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Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Discovering amazing places in the world is a gift and a curse. It’s a gift because it shows travelers the beauty and diversity of the world, a curse because it leads to this draw away from the comforts of the settled life and a struggle to choose where to call home.

When I was at The Pub a few weeks ago, I chose to wear my New Zealand All Blacks shirt from the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which NZ hosted and won while I was working and traveling there. The man seated next to me asked me the reason for the shirt, and I proceeded to happily talk to a complete stranger about my country for a chunk of the evening.

Over the course of our conversation, this father of a first year college student and a free spirited teenage daughter heard tales of my travels in NZ, China, and Mexico. Some of my adventures worried him as he thought of his own daughter, but mostly he seemed entertained by my tales. Toward the end of the conversation he asked, “Since you love New Zealand so much, what’s keeping you from going back?”

After my usual bs mumbling about visas, needing a job, and the cost of living, I stopped and reflected on how I’ve compiled excuses for not making a move to my favorite country happen. A few years ago I read a blog post about dreams and whether we pursue them or not. Unfortunately I can’t recall the exact line or find the post, but it said something like:

When our dreams seem too difficult to realize, we convince ourselves we never really wanted them that badly, and then we force ourselves to not want them any more. In making up excuses and moving around our dreams, we abandon them and never know what could have been.

The Importance of Big Dreams – similar yet different post by a great blogger

As someone who still gets more fired up to talk about New Zealand than anything else, that idea saddens me. I haven’t let the dream die, but I’ve realized that something else has gotten in the way. To explain, we have to return to the South Pacific.

Wanaka, a cute town in the Central Otago region of the South Island, wanted me to slow down and stay awhile during my travels. I arrived with only 5 days left in my ~4.5 weeks of wandering everywhere I could squeeze in down south, and I was greatly saddened that I had to catch a flight so soon. Though it’s a town situated on a beautiful lake and just down the road from ski areas and the Southern Alps, Wanaka seemed rather unassuming and quiet compared to the nearby tourist-saturated Queenstown. I quickly decided that its character and 4 season climate made it my preferred area to live.

While walking down the main street, I noticed The Picture Lounge – NZ Photographers Gallery, home of what I discovered to be a gorgeous collection of landscape and adventure photography. Naturally, I went inside to check out the beautiful images. As I took in the pictures hanging on the walls and flipped through the many albums, the unexpected happened. I began to cry.

I cried because New Zealand is too unfairly beautiful. I cried because I’d fallen in love. I cried because I had just about 2 weeks left to spend there.

As I struggled to contain myself, an employee walked over to chat with me. When I looked up from the album and he saw I was in tears, his expression changed to concern. “Is everything okay?” he asked.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine,” I smiled through my tears as I worked on wiping them away. “Sorry, just give me a minute.”

Once I’d closed the albums, I was able to walk up to him and explain I had no interest in leaving his amazing country. He was relieved to know that was the only reason for a teary visitor, and of course he appreciated my mentality. Kiwis know how fortunate they are to live in a gorgeous country and be so distant from the rest of the world; one simple t-shirt design reads “Living in a better place… New Zealand.” I bought one.

Despite not wanting to return to America, I left New Zealand on schedule and have spent the last 5 years frequently daydreaming of my hobbit home and when I will return. Alaska – specifically Fairbanks – has been my home base ever since, but it hasn’t necessarily felt like home.

Being a homeless couchsurfer who typically floats into town for just a week or so between jobs hasn’t allowed me to establish my post-college life. Yes, I’ve found time for backpacking, dogsitting, biking, The Pub, and visits with friends. Until recently my stints in town have been too brief to really feel like I’m part of the community, though.

Now I’m back in Homer – home of the headquarters of Alaska Maritime NWR – and just a week away from leaving civilization for another summer on Buldir. After visiting Saturday’s indoor Farmers Market, I decided to step inside businesses I’ve ignored on my last 2 seasons’ worth of stays in Homer.

Enter Ptarmigan Arts, a co-op art gallery full of Alaskan photography, paintings, drawings, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, and woodworking. While browsing through the gallery, a feeling hit me as I realized…

Alaska. Alaska is why I haven’t focused my life on returning to New Zealand. Although I shed no tears, my visibility grew fuzzy, and I had to hold myself back from light crying as I gazed at the beauty – and more so the character – of Alaska captured by cameras and carved in wood.

