Sunday, May 19, 2013

New Job

On April 22nd I started my new job as a Civil Engineer (Hydrologic) at the US Bureau of Reclamation Lahontan Basin Area Office. I was both excited and nervous to start, because this is really the first job of my professional career. So far I am really enjoying my job. It has been interesting, with a variety of things to work on.

 First day of work

One of the first things I got to do was take a tour of the Truckee Canal, which is one of the major things I will be working on. We started at Derby Dam, which is one of Reclamation's oldest projects. Derby Dam diverts water from the Truckee River (which flows to Pyramid Lake) into the Truckee Canal. The Canal carries water from the Truckee Basin to the Carson Basin, where it is used for irrigation.
Derby Dam
Start of the Truckee Canal

Next we took a slight detour to visit Marble Bluff Dam, near Pyramid Lake. Marble Bluff has a fish passage facility for moving endangered cui-ui (a sucker fish) upstream to spawn.

The cui-ui were running while we were there, so we got to see them go through the fish facility. They were much bigger than I expected--about 8 lbs and more than a foot long

Next we drove through Fernley, NV and stopped along the canal.

 Finally we made our way to Lahontan Dam, which is where the Truckee River water is transferred to the Carson system. The canal empties into a reservoir above Lahontan Dam, which is on the Carson River. A bit downstream of Lahontan Dam, a smaller diversion dam moves the combined Truckee and Carson River water to the fields for irrigation.

Last week I also got to spend some time in the field helping with discharge measurements on some of the canals below Lahontan Dam. A Reclamation team was collecting data to use in a HEC-RAS model of the canal system. We used Acoustic Dopper Current Profilers (ADCPs) to collect the discharge data. These instruments ride on small boats, which are towed across the channel. The instrument samples across the channel and calculates discharge from water depth and velocity. We also used RTK GPS to record water elevation and the elevations of structures along the canal.
SonTek M9 River Surveyor

One Month in Carson City

I've now been in Carson City for an entire month, and a lot has happened in that time! Life has been pretty hectic, with moving, starting a new job, and learning my way around a new town. Although some days I've felt pretty homesick and have missed my friends and family, it has also been really exciting to start my new life here. Along the way I've tried to snap a few photos to document what has been going on, so without further delay, here is a photo journal of my first month in Nevada!

I spent the first few days doing a lot of shopping for house things like toothbrushes and toilet paper, and Jasper was very excited about the new toothbrush...

Jasper was also excited about the quails that live in the bushes outside my apartment, and has been keeping watch at the window.

Jasper and I both love hiking in the desert. It is dry and warm, and it smells amazing


We were walking in the park by the river and I spotted a coyote in the wetland
Turns out coyotes act a lot like dogs. This one peed, then sat down to scratch its ears.

My parents came to visit during the first weekend in May. We drove all the way around Lake Tahoe on Saturday, then went to a cowboy festival and a historic army fort on Sunday. The weather, which had been sunny and warm, turned cloudy and rainy when they arrived. I guess the Washingtonians brought some much-needed rain to Nevada. I realized once the warm sun returned that I haven't quite recovered from my sunlight-deficient life in Oregon--I was way more excited than anybody else in Nevada for the sun to come back!

Thunder and lightning over the desert

Fort Churchill is out in the desert and is mostly falling down, but it is still really cool. Nevada has a lot of history.

Last weekend Jasper and I went for a hike up Prison Hill, which is right in the middle of Carson City, but feels like the middle of nowhere. It was about 85 degrees and absolutely beautiful.


Jaspee is my former roommate Peggy's nickname for Jasper, and it is really a pretty fitting name for him, unfortunately. Although he is housetrained, Jasper sometimes pees inside...he pees when he is excited, he pees to mark his territory, and he pees when he gets impatient and I am not letting him out soon enough. Sometimes I think he just forgets about the difference between inside and outside. On average, he pees inside one or twice a week, and for a long time I have just put up with it. However, this week Jasper peed on my work bag, and this weekend he peed on my sleeping bag, so I decided that I won't put up with it anymore. I am tired of finding dried urine on my stuff or smelling it when I walk into a room. I am tired of scrubbing the carpet with cleaner, but never being quite satisfied with the results. I am tired of buying paper towels in bulk and always being worried that Jasper is going to go inside.

So, Jaspee now gets to wear dog diapers. At first I was really skeptical of the idea, especially since Jasper ate the dog booties I got to protect his feet, wouldn't walk in his raincoat even though he doesn't really like being wet, and fought the head collar that was supposed to easily guide him on walks without pulling. But, maybe it was a good sign when I was walking into Petco and was greeted by an overexcited puppy in the parking lot who dribbled all over the pavement. The pup's owner was extremely apologetic, but I shrugged and smiled and told her that my dog did it all the time, then I walked straight to the dog diaper section.

Jasper did not like the raincoat he got from Aunt Julie

When I brought the diapers home, I was still hesitant to try them out, but I took a deep breath, got a treat and opened up the new toy I had gotten for Jasper. Then I reached down wrapped the diaper around his belly, and gave him the treat. And he did nothing. He ate the treat, took a few steps, looked back, then trotted off with the new toy!

