We took our time packing up our campsite on the final morning of work. I was called an overachiever for taking down my tent before breakfast and for a while we just stood around Jaime’s computer, laughing at some of the ridiculous pictures and movies we took in between doing actual work. There were still two large reaches left, but instead of splitting into two groups we kept the wolf pack intact and surveyed together. The first reach was large but relatively easy. The second reach was surrounded by logging and roads with huge rock slides at every turn, clearly changing the channel from its natural course and greatly decreasing sediment size. The rest of us tried to hold back our excitement for freedom as Jaime made the difficult decision to leave the site.
We ended where we had started, going full circle around the peninsula: on the Skokomish river. We sat silently in the truck, music blaring, windows rolled down, finally experiencing the beginning of summer heat. We all picked up our cars at Olympia, headed to the campground we have established as our safe haven, and finally showered. Chris soon headed out to meet his wife in Seattle for their honeymoon, cracking my back in at least twelve different places as he hugged me goodbye. Our wolf pack was down to three. I owed Paul dinner as I had forgotten my wallet on our last excursion, so the three of us went in search of seafood and a good view. After running away from the fancy places where women in heels and men in jackets climbed the stairs, we finally found a laid back outdoor seating, right on the water’s edge. Our waiter, to say the least, was entertaining. He introduced himself to us by haphazardly relating some drunk story where he ended up sleeping in his car. When we asked for more time to decide on our order, he said he would be back in three minutes – but wait. “You’re not going to time me right? Cause I’m not married to you, I’m not going to lie to you – it might be a little longer.” And that was just the beginning. Every five minutes some new gag or story approached our table – he wanted to try Jaime’s oysters or made fun of us being on separate tickets or wondered why my desert wasn’t gone faster. At first it was strange and we contemplated if we were on candid camera, but eventually it made for a highly entertaining evening.
When we returned, Jaime pitched her tent and went to bed, Paul passed out in the bed of his truck, and I headed to the laundry room next to the outdoor pool for Internet. I sank into the dilapidated but comfy couch, opened up my laptop and went immediately to my e-mail. Amongst Obama campaign letters and REI advertisements, a small note from a Curt Maxey made me literally cry with joy in the silent and dark room:
I’ve put paperwork in place to try to employ you for the upcoming fall term with the DOE SULI program, so I hope it will work out that I will be your new mentor, unless you get a better offer.”
I won’t readily admit it, but this past year very few things seemed to go right. I cannot begin to relate how thankful I am for this opportunity and how happy I am to finally study alternative energy, especially at such a prestigious institution. Not that I normally screw things up, but there is no way I can let anything go wrong with this one. Wish me luck.