I love Alaska’s mountains, glaciers, tundra, trees, flowers, and hot springs; its boats, lakes, rivers, islands, and ocean; its moose, bears, wolves, otters, and other furry animals; and its birds. I love its small towns, breweries, dry cabins, outhouses, plaid and Carhartts, hiking boots and XtraTufs, potlucks, and puppies. I love its funky daylight cycle and aurora borealis. Perhaps most importantly, I love its people who have welcomed me to stay for almost 10 years.

I love New Zealand. I don’t like being American, but I do love Alaska. Even though I don’t really have a home, friends always welcome me back.

So what to do? Beats me.

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Apparently Fairbanks read my last blog post about town, and it wasn’t too happy with my thoughts. For the last week – especially the last few days – this town has really brought its ‘A’ game. Let me rewind for a minute.

Last Wednesday I left Anchorage for Wasilla on the Valley Mover bus, which – fyi – is a fantastic deal at a mere $7 for more than 40 miles of transportation. In Wasilla I met up with Jeff, my first craigslist rideshare driver, for a ride to Fairbanks. Having only communicated by email, we were both a touch curious if we were meeting up with a crazy person. Fortunately when he showed up at the Fred Meyer parking lot to meet me, each of us saw the other – him in a clean pick-up and me with my 2 backpacks – as safe.

We enjoyed a pleasant drive up to Fairbanks as we slowly left fall behind and made our way to winter. A stop in Talkeetna did lengthen our trip; only in Alaska would someone have a private flying lesson booked to fit in with their drive! Since I’ve never had the time to relax in tiny Talkeetna on my own, I grabbed my backpack and camera and prepared to find a snack and place to sit. After deciding to stop for a breakfast/snack at a cafe, I noticed what looked like a camping area and park at the far end of downtown. Obviously I had to nix my decision to sit down and instead proceeded to the end of the road, the end of the sidewalk, and to the banks of the Susitna River to this view.

range

Susitna River & Alaska Range

Although flying through the clear skies above this gorgeous landscape would have been even more marvelous, I had one of those moments in which I said to myself, “This isn’t fair! Most people who come to this state don’t get a clear view of Denali, and here I am on my 2nd road trip between Denali and Anchorage in just over a month, enjoying perfect weather.” Since I was prepared with my DSLR, I pulled it out and had a photography session.

Whenever I see something beautiful and stop to take pictures with varying zoom, depth of field, etc.; I find myself in the photography zone. Even though my resulting images rarely impress me, I enjoy crawling around an area to try catching a scene in different ways. Just the action of taking pictures seems to make me happy, so making myself move on down the trail is sometimes difficult.

Coming from a family where my mom took countless photos on vacation while my brother tended to scowl, I’ve heard the debate between capturing a moment in pictures and simply enjoying the moment numerous times. On this outing, once I’d convinced myself to put the camera away, a bald eagle flew right at and over me. If the camera had still been out, a lucky shot would have given me an image of a bald eagle flying over the Susitna River with Denali in the background. I’m glad the camera couldn’t distract me from the “wow” moment.

Before returning to the airport I did grab a beverage and bagel with delicious sun-dried tomato cream cheese from Conscious Coffee, the epitome of cozy, cute coffee shops. Since Talkeetna is primarily a tourist town, it was very quiet when I passed through in early October. Just a couple of locals were reading the newspaper and chatting in there, creating my favorite slowed-down, backwoods, small town atmosphere.

Back on the road Jeff and I shared off and on conversation as 2 strangers who were free to talk about anything. wolfTalking about life with a stranger provides ample chances for fresh perspective, which I think many of us lack in day-to-day life. Just shy of Nenana we were fortunate enough to see what we’re pretty sure was a wolf cross the road! Considering I had never seen a wolf until riding the bus out from Denali in early September, and then I saw a lone adult wolf on Resurrection Trail, seeing my 3rd wolf in a month was rather unbelievable.

As we approached Fairbanks, I noticed I didn’t feel like I was returning home. The scenery was so familiar, yet my feelings were foreign.

On Wednesday night I was dropped off at the Red Fox, a local bar where Scott was watching his Boston Bruins hockey game on TV. After tossing my bags in his car, I joined him inside with his group of work friends. Immediately I felt like the odd man out because that’s what I was.

