Monday, May 17, 2010

Back in the thick of it all

I will keep this update brief, because my time in town is limited, and the internet in camp is a bad flashback to the dial-up days of yore.

It's been a rough adjustment coming into the bush from my cozy lifestyle in the city. My fingers are chapped and sore, my back is strong, and I'm slightly more grizzled than usual. I'm living like a vagabond hippy, wearing dirty plaid and strumming along to Neil Young tunes by the campfire. My home is a tent city in a gravel pit snuggled between a river, the town dump, and some mountains in the distance. The sky is speckled with stars and whispy clouds colliding into nimbus gumdrops. The scenery is pleasant enough to distract me from the daily wear and tear.. not to mention the countless bug nibbles. My appetite is gluttonous enough for seconds and thirds at dinner time, and the cooks Jeremy and Shane are wizards at the art of deliciousness.

Our camp is boisterously social; there's a myriad of different personalities that compliment one another, each with different backgrounds and interesting stories to tell. Our crew is starting to feel like a family... of dirty gypsies riding around in beat up trucks. There's a talented bunch of musicians that I've had the privilege of jamming with. I've also managed to coax together a couple emergency dance parties with some outdoor laptop/bass amp dj action.

As for the work, my shovel feels like another gangly limb.. that I somehow have managed to retrieve and use properly after two years away from planting. The land has been muddy and rocky, but worst of all - grassy. We've literally been planting in the backyards of farmer's land.. and we are required to plant near obstacles like fallen logs and stumps, so cattle won't walk all over our trees. Speaking of wild life, I've seen a moose, a couple bald eagles, a fox, some rodents, angry birds, and slew of interesting insects. No bears as of yet.. thankfully.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention.. my luggage was delayed from Air Canada for three days.. so I had to work/sleep in the same t-shirt and shorts for three days. It was pretty brutal. Nevertheless, my duffel bags arrived on the night off, and I have set up my dilapidated tent once again. It's pretty nice. I like sleeping on the ground, reading philosophical books in the refracted tent sunlight.. life is simple and quaint.

We had a snow storm in our second shift.. and it's May. It was bitterly cold in the mornings, and then all of a sudden, the weather did a complete 180 and it's now sunny, hot and dry outside. The bugs and blisters are just emerging, but the Western sunshine is nothing to scoff at. I could definitely live out here someday.

Our camp will be en route to White Court, Alberta next month. The land is supposedly faster and creamier, with even more redneck locals in town. It's the type of community with a liquor store, pub, and library right next to eachother.. all the essentials.

Anyway, life is hard but good. I'm more eager than ever to travel and start making some real music. Until then, I have trees to plant.

Over and out,

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Magnificent Treachery

The storm of clanging blades on rocky mounds has abated, and alas the bittersweet migration to new land has occurred. After a night of boisterous partying with jello shots, porchclimbers (a pungent mixture of beer, liquor, lemonade, and random juice lying around), and various other methods of inebriation, we all gathered at the break of dawn, sullen-lidded and sleepy eyed, with our tents shoddily packed up for the drive to Blue River. We said all our goodbyes, signed cards, exchanged emails and hugs; all half alive as if the entire Tolco contract was merely a rough dream we awakened to with cold sweats.

After a peaceful drive through the valleys cushioned by rocky peaks, we arrived at our destination - the Summit River Lodgep; a bed and breakfast nestled between the Alberta Glacier and a slew of snowy peaks yearning to be explored. The accommodations are of the upmost opulence - a timber frame lodge complete with a fireplace, high-definition satellite tv, a carpet that massages are poor boot-battered feet, and a view too painting-perfect to believe it's reality. The hosts are two of the jolliest and kindest grandparents-in-training I've ever had the privilege of knowing. They both go out of there way to provide us with the most delicious treeplanting breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that our scrubby mouths have ever enjoyed in generous salivation. A few examples: homemade french toast, perfectly crisp bacon, freshly baked muffins, awesome scrambled eggs - and then for dinner, turkey (dark and white meat pre-seperated) with all the fixin's (and even more fixin's to fix the abundance of the other fixin's). So the life before and after planting is cozy and delicious. But lets's not be hasty - the planting is ROUGH.

