A Travellerspoint blog

Lake Matthews Preserve

semi-overcast 40 °F

A few weeks ago my crew and four others went to work at Lake Matthews Preserve in Western Riverside County, California. I could not honestly do any justice to the Preserve and all the hard work that the people there do. It was probably one of the best places I have been able to work for the sole reason of the people who put everything they have into the park.

My crew was lucky enough to do a variety of projects throughout the week. Our first project was creating seed banks so that the preserve could spread the small amount of native seeds they posses throughout the preserve in a natural way. First we marked out 30' x 140' area of land that is perpendicular to the Santa Ana winds. Then we weed whacked and raked up the grass and spread the seed. Over time the wind that blows through that area will pick up the seeds and deposit them throughout the preserve. There were three banks in total throughout the preserve.

Our next project was to clear some land for a native plant nursery. This was pretty tedious work because the land was once a citrus farm and there was a lot of wire and tubing left behind. Not to mention the rocks and cement that our lovely little friends, Black Widow spiders and Rattlers like to hang out under. This project was done throughout the week and by the time we left we had cleared the area, turned up the soil and dug some ditches for irrigation.

The last project we had was by far the most satisfying project. We were digging, assembling, and covering up artificial burrows for Burrow Owls. The Preserve is trying to bring back the Burrow Owls that once lived throughout this area. We assembled the prefabricated wood burrows and set them into the hole then covered the burrow for insulation, placed a perch on top of the burrow and cleared a perimeter around it. It doesn't seem like it would be that great of a project, but when we went back to check our work and make sure we got all perimeters around the burrows there was already an owl living in one of the new artificial burrows we had installed just two days before. It was really exciting to see the owl fly our and that he had eaten (his pellets were outside the burrow entrance) and also started "decorating" his new home with his waste. It was all very exciting and just made the rest of our time working in the preserve that much more special.

Posted by MJMatson 14:09 Comments (0)

Invasive Species Removal and The Room

Sorry I was late on this update, but believe me, you did not want my anger to come across on this blog.

This week at work we did invasive species removal at a Preservation Park near Palm Springs, California. One would think that that sounds like a fantastic time, spending a week camping outside of Palm spring and doing some awesome conservation work...well one would be completely wrong. We (my crew of 10, and 3 other crews of 10 all from NCC) were to remove (pull the small ones and cut and spray the larger ones) the Tamarisk from within the preserve. Tamarisk are an invasive species to this area and are hurting the ecology of this area because they use up hundreds of gallons of water every day. This is a pretty big problem, especially in an area that is so dry. (By the way, I found out all of this from my own research, not from the time where I was actually working) I think if I actually knew what I was doing while I was doing it and there was a little more organization it could have been a pretty decent hitch, however....it was not. The 8 days out in the field were pretty brutal, especially with no reception. I got a little homesick and it made it hard to call home and be comforted...yes yes I actually was a little homesick (Can't wait for turkey!).

By the end of the hitch I was definitely ready to be home and have a nice cold Sierra Nevada Nothern Hempisphere Harvest Beer (my new favorite). When I finally got home, my roommates and I just crashed on our couch (of course after taking a shower, because well we hadn't taken a shower for 8 days) drank some beer and watched a movie so terrible it was fantastic. I highly recommend everyone watching a movie called 'The Room' and playing drinking to it. Thats exactly what we did, and then we all pasted out by midnight because well...we were exhausted. This week seems to be shaping up to be a lot better!

Blog soon!

Posted by MJMatson 19:13 Comments (1)

Desert CleanUp, Voluntold Day and Halloween

This week has been a pretty diverse week for me. It started out with a great birthday and having an awesome dinner with some really awesome friends. Then quickly took a turn for the worse during my 4day hitch doing desert clean up right outside of Vegas. The week got slightly better when we volunteered or as I like to say "voluntold" at Red Rocks Canyon and ended the week with a bang by spending Halloween on the Vegas Strip.

I just want to say, people who throw their trash off a desert road should all be shot! This week my crew found 10 dead dogs, a dead horse and plenty of other knick-knacks that make you want to vomit, and you better believe I had to throw up once or twice just in the four days I was there. Although I did find some really old, slightly cool things, for the most part the work week was pretty horrible with the only up side beind that I got to come home every night and sleep in my own bed.

After working for four days, we had a day off and then we had a mandatory volunteer day for National Make a Difference Day. My crew and the rest of the other crews at the NCC voltuntold our time at Red Rocks Canyon just outside of Las Vegas, where I had my previous hitch. Don't get me wrong, I more than likely would have volunteered anyway on Saturday, and Red Rocks is a great place to work, volunteer or just visit (it is highly recommended to anyone coming out to Vegas, and if you are visiting me, I WILL be taking you there), however, being told it was mandatory for us to volunteer is a pretty funny idea to me.

All and all it was a great day, the Red Rocks Interpretive Association and BLM really took care of us, and we all got to work with different crews for a change which is always nice and refreshing after working with the same people day in and day out. Although it rained a little on us in the beginning, the day was beautiful and the work was fun and really helpful.

