Monthly Archives: May 2012

Packing again: Hardly the Bear Necessities

I’m happy now that I left my last job a week early so I would have time to pack and prepare for Connecticut. I’ve gotten pretty good at packing the crucial bits of my life into small boxes over the past couple of years, but this jaunt has some unexpected wrinkles.

First, I’m actually sort of close to a bunch of friends of mine, I may not lose the entirety of my social life once work starts, this means I have to actually bring “nice” clothes along. Shirts with collars, shoes not made of reinforced and waterproofed leather, a ‘dress’ hat or two. You get the idea. This wasn’t an issue in California (where the nicest place I visited was Disney world) and in other places I’ve worked I didn’t have any constraints on space.

Another major difference in this job’s packing is that I got a Nook recently, with all my recreational reading digitized the only books I need to hump around are my field guides. There are still quite a few of them, but its nothing like the fifty pound box of reading material I was used to driving around with.

Lastly, I’m being given a lot of my gear on site this time around. In the name of uniformity I’m being provided with a few shirts, a set of coveralls, and even boots! This has lightened my load significantly, which is awesome.

So with all that taken care of, what am I bringing?

  • Entertainment:
    1. Nook
    2. Journal
    3. 2x Frisbees (in case I lose one)
    4. Cards
    5. “Fancy” clothes (so I can rub elbows without passing on my grass stains)
  • Gear:
    1. Camp stove / Mess Kit / Water bottles
    2. “Don’t die in the woods” kit (First aid, Lighter, Iodine, Deet, Compass, ect)
    3. Fly Rod ect
    4. Tent / Sleeping bag / bedroll
    5. Boots / Gaiters / Socks
    6. Non-work Clothes
  • Other Necessities 
    1. French Press / Ground coffee / Mug
    2. Computer
    3. Tangle of wires and chargers that are probably important
    4. Camera
    5. Field Guides
It didn’t take me long to put all that together, the issue now is wracking my brain to be sure I didn’t forget anything. Did I forget anything?! Not that I’m travelling so far that I won’t be able to retrieve things left behind, but it would be embarrassing…


Things have gotten better since this picture was taken. I still feel like I’m forgetting something though.

Trip Report: Dark Hollow Park

Its a bit depressing that after living in this town for nearly 20 years I’m only just discovering this place. Dark Hollow park is a hidden gem that lies only a few miles from my house, and I find out about it just in time to leave.


The park is 770 acres and straddles the Neshaminy Creek in Bucks County. It sits on a chunk of land that had apparently been bought by the state prior to breaking ground on a damn that would have flooded the area. Luckily for everyone not in the dam building business the project was abandoned after it was found to be environmentally detrimental.

Since the state couldn’t build their dam, the land was instead designated as a park, and promptly forgotten about. Or at least that’s how it seems from the few times I’ve been there. There’s a minimum of regulatory signage, very little parking, and in two visits I haven’t seen more than a dozen people there total.

Its wonderful.

The only ‘probably’ man-made path I’ve found follows the river, otherwise its deer-paths or nothing.

Parts of the park do seem to suffer from Bucks Counties nigh-hysterical overabundance of deer. There’s not much in the way of an understory. While this isn’t great ecologically, it does make for a ‘pretty’ park.

The Neshaminy is stocked with Trout, and everyone I’ve seen in the park was fishing, I tried for a few hours, but came up short Trout-wise. I caught a handful of other fish, but nothing over six inches long. With all the competition I’m not surprised, or disappointed, it was nice to go wading.

Actually, although I didn’t catch a Trout (I don’t count the one that tore the fly off my line) the fishing was superb. As someone who is only ‘decent’ at fly-fishing I appreciate shallow, slow flowing water and banks without too much shrubbery as much or more than I like actually catching fish. I only got hung up on overhanging branches twice, and left after five hours of fishing without a single horrible knot in my leader. Even Trout-less that counts as a win.

A Weasel. (Middle Left)

Even better, perhaps because this park isn’t terribly popular, there is a fair amount of obvious wildlife. Aside from the omnipresent deer, I saw a groundhog (ok, not particularly exotic), and this adorable weasel. I’d have loved to get a better picture, but its hard to sneak wearing waders.

The tragedy (for me at least) here is that I’ve only just begun to become acquainted with this place as I’m readying myself to ship out. I spent all day today (procrastinating) packing. I won’t have time to go back for another hike before I leave for my next job.

Moving to Connecticut: Finally on my merry way again

I’ve been in Pennsylvania for a little less than six months now. Too long, really. But although I don’t much care for sticking in one place this long, the time has been valuable. I’ve at least managed to stay employed the entire time (if underemployed) and taking classes through PSU’s World Campus has been wonderful. If anyone is on the fence about furthering their education but isn’t able to commute to a local campus I heartily recommend the correspondence (thankfully not mail based) programs Penn State offers.

But, although I’m only half done with my GIS certification (I’ll be finished in December), I’m heading out again. This time to the Stewart B. Mckinney Wildlife Refuge in Connecticut where I picked up a job as a Summer Island Keeper. (Which has to be my favorite title ever, I almost want to print business cards solely to show it off). Starting in a few days I’ll be a resident on Calf Island in the Long Island Sound. I’m thrilled.

Take a look at the link above, this place seems awesome. Moreover the job caters to my strengths AND allows me to branch out a bit. A large chunk of my time will be spent on Invasive Species management, which is pretty much my forte at this point, but I’ll also be able to help with some ongoing wildlife work at the preserve. Wildlife Biology is notoriously difficult to break into, and although I actually prefer botany, I’m eager to learn new things.

Pictures and new stories will follow.

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