Honestly, that was one of the few times this week when I’ve felt that way. On Friday I helped celebrate Scott’s parents’ border collie Starlight’s 10th birthday by joining them for a delicious dinner of moose steak, Alaskan carrots, and Alaskan mashed potatoes. Then I was off to Alesha’s birthday gathering at the very cabin (Spruce Hollow) where I fell in love with dry cabins roughly 6 years ago.

cabin

Spruce Hollow

Over the weekend a friend came up from Seward with her 6 month old puppy, and I stayed in to write about dreams, watch football, and pet a certain puppy. 2 friends from my late night intramural broomball team came over to socialize one night, and I soon found myself caught up in talk of the strange things Fairbanks dwellers do during the winter, such as playing hockey at midnight in -20F temperatures.

On Monday I perfectly timed a 4+ mile walk to meet up with my Wildlife Bio study buddy (and friend since being in the same cheesy orientation family in 2007) Tim and his fiancee Katie for lunch. We caught up on life and the trials of working seasonally before they kindly drove me to the UAF campus.

My first stop was right outside the renovated Wood Center, which is more or less the student union building and what had become something like home over my years at UAF. From the beginning I was an Outdoor Adventures groupie, and I progressed to volunteer and employee throughout my college career. Now, a coffee area sits in what once was my Outdoor Adventures office. Where once there was a mediocre food court, there’s now the brand new dining facility. It just isn’t right.

But, I was proven wrong just a few hours later. Feeling overwhelmed by various news, I took to the North Campus trails, a part of campus that had better never be drastically changed. The hours of sleep I lost to midnight hikes were the best part of college, and that’s where I head whenever I need to reconnect with my college campus.

Eventually I made my way back to the Wood Center because that’s just what I’m programmed to do. I even entered through the same side door and walked down the little ramp that used to be the steps into the OA office! By this time it was getting toward evening and my plan was to have a hot chocolate and sit in my old office.

So there I was, looking out the new windows of my old view, when I saw this skinny guy walking toward the Wood Center. “Hmm, he looks like James Smith,” I thought to myself. With a double-take I realized it was James, and he had changed his course to come say hi because he had noticed me, as well. His head was tilted with his usual questioning look of “Since when are you here?” Somehow James and I always manage to bump into each other before I can let him know I’m in town. 🙂

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

“Oh, you know, just sitting in the office,” I responded.

“Well, I’m going to your other office (The Pub), so you should come.”

While smiling, “Ok.”

Just like that, I was strolling into The Pub and finding myself visiting with James and Bryson, 2 of the guys present at my first visit to The Pub on my 21st birthday many moons ago. We chatted as they threw darts, and then I started recognizing that Fairbanks is my Alaskan town. My friend Katie had contacted me about meeting up during my brief visit, but I hadn’t gotten around to arranging anything yet. Part of me had wondered if I could visit with Katie and James at the same time, since we were OA/Wildlife groupies. And somehow it happened just like that. I was sitting there visiting with the guys when who walks up but Katie, who was coming to The Pub to meet up with James! I can’t make this stuff up. Without making plans ahead of time, I found myself in the middle of a mini reunion. I even had to cancel on my previous idea of walking out to a friend’s cabin because what I had right there was too good to leave.

Somehow the next day was just as momentous. After playing around at my storage unit for awhile, I took the bus to UAF and started walking my old route home to my favorite cabin neighborhood just a mile from campus. Actually I was planning on walking past it to my original favorite cabin, but when my feet reached the point where they’d either cross Farmer’s Loop Road to enter my Iniakuk haven or continue up the path, there was no stopping my feet from crossing. Knowing Teri’s sister lives near my old cabin, I decided to pause and gaze longingly at my first cabin before searching one street for the familiar Ford Explorer.

Wouldn’t you know I picked the appropriate street and was able to casually stroll up the driveway and find Christin at home? I’ve got to admit that one fun aspect of my life is that now people just half expect me to randomly show up. Christin invited me inside and even fed me delicious chili and Alaskan carrot cake. Honestly, does life get much better than Alaskan cabins, friends, and good food?

From there the plan was to continue on my way to finally visit Alesha at Spruce Hollow, but then the discovery of the loss of my student ID forced me to retrace my steps back to campus. I didn’t find my card, but as I was leaving the Wood Center area, who would be walking toward the Wood Center but James?! This time he wasn’t alone; Thomas, a UAF/sled dog handler friend who I hadn’t seen in years, was with him!

