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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jacob MacLeod
Thursday, August 8
"Attack of the Nine-Million Flies!"
The trekkers were off before the sun arose today. It was unusually cool in the morning and I decided to go for a run of about five miles. On the way back, I saw a Pyrrhuloxia just off the side of the road. I had been studying my bird guide, trying to remember all the unusual species I might come across on the trip, and I knew it as soon as I saw it. I stopped in my tracks and stared, it looked just like the picture, like a female cardinal with a parrot beak. As I stood there huffing and puffing, I looked around for someone to share it with, but I was alone on the road.
Back at the schoolhouse, I had thought that I would be driving back to El Paso, this time to take Kevin to the airport, but Lorie said she needed to go along to get groceries for the team, and pointed out there wasn’t a real need for me to go. Boy was that a relief!! I had been looking forward to talking to Kevin more in depth about his job (I hadn’t had the opportunity because he was always with the trekkers), but I certainly wasn’t looking forward to driving all day again, especially without music.
Much to my delight, I got to play with Vipul and Jessica all day. We had a great time, Vipul kept us in constant stitches, and we all played off each other’s jokes. We cleaned the RV out, which had gotten surprisingly dirty in the few days we had been out, and which was surprisingly fun, given the company I had. Vipul took it upon himself to exterminate all of the nine million flies which had taken residence in our RV with all the masterful skills of a true veteran fly-killer, and I believe he succeeded.
That was the the day we got ready for our backpacking trip, which was a real blast. Preparing for things like backpacking trips are almost as much fun for me as the actual execution. We all got pretty revved up getting our stuff together. I was really impressed with Jessica’s toughness, and her desire to sacrifice comfort to take as little as possible. I distinctly remember the way she said, “A pad? Why would I take a pad? I’m going to get as much sleep whether I’m on rocks or on a pad.” The way she said the word “pad” each time, it was like she said “pacifier.” I was embarrassed that I had even considered bringing it!
We helped Lorie with dinner, then, when I announced that I wanted to take a bike down the road to check out an unusual woven bird nest I had seen on my run, Vipul and Jessica said I had better not go alone, in case I was attacked by the dread Pyrrhuloxia!! They valiantly volunteered to go with me, and we had a good time. (I don’t know what made the nest, it looked like an oriole?) I coasted ahead, and when I realized that Vipul and Jessica weren’t behind me, I went back and saw them fixing a flat tire. Evidently, almost all the inner tubes had small punctures from thorns from when the Trekkers had been biking previously. I think we patched about five of them on the way back to the school, which was less than a mile away! When we finally coasted in, everyone asked why we were so late for dinner?
After dinner, Jessica and I walked to the church, where I had discovered about forty roosting bats behind the louvers of the attic vent. I had taken a brief walk earlier and thought I was listening to a mouse nest, I heard very quiet high-pitched squeaks and followed the noise to the church. That’s when I realized they were coming from above me! We wanted to see if we could watch them leave their daytime roost for a night of feeding. We stood right under the vent, which was about fifteen feet off the ground. It was already pretty dark by the time we got there, but we could see them shifting around and hear them squeak. The sky in the West was still red from the sun, which faded all the way to a luminescent, Maxfield Parrish blue in the East. The light was beautiful, it was a perfect, cool desert evening, and the air fairly breathed of magic. Just when we weren’t sure if they were ever going to come out, one fell a few feet, spread his wings and took off towards the school. He was soon followed by a few more, and they began to pour out faster and faster from the vent, sometimes dropping almost to our heads and letting out a surprised “SQUEAK!” Before taking off into the night. Several times we thought there were surely no more bats left, when half a dozen would fall out at staggered intervals. Jessica and I laughed at the surprise of our fellow mammals, looked at each other, and waited for more. I don’t think either of us had ever witnessed such a spectacle, it was a very special, magical evening.

I wrote in my journal later that night, “Today was perfect . . .”
for Thursday, August 8
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jacob MacLeod
Jake hikes through the sandstone wonderland of the Wave formation in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Where's your hat, Jake?

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List of All Journal Entries
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Saturday, September 28
Jacob MacLeod
National Public Lands Day
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Friday, September 27
Jacob MacLeod
Together Again!!
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Thursday, September 26
Jacob MacLeod
Our Last Full Day
   >> more...

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Sunday, September 22
Jacob MacLeod
Letter to My Family
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Thursday, September 5
Jacob MacLeod
My Bird List for the Trek
   >> more...

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Sunday, August 18
Jacob MacLeod
I Got It!!
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Thursday, August 15
Jacob MacLeod
Exelsior
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Monday, August 12
Jacob MacLeod
The Lesson at Eagle Peak
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Sunday, August 11
Jacob MacLeod
Snow Lake
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Thursday, August 8
Jacob MacLeod
"Attack of the Nine-Million Flies!"
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Sunday, August 4
Jacob MacLeod
Backpacking at Last
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Friday, August 2
Jacob MacLeod
El Paso and Back
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Thursday, August 1
Jacob MacLeod
A Rocky Place
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Wednesday, July 31
Jacob MacLeod
Day 1 Highlight
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Wednesday, July 31
Jacob MacLeod
The Trek Begins
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Tuesday, July 30
Jacob MacLeod
To the Mexican Border
   >> more...

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Sunday, July 28
Jacob MacLeod
Training Week
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