The Nature Zine, Issue 2

Completed!

I can’t believe it’s been a year since the first issue of The Nature Zine. Now I have a whole new collection for you to enjoy!

NatureZineIssue2

Issue 2 is packed full of intense stories, thoughts, poems, art, photos and an ‘interview’ from multiple contributors. I’m thrilled to share with you this next run of submissions- they are all quite inspiring. People share their fears, passion, and thoughts on exploring, connecting with and studying nature. The beautiful ruffed grouse on the cover was painted by Jay Dowd, owner and tattoo artist at Consolidated Tattoo Parlor and Barber Shop in Flint, Michigan. Jay and I have gone on a LOTS of outdoor adventures together and he spends any moment that he can out in the wilderness, so of course it was a pleasure to include his painting. I really enjoy receiving submissions from all over the states (and Canada!), so please keep them coming.

My friend Matt and I collaborated on a piece together for issue 2- never too late- as we had once discussed writing of our 6 month adventure (much of which has been described here, but we now we were able to reflect on our journey and share new aspects of it all). We essentially interview ourselves- as in we came up with a few questions and then separately wrote our responses. We waited to share them until we both completed our pieces. I then meshed them together, leaving them as they were- not letting our answers influence one another.

If you are interested in a copy, I’ll send you one for free, trade or a $1-$3 donation.  Donations just help to cover the cost of copies and shipping. Plus allow me to keep up with this very enjoyable project. I’m on a student budget so anything helps. Just use the the paypal button below or email me for other options, batsnbikes [at] gmail [dot] com

Donate for a copy of The Nature Zine

Much thanks to everyone who has contributed to this project! I’m keeping Issue One in print as well, so let me know if you are interested. Both a creative outlet and a way to share our thoughts on connecting with nature, The Nature Zine will continue on with more issues.  If you are interested in contributing, please send your stories, thoughts, and art to me or contact me for more information:  batsnbikes [at] gmail [dot] com

p.s. wondering what a zine is? This should help.

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Pond Mountain Wilderness

We try to control our surroundings everyday.  We hide in rooms where we control the temperature.  We attempt to control the sounds around us by drowning them out with headphones or closing our windows.  We turn dials in our vehicles to create sounds we want to hear and to cool or warm ourselves.  We turn on lights when the sun fades.  The door to our house latches shut, an attempt to keep out what we don’t want in our homes.

We shut out the natural world everyday, and yet we constantly try to manipulate it.  Our actions and daily routines have impacted our climate, but we cannot control the weather.  Everyday that I work outside I am reminded of this- and I respect this constant awareness.  Sure, I’ll admit that this summer has been full of frustrations as it has stormed and rained almost every single day.  We take the risk of setting everything up to catch bats for the night, only to have a storm rush in ruining our chances at a full night of bat surveys.  Rain is only a reminder that I’m not working in a controlled environment-  I am exposed to the rain, wind, humidity, heat, cold, insects…. I have no control, nor do I want to control the wilderness.

—–

We could see lightning off in the distance, perhaps too close, but we heard no thunder.  We keep the nets open, stretched out across the old gravel road, between two metal poles- 20 feet tall.  The lighting becomes brighter, more frequent and the rain is quick to follow.  We close up for the night, but by the time our gear is packed my clothes are soaked, plastered to my body, and my hair is heavy with rain.

We’re out at Dennis Cove, near the pond and the Appalachian Trail crosses our site.  My crew departs for home, but Kyle and I make our way through the field and into the tent.  The rain continues for hours, and when it finally lets up I catch the sounds of bullfrogs and spring peepers scattered through the moments that I awake through the night.

I’d hardly had time to even think about where we could hike the next day- my first true day off since the field season began.  I browsed over a map in a region I knew we’d have to work- immediately attracted to the Pond Mountain Wilderness.  The trail climbs up a ridge and we can walk to the trail head from my work site plus it deposits us back into civilization at Watauga Lake- a jump into the lake after our hike.  A quick internet search, revealed little information about Pond Mountain Trail- most of what I found of the Pond Mountain Wilderness was in regards to the portion of the AT that cuts at an angle across the western portion.  I wanted to avoid the clutter of people, a wilderness trail is always more intriguing.  All I knew was that it was 4.5 miles long and runs along the ridge top, seems easy enough.  I only took a quick glance at the topographic map.  Hey, why not add on a bit more- just a quick, easy hike before starting the Pond Mountain Trail.  Laurel Fork Trail (39) next to Dennis Cove Campground would lead us south, where we would connect with FS-50F to head back North.  It would end where FS-50 crosses, and on the opposite side is where Pond Mountain Trail (40) begins.