However, the highlight of the weekend was definitely the Halloween festivities that went on. I went as Huckleberry Finn and my friend Jen decided to go as Tom Sawyer. It was a real fun idea and we definitely played it up. My other roommates were pumpkin head, a butterfly, a scot, Pikachu, and my favorite...my Supervisor went as my friend Jen. His costume was pretty hilarious and he definitely got the most attention from the gay males on the strip. He was hit on....a lot. Me and my friends, once again hit the strip with our drinks (Jen and I had "moonshine" in our Mason Jars, aka Vodka and lemonade) and walked from Casino to Casino taking in the atmosphere and just causing an all around ruckus.

Posted by MJMatson 22:43 Comments (0)

It's Always Rainy in Las Vegas

Well I have been in Vegas for just over a week now and it has been raining 7 out of the 9 days. Strange right...I guess the desert does get rain, every once in a while.

Last Monday, I got to work at 6:30 and we got all our tools ready and headed out to Red Rocks Conservation Area where we worked this past week. The site was absolutely amazing. On the east side of the Spring Mountains is Red Rocks, which are an amazing red color due to iron oxide in the layers, it has an amazing rainbow look because of an older layer of earth's crust was thrust on top of the iron oxide layer. It was a pretty sweet place to work.

I was lucky enough to work with the GPS and track the work we were doing and some other trails which we are going to be working on next weekend on our National Service...Basically I just got to hike around the conservation area and "be awesome" as my supervisor says. On one of our last days there we got to hike up Turtlehead peak. We started our hike after a late start due to thunderstorms, which we thought were clearing out. When we got to the top about 2 hours later, we saw some thunderheads rolling in and just as we got off the peak, a thunderstorm rolled in and on our way down we got pelted with rain and hail....yes it was my first hailstorm.. Good thing I had my hard hat on. The rest of the week was pretty beautiful, the thunderstorms in the desert are gorgeous and me and my crew had our fun while we couldn't work due to thunder.

Come Thursday we were all pretty wiped out and got some rest and geared up for my Birthday weekend. Having no open container law is pretty spectacular, so we grabbed some booze at a gas station and hit the strip. We started at the Bellagio and made our way down the strip and hit up all the free shows. I was real excited to be there because I had never been to the strip and well lets be honest it was my birthday!!! Saturday was also really fun. A bunch of my friends took me to Freemont Street, which is basically Old Las Vegas. It was a lot of fun and totally different from the strip. My birthday weekend was pretty spectacular and as for my actual birthday, I spent it working (picking up trash in the desert to exact) and then my crew and some other friends took me to a brewery where we enjoyed a nice dinner and some seasonal ales that were pretty delicious.

Las Vegas has definitely treated me well thus far, maybe for the fact I am not a gambler what so ever. Now I just can't wait for everyone to visit!!!!!

Miss and Love Ya <3
MJ

Posted by MJMatson 21:56 Comments (0)

VIVA Las Vegas

sunny 90 °F

Hello All,

So this past Thursday and Friday I moved myself to Sin City. It is kind of nuts that I will be living in a town that is meant solely for the purpose of staying a week tops and then going home.

My last week in Reno was pretty bittersweet. I was staying at my friend's apartment that she so affectionately calls the Mexican Bario and I had started to make the Biggest Little City my home. We only really worked Monday-Wednesday and we were in South Lake Tahoe working at Cold Creek Trail. It was a pretty easy week especially for the fact that I couldn't do much work wise because of my hairline fracture on my left ring finger. I guess I didn't divulge that information in my last blog... About two weeks ago I was working on chiseling some rock and smashed my finger in between the rock and my singlejack. Yeah ouch, but I'm fine and I wear a very stylish silver and blue splint.

So for now I do whatever I can that doesn't require me gripping things for long periods of time. But luckily there is still plenty for me to do.

Come Thursday, I was packing up my car and heading down 395 towards Las Vegas. I left Thursday afternoon and found some hot springs along the way. It was just about dark when I got there so i set up my tent, made myself a sandwich, got out a beer and went in the hot springs for an hour or two. It was pretty amazing. It was so dark expect for the light from the moon, along a cold little creek and I was there by myself sitting in a natural jacuzzi. I could not have asked for a better time.

The next morning I got up around 6:30 and went back into the hot springs for another dip before heading the rest of the way to Vegas. I hit the road again around 9:30 and was at Mono Lake within the hour. For those of you who don't know what Mono Lake is, it's a lake on the east side of Yosemite National Park which LA used to get all of it's water from and nearly destroyed the lake because they did not regulate how much water they took. In my last semester of school, I did a research paper on the Lake and the water management that went into recovering the Lake. So it was pretty awesome to actually get to see the Lake that just 6 months ago I was researching.

The rest of the drive was pretty spectacular. I have officially fallen in love with the Southern Sierra's and will definitely be making trips back to the area on my days off while I am in Vegas. There were just snowcapped mountains after snowcapped mountains and it was just absolutely gorgeous. I finally made it to Vegas by 4 and got settled into my Apartment where I am living with my friend Jen, Rob and Matt. The rest of the weekend we just hung out, explored a little and got settled in.

I head back to work Monday at 6 and will be working for 4 days out in death valley. Should be fun!!

Peace and Love
MJ

Posted by MJMatson 10:51 Comments (1)

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