike again). Jeremy has sold his boat in the past few weeks and we are looking forward to building one together, complete with dog hatches for Everett and Ruby.

There's so much more going on in our lives and I'll have to save those for a later post (new nephews! engagements! new jobs!) For now - enjoy the map and try not to pee your pants when you see the rapids.

21 April 2010

Lava Falls

I was fortunate enough to borrow a Spot device from my work to send out messages from camp to let our loved ones know that we were OK (actually we were HUNKY DORY). It was a nice way to check in, and I've heard from folks on the trip that their friends and family really loved watching our progress down the river. This link is my favorite spot message from the trip, taken right above Lava Falls. You'll need to make sure the satellite image is turned on and then either zoom out, or scan to the rapid just downriver (left) from the spot, and you can see the beast.

Plus, aerial imagery is cool.

View Larger Map

Lava is a large rapid, to say the least. I had dreams about it the night before we were going to run it. I felt like I was going to puke when I heard its roar from upstream. But when I got up to the scout to see it, I calmed down a little bit. Jeremy had been rowing so well during the trip that I had full confidence that he was going to nail the bubble line and we'd have a great run. As I got back to the boat to get my dry suit on, I realized we were going to run four and four to take photos, so I watched as the first four pushed off. Only from the hoots an hollers did I know that they had great runs, as I was tucked in behind the tie off for the scout.

Next it was our turn, and Jeremy and I were going last as sweep. As we were dropping down in, we saw Matt and Mel flip in the top hole. It was terrifying to watch and even more terrifying for them to experience. We were in rescue mode, so I actually don't remember our run as well as I would have (but I still screamed like a banshee). What I do know is that by the time we were at the bottom of the rapid, we hardly had to turn the bilge pump on. It was a great run.

Matt and Mel were rescued by Seth in his kayak. The boat was flipped back over a mile or so downstream. The only thing lost that day was an oar.

Why do they call it the GRAND Canyon?

Okee, so I've been back from the river for a little less than a week, and have been hit hourly with full-on river jones and feeling like I've been torn away from my tribe of freaky boaters. I'm going to try to blog about the trip in more detail, because I have a lot of stories to tell, but for now, here are 20 of my favorite photos we took on the trip.

All photos (c) Jeremy Christensen and Kylan Frye
Just another day in the Corps, where every meal is a banquet, every march a parade.

Captain, my captain

The proud vessel, Desolation, at Havasu. And by proud vessel, I mean 14.5' dorky handmade garage boat that kicked major ass in the Grand.

Jeremy playing a face-melting guitar solo and showing off hidden talents

Kyle Frye (no kidding) my hermano del rio and his mando. I'm getting my fiddle tuned up and joining the Frye family bluegrass band. I hope they know Orange Blossom Special, because that's the only one I got

Scorpion Island, one mile above Pierce Ferry Take Out. AKA 14 Year Old Girl Drink Drunk Beach

Snakin' our way through Helo Alley.
"There ain't enough liquor in this boat right now to keep me happy" -Dave as the 157th helicopter flew over the river.

Jeremy through the travertine tunnel at Havasu

Some pretty flower I used to know the name of at Havasu.

Bug, my river heroine, in Granite. Bob is lookin fine up front, getting ready to kiss the wave

Matt and Mel in Granite with the Beer Pig aka Jug Boat aka GAWDAMMIT FRANKLIN.

Kyle Frye in the Susie Too getting hit by a wave in Granite.

Somewheres in the Ditch

Bocce in Redwall.

Joel contemplates the river, or lunch, or beer, or his lovely lady, but not necessarily in that order.

View downstream of Lee's Ferry. These really aren't in order. Sorry.

Seen during my mornin' pee. Not bad.

The Delta Room, The Nook, The Crown Room and the Kitchen. Fun night.

Sunset on the canyon walls, after a storm

Golly GEE-ology

Cool cloud action.

Tammy Popcorn's back, y'all. She'll kick your ass at horseshoes.

28 February 2010

THE GRAND (and some memories of N. Az)

Four Sundays from now, we will be shoving off at Lee's Ferry for 20 blissful (and terrifying) days on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park (affectionately known to those of us who've worked in and for the NPS as GRCA and to my river crew as "Little Dorky"). I've long wanted to float the Grand - but never thought it would be a reality until I got caught up with a bunch of river geeks a few years ago. I can't wait to float underneath the bridges and say hasta luego to my world for a while. Especially with the grupo we've got put together. In addition to the normal utarded crew, my bestest friend, Lex, and her boyfriend Joel will be joining us for the first week of the trip.