Nine creek crossings followed by a 2.2 mile hike up a winding gravel forest service road was my definition of a “quick, easy hike.”  Well, it was actually easy but the whole taking our boots and socks off to cross 9 portions of the creek within a couple of miles- surveying each crossing for the least sketchy area to cross- made things not so quick.  The rain left the creek high, hiding any rocks that may have once been available for scurrying across with our boots on.  Other crossings found the creek to be up to my thighs.  With each crossing, we became more careless.  Looking at the topo maps now, it’s so clear to see that the trail crosses the creek many times- perhaps when it’s not a summer full of rain, a shoeless entry may not be required.

Trail 39 and 50F meet up near an open field- we filter water and what we had hoped to be our final creek session knowing that finding a water source on the ridge would be unlikely.  As we reach FS road 50F, the clouds begin to darken but only a small amount of rain finds its way down to us.  We pass the only two people we see on the trails, as they casually stroll through our last creek crossing with their fancy boot gaiters.  The next couple of miles were drowned out by the sound of gravel crunching under our boots with each step, our pace steady as we followed the road that would take us up along Rough Ridge and to Pond Mountain Trail.

We reach an open gate, 50F ends at FS-50, I point directly across the road, “That’s our trail.”  Kyle is doubtful as he looks across the gravel into the forest, no evidence of a trail to be found.  We look again at the map, Pond Mountain Trail should be directly in front of us.  It’s a wilderness trail, so I’m not really surprised that as we look ahead we see only vegetation- we hike in.  Maybe I saw a faint blue blaze, but soon enough we come across a post confirming that we are on the right path.  Suddenly it’s quite obvious, as we are on an old timber road, faded into a two track- the clearest portion of the trail.  It’s, of course, in the easiest portion of the trail that I trip over a downed tree sending myself flying through the air and slamming into the damp but still hard ground.  The fall is only a reminder that we skipped lunch, my head feels light but I’m laughing at my fall. Handfuls of almonds, pecans and some dried fruit allow me to regain my energy.

The trail narrows as it climbs the ridge.  We hike through rhododendron tunnels along the sloping slides, the path is relatively clear, the blue blazes are solid and bright but as we ascend both the blaze and the path begins to fade.  The steepness of the trail is suddenly a slap in the face as we bear right with a clear view of what lies ahead.  There are no switchbacks.  We climb the steep grade, our steps slipping on the forest floor full of decaying leaves that have absorbed weeks worth of rain.

Kyle pauses above me, periodically to wait for me to catch up to his pace.  We continuously check to make sure we are still on some sort of trail but all of a sudden we are on these large bolders, covered with lichen and surrounded by brambles with a few trees that have managed to squeeze life between rock.

The blazes are gone, there is no path.

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Keeping With New Tradition

The smell of adventure still lingers, as I let down my hair I catch the fragrance of a campfire- the smell of smoke tangled in my curls.  The smell is faint, as I returned to Braddock this afternoon and stood under the hot shower rinsing away the scents of my last 24 hours, the humidity and smell of smoke mixing together, filling the room.

Two years ago, I found myself at Caddo Lake State Park in Texas with Matt.  My knee destroyed, we spent 3 nights there, overlapping xmas and realizing how wonderful it is to avoid the mass consumerism of the holidays, the stress of families, the guilt of not doing (“buying”) enough-  all of that is forgotten when you are camping and on a bike tour.  It didn’t matter that the temperature ranged from 20-40F and that it sleeted on us- we had a camp fire, delicious hot dinners and nature surrounding us.  I promised myself that I would spend every xmas after this one camping.

Last year I failed to camp, and I felt disappointed in myself.  This year was different.  I needed to camp.  I needed to hike in the forest.  I needed to breath in the crisp cold air and eat a hot meal perched next to a fire.  Most people tell you that it’s too cold or that you are crazy but Alex was thrilled on the idea of winter camping with me, as was I that she would join me on this adventure.

Arriving in Raccoon Creek State Park, sleet steadily falling, we expressed excitement that a thin layer of snow blanketed the area- a coat of white with bits of greens and browns bursting through.  We caught glimpses of icicles hanging over the edges of moss covered rocks and as the pavement turned to gravel we noted that we were the only ones camping in the park.  We wouldn’t see anyone else until the next morning, driving out of the park.

