Monday, July 15, 2013

Down In Alamo

4:45 a.m. alarm goes off on Monday morning, I squint my eyes and have an immediate regret of staying up past 11 the night before. A hot coffee awaits in the kitchen and kicks off the day as usual. Everything is packed in the car for an eight day hitch in Alamo, NV. The second eight day hitch that we would be embarking on, we knew what was ahead, we were familiar with the project, campsite, cold weather fronts, cold feet, longs days…but this time was different. We had a wall tent, this was the game changer. Cold weather was expected before we took off on hitch, and for the most part it kept dry. The project was initiated by the Audubon Society, we had met the project partner on arrival on the first eight day hitch. This is an invasive species project, these Russian olive trees are branchy trees with quarter inch to two inch thorns coming off of every branch. Some of these trees can grow into giant webs of disorganized growth, but we were not falling these trees, we are to treat them with two and sometimes three different herbicides, and make “hacks” in the base of these thorny invasive trees. The days seem to all blend together, and by day four an opportunity arose to go into town, fuel up the truck, get more chicken, and eat at a local Alamo restaurant, which sounded much more awesome than cooking fried chicken in a wall tent with 8 people. As we were eating our delicious well deserved dinner, the waiter asked if we were snowboarding, which is odd, because there is no snow anywhere around. Wallace replies that we are a roaming work crew for the NCC. I go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. What I see is a tired reflection, wearing too many layers to be indoors, I enjoy the heat, and not digging a hole, finish by business, and continue dinner. The wind is howling outside and you wish to bring at least half the warmth that’s in this building back to the campsite. That night it dropped down to 12-13 degrees, and was the first morning to wake up with frost lining the inside of your tent. The night before I boiled water and put inside my nalgenes, I put those inside my sleeping bag and with that warmth, I kept comfortable till the usual 5:30am wake up. Sloppily wake up, and walk to the wall tent, pour coffee grounds in your mug, fill it with hot water, do a vehicle check, get in the truck and enjoy the warmth before a cold morning of walking around the icy fields with waders, chainsaw, and herbicide sprayer. Morning breaks at 9:30 and a rewarding cigarette treats the cold morning. The foot warmers you bought the weekend before are starting to lose their heat, but the sun is out, and its shining through the cottonwood trees that line the ranch. Mornings are bitter sweet for me in Alamo, NV…you can guarantee your feet are going to be cold, but the way the sun feels when it first rises over the east hill, you’ve been walking around this field for a while, and your body warmth is playing tricks with your mind, but it keeps you on your toes, it keeps you moving, and its definitely keeping your life interesting. Another day serving with the Nevada Conservation Corps.

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