Thursday, May 21, 2015

Field Work Time!

A doe and her twins visit and eye us slyly from the yard:  we are their new neighbors at the bottom of the hill that angles sharply up to Athabasca University.  Instead of 18-wheelers and rowdy road workers waking us up in the mornings (last year’s motel fun), I found myself this morning moaning about an industrious woodpecker that roused me a tiny bit too early.  Our digs have improved by orders of magnitude.  Athabasca University has again made our arrival so welcoming; and this summer, we hang our hats in a building they own and maintain.  It is nestled among trees and open space and we are making it our own until our season ends this fall.  The kitchen has a commercial gas stove with 6 burners, two fridges, two sinks, two dishwashers, 1 gas oven, and 2 convection ovens.   Need I say more?  We are living in luxury.  A big shout-out to the folks that have been working so hard to make our arrival such a wonderful experience.

Our crew is arriving in two waves this year.  I am here with 5 other folks and we have been fixing things, settling in, and prepping for the summer.  The second wave arrives on Saturday (two days!) and includes not only a seasoned grad student (hey, Julia!), but also our new crew of field techs who will be experiencing bogs for the first time!  Logistically, it is a tricky thing to balance airport runs, maintenance work, site construction, and isolated research tasks, so this year we decided to mix it up with airport runs.  We look forward to the whole crew’s arrival so we can start the summer fun.  Meanwhile, today, a small group of us are heading up to Fort McMurray to set vegetation growth markers, swap out precipitation collectors for the summer and put together a new site.  We hate to leave our cushy digs in Athabasca, but we look forward to squishing through the bogs.  Our first site up is a bog we call Anzac.  It is one of my favorites. 
This is an image of part of our walk to the site, but we have yet to arrive there-- right now I am in the truck and I am happy to report that we just passed a bear – our first bear of the season!  Construction continues on the road to Fort McMurray and bear sightings along this strip are fewer than they used to be as there is a lot more dust and big construction vehicles to deal with. We will have a very busy day tomorrow as we head into the Fort Mac area where the construction is ridiculous and the air is even more dirty, but we look forward to the work and visiting our old bog friends. 

Welcome to Alberta 2015!!!