From Michigan to Georgia

I had a few days off of work and made my way back to Michigan. Before I even left Tennessee pretty much every day of my trip home was already jam packed with things to do. They consisted of: spending as much time with Matt as possible, getting Fender Bender /USSF things together and hanging out with Liz, riding bikes with friends, visiting my family, oh and yeah, presenting my thesis defense so I can finally get my Master’s. I had to do all of this in 4 full days with an additional 2 days of driving.

How did that all go? Excellent! Although there is never enough time to do all that I want to do and spend time with friends and family I was still able to fit lots in. My first night home I swung by The Hub where I ran into many excellent people, the Fender Bender open shop just ending. Liz and I were nearly hit by a car on our run to share a giant hug. Immediately after, Matt and I jumped on our bikes (this being our first time riding our Surly LHTs together!)- we rode to Xochimilco’s in SW and filled up on delicious Mexican food that I had been craving.

Matt with our bikes: Brown Trout & The Bumble

Liz & I spent a great deal getting things together for the Fender Bender workshops at USSF. Things went really well and I felt so inspired getting to be productive with Liz. She’s putting her all into FB and beyond. Plus providing so much love and an excellent home for Fatty Pants kitty.

Spending time with my family was also much needed. My nephew and niece grow taller everyday. As they grow taller my grandparents grow older and this aches my heart, but having everyone together felt incredible.

My beautiful niece, Izzy

All of this rush led me up to summing up my 2+ years of graduate work down to 1 hour: Thesis Defense. The Mom & Steve & Matt and others came to listen to me ramble on about bats and their wing preferences. Matt said I hit my stride. I felt confident & things went better than I expected. My thesis in its entirety is submitted. Now I just wait.

Saying good bye is always difficult but I was lucky enough to end my time in Michigan on a bike ride to Belle Isle with Matt and Liz where we met up with Andrea and her awesome dogs.  We hung out at punk beach, played with the dogs and had a picnic. Lucky for me, Andrea came back to Tennessee with me.  We camped (at the same site as my trip down with Matt, but far less water this time), hiked, netted for bats and then headed to Atlanta. Did you know that Atlanta has this incredible co-op called Sevenanda and that they have not only a Soul Veg, but 2 Soul Veg restaurants? Needless to say we spent a large portion of our day filling up on vegan food and then attempted to walk some of it off checking out the city and checking out people’s dogs and bikes at the park.

Now I have moved from the Tellico Plains area in TN to the Great Smoky Mountains.  As soon as I arrived at the Twenty Mile house in the evening I unloaded the truck, put on my headlamp and hiked up the trail to find Max & Joy.  We had a very successful night of netting- 29 bats: 2 Indiana bats which we are now tracking and found 1 tree for thus far.  Plus a handful of Little Brown Bats, Big Brown Bats, Northern Long-eared bats, Tri-colored Bats, & our first 2 Rafinesque bats of the year! yay!

Oh, the next morning before heading out to track, I looked out the house window and across the creek I spotted a black bear, just hanging out, scoping out the creek. Which also reminds be that 2 days prior while tracking out on a ridge I saw some leaves rustle, my eyes focused and I realized, as did the deer, that we were just 10 feet apart.  Next thing I knew her white tail was in my direction and she was darting down the steep edge.

Now I must end my time on the internet and go find a new place to bike!

For more photos summing up all of June, head here.

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