The only saving grace, aside from the hospitality of camp, of the treacherous slopey and shnarby land, is the mesmerizing view that surrounds the block. The drive to work is long and scenic, with waterfalls seeping down lush green mountainsides, moose grazing below in a vast field of swamp, and jagged peaks that hide in puffy clouds. Once we arrive at our destination, we get out with seratonin still running strong in our tired bones, and the bugs have their breakfast feast of super ultra healthy planter blood. We bag up gargantuan loads of 108 trees - six to a bundle, with plugs thicker than your average biggie-sized chocolate bar. Our hips are immediately pleading for relief, but the task at hand remains. We spelunker our way down a jungle of wet brush, as if diving into a pond for a full-day swim. It's a fill plant, and we have been given bags of fertilizer to add to the painful weight we already bear. Speaking of bears, let me recount to you the scariest moment of my life:

On our first shift back, we were given a piece on a special mission that was steeper than a triple black diamond heli-ski run, with a rock face up near the treeline. The first section was creamy mounds as far as our eyes could see, and then once the fine milky sludge had recieved our trees, we had to face the steeper incline to the treeline. On my last bagup, I was clustering with two other planters (Katelyn and Cody). We had all moved into the last remaining piece of land, and I was first to the top. It had just rained making the climb to the top slightly more hazardous than it already was. I was instructed by my foreman Katie to plant all the way to the top, so being the aspiring hobbit (with mutant height), I scrambled my way up, holding on to thin branches with one hand, and my staff shovel planted in the ground as a fulcrum to lift myself up. I glanced back down at the road, and the view reminded me of Micromachines.. but a strange treeplanting edition with tiny dinky-car f-150's and checker vehicles. Anyway, I started to plant my whopper of a spruce, and then I hear a huffing and a rumble in the bushes.. directly in front of me. I drop my tree, paralyzed by the notion of such a loud strange noise coming from an unpopulated area of land, and I slowly look up. What do I see? A massive (I mean freaking massive!) brown bear looking me straight in the eye. My first instinct? Run as fast I can in the opposite direction. I shout down to the planters below me "THERE'S A BEAR! HOLY SHIT!" - I start to book it down the slope, bags and all, as the bear approaches nearer. My heart is literally pounding and I can feel the adrenaline scourge through my system. Katelyn and Cody begin to yell in reply, "JAMES! DON'T RUN! DON'T RUN!" - but still, I ran.. I ran so far aw-aay (word up Flock of Seaguls) - and then I slowed down, and looked back. Right where I had been only seconds ago stood a monstrous brown/black bear at the top of the slope. We all walked carefully down to the bottom, yelling "BEAR ON THE BLOCK" along the way. In the furthest piece, Dan (aka The Wind) and Mike Ross aka (Lazza Gun Soundsystem) caught wind of our cries - Mike retorted "Beer o'clock?". I found Katie, our crewboss, told her that I wasn't going up there any more, and then rested again the excursion, my knees shaking from fear.

The next week, back on the Blue River land, I encountered another bear, right after dropping a morning load in the treeline (if you get my smelly drift), and BAM! there's a black bear looking curiously in my direction about ten metres away. I think to myself "Oh god. Not again.", and then I remembered the "Bear Aware" video we all watched at the beginning of the year. So I hopped on the nearest stump, made myself look much taller than I already am, and held my staff up, while politely telling the bear "Woah bear, keep moving, go away bear!". 15 minutes later of the same message, the bear finally meandered off, and I ran up to alert Cody who I was partner planting with. At that point, the bear had gathered its cubs, and I had just gotten out in the nick of time. They moved off into the bush towards the river, so we continued planting, paranoid at every tiny crack of a twig, and making random loud noises to let the bear be aware of our presence. " Hey oh! Woah! Bgah!" - kinda went like that.

Anyway, the land is pretty bad, but it just got better. With all our numbers being under a thousand, we finally got our just desserts with a creamy block that was completely burnt, with a most spectacular view, which you will have the privilege of seeing shortly once I convince Cody to upload his pictures (their are some really EPIC ones).

So life goes on, two days remain here at the luxurious Blue River resort, and I think I might go for a hike up to a waterfall in a few hours. Once the contract is over, I'm heading northbound towards Burns Lake (just a few hours north of Prince George) to partake in the summer contract with a new company and crew for Summit Reforestation. It should be an interesting change with some interesting new people, so Cody, Dan, and I are very much looking forward to it. And it's the northern land that I can plant fast in, so it should be a profitable trip methinks.

I will report back soon with news of what life is like up North,

Until next time,
Shut up and plant.

