6/1/2011 – 6/4/2011
The house I’m staying in is pretty interesting. Built in the 40’s, its style is very simple and square. Apparently an addition was added later on, making the guest room (my room) more like a hallway and the garage more like a living room. There’s also an entire mini house in the backyard that friends of theirs were staying in which I never saw. So strange configurations, but overall a cute house. The just painted walls were mostly shades of gray or brown, but strangely it didn’t feel drab or boring and I kinda liked it. My boss, Jaime, and her husband kind of just moved in so in the short time span I was there bicycle racks were installed, vintage couches were purchased, and the door to my bathroom moved from supporting the tv to its hinges. The neighborhood is not glitzy but it’s also not sketchy: somewhere in between, filled with probably a lot of first time homebuyers. Normally churches don’t really stand out to me, but the diversity of them in this neighborhood is quite interesting. Two houses down is an Islamic center, a few blocks in one direction is a Russian orthodox church, nearby a catholic school, and another few blocks in another direction is a Greek orthodox church who was hosting their Greek fest and serving delicious baklava.
Apparently, I had read my starting date incorrectly. In the original flyer for the position, the start date was June 1st. In the revised (though still incredibly flexible) more recent plan, e-mailed to me while I was on the road, the start date for training was June 2nd and the actual field start date was June 6th. Oh well.
I hung around the house for much of June 1st and then headed out to the mall with multiple agendas. First, I treated myself to olive garden and some amazing, stomach-filling pasta. Next, I went to REI and bought a new tent. After much consultation involving actually pitching several tents in the middle of the store, I chose a two-person Big Agnes, complete with a footprint bottom tarp thing and rain-fly that completely covers the tent, vanquishing any evil rain that may be afoot. It was a big purchase for me and I will probably have to break down and buy a pack as well, but maybe I’ll wait for my first paycheck. Finally, I sat in the apple store at the genius counter for two or three hours, kindly receiving a charge for free, reconnecting with the internet, and eavesdropping on the people receiving help around me. That night, I went to one of Jaime’s friend’s daughter’s third birthday party in the local park. The women all brought some sort of organic appetizer and lots of wine, letting the children roam freely within sight, until one of them decided to run around naked and it was time to go.
The next two days I went into the office: the Idaho Water Center. I filled out useless paperwork on every detail of my life, handed over my passport, license, and right to sue, was given several scientific papers relating to our research, and used GIS to print out base maps of lithology and stream slope for our seven research field sites. Work started at 9 and was finished midday on Thursday and Friday, leaving me time to explore. This paperwork, however, required various people to file it and sign things and give us online access to our time sheets, most of which hasn’t happened in an appropriate time frame. This has left us stuck in Boise for several more days than expected, waiting for the red tape to clear. In these debriefing scenes I also learned that our research will in fact not be in Idaho but on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. These are incredibly exciting forests to be exploring – except that the average temperature is not what I consider summer weather, it is a temperate forest so it will rain constantly, and the snow has still not melted in many of the areas we plan to investigate. Still really excited, but just a grain of oh crap what am I doing.
On Saturday, I took my car out and got an oil change – dad says I could have gone another thousand miles, but I felt almost 5,000 miles was enough. The nice people at Jiffy Lube also found a nick in my window (I can only guess from the Missouri hail) so they fixed that as well. Constantly making sure I am not bored, Jaime had handed me a map of all the hiking/biking trails in the area, so I went on a 10-mile bike ride, stopping at the local farmer’s market, the state capital building, Boise State, and riding around the river wherever the road was not closed due to flooding. It was fascinating the amount of traffic the bike lane was getting, and I was almost hit several times for literally stopping to smell the flowers/look at birds. Later that night, Jaime and Nate held a party inviting all their local friends to hang out. I talked with everyone about my trip, interviewed a few engineers, kept the fire, and held in my laughter as Jaime complained about her friends leaving at the incredibly late hour of 1am (my terrible response was you know that’s when college parties usually start?).