Jasper has now been wearing his new diaper for almost a whole day, and he doesn't seem to even notice it. I take it off when we go outside, and put it back on and give him a treat when we come back in. It looks a little silly, but silly is way better than pee everywhere!

Happy dog in a diaper!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Moving - Summerville, CA to Carson City, NV

Friday, April 19th, I finished the journey to Carson City. As I drove from Susanville through Reno to Carson, the landscape got drier and drier. Trees faded away and were replaced by sagebrush. There were dusty hills with dots of silver green all around and glimpses of snowy Sierra peaks.
North of Reno

After passing through Reno, I arrived in Carson City!

Moving - Corvallis to Summerville, CA

Thursday, April 18th was the major traveling day of my move. I got up, showered, ate some breakfast, packed up some food in my cooler, and headed out!

New ring
The first stop was just across the street from my house, where I stopped to answer a phone call from my mom. Then I was off again to the next stop: downtown Corvallis to pick up the ring I bought myself as a graduation present. I got the ring from Richard Gretz Goldsmiths in downtown Corvallis. It is a small white gold ring with some scrollwork on either side of a center stone. It originally had a diamond in it, but I had them set a light blue sapphire instead. I've never worn or bought nice jewelry before, but I fell in love with the ring during a Downtown Corvallis Wine Walk in March and decided that it would make a perfect graduation present :)

Then the journey really began!

View Driving directions to carson city nv in a larger map

 I drove out of Corvallis, got on I-5, and headed south to Eugene. From Eugene I headed over the Cascades on Highway 58 along the Willamette River. Along the way I stopped at a park in Oakridge to stretch. The park was right along the river, and was probably the greenest and wettest place I will see for awhile.

Willamette River
Jasper in the car
Over the crest
After going over the Cascade crest, I turned on Highway 97 toward Klamath Falls. In Klamath Falls I got on 137 and  headed into California. I kept expecting to go through an agricultural checkpoint, since California is very strict about what types of plant materials can be brought into the state, but I never saw one. I drove in and out of the Modoc National Forest, which was sometimes not really forest at all, but grassland, sage, and juniper. It was very pretty, and very empty. For long stretches I saw no cars. Jasper and I stopped occasionally to get out and stretch, but we mostly just drove.
Modoc National Forest

Roadside stop

Almost to Susanville, and a sign for Reno!

Jasper was very happy to be out of the car
Around 6pm I drove into Susanville, California and stopped for the night. I got a room at a hotel and ate dinner at a local diner. Jasper even got some of my leftover meatloaf! After a long day of driving and the previous night spent on the floor, it was nice to have a bed to sleep in.

Last Day in Corvallis

Wednesday, April 17th was packing day. I got up earlier than usual to make sure everything was ready. I ate breakfast, got dressed, and then gathered up all the things I would be carrying with me as I drove to Carson City. Jasper watched carefully as I carried suitcases, bags, boxes, and my sleeping bag to my car. Around 8:30 I took Jasper outside for a walk down the street. As we were coming back, we watched an enormous truck come around the corner. The driver stopped, checked some papers, then hopped out--it was beginning!

 Packing was kind of a strange experience. A team of three men (along with two more who came later) methodically packed everything in my house. First I showed them what to pack and what to leave for my roommate. Then one mover went around with an inventory form putting numbered stickers on each piece of furniture. Each bookshelf, side table, and chair got a sticker, as did each leaf in the dining room table. Meanwhile the other movers unloaded piles of cardboard boxes, tape, and paper and began packing smaller items into boxes. They wrapped every item in paper and put it in a box. Each box got a label describing its contents and a numbered sticker. Some things, like clothes in my dresser drawers, they left in place, but most other things got packed up.

While this was going on, I alternated between watching, reading, knitting, and taking Jasper for short walks. While I was in the house, I moved from chair to chair, room to room as the movers packed. Ocasionally I would answer a question about whether something should be packed, or chat with the movers, but mostly they did their work while I tried to keep busy. About 3.5 hours after the packing started, it was time to load the truck. The movers carried each box and piece of furniture out to the giant moving truck, and within another half hour the house was empty. All that was left was Jasper's crate, my knitting bag, the houseplants that couldn't go through the California agricultural check station in the moving truck, and a couple doormats. After signing my name on a bunch of paperwork, the movers were gone.

Since I was staying one more night, I went out to my car and brought back in my clothes and sleeping bag. Then, since it was too weird to be in an empty house, I left to go downtown. I got lunch at a sandwich place, then wandered through the shops in downtown Corvallis. I picked up my thesis from B&J Bookbinding and bought some candles that look like succulents. Then I got tired of walking and decided to go back to the house. I spent an hour or so putting together a table for my roommate, then I drove back downtown to pick up the ring I bought myself as a graduation/finishing MS/getting a job present. Unfortunately, although the ring had been resized, it was still too big, so I left it there with the promise that they could have it ready by 10am the next day. Local businesses are wonderful!

Then I went back to the house again to take a shower and get ready for dinner with friends. My roommate came along, and we had a fantastic Thai curry dinner. The best part was getting to laugh and talk with some really wonderful friends :) It was a perfect way to spend my last night in Corvallis!