Probable antics (minus the bottles, add some cans) on the river.
Lex and I, Gila National Forest 2004.
I think the Ecua-skirt might need to come on the Grand with me

We've got a lot to do yet before we head south. Jeremy's been hard at work on the boat (yes, we're taking the dory), adding a Kevlar shoe, installing some footman loops for the hatches, and most importantly, repainting. I know it is important and all to have the dory ready for all possible rock interactions and to have our gear safely stowed in the hatches, but between you and me, alls I want to make sure is that whatever boat I'll be gracing my presence with is going to look DAMN FINE floatin' down the river. I think Jer's done a kick ass job - what do you think?

New artwork on the boat

I have to admit that I'm more than excited to be returning to Northern Arizona. I've spent a lot of time wandering that desert (usually hunched over, identifying and clipping plants, but also while looking windswept and interesting). I lived for many months a year on the Navajo Reservation working as a research biologist, sleeping in the dorms of boarding schools, getting made fun of by friendly navajo ranchers and becoming a gas station coffee connoisseur. Despite whatever was going on in my outside world, I found that the solitude of the high desert and landscapes were good for my soul. Flag was close by when we needed a shower, Pay and Take or some Thai, but my best days started with a cup of coffee from the Chevron and a breakfast burrito comprised of roast mutton and jalapenos wrapped in a homemade tortilla. Those days usually ended with a can of Campbell's chunky and a clandestine beer while the real botanists in our group keyed out our unknown finds. In between sunrise and sundown, we walked the desert, with the sun and wind in our face, always within sight of the sacred San Francisco mountains. I miss it.

Jeremy will be quick to tell you that he's never seen the Grand from either Rim, but has been on two river trips through the park, which is a fairly awesome claim for a river runner. But I'd have to argue that he's missing out. At least when it comes to the North Rim. The summer before Duke, I worked for NAU doing point counts in NPS units around the Four Corners. A beautiful summer to send me out east (and more than enough to make me wonder why in the hell I was moving to North Carolina). The North Rim was amazing - at a thousand feet higher than the South Rim, it is home to Mixed Conifer forests, and at three hours farther from Flag, a hell of a lot less crowded. Most mornings, I was deep in the forest, surrounded by angry house wrens and chickadees, and would be hard pressed to believe that 2 miles away and 5,000 feet down, it was hotter than hades.

View into the Grand Canyon from North Rim - note Aspens in foreground.

Across the Kaibab plateau - looking North

I can't wait to get back to a place I love - get some milkshakes at Lee's, load up the dory and float down the river and gain a new perspective of a place I already cherish. And I especially can't wait to share the experience with some of my closest friends, not to mention my wonderful river runnin', boat buildin', fish slayin' mountain man son of a biscuit. Stay tuned!

07 December 2009

Daily Dogger

I have been behind on my Daily Dogger updates - which has been brought to my attention by Murphy Man, who was hoping that his presence on this blog was going to be his big break. So here is a recent photo of Murph, victorious at the Dog Park in Chicago.

25 November 2009

There's the right way, there's the wrong way, and then there's the Dugway

Some of the NRO staff are working on a springs restoration project here on post. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to get out of my office (YAY!) and help chainsaw the shit out of some tamarisk. Quite the vindication to cut them down, given the days I've spent crawling through them (and getting stuck) to estimate biomass (thanks Lex) on the Rez, and all of the times I've floated past the tammiewillows on a river and wished ill will upon them. We didn't get a whole lot of action shots of the Tamarisk beat downs, but had a few good ones from lunch:
DPG Chainsaw Fight 2009
Maggie and I re-enacting cheering Neal on.

We also saw some of "our" eagles showing back up - last week I saw a pair sitting on adjacent telephone poles and yesterday, saw a lone bird near the air strip. We're working on our research plan to determine where these birds are coming from and what resources they are using while on DPG. Hopefully, I'll be getting out and getting some good photos of birds we're seeing in the field.

18 November 2009

Happy GIS Day, Nerds!

This makes me a huge geek, but Happy GIS Day to all of y'all out there who (still) wrangle daily with projections and rasters and all that crap. Seems like only yesterday Pete Harrell was tormenting us with knowledge reviews and Falls Lake labs.
It really is GIS day, I promise! www.gisday.com.

ArcMap, this Bud's for you.

17 November 2009

Daily Dogger

By my calculations.....there should be one slice of pizza left for me.

13 November 2009

Your Daily Murph

OK, maybe not so daily, but Sam sends me pictures of my neph-dog Murphy Man and I can't help but put 'em up here.
Dog torture.

Sam and James' wedding - June 2009

Talk about the most fun wedding EVER! My little sister got married to her handsome Irishman this summer and it was a total blast. Beautiful weather, fun people and just all around great times. The wedding was held on Lake Erie, on the east side of Cleveland. Sam looked amazing, and my niece Mallory did her best to steal the show. We had soooo much fun, wish we could do it all again. Here are some of my favorite photos from the evening - AND proof that Jeremy and I can clean up well!