Collectively, we decided that in order to live here you need to be…strange? A little off your rocker? Maybe that’s what happens in more isolated areas?

A lot just kind of walk right up to you and ask, what are ya doin? It’s hard to explain. We can’t say geologists because then people discuss rocks with you. And really we tried to avoid anything about climate change or the forestry service. Not that either of those necessarily have bad connotations, they just have the potential to ignite some sort of opinionated lecture. So most of the time we stick with looking at Salmon habitat. Most of them like this, but then we undergo the unfortunate time of listening to everyone’s fishing stories and then having to confess that we actually know nothing about salmon. When we mentioned to our camp host that we were surveying one particular stream even though there really isn’t any reported studies of fish, he regaled us with “Bulllllshit there’s no fish in there! Now let me tell you…” and so on for about ten minutes (later he would introduce us to all of his bear statues). Others look at our surveying equipment and ask if we’re selling their land or increasing their property values. Those who don’t know what surveying equipment looks like, often ask if we’re going fishing – either the traditional way or some sort of electrocution method. Laughingly, we came up with a few sample responses (none of which we ever actually tried). My personal favorite was Jaime’s: I’m a scientist; I work for the government (has a sort of Manhattan project flair, doesn’t it?). Others included that we’re surveying for the new dam or coal plant that will be going in soon. Lol, everyone loves that.

One stream Jaime and I did, situated next to a backwoods campground, had quite possibly the best assortment. There was a family reunion, in which even though I was freezing cold in my waders and three layers of jackets, the girls bravely donned swimsuits in order to wash their hair. Jaime and I laughed at each other: it had been at least a week since we had washed ours. One girl, for no apparent reason, though I suspect it was to make bubbles, dumped half of a Dawn dishwashing soap bottle into the river. Just climbed up on a log, opened the cap, and started squeezing the bottle and smiling. Another elderly man had the longest beard I have ever seen. He randomly appeared on the rocky bar maybe twenty feet down from us, and, after watching us pick up rocks to measure, he himself would pick up random rocks and toss them aside. Another man on the other side of a wooded log jam had a newspaper bag in his hand and was just picking up rocks and placing them inside. Jaime tried to ask what he was doing, but all he replied was “picking up rocks.”