“Turn around. We’re going to The Pub.”

Seriously, could I say no? Absolutely not. Tuesday is Pub Trivia night and apparently also when the old UAF Pub crew shows up. Half of the teams in there were from my days of being a student, so I felt right at home with all the familiar faces. Of course Victoria made me smile by just repeating my name over and over until I saw and heard her. I even saw faces I didn’t necessarily care about seeing, but seeing them just made me all the more comfortable.

Catching up with these various friends over the last week has been fantastic. With meals, chance meetings at Fred Meyer (where I saw Trailbreaker Kennel handler Mandy), birthdays, The Pub, and cabins (I did finally get out to Spruce Hollow); I realized I still have plenty of friends here in Fairbanks. I didn’t even get to see everyone!

While at a potluck at a cabin last night, I felt the relaxed cabin-dweller vibe and savored the sweet scent of life without running water. I used an outhouse lit with Christmas lights. I saw people who band together for winter and look forward to skiing or aurora watching from their front porches. I watched a husky mix just hang out while plaid-clad folks chatted over stew, fresh bread, and cookies.

These are the atmospheres and people you don’t easily find in Anchorage. Fairbanks is home for the people who want to live in a cabin neighborhood where the FedEx delivery woman can’t necessarily find their cabin to deliver yet another parcel of exciting outdoor gear and so calls to see if they want to just pick it up in town. I truly love that.

Because I love that, I don’t want to leave Fairbanks for Anchorage. In Fairbanks I know how to quickly get around town by foot, bike, bus, or car. I have my coffee shop, my places on campus, and my people. So although I may leave town for long periods and be pretty awful about staying in touch, I know Fairbanks will be there. As tempting as Anchorage may be with its plentiful jobs and step closer to cheap travel, there’s no feeling of community like we have in the ‘banks. Until Anchorage comes up with a killer lure, Fairbanks may have won me for a little longer.

So thank you for the visit, Fairbanks. I’ll miss you while I’m melting in Hawaii.

backpack

(Tomorrow I start on a rideshare through Canada to Seattle, and there I’m catching a plane to a month of something called heat and humidity. Can someone explain those terms to me?)

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As a resident of Alaska, it can sometimes be easy to forget how few people have the chance to see the Northern Lights. Some of my best college memories come from 1AM phone calls from Teri at the other end screeching, “Go outside! The Lights are dancing!!!” Other times our intramural broomball game would end at 12:00AM and rather than heading to bed like responsible students, we’d bundle up in cold weather gear and headlamps for a “midnight hike” to Smith Lake on the UAF trails system. There we’d build igloos, tackle each other in the snow, dog pile, and talk as we watched the Lights until 2:00AM or later. When I lived in my cabin off-campus, I sometimes stayed up late studying in the Honors House (with internet), which left me with a late night bike ride or walk home. It was all worthwhile when I could watch the aurora and belt out music on the short trip.

midnight crew

Time for an adventure on the trails!

No, I really didn’t get that much sleep in my early college years, but it was totally worth it! I enjoyed watching the aurora in a few different places with great friends, but there was one thing I never really tried: aurora photography. What?! The nature photographer didn’t take any aurora shots over the course of 4 winters in Alaska? Nope. To be fair, I didn’t have a quality camera (DSLR) until my senior year, but I could have borrowed one or hung out with photographers. Although it seems like a shame my portfolio lacks aurora shots, my memories trump any pictures I could have snapped. (And that’s saying a lot, because I have seen dancing green, white, red, purple, and pink lights!)

During training in Pack Forest, I heard members of the Alberta CK-9 crew mention their hopes of seeing the aurora while in the field. Since we weren’t heading that far north, I wasn’t really expecting to see it – especially being in an oil camp. Luckily for the others on our crew, God was smiling down on their hopes.

After dinner on March first, part of our crew retired to a trailer to watch “Return of the Jedi” to complete the trilogy. Aurora forecasts were reasonably high, so other folks decided to drive to a more remote area with a clear view in the hopes of seeing the Lights later in the evening. Once I’d finished skyping with Teri and watching the Imperial troops get destroyed by ewoks, I joined 2 more aurora hunting trucks driving north.

Instead of trying to compare the aurora here to what I’d seen before in Alaska, I decided to enjoy the atmosphere of a “first” viewing. A perfect driving song – “Welcome Home, Son” by Radical Face – played as we followed the other truck down the dark road. “We’re rolling out of camp to hunt for the elusive aurora borealis,” narrated Suzie in her David Attenborough impression. Attentiveness to the sky filled the truck, and within minutes, we were rewarded with a streak of light low in the sky.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I really should have volunteered to drive, as Suzie was having minor heart attacks as the lights brightened and danced in the sky. 🙂 As we continued on, the truck that had left camp earlier joined us as we rolled north. “Did you see that explosive display a few minutes ago?” came through over the walkie talkie. Why yes, yes we had seen it, and Suzie had kept us on the road even though she was quite distracted!

Eventually we reached the corner of Pony Creek and Argo Roads, where there was a large clear area for watching the Lights. Different personalities and music preferences broadcasted themselves as we watched what we could see, but the Lights had died down as we’d driven. Even though rap and swearing hadn’t been present in my previous aurora viewing sessions, I ultimately decided maybe that’s what some people enjoy in a peaceful setting like a dark sky and soothing lights.

We moved locations to some lake, which reminded me of Smith Lake and also nothing like Smith Lake. The company was different, it wasn’t nearly as cold, and we had driven rather than walked there. Still, there was a lot of laughter, dancing to keep warm for our 2 hour stay, and light drawing. We had to wait for the Lights to come out again, but that’s part of the aurora experience. You can’t just give up hope and go back to bed!

I had my camera out from the start, and after remembering my Nikon D5000 hates autofocus in the dark, I switched to manual to get in business. I wouldn’t say any of these photos are fantastic, but it was nice to finally give it a try and put my tripod to use. Word on the street is that the Lights may be visible again later this week, so hopefully we’ll get another chance and I can try different settings. Here’s what I got this time:

bench

All bundled up

lights

First attempt, and my exposure was off












aurora

Pretty

light

Not bad considering I guessed on the settings!














late night crew

Aurora Hunters



I learned a few lessons from that night:

  1. Bring a headlamp, silly.
  2. Figure out how to set the focus at infinity.
  3. If necessary, noise (graininess) can be reduced later using Nik Software from the 2011 NANPA conference. Thanks, College Scholarship program!
  4. Don’t worry about the photographs that much because honestly, they’re not going to magically make my millions… unless a howling wolf shows up in the shot… or a lynx catches a hare under the glow of the Lights.

And the last lesson?

Going to bed at 2AM truly is rougher than back in the day, but it’s still worth it.

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photographer

Courtesy of the best, Teri

Most people who know me have heard the story of how I ended up with a custom degree in Nature Photojournalism. For those of you who don’t know, I’ll keep the explanation short. As I progressed with wildlife biology courses at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, it seemed that lectures dealt less with wildlife and more with statistics, reports, and desk work. [Insert big yawn here.]

Did I really leave Michigan for ALASKA to get an education in how to research academic journals for references in “the literature” and how to number crunch? Absolutely not! I wanted a degree for a job that would keep me outside, either working with wildlife or being able to see it while on the job. Just think about it. Does Steph, a quiet ginger who doesn’t really talk in groups unless she has something she feels important enough to say, belong at a computer behind a desk or sitting in meetings? No. Does Steph, a quiet ginger who happily bikes through the snow, runs through the woods, and backpacks through New Zealand, belong outside in remote field camps with only a few other like-interested people? 100% yes.

Instead of slogging my way through courses that didn’t particularly interest me, I took my advisor’s and professors’ advice on changing majors. The only problem was that there wasn’t a degree for what I wanted to study; fortunately I managed to create my own degree through the interdisciplinary program. By combining courses in wildlife biology, natural resources management, and journalism to create a degree tailored to my interests, I graduated with a major in Nature Photojournalism and hopes for outdoor employment.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t feel like there’s enough freedom or happiness in offices full of cubicles. Life runs on a daily schedule, and generally people are expected to wear clothing other than Carhartts, hiking boots, and a plaid shirt. Where’s the fun in that?

I much prefer having the great outdoors as my office. Does it get better than this?

Field Season 1: Spectacled Eider research on the North Slope, Alaska

science

Measuring Red-throated Loon eggs in my office

beaver tail

Goofing off with my co-worker Katie. Like the float coats?

drake spec

Isn’t he gorgeous?


 

Zodiac

Eider nest hunting crew, Colville River Delta 2009

camp

Helicopter-enabled camp on the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska

crossing

Chest waders make you invincible!

