Well it’s been a long day to say the least. Today has consisted of a very early morning (4:30am) and around 800 miles of roads, 350+ of which were in Ohio. I didn’t even know Ohio was that long! Okay, well I’m kinda just jumping into things, I guess I probably should start with a little background information to give y’all a feel for why I have traveled over 800 miles today.

First I’ll introduce myself. My name is Johanna, but usually I just go by Jo (it’s easier that way). I recently graduated from West Virginia University with a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources and a minor in Conservation Ecology. Now that I have completed college, what the heck do I do with a wildlife degree? I know, go back for more schooling! I have been talking to Dr. Tom Serfass for the past few months about trying to working with him as a master student at Frostburg State University (yes, that means I’d have to live in Maryland for at least two more years). Dr. Serfass’ focus is on carnivore ecology and conservation, sounds perfect for someone who want to dedicate her life to (large) carnivore conservation. His primary species is Lontra canadensis, aka river otters. Okay, so not large carnivores, but still pretty awesome, and not to mention adorable, predators and besides I need to start somewhere. Well not long after commencement at WVU I meet up with Dr. Serfass and he offers me a position that will have me spending the summer in North Dakota doing some sort of work with trail cameras and some human dimension studies on river otters (Lontra canadensis) and beavers (Castor canadensis) (insert your favorite beaver joke here, I’ve heard them all over the past few weeks). But anyway, I figured “sure, why not?”

After a nice beach vacation with my boyfriend, J, down at Virginia Beach, I packed my bags, met up with Megan an undergrad at Frostburg who will be working with me this summer, and hit the road. We actually have made decent time so far and even had the opportunity to stop in Chicago and go to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game – AWESOME! The field was more than I expected and took my breath away with the amount of history it contains.

Chicago, Illinois

We wanted to see the giant chrome bean (not really sure what it is, just know that its huge and super shiny), but didn’t really have the time to go searching downtown Chicago for a bean. We hit the road in search of a hotel cheaper than the ones in Chicago and that leads me to this Super 8 in Hampshire, Illinois where I am currently writing this.

So, that’s pretty much the background and justification as to why I have driven 12 hours to this flat, windy landscape. We are planning on traveling another 10 hours tomorrow and arriving in Bismarck sometime decently early on Thursday.

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