Adventure to the Lassen

Well, big changes happening. Rather than have a complete summer in Cedar Grove, an idyllic little place deep in Kings Canyon National Park, I’ll be spending the summer botanizing in northern California in Lassen National Forest. Sequoia/Kings will always be so dear to my heart and I will be a part of it and it will be a part of me always. I’m always so sad to leave where I am, because I nearly always love it, but then almost always fall in love again wherever I arrive.

The position is one of those elusive GS-9 field-based seasonal botany jobs. It is a perfect balance of decent pay and doing what I love, packaged into 1039 hours. Unbeknownst to me when I accepted the position, the main focus is surveys for threatened/endangered, sensitive, and special interest species! Because of the volcanic and serpentine soils, and the meeting of the Sierra and Cascade ranges and the Great Basin to the east, there is a great degree of endemism and diversity in the are. This is pretty much what I’ve always wanted in terms of a professional botany position… as soon as I gave up desire for any advancement this too came to me (thank you, India).

As I’ve never been at all to the Lassen area (other than driving by on I-5), it is a brand new adventure and another nook of wild open space and nature to explore. Being based in northeastern California means that the culture will be about as conservative as Nevada and practically as remote. Upon arriving, I’ve found that the bumps they call ‘mountains’ are mostly little rolling hills in comparison to what I was accustomed to in the southern Sierra, and that just as many storefronts are closed as are running businesses. But even in the week that I’ve been here, I recognize there are gems to appreciate in being here.  

I’m exceedingly grateful to have two friends help me shuttle my car and bus along the 8-hour drive to my new home for the summer. Simon and Rob erased any stress I may have had about the journey and it was a blast. I’d been prepared to either take a train or rent a car, but the White Whale (the current temporary name for my bus, credit goes to Major, until I one day come up with a better one. My last car didn’t get a name until 6 months before I sold it, after owning it for 10 years…), well, she seems to attract fans. Since that trip up here was so fun… I’m actually on my first ever weekend getaway with the bus… brought it up to Chester for a couple days. Cheers to more bus adventures, and exploring another piece of the world.