 

Field Season 2: Thick-billed Murre and Red-Legged Kittiwake research on St. George Island, Bering Sea, Alaska

auklets

Colony of ~100,000 Least Auklets = awesome

fox

Fox on the 1,000-foot “High Bluffs”

beach

Brie in our kittiwake-catching office


hunt

Hunting for caribou on an abnormally warm and sunny day

plot

Kittiwake productivity watch on High Bluffs

swim

Slade and I went swimming in the Bering

 

Field Season 3: North Island Brown Kiwi research, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

shearing

Dave and Ros in the middle of shearing season

kiwi

Tweety, my first kiwi

view

View from top of Kumara Hill on kiwi island



Doom

On top of Mount Doom

St. James

From my limited knowledge, maybe my favorite tramp in NZ

Shire

Home.

 

crowd

Extras casting call for “The Hobbit”

bees

Beekeeping at hives supposedly once owned by Sir Edmund Hilary’s family

car

Shadowfax, my loyal steed + home on wheels

 

Field Season 4: Wolf, caribou, moose, and deer scat research, Oil Sands of NE Alberta

Photos in the making. 🙂

Whew, my mind went off on a tangent. Wondering what the point of all those photos is? I’m just showing how much fun it is to work outside. I guarantee I’d have a collection of pretty boring photos or not many photos at all if I worked in an office. Instead, I just went on an emotional rollercoaster as I perused my files to somehow pick those select few photos shown above.

I’ve gotten the impression that some of my family thinks I’m being irresponsible and careless about the future by not searching for “permanent” jobs. I’m not setting up a 401K – I honestly still don’t even know what that’s for – or starting a retirement fund. I don’t have my own car or living space; my possessions are spread between Washington, a storage unit, and my parents’ in Michigan. (Many people don’t realize the beauty of most field jobs: no living expenses for months and months!)

I’m not my brother, who graduated from MIT with a computer science degree and an immediate permanent job at Mozilla Firefox in Cali. He loves travel and the outdoors just like I do (he’s through-hiked the Appalachian Trail and biked across the US), but he has the luxury of being able to work from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. He has a job he thoroughly enjoys, travel time, and a perfectly solid income. How many people can say that?

What’s my long term plan or career goal? Haha, that’s funny! I don’t know of a stable job I’d enjoy working for my whole life. (the key word being stable) All my field experiences have been unbelievable, and I’d gladly have continued those for months longer. Getting paid to travel for Outside magazine or something similar would be great, but it’s not as if I’m striving to get there now. The world of biology fieldwork is just too unpredictable for normal goal setting, so I can’t say which direction I’m headed in life. I’m intrigued by so many job postings that I could never possibly try everything I’d like.

My personal issue with the fieldwork realm is a strange one: I both hate and love change.

Before I left for college in Alaska, I’d never faced a big change. My family never moved, so home was always the same place surrounded by the same people. Going to Alaska was completely out of character, as I’m not the most outgoing person. Everything obviously turned out for the best seeing as how I had many remarkable experiences throughout my college years. Yet each time I left Fairbanks for a summer field job, I grew somewhat nervous and sad about leaving friends and comforts behind; I never really knew what to expect from my boss or job. However, by the time each field season drew to a close, I had plenty of tears to shed.

tears

Last time leaving the kiwi island, and a camera found me.

For many reasons I always fall in love with the unique places, experiences, and people with whom I work. My life has become a ridiculous cycle of happiness and agony. Please, don’t even ask me how I dealt with leaving New Zealand.

As much as a side of me longs for a nice house with a full kitchen, my own dog, and a normal schedule, there are too many adventures to be had. I want to do fieldwork in the Aleutians and Antarctica. I want to skydive over Glenorchy, NZ. I need to actually learn German. I could go on with wants and needs, but you really don’t want me to do that. 😉

So at least for now, this is me. Sorry that I don’t conform to the standard, but the standard doesn’t suit me. No, I probably won’t have much money for awhile, but just think of all the unusual experiences I’m having because of it! Since I have no boy or puppy to hold me back, I’m free to explore! I don’t care if that means sleeping in a car on random streets or living off the cereal/PB&J diet. In my opinion, that’s what the uncertainty of being a seasonal field technician is all about. (I’m pretty sure Bilbo would agree.)

sunset

Walk to the cabin from campus. (also courtesy of Teri)

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