Monday, December 10, 2012

Packing up

Packing up a field camp for six months is a challenging thing. I thought I would try to distill some of the key elements down into a list...

1) Finish collecting and processing your final samples. No doubt, something really interesting will happen just as you are about to leave the field, thus requiring you to collect and process many more "final" samples than you anticipate.

2) Run last experiments. There is probably a really important experiment (or two) you have put off until the bitter end, hoping that you will gain some more clarity and insight on how to approach it as time passes. You should probably go ahead and do this now.

3) Cook all the really nice food items you purchased and stashed away during your time here. Gain back all the weight you lost during your field season.

4) Deploy field equipment to capture data and images from the river during your absence. Reflect upon the game camera that already went missing this year after a couple day deployment. Get metal re-bar housings welded.

5) Wash all the sampling equipment you used this year before storing it. Yes, this includes the two boxes of dirty sampling bottles that have been waiting in the corner.

6) Inventory all the equipment and supplies remaining from this year so you know what to bring for next year. This will help you avoid ending up with way too much sodium hydroxide but no sample vials.

7) Pack all your samples and anