Well this week came and went, it seems like all the weeks have been doing that. We are now halfway through our summer. Crazy. Tuesday we hit up a few bridges and found some rather interesting scat that had tons of crayfish in it and was scattered in an otter-like manor. We took a sample and vigorously searched the area. We found some odd tracks as well, but are thinking they are just raccoon tracks where he didn’t place his hind foot all the way down. What do you think?
Wednesday was the Fourth of July and I hope that everyone had a great time! We went to a cookout at Dan’s, enjoyed in absolutely delicious Tennessee bar-b-q, drank a fair share of drinks, had a wonderful view of the fireworks from Dan’s yard, and enjoyed some sparklers. Yes, I do realize that they sell real fireworks in North Dakota, but I just couldn’t resist the neon sparklers at the firework store! They are so awesome! Oh and also we made a little camp fire in Dan’s yard. Overall pretty successful and very fun night.
Thursday morning was spent recovering and then Megan and I got started with tracking down addresses that were provided for us to send out the beaver public attitude survey to. We printed out the surveys, cover letters, and mailing labels then started putting all the labels on the envelopes. Friday we had originally planned on going down to the Sioux reservation, Standing Rock, to do bridge surveys there, but thanks to the weather we were office bound. We spent the day watching a marathon of movies and stuffing, stamping, and addressing 309 (yes, that’s three HUNDRED and nine) letters with surveys and dropped them off in the mail. I have to admit I am quite impressed with the amount of envelope stuffing that was accomplished. The weather broke, and today was absolutely stunningly perfect out! We headed up to Lake Sakakawea (about an hour north) to interview anglers with our beaver surveys. We camped out right next the fish cleaning station, with a sign reading “Please participate in our survey” taped to the truck, hopeful to get some anglers stopping through. And guess what… it worked! Almost every angler that came through to clean their fish and a few random ones who came up on their own accord to help us out agreed to take our survey. They are all extremely nice and we had a great time joking around and talking with them. Megan and I have decided to start a running list of all the beaver jokes and puns we get while interviewing anglers. Here are the two top ones for the today:
Angler: “Bye gals, have fun playing with your beavers.”
And another older gentleman,
Angler “What is the survey about?”
Angler: “Oh, I didn’t realize we were talking dirty.”
They were cracking us up left and right. The lake is absolutely beautiful and there are also many different camp grounds with boat loading docks and cleaning stations. I think we found our new location to get the remainder of our angler surveys. We are currently planning out a weekend camping trip to enjoy the water but also spend time getting more surveys completed.
And I learned the same lesson that I never seem to actually learn. No matter how many times I’ve been in the sun during the summer and no matter how tan I may be… I still burn after spending the entire day in the sun. How about that? So I am going to go back to my trailer and enjoy the cool aloe gel that is currently chillin in my fridge.
Well. We had a pretty good weekend, spent Friday out on the river fishing for walleye. We caught 5 and cooked em up for dinner Saturday night – delicious!!
We spent some time both Saturday and Sunday scoping out spots and developing plans for angler surveys. So this is our dilemma. We have to interview around 200 anglers, but hardly anyone fishes from the shoreline here – everyone owns their own boats. We can’t get people in the morning before they go out on the water because we are worried they will be too much in a rush to get into the water to be willing to be interviewed on beaver. And then when they are pulling their boats out, as they walk from boat to their truck they’ll be in a rush to get the boat loaded and out of the way so other boats can dock and come out, then once the boats loaded they usually hop in their trucks and leave right away. We are thinking about setting up a station at boat docks that have fish cleaning stations and try to get people as they clean their fish, but other than that we are kinda stuck for ideas on how to interview more people. One idea we had was to set up stations outside bait and tackle shops and try for that approach, but there are only about 3 shops in the area. Another idea we had would be to take our boat and stalk angling boats, but I am not sure I am comfortable with that. I know if someone pulled up to my boat and started asking questions about beaver while I was trying to fish that I would not but much of a happy camper about the situation. Anyone out that have any suggestions for us? We definitely need any suggestions we can get!
Now, the reason for my title. Currently the shop/office where we live has lost all internet connection and we had designated today to be an office day to catch up on paperwork, etc. Well the weather cooperated with that plan and its currently raining, so it’s a good office day minus the internet. Which means we are currently camped out at the closest Starbucks sipping on yummy coffee and taking full advantage of the free wifi. But this means that unless we get internet back on at the shop it might be a few days before I post again. So don’t hold your breath.
And one quick picture before I get off – this is what free time and no internet, plus a huge scrap wood pile leads to:
Yes, be jealous of my mad pallet fabrication skills.
Until the ‘nets back up. Adios.
Wait a minute, it’s Thursday already? And we are off tomorrow – so its pseudoFriday? SCORE! Seriously, where did this past week go? Not that I am complaining, I am overjoyed at the thought of a beer and pizza night then sleeping in tomorrow. Sounds brilliant.
We had planning on conquering the Cannonball River via canoe on Tuesday. Problem. Don’t tell him this, but Rick isn’t a “real” truck. He’s only a Ranger, and our canoe is quite large, thus there is no way it would fit in the bed or fit in the bed angled over the roof. Well there goes our Tuesday plans. We took some measurements and headed out to Lowes for lumber. With much help from Willy and Dan and a few hours later, voila – Rick now has a nice, sturdy wooden frame in the bed capable of holding the canoe.
Since half the day was used up by construction, we decided to spend the rest locked in the office working on paperwork, contacting land owners, etc. Fun.
Okay. Hump day. Finally we get to canoe! Problem. Apparently while both of us were at one point self-proclaimed experts at ratchet straps we both have apparently forgotten all aspects of properly using them. After much random knots, cussing, stopping at a truck stop to buy more straps and attempt to retie the canoe, a very nice trucker came out of the diner and offered to re-teach us the art of the ratchet strap. Okay. Canoe successfully (and safely) strapped down we hit the highway and headed southwest to Mott where our portion of the Cannonball River is. Problem. The bank of the Cannonball is about 10-12 feet tall, sleek, and pretty dang step. Well… balls to the wall, we slid and slided the canoe down to the water and off we were surveying for beaver signs (which there were TONS of) and otter signs (which there were none of). I would like to say we took our time for the sole reason to make sure we were thorough (which we were), but we definitely enjoyed ourselves canoeing up and down the 1km stretch of our study area. The sky was cloudless, the sun was shining, and it was great!
Problem. Now we had to get the canoe UP the step bank. After slipping, struggling, cussing, and more cussing, we used our massive muscles and hauled that dang boat up the bank and back onto the truck. Success. On to the next site. Problem. The left hand turn we were supposed to take is not there. Fact: 70% of North Dakota’s roads are not paved and have tendencies to disappear. Well, that was just dandy because our next turn happened to take us to South Dakota and into a town called Lemmon where we found him…
The rest of the day went by pretty uneventfully as we finished up our surveys. Megan did run into a skunk and before you ask, no, it did not spray her. Today was more or less the same as Monday, except I think we are already starting to fine-tune our bridge surveying skills. One of our streams decided it no longer wanted to be there and has dried up since our gazetteer was created, giving us some free time to log data, reply to e-mails, and work on our human dimension surveys some more.
With that being said the week is over (until Saturday). And after the gym, I have some cold beer and hot pizza calling my name. (Yes, I realize it pointless to work out if I am just going to eat junk food. Think of it at canceling each other out. Besides, it’s pseudoFriday).
Peace out, homies.