Armed with waterproof jackets and layers of warmth, we assembled the tent as quickly as possible to keep the rain out.  Before the sun set we were able to go on a quick hike and assemble our fortress against the rain that would allow us to keep dry on the picnic table and enjoy dinner and conversation next to the fire during the rain/sleet/snow.  With my hatchet we chopped apart a small downed tree- tying the parts to the picnic table after scraping off the snow we draped a tarp over the logs to create our shelter.  We felt accomplished and satisfied with our work, minus the few times when the wind would shift blowing the smoke directly into our little fortress.

It took more time that I had hoped it would, but soon enough we had a fire to keep us warm (in the 30F night) and it would also provide us with our dinner for the evening:  hobo pie pizzas (pizza sauce, daiya “cheese”, onions, garlic and fresh basil) followed by vegan s’mores.  A few steps away from the fire and within seconds you’d realize just how cold your surroundings were, so we spent the evening hovered around the fire snacking and enjoying being away from the city.  Around 10pm the rain had given up, leaving behind a fog covered forest- the moon was shrouded in this fog but its light illuminated, reflecting off the moisture, creating light in the evening that made us question if we had just stayed up all night until it was 6am.  We checked our watches doubting the time of day, I stood up away from the fire, mesmerized that I could see everything around me without my headlamp when earlier I had to use my light to reach for something a few feet away- the outlines of trees, the tent, even the trail head off in the distance was visible.  It was beautiful and gave me a sudden burst of energy-  I wanted to go for a hike, yet the chance of more rain and the comfort of the fire brought me back to a mode of relaxation.

In the tent and burrowed into our sleeping bags, we could see our breath, hear a barred owl calling,  and struggled to find ways to keep our feet warm.  Tying our jackets around the foot of the sleeping bags offered a bit of a shield but with my poor circulation, it’s never enough.  We awoke around 3am to our bladders screaming at us to brave the cold, dashing outside kept us awake for another hour or so before we drifted into our second sleep.  Waking up in a tent, bundled against the cold on any morning brings a smile to my face.  We had tea, oatmeal and a hike to look forward to before departing the forest.  Opening the rain fly of my tent and entering the forest is better than any present that I could open under an xmas tree.

The Nature Zine, Issue One

Earlier in the year I put out a call for submissions for the first issue of The Nature Zine.  In the spring, I set a deadline for myself- to finally complete a zine before the end of the field season.  With the contributions and support from friends, I finally put forth the effort to complete the first issue of this project.

The Nature Zine: (re)connection with the natural world  (Issue One)

The Nature Zine: (re)connecting with the natural world (Issue One)

Issue One consists of a few stories and thoughts, 3o pages in all, on adventures, childhood memories, thoughts on experiencing city and forest, and more.  For example, I used this as an opportunity to finally write out my experience of having an allergic reaction to bald faced hornets while in the middle of a forest, off trail, a couple of hours away from the hospital.  I gave away the first run of 50 to friends but have recently made another run of 50.   If you are interested in a copy, I’ll send you one for free, trade or a $1-$3 donation.  Donations just help to cover the cost of copies and shipping.  Just use the the paypal button below or email me for other options, batsnbikes [at] gmail [dot] com

Donate for a copy of The Nature Zine

Eventually, I’ll provide a pdf version but I like this only being available as a hard copy for now.  Plus, it’s fun to get mail and keep with zine tradition.

Until then, I’ll at least share my introduction:

October 2012

Welcome to Issue #1 of The Nature Zine:

Over that last few years, I’ve spent more and more time away from my usual city life.  I’ve jumped back and forth from one extreme to the next.  For a few months, I would walk out my back door and into an alley in Detroit or Flint or any other various city street I’ve stepped into from my always temporary home.  Compare this to walking out my door and into a forest, or not having a door at all.  Just climbing out of my tent and into the crisp morning forest air.  I fall asleep to the swaying rhythm of katydids and the calls of owls, woodcocks and whip-poor-wills, sometimes even the drumming of a ruffed grouse as the sun sets.

Each year I spend more of my time in the forest.  Each year I learn more and my connection grows stronger.  Sometimes I need to slow down and not just analyze, learn from and understand my surroundings but enjoy them.  Reminding myself that it’s ok to hear a bird calling and not remember their name, I can still appreciate their songs.

