Monday, May 18, 2015

More Photos

I'm falling behind on here again, so I thought I'd at least post a few photos from the last couple of weeks. The first few are from a hike that Willow and I did up to Mission Peak the weekend before the most recent one. The amazing thing is that she is the one who suggested the hike, which is a bit unusual for her, especially when one considers it involves a 2000 foot elevation change. The view from the top is spectacular though, and the day was beautiful.

On the way down, we saw a coyote running along the ridge line. It crossed the trail ahead of us and lounged in the grass awhile.

Near the peak, Willow almost stepped on a little Gopher snake. She did one of those little "avoid crushing the reptile" dances for a moment. I picked it up and the lady in front of us came back so she could take pictures of it. I switched to naturalist mode for a minute or two, then took my own pictures and let it go.

This is a picture showing the trail leading away from the peak. Yeah, it was kind of a pain in the butt to walk up it. Completely worth it though.

We never did get too close to the coyote, but it didn't seem to concerned by the nearby crowds.

There were lots of corvids riding the thermals, but not too many hawks or vultures.

It's a popular destination. The trail we took begins at Ohlone college, and most of the hikers seemed to be college students.

Willow, being a child of the 21st century, took lots of pictures with her iPod.

Of course, there are the obligatory "standing on top of the spire" photos, the taking of which usually entails waiting in line.

This was one of the last photos I took on the way down. It provides a nice contrast between the hills and the valley, and illustrates why I'd rather be in the hills.

At camp, there is a Gray fox who has incorporated visits to our compost buckets into its nightly routine. I set up the trail cam right outside my window one night, and got these photos.

Today, it is partially cloudy and there is a cool breeze. Our internet was out earlier, and had been since Saturday. This is a relatively common problem. Spring is definitely here though. The garden is full of green, and our artichoke plant could feed an army, if only because we fenced it off from the chickens.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Wild Visitors

Last year, toward the end of the summer, work began on updating our nature lab. The job is finally finished, and the new space looks great. While I went back to working nights this week, one of my coworkers was busy moving the animals back in. There is still some decorating work to be done, as well as some searching for new, more professional looking, display cages. Here are some photos of the empty space, in all of its Spartan glory:

There is a bold little gray fox hanging out at camp now. Early in the week, I heard that it had been spotted in the garden, so I set up my trail cam and sure enough, I got a couple of shots. In the first photo, I can almost imagine that the fox looks surprised at the presence of a camera, and in the second photo, there is just the gray blur of a hasty retreat.

On the way back up to camp from setting up the camera, I checked by the garden gate and found the usual kind of reptile.It was probably the most nervous rattlesnake I've come across. It spent a good portion of the night rattling, and my morning meeting with the cabin leaders was accompanied by its agitated buzzing sound. It eventually calmed down, and now it resides farther away from camp.

The fox came back on Thursday night, filling the niche once occupied by the local raccoons (I had seen a raccoon on Monday night - in fact, it didn't notice me at first and reacted to my sudden presence with a startled jump, but these days, there are rarely raccoons around camp at night) by rooting around in the compost buckets. This was my best chance yet to observe one of these foxes in action, and I was impressed all over again by how catlike they are. It reacted to my presence by moving off into the distance, eventually vanishing into the forest at the edge of camp.

As for the kids this week, they were well-behaved sixth graders from four different private schools. I had to dispense enough medicine that I felt like some sort of pharmacist. Some kids are definitely over-medicated, but this week, we definitely had our fair share of kids with serious medical conditions. There was a boy with diabetes, a girl with epilepsy, and a girl with cystic fibrosis. I'm reminded of a brief moment when Willow was barely a year old, when her mom and I were told that she might have cystic fibrosis. It was scary, and thankfully, a false alarm. My heart goes out to children struggling with chronic conditions, especially this one.

Friday, May 01, 2015


I ended up being completely diurnal this week due to a two day Diastat training session I attended. What is Diastat? It's a rectal gel. Why would I need to be trained in the usage of something as unappetizing sounding as rectal gel? Well, apparently there are some cases when the proper application of this gel might save a life. If a person is having a seizure, Diastat can stop it. If the seizure is outside of the norm (in duration), or if it's the first time a person has had a seizure and it doesn't appear to be stopping in a reasonable amount of time, I now have the training needed to get out a little plunger and stick some medicine up where the sun doesn't shine. I sincerely hope I never have to do this.

We got to practice this on dolls. It occurred to me that it might be more realistic if we used Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls, since they wiggle around. I even wrote this on the "suggestions for improvement" section of the feedback form we were all handed.

I was reminded of the time when Willow was barely more than a toddler, and had a febrile seizure, and how scared we were. I'm glad that was a one-time thing. It must be hard to be the parent of a kid with epilepsy.

Most of our staff got to miss this training, but the health aides and night supervisors attended. Squirrel, who is our permanent hub host at our second site, showed up for a little bit of it too. We discovered a little burrito place around the corner during our lunch break as well, which made enduring the sadly out of date videos slightly more bearable. In one video, All of the talking heads were wearing glasses big enough to allow their cheeks to see better. It was distracting. They were all digitized, but the schedule indicated that they were from the VHS era. I could almost imagine them being shown in Super 8.

On Thursday, I covered a field class for my friend, Big Brown Bat. The kids were great and the day was warm. I took the group up to Lake Ranch Reservoir, paying attention to my FitBit as we hiked. It seems that the hike I thought was around 5 miles long is actually over 6. We caught a couple of toads and a Garter snake, all first spotted by the kids. The Killdeer were out and about too, and a handful of kids got to see the heron that lives by the reservoir. It was a good day.