in which i drive fractioned roads and make new friends

Photo May 25, 10 06 38 AMThe vast majority of the roads around here come with ridiculously precise fractions. I am not exaggerating at all when I say that there exists intersections like “23 5/8 and M 1/4.” The numbers have absolutely no logical unit attached – 23 1/2 might be a quarter mile before 24, with another mile before hitting 24 3/8. And really, M 1/4 or H 1/2 can have no real logical meaning. But there’s a reason for it all; back when this was all orchard land (peaches spring up in semi-desert when you have infinite rights to the Colorado River water), the roads ran between different people’s properties and were logically either numbered or lettered in order. Later, as plots began to be split, and split again, and split again, to match people’s financial needs, finer and finer fractions were assigned. Probably at some point it will stop amusing me.

Photo Jun 03, 2 33 05 PM
A view of park housing from above, on the Black Ridge trail. Grand Valley, including Fruita and Grand Junction, are hazily visible below us.

While we’re on the subject of roads, I should mention that I live nearly two thousand feet above the valley, meaning that to get to town, or home again, I have to drive four miles of extremely steep and curvy road into the park. It would be more fun at high speeds, but I’m terrified of getting pulled over by a coworker, so I stick to the speed of 25. It gets boring. Coming downhill, I try to avoid ever hitting the gas or brake by shifting back and forth between 2nd and 3rd gear. It would maybe be easier with a manual transmission, but I’m getting it down pretty well.

So I’m discovering that I have this little outgoing person inside of me. Mostly what happens is that she says yes to every invitation and then awkwardly asks every single person for their phone number. I’m pretty sure this outgoing inner self hasn’t always existed, but was possibly just created two weeks ago when I moved into this teeny park. It’s been super handy. If anyone would like to submit a name for this persona, please leave your suggestions in a comment. Great.

Photo Jun 04, 2 23 31 PM
This is me excited about days off, or new friends, or morning coffee.

Anyway, I have been slowly but surely making what I am going to optimistically title friends. Newfriend Josh invited me to his friend’s Memorial Day party; I went and met a lot of dogs and played catch with a football and a nine-year-old boy and learned a new variation of beer pong. Newfriend/Awesome Roomie Jackie had her friend Jason (LE at Canyonlands) and his friend Eric (LE at Bryce) come stay with us, and we toured many of the local breweries with Newfriend Josh, and I had an entire mason jar of this delicious local bourbon and also Jackie beat me at arm wrestling. (Arm wrestling is either a great way to cement new friendships or a great way to alienate people entirely. The problem is, you never know until the back of someone’s hand has already hit the table top. In this case, we’re good.) Newfriend/Neighbor Molly invited me a Fish and Wildlife birthday party in someone’s backyard, so I trooped over and met sixteen new people all at once, played some ninja and duck duck goose (just as popular at 25th birthday parties as 8th birthday parties, actually) and then, of course, awkwardly asked for everyone’s number before leaving. These people have access to boats. Contact information was important.

Park housing, thank goodness, is also starting to fill up. We already have two new neighbors – a paleontology intern named Cyrus, and an LE seasonal named Mike (who is a grillmaster and all about games of horseshoe.) (By the way, LE is law enforcement. Just in case.) The last couple days have been a veritable festival up here, what with our two house guests and everybody moving in. We’ve had lots of group meals and group hikes and drunk beers together on the picnic table whilst concurrently killing millions of gnats. Gnats suck.

Photo May 28, 1 48 26 PM
Here is Mike and Brother. We would like to invite you to imagine what people look like on the OTHER side of the wall when they pose like this.

I also believe that I have yet to mention last week’s visit from my stupendous brother Andrew and also stupendous friend Mike. We hiked Upper Monument, came face to face with some bighorn sheep, clambered around on Entrada sandstone, cooked some delicious food, and spent a great deal of time laughing hysterically. Their visit was pretty therapeutic. We drove through sun-drenched Fruita with the windows down, with Fruita’s sweet aroma rolling in (it always smells good here, I do not know why), singing Wagon Wheel, as people will do on sunny afternoons in open spaces. Everybody, come visit, we’ll do something cool.

Favorite parts of new job:

  1. Driving a pick-up truck. Obviously.
  2. Lots and lots of rove time to hike around and poke at ant lion holes (although I think we have really lazy ant lions here, they never jump at my false-ant bait) and idly pour water on resurrection moss.
  3. Initiating new Junior Rangers at least once a day. I love Junior Rangers. It’s nice to make kids’ days all the time, handing them the little badge and welcoming them to the team and finding out all about the lizards they saw.
  4. Loads of flexibility and allowance for creativity and innovation. Should any inner creativity arise.
  5. Nick is a super hilarious and goofy boss.
  6. I think my uniform might be breaking in faster because of how much I sweat in it. Or maybe it’s just getting really gross.

The search for water, this week, reached a standstill. No swimming yet; no new finds. I keep hearing tales of local swimming holes, though, and I’ll get there, I’ll get there yet.

Here you go, check out some more photos and captions.

Photo May 30, 10 42 21 PM
Midway through Upper Monument hike; happy with visitors.
Photo May 29, 9 44 14 AM
Brother and I, displaying opposite ends of the comfort-of-clothing spectrum.
Photo May 29, 9 04 29 PM
Brother and sunset, atop the Saddlehorn sandstone formation.
Photo May 28, 1 11 45 PM
We tried some bouldering. I learned I need to buffen up my forearms. (Is buffen a word? Okay, cool.)
Photo May 28, 1 55 52 PM
This would be one of our sought-after sheep.
Photo May 27, 2 18 23 PM
On my last ‘weekend,’ I climbed a bunch of rocks up Black Ridge. Then I came back down.
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