Out here in the forest, with all that there is to explore, I sometimes still find loneliness.  I struggle to find that balance of my love of nature and my need to be around amazing people to share vegan meals with over both thought-provoking conversations and laughter. Social validation.  I need both in my life.  But as I walk deeper into the wilderness, I fear that I am often cutting myself away from my social connections.

As I near the end of my 8-month track of living in a house in the middle of a state forest in Pennsylvania, so many thoughts rush through my mind.  How do we find that balance?  For those of us that live in the city and crave the outdoors- we miss the smell of freshly fallen leaves on a dew covered forest floor.  In the city I miss the chorus of frogs and songbirds but in the forest I find myself escaping to the city so I can shout along with friends to my favorite punk bands.  I drive back to the forest alone but as my headlights brighten my surroundings and the tree branches arch over me I feel this sense of them welcoming me home.  I step out of my car that is polluting their air and I take a deep breath, I let it all out.

For each of us, that balance differs but we must never lose our connection with nature.  In a city, I always find myself in any park nearby.  I watch the pigeons for hours with friends or sometimes alone.  I observe the squirrels and catch them stealing glances at me.  We see plants bursting through the cracks of pavement.  Become mesmerized by the way ants can clean the sidewalk in a way similar to how they make use of a forest floor.  Birds build their nests in the cracks of old buildings and bats fill the attics and night skies of cities.  We have destroyed their homes and pushed them out, and unfortunately our actions continue.  The more we ignore nature around us, the less we will notice as more and more of it is destroyed.

This zine is about sharing those connections you’ve had.  It’s about reconnecting.  It’s about sharing your fears.  Sharing your adventures.  It’s about our love and respect for both city life and the natural world.  Both can exist.

Learn. Share. Explore. Connect. Respect. Enjoy.

Stand in solidarity with the natural world,

Nessie Grace

Both a creative outlet and a way to share our thoughts on connecting with nature, The Nature Zine will continue on with more issues.  If you are interested in contributing, please send your stories, thoughts, and art to me or contact me for more information:  batsnbikes [at] gmail [dot] com

Much thanks to everyone for who contributed to Issue One.  Cover art by Amanda Blodøks.

Pittsburgh to DC, We Pedal

I’m the first in the house to awake, too excited and anxious to sleep.  I awake to that feeling where I get this rush of anxiety, I feel like my heart is beating so fast that I almost lose my breath.  I calm myself with long stretches and this also acts as reassurance.  With each deep lunge I tell myself that this time my knees will be ok, the circumstances are different.  My stomach feels hollow but at the same time it’s hard to eat.  I empty half a tub of soy yogurt into a bowl and pile granola on top of it.  I wake Jason up and my anxiety begins to fade as we both light up with smiles knowing that the only thing we have to do for the next five days is ride our bikes.

It doesn’t take us long to prepare for departure, most things were packed the night before so we carry our bikes and our gear down the three flights of stairs after giving out hugs to our friends – both half awake and in bed still but wishing us safe and fun travels.  As we load our panniers onto our bikes and situate our loads, remnants from last night’s thunderstorm begin to sprinkle lightly upon us.  We jump onto our bikes and I instantly remember how good it feels to just ride away.  We ride out of Braddock and after some confusion we make our way onto the Great Allegheny Passage.  When we cross the railroad tracks and turn onto the trail we are relieved and dive into conversation, catching up on everything since I left Detroit.

Nearly two years ago, Jason met Matt and I in Detroit to ride with us on our first day of our tour.  This day will forever be known to the three of us as the worst bike ride ever.  That day the temperature dropped down into the 20s and the wind picked up to that same speed.  With the temperature and riding into the wind my bad knee pretty much exploded but I didn’t want to give up.  Our clearest memory is of stopping in a playground and hiding in this little train, a sad attempt to block the wind.  We shared food bars that were nearly shattering from the cold as we tried to break them apart.  Our water bottles were freezing shut and I felt like a complete failure.

This ride would be different.  The rain had faded and the autumn temperature felt perfect.  Anything could feel perfect after reminiscing about that ride on December 1, 2010, but really it was.  We rode just over 70 miles that day, arriving to Ohiopyle as planned.  The only terrible thing about our first day wasn’t the ride at all, it was pushing our bikes up the 1/4 mile loosely graveled trail to the campground.  That 1/4 mile felt like 5 at the end of the day. The sun was fading fast, so we made camp at one of the the sites nearest the trail, we had plenty to choose from and didn’t see anyone camping nearby.  Enjoying our dinner of vegan mac n chz on a picnic table soaked from the recent rain, I felt drained but was feeding on the energy from my enjoyment of being on a bike tour.  Within minutes of climbing into the tent a storm rolled in that lasted hours into the night but luckily ending before we woke the next morning.