- Jameso

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shivering June

Alas, after the constant barrage of rocks in our wake, we have been given cream; sweet dirty mounds smooth and supple as butter. Yet the new treat has come with a price. Cold, finger-numbing weather to hinder our sanity as we pound the endless sea of mounds. Bearing a bomber cap and a waxed cotton aussie jacket, I gaze into the stew of puffy grey clouds stirring the air. Waves of blue flagging tape aimlessly flail about like a flock of shiny birds, and the sticky mud collects on the spade with each spear toss into the mounds, what once was cream is now a thick icy sludge of mud and hail pellets. Thunder slams the earth and I hear the enthusiastic cries of planters off in the distance, sharing their grief for the stormy solace. And then, the horn is honked to round up the shivering rookies and vets, and we all crowd in the 'scurge (the Excursion) muddied from the hard day's work, happy to hear the sound of music and heated air conditioning.

Money has started to finally accumulate, and yet it is the least of my concerns. Guitars, campfires, and sleeping bags fill the void that planting all day digs in your mind. The night before the day off, wax tree boxes are stacked in a chimney formation on the fire, exploding into a wall of flame as the inebriated folk howl in awe and warmth. Just inside the cook shack, Cody, a man from PEI named Andy, Dennis, and a couple other folk whom I have forgotten their names, all jam frantically with four guitars and my dirty hands pummeling the djembe. Rocky, the Kenyan camp boy sings in rhythmic hymns "BAG UP BAG UP BAG UP - STRRRRETCH!", and the crowd goes buck-wild.

The morning settles in, I'm snug as lanky hotdog in a slightly damp bun, and I rub my eyes to wash away the remnants of dirt and strange dreams of myself meeting Steven Spielberg and announcing to him my utter dissapointment and distaste in his latest edition of the Indiana Jones saga. Nonetheless, I get up, not knowing the time (as my alarm clock has gone AWOL), and I hit up the Husky gas and convenience station for a muffin/coffee combo brekky. The sun shines, the hacky sacks start to fly, and life is comfortable once again.

Only two shifts remain in this southern BC planting adventure, and the long slog of a Greyhound trip seems only like yesterday. The summer contract seems to be non existent at this point, so I plan on venturing northbound and joining a different company and a different crew, with Summit Reforestation, to add to the epilogue of this grueling financial journey. Luckily, I know the crew boss - he is in my film program, so I should be able to settle in nicely.

A vacation may be in order in the next few weeks, to satiate my hunger for laziness, sand, and possibly surfing in either Penticton or Vancouver.. but I will have to pound another shift to make it happen. I finally broke the 2k mark again, and I'm attempting to manage a consistent $300 or more bones a day, so things are looking up. But the work is tiresome.. very very tiresome.

With all the free time in my head during the day, I've been sifting through songs saved through memory, imagining new songs, films, and scenarios at home. I await the third year of school, with a new home, new friends, and new experiences. In the meantime, all I gotta do is shut up and plant.

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rookies and Rocks

In the southern interior of British Columbia, the hills roll endlessly in a haze of sunshine and glinting rapids, amidst farmland bespeckled with cows, sheep, and other grass eating fauna. Snuggled amidst all of the beautiful scenery are cutblocks hidden deep in the mountainous jungle, only to be accessed by the rockiest of roads.

As I plant my trees slowly but surely, I catch the faint reverberations of the clink-clinking shovels pummeling rocks off in the distance. The land is worth 19 cents of straining muscles, sweat, and exhaustion, where water and mineral soil are your best friends. The weather is chilly in the morning and sweltering in the afternoon, forcing planters to shed their layers hour by hour as the sun singes the land. Mounds, stumps, and boulders hinder any fast movement, causing the numbers to be low and the planters to be more frustrated than usual. The highest that I have managed to put in after my sick leave has been a measly 1300 trees, two hundred dollars no less. I have yet to enter "pounding mode", for my motivation is slightly lacking due to a couple bouts of replanting. It's very debilitating to plant an entire massive hillside quickly, only to have your foreman ask you to check every tree after finding only a couple of shallows. The contract requirements are strict as ever. Every tree must be perfectly planted, the right species in the right microsite, and with seven trees per plot spacing on the nose. I feel like a rookie again learning the new overly technical land, but I'm confident that in due time I will begin to get the knack of it.

My tent is metres from a large river, which happens to be metres from a set of train tracks. Every morning and night the train both puts me to sleep and wakes me up with its deafening horn. Yet I've grown accustomed to the noise pollution so much that it's proven to become quite soothing. My tent is bedded with a quilt I purchased for a dollar from a thrift store in the middle of nowwhere, with a foamie hidden underneath. The sleeping bag is warm enough to make up for the hard spine-adjusting ground, and the ipod lulls me to sleep with dreams of my life back home.

