Into a State, I’ve Never Known
When I look at a map of the United States, my eyes instantly go to the Midwest.
Am I favoring them?
Of course. Why?
Clearly, I am from there.
I had never stepped foot into the Rocky Mountains before this internship and have only thought of Utah in passing. I would say in my entire life, the amount of times I’ve thought of Utah could fit on my entire hand…. With fingers still missing. These “thoughts” most commonly occurred when I was forced to learn how to spell all the states and their capitals in school.
U-T-A-H, S-A-L-T L-A-K-E C-I-T-Y.
Never, ever, crossed my mind.
I was used to Chicago.
The flat land, the corn fields, the paved roads. I had more stores than I could handle in a walking distance of me and a sky full of stars (or what I thought was full).
And yet, I was going to a small town.
With one main road, the store of choice a Walmart, and an apartment I had only seen in pictures.
To say I was nervous to start at the BLM in Utah would be an understatement. To say I was ready for the adventure, would be right on point.
And so the Adventure Begins
I could go into detail about the excitement of the first day. The adventures of finding a fax machine and the drama of getting a working phone, (I took a cord from an empty cubicle). Heck, I could even tell you that my turkey sandwich had a sense of dream-like quality because it was so delicious after being nervous all morning.
But I won’t. Why? Because my second day was much, much, much more exciting.
I actually went into the Mountains. To work.
Into the Rocky Mountains
I traveled, (well, there was four of us but for the sake of keeping it relevant I’m using I), into the Rocky Mountains to look for Sclerocactus wetlandicus. This cactus is considered a sensitive plant species of the Vernal Field Office and is an endangered cacti species.
Into the mountains, we went for a 2-hour truck ride to our designated location. Through oil pads, natural gas burns, and muddy roads I started to wonder…. Am I really going to like it?
The view was worth all its’ weight in gold.
I honestly couldn’t believe that this internship allowed me to be out in the Rocky’s looking for cacti. Literally, out in the Mountains, and not stuck behind a desk looking at the hills from the window.
Is it work?
Here’s a rundown version of what we did. We got in arm’s length of each other and walked hundreds of feet in each direction of our parked truck. Throwing down flags and keeping our eyes peeled for this cacti. Was it to be expected that we would find one? Nope. Yet, I couldn’t help to think we would (…. we did not).
Sure, my time was spent looking at the ground, making sure I didn’t miss this plant. But just the air, the rocks under my feet, and the cloud laden sky made this a wonderful experience. Even when the weather changed in a split second. From cloudy mornings to snowy lunch breaks, then finally landing on the hot blazing sun. I prepared for all.
I saw feral horses. No, (it’s not what you think), these horses are not wild but actually invasive. Left to the environment by their owners, these horses have survived and are now eating and trampling upon very important plant species.
I spent my day finally happy to be outdoors. Enjoying a state I had rarely thought about. And wondering, do I get to do this tomorrow?