Our clothes from the day before were soaked, but in hopes of it not raining, I decided to put on my 2nd (and last) set of dry clothes.  It didn’t take long for it to start raining on us that day.  Our damp clothes from the day before strapped to our bikes collecting just as much rain as the clothes we were wearing.  The tunnels that day rejuvenated us, their entrances surrounded by heavy fog and their insides cool, damp and dark.  Our time spent in the Big Savage tunnel discussing doom metal and staging photographs was perhaps the cause to arriving late into Cumberland at the end of the day but no matter, it was all quite worth it.  The rain was falling steadily, I could see it in my bike light and feel it on my face as Jason and I rode 17+ mph in the dark on the trail.  With Jason’s front rack and load they couldn’t get their light to point to the path, so they rode behind me watching to make sure they didn’t need to avoid anything in the path.  Their light threw my shadow into my path and with the rain and my glasses it made for a bit of a sketchy ride, but I kept pedaling faster and sometimes found myself laughing at our situation, enjoying our adventure.

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Michigan to Pennsylvania

My two weeks before leaving Detroit were a whirlwind of events.  My sleep schedule was a disaster, each night managing to find only 4-6 hours of chaotic sleep.  On top of packing, organizing and getting rid of stuff I was also working right up to the day before I left and was trying really hard to spend time with close friends and family.  Saying good-bye is never easy, even when everyone knows you are bound to leave.  In my short time back in Michigan (June 2011-March 2012), many friendships grew stronger, others faded and new ones arose.  I had to balance my mind and stay functioning through the heavy emotional exhaustion of leaving.  I’m not really sure how well I did, and I think everyone was noticing my limits decreasing.  I did manage to get in bike rides and dinners with friends and catch some excellent punk shows before leaving though.

My last two days in Detroit were non-stop.  Thursday night was a delicious vegan dinner at Seva in Detroit with a full table of my friends that I have lots of love for and all of which are vegan.  Friday found me at work presenting 4 educational programs to 2nd graders on the adaptations of animals and shortly after I spent time finishing up projects there and saying good bye to my human and non-human friends.  I almost cried like 10 times because everyone was so sweet with their very thoughtful going away wishes and gifts…. I’m getting sentimental just thinking about it again.  After work a few of us ate the coconut lime vegan cupcakes Amanda made (which were the same ones that I made for everyone years ago that got her started on making vegan desserts weekly for everyone at the Bat Zone) and then we headed to see the Hunger Games movie that Michelle got us hooked on reading.  Thank you everyone at the Organization for Bat Conservation for all of your support, encouragement and friendships.

I had to rush off after the movie so I could meet friends for the Kimya Dawson and Your Heart Breaks show- an excellent way to spend my last night in Detroit.  Afterwards, Liz and I walked home and parted at her apartment in the rain, a block over I met Matt at my apartment where he kept me company while I attempted to finish up packing and cleaning.  After sleeping a few hours, I woke up, packed up my car with everything that I’d need/want for the next 8 months.  I drove off to pick up 2 people who had responded to a ride share ad.  (Both guys were really respectful and fun to share the drive to Pittsburgh with as they were in the middle of their adventures.)  Just before leaving, I met Andrea, Curtis, Arlo, Liz and James at Eastern Market.  As some of you may remember from my previous departure, it’s the best way I can think of to depart from Detroit.

The sun was setting behind a mountain as I reached the very small town in Pennsylvania where I’ll be living and working.  The house that I’m now living in with 4-5 other people is on a very small dirt road that’s surrounded by a state forest.  The same people I’m living with are also the people I’m working with.  Similar scenario as the project I was working with in TN/NC.  It’s a pretty amazing set-up as I get my own room and my window looks out to the backyard which is mountains and forest.  I had Sunday to unpack and acclimate to my new surroundings and meet my new housemates.  I could finally relax and not think about the millions of things I had to do before my move.  It didn’t take long to unwind and feel the anxiety and pressure lift.  Walks on dirt roads, breathing country air and working outside is an excellent cure.  It’s quiet here, I can hear the birds.  I feel comfortable.  I feel relaxed.