Last night was the Great Goat night, the tumultuous 69th anniversary of the legendary goat, who as planters often claim, saved a planter from a bear attack by berating the beast with its horns. Another tale tells of a planter getting lost in the woods and finding a goat, who haphazardly lead the planter back to home safely. The party was loud and raucous, with long tables filled with dirty hippies slamming beers and shouting "yeehaw" with every swig. A talented rapper, with the alias Lazza Gun Soundsystem (insert laser gun sound here) MC'd the night with some killer planting beats, which were later followed by a wicked bongo jam session. It was certainly a wild and crazy night, and I feel the remnants of it lingering in my system still.

Alas my bronchitis has settled into a minor head cold, and I can sleep without coughing every five seconds. It's been a brutal couple weeks, but things are looking up. I feel healthy and fit, and I've obtained a voracious appetite. For instance, on burrito night, I consumed a whopping two fetus sized burritos and topped it off with a freezie. I was fuller than a fat kid at Mandarin, but boy o boy was it ever worth it.

I haven't much else to say at this point. I've made a few new friends here and there, and I'm happy to be around familiar folk. I miss the sweeter comforts of home, yet the lavish scenery is making up for it. It's strange to think I'll be returning to a new home, but as Sheryl Crow adamantly states, "a change will do you good". At least that's what I figure.

Anyway, my grubby fingers are tired from typing, and I'm going to meander over to the ice cream shop for some day off bliss.

Until next time,

over and out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Home away from home

So it's been a long journey. From Toronto, to Kenora, to Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary and finally Kamloops, I made it there in one piece (one very tired piece, mind you). I met a couple characters from Guelph who I became aquainted with. In return they provided me with bus munchies and a couple of sedatives to make the endless sit a tad more bearable. The craziest part of the trip was at the end, when I arrived in Kamloops to transfer to Little Fort, yet to my demise, the next bus there was at midnight, arriving at 1am. So rather than having to find a motel in Little Fort late in the night, I decided to call my boss to see whether I could be picked up. As it turned out, I had ran out of money completely, and all I had was 50 cents in change.. not enough to phone my boss' cell for the cost of $2.50. So out of desperation I asked the bus driver for some change (I felt very homeless), and she lent me toonie. Called the rents, they wired me some funds, and I was ready to roll. Finally, after waiting in this bus stop for a good three hours, a guy from our treeplanting company (Celtic) picked me up, bought me a sub, and then drove me to camp.. the bus company screwed up my baggage, so they were delayed delivery a day, and I had no tent for the night. Thus, I slept in the mess shack on a couch with a heater. It was a rough and cold night, but the delicious hearty breakfast in the morning made up for it. As for the planting, it's been a slow an arduous start for me, I'm relearning all the techniques and such, and I haven't made a whole whackload of money these past few days. The camp is pretty sweet though. I've been jamming on both the bongos and the guitar with a slew of hippy Neil Young worshippers, and chilling by a river adjacent to a very loud train. The food has been awesome too - we had Lasagna and garlic bread, pad thai, apple crumble - lots of yummy stuff. The past couple of days have been a little craptacular.. got sick, been coughing and sneezing to no avail, and had to miss out on the first bush party that night, but I'm slowly recuperating. But the work has been good. They blared hip hop beats out of the trucks while we were planting a hill, and it was hella chilllin yo. Anyway, the camp and the surrounding scenery is beautiful which makes everything a little more serene. I will report back soon with details of how the second shift of madness goes.

over and out,

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Wonderful Nightmare

I'm awakened by the sound of my father chopping wood off in the distance, my pillow damp from a steady stream of drool, and my eyes wince at the sight of the twinkling rays of the morning sun. I observe my surroundings: a bookshelf, a sleeping puppy on the floor beside me, a series of drawers, and a computer. I await for the synapses to settle in, and at last I realise that I have made it home. My fingers graze along the edge of the bed in an effort to cement the truth in this dreamlike reality. Approximately twenty-four hours ago, I awoke in an entirely different setting; one complete with dirty clothes, swarms of parasites knocking at my zippered up door, and the muffled sounds of eating and conversation in the mess tent.

When I look back at what I put myself through for the last three weeks, I regard it mereley as a long stretched out dream - a dream that could only be induced through a long period of hibernation. However, as my epidermis tingles slightly in the area behind my ears, I automatically proceed to scratch at a set of lumps - souvenirs from an all-too-lucid pleasant nightmare. I hop in the shower, and I scrub every last molecule of dirt from the bush off of me, in a hygenic effort to renew myself in this habitat of cleanliness. The sheer amount of comfort that is available to me makes me shudder with disbelief - everything seems just a little too perfect. The bush will do this to you, and for some strange unexplainable reason, I slightly yearn for the minute punishments that I have already grown so accustomed to. At last, there is much to do, yet I cannot decide exactly what I would like to do, for there isn't really anybody around to tell me what to do. I suppose I could play the piano, watch television, or just straight up relax. Those don't seem like bad ideas.

Having moved into a new camp, 8 hours from town, approximately 12 days ago, I haven't really had the oppurtunity to share my experiences with you online, due to the lack of transportation to and from town. However, to satiate your curiously hungry minds, I'll give you a slightly articulate low down.

When we set out on the road for our new camp in our dirty excursion crammed full of gear, we didn't exactly expect anything to go wrong along the way - due to our travel experiences from the past. Yet, when we heard a loud scraping noise four hours in on the drive up, on some strangely barren logging road, we knew that there would be a slight delay in our arrival. It turns out, one of the shocks on the right/rear suspension broke loose, and it was dangling from the bottom of the truck, scraping along the road. We pulled over, inspected the situation, and unloaded everything in search of a jack. To our less than fortunate dismay, the jack was missing, and as such, we had to think on our toes for a new solution. Dan suggested we attempt to repair the shock by screwing in the missing bolts, yet little did he know that they flew off somewhere miles back along the side of the road. Another one of us suggested that we drove back slowly and far enough to be in radio contact with Dustin, and call for help. This however was too risky of an option, so we formulated a safer plan. We had a roll of duct tape and some bungees at our disposal, so we went to town (macgyver style) on the shock - taped it up, bungeed it nice and tight, and we were on our way. Rather than risking the extra four hours of the drive, we (being Dan, Cody, Katelyn, Mark and I - the remaining five-pack crew) decided to camp out at a familiar spot from last years adventure.

When we arrived at the campsite from last year, I could clearly remember the exact location of my tent, and in fact, I even found one of the pegs, still deep in the ground. Cody and Katelyn gathered some logs and rocks and made a nice little fire, while Dan, Mark, and I set up some lines and lures, and went fishing. In total we caught around ten differently sized trout - a couple of them being pretty big and meaty, and we gutted them, filleted them, and cooked them on a large rock set inside the fire. It was a truly wonderful self-sufficient camping experience, and it will remain in my mind as a fond memory.

As we finally made our way over to the actual bush camp, we weren't expecting so many little tiny flying companions. The bugs there were ruthless and abundant in the plentifuls. Some nights it would sound like it was raining heavily in my tent, yet when I zipped open the tent door and looked up, I could locate the source of the sound - thousands upon thousands of tiny little black flies incessantly pecking at the rainfly, and I do not exaggerate. Every time I had to leave my tent, I would throw on my bug jacket (the forcefield), and run quickly to my desired location, zipping up my tent in a flash. Eating breakfast and dinner was an ordeal, as the mosquitoes were so bad in the mess tent, that we spent more time swatting in frustration than actually eating our food. In less than ten days, my entire body has been peppered with lumps and bites.

But enough about the bugs, lets get into the work aspect. The land in the Abitibi contract was generally pretty good. Hilly 13 cent cream for the most part, and coming from the hell that was the mounds, this land seemed like a walk in the park. Mark and I began hitting 2500 a day with ease, and the $300 earning at the end of the day made the life a little more bearable. I even hit a new personal best - 2820 trees - which was a strenuosly difficult day, but quite the personal accomplishment.

The two shifts flew by rather quickly, and before we knew it, it was time for us to pack up camp and head home. We partied hard at the end, drank many a beer, and I had a great time. I was more than happy to pack up my smelly buggy tent, and get going on the road.

To sum up this long eventful journey: I feel I've grown much stronger as a person, both mentally and physically, and the lack of civilization has made me appreciate the Earth in all its natural splendor and beauty. I will miss the mountains, the epic unpredictable clouds, and the cool soothing breezes that sweep through the valleys. Only five of us stuck it out in the end, and they have become like family to me - and I will miss all of you guys, especially those of you who are far away and difficult to get in touch with.

Next year will be the true test of my planting abilities, as I grow more weathered and defined as a less than quasi-veteran. Until then, I wish you all a safe, happy, and prosperous year, and it has been a pleasure reporting my adventures to you (whomever you may be).

over and out,
- James

Friday, July 06, 2007

Mounds, Mounds, and Even More Mounds

We've been thrown into the thick of the jungle, carrying 40 pounds of pesticide-enlaced spruce monsters in our hip-grinding bags, with only a bottle of water and some squished muffins for comfort. The land is terrifyingly unpredictable; it's as if the earth's epidermis broke into a harrowing bout of acne, creating giant mucky pustules, with cess pools stagnant enough to breed the largest army of mosquitoes that man or bear has ever encountered. Not one square-inch of the land is 180 degrees flat; the block was mounded some 20 years ago, back in the good ol' 1980's, giving plenty of time for fernlike brush and other deadly flora to sporadically grow in every nook and cranny. The clinging limbs of the alders will ensnare you in a serious tangle, the mounds will give way into miniature landslides - throwing your aching body and luggage into the murky pools below - it's almost as if the land is out to get you.

This, for some of the more hardy planters, is when the true fun and adventure starts, in the notorious summer contract. Having returned clean-shaven, hair-cutted, and primp and proper from a deliciously relaxing break, I made the unfortunate mistake of forgetting what I was in for in this unpredictable job.
No more than a day went by, and my nice city appearance quickly vanished, only to be replaced by a haggard, bug bitten, heat-rashed, scary looking tree-man. Yet somehow I have no complaints about this inevitable makeover, for there's something rather comforting about getting the dirt back on my face. It brings me closer to the elements, I suppose.

Our first shift was glorious. Glorious in a way that one would look into the heat of a battle and marvel at it's sheer intensity and vicissitude. Dan, Cody, Katie and I were thrown in this super scary piece - looking at it dead on, it seemed more like just straight forest rather than clear-cut land, and I was confused as to why we were putting more trees in this already abundant rainforest. Our new trees weigh twice as much as they did in spring, ergo - a bagup of 100 of these new trees feel like a bagup of 200 of the old trees. To put this in perspective, in order for us to make any money on this block, we had to lug around anvil-like loads of 100-150 trees - a walk in the park! a park in Jupiter mind you! The worst part of our piece, however, was the 15 minute walk-in after every bag-up. It was uphill, on slippery mounds, and completely unforgivingly straining on the legs. My sister Katie may have a good idea of this feeling, having traversed some difficult leg-crushing terrain herself in the far east. Another fun quirk was the chunks of forest blocking certain areas of the piece. In order for us to hit every mound, we had to coordinate with eachother as to who had to plant around these areas, or walk through them. Some mounds are smack dab in the middle of the woods, or under a fallen tree, or perhaps at the top of a very steep hill - and we've pretty much had to scramble our hardest to plant them.

Or there was the time where I got lost in the middle of my piece, walked around in two complete circles, and kept running in to the same strangely shaped stump both times, in explosive frustration. Even the checkers are getting lost - the Canfor guys even mentioned in the pre-work explanation that the land is very disorienting. We've been using the "Marco! Polo!" method to find our way to the road, and I hear it on many occasion.

But enough about the land. I signed up for this, so I might as well embrace it. Living at camp has been a nice added comfort for me. Finally, we're in a genuine Celtic camp, with four different crews, a cook, and the luxurious dry tent! Ooh-la-la! The meals have been delicious and plentiful, and my tent is situated in a cozy little haven atop a little hill. The view isn't spectacular, but sure to take your breath for a moment or two. I personally enjoy watching the clouds hover in the valleys below the mountains - it reminds me just how high up we are.

I've met a plethora of new faces, and shared some interesting conversations about non-planting-related things. I've also put on a little tent concert for my friends - I jammed with this really cool dude Patrick, I - weilding the guitar, he - the djembe. I also played a wicked game of kick-up with a soccer ball with some very talented athletes. So life is still good :)

I'm now a full-fledged adult - the big two-oh (20), but what the heck - I still feel like a kid deep inside. I only remember patches of the night of my birthday - I know there were some shots of hard liquor and tabasco sauce involved.. which didn't exactly cleanse my palette. It was an awesome night to say the least.

Teddy and Jarret just left the crew (due to extenuating circumstances back at home), and now we're back to a six-pack crew. We're on a 4 day break right now, but I hear through the grapevine we'll be heading up to the Mackenzie area in the near future - which I'm rather excited about, as it is a very beautiful mountainous area.

I would love to ramble on some more about this hectic lifestyle of mine, but I'm rather tired from a night of partying, and I think I might go take a dip in the pool.

Until next time,

- James