I’ll post more about work soon, but this was more about transition.  Today was my day off and I went on a chilly bike ride through a state park on a hike and bike trail.  I only rode 18 miles, but it was 18 miles with trees on one side and a river on the other.  18 miles with no cars to worry about.  Things are so different here.  I love cities, but right now it feels really good to not be in a city.

More on adventures soon, I just really needed this transition post so I can move onto what’s ahead.

September Visits

How is it already the end of Semptember? This summer has been a whirlwind of events and I haven’t been doing a very good job at keeping this blog updated.  Often times I’ll have these ideas pop into my head about what I want to write about but by the time I get to be on the internet I have too many ideas built up and I’m not sure where to start.

Recently my excellent and close pal Amets came down to the mountains to visit me and see what it is I actually do out here in the forest. Some of you may also be wondering this same thing. Although I could go on forever about what it is I actually do, luckily for you, Joy who is head of this research project, just sent me a link that describes the project quite simply. I plan to update a bit more on some of the details of my actual job at some point before I’m done down here.

For now, let’s get back to the awesome fact that my super rad friend came to visit me.  I haven’t seen Amets since late April.  Before we both left Michigan, Amets, Liz and I spent many hours together eating delicious vegan food and discussing and planning Fender Bender events.  Now the three of us are living in three different states.

Amets and I started our weekend off camping and riding bikes with Joy, Caroline, and Rachel (co-workers) on the loop road in Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains National Park.  Tourists frequent this area with hopes of catching a glimpse of a bear without having to get out of their vehicles.  It’s a bit of a nightmare to be there on a weekend – however being in Cades Cove with it’s closed to vehicles is quite enjoyable.  We have spent many late nights netting for bats on various roads and trails off of the cove.  On Wednesdays and Saturdays they open the gate later than usual, 10:30am, thus allowing in only pedestrians and cyclists.  Just as we were all crawling out of our tents at 7am, the rain started coming down.  We came to ride though, so that’s what we did. At times it let up but mostly it just kept on pouring down on us.  We never let rain ruin our fun, though.

It continued to rain most of the day but luckily let up enough so that Amets and I could set up the tent and let it dry off a bit.  The rain actually held off long enough to allow us to do the short loop trail in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.  We strolled through the forest admiring the huge Tulip Trees, looking for salamanders, mushrooms and enjoying nature while catching up with one another.

Back at our campsite we attempted to see which would happen first: 1. Would our water come to a boil?; 2. Would we be struck by lightening waiting for our water to boil?; 3. Would we get drenched waiting for our water to boil?  Ohhh the suspense! The thunder sent us multiple warnings but we but our bids on the water coming to a boil.  Thank you Trangia! (I’m planning on writing up a bit of a review on my camp stove set soon enough). Our water boiled and we raced to hide from the rain and eat our dinner.

Me and Amets with Tulip Trees at Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

With the weekend over I was now back to work.  Amets and I headed back to the Smoky Mountains to collect data on our roost and random plots. What’s that you ask?  More on that soon as well (I told you I have all of these plans for posts).  We did some hiking on trails, but as always, with the work I do, we venture off of the trails often.  Hiking on a trail is completely different than hiking through the forest.  Most people don’t actually do this. Amets was ambitious, curious and incredibly helpful.  We had to walk on steep slopes at times, hike through what we called Thornsville in the hot sun and carry our gear in to one of the backcountry sites.  We hiked and worked for 2 days, camping inbetween and then Amets had to get on the bus that evening to head back home.

We stuffed ourselves at Veg-o-Rama in Knoxville, an all vegetarian restaurant (the only one in Knoxville) with vegan options and then stopped by the co-op to pick up snacks for Amets’ long bus trip home and sorbet for our dessert.  Sitting on the curb eating sorbet, laughing and people watching, guessing who was likely to be headed to the co-op was a good way to end our day of work.

It seems as though I was starting to forget how incredible it is to talk to a friend in person who understands you and feels the same way about many important issues.  My contact with close friends while down in Tennessee has been over rushed conversations while I’m in a town, scattered emails, and a couple of random surprise packages in the mail.  Although I love all of those moments that I can connect with my friends, none of them can really compare to actually getting to hang out, bike together, laugh together, eat together, and have serious discussions together.  So thank you Amets for taking the time and resources to come and visit me and work with me. I look forward to our next visit.

Amets on top of Whigg Meadow. We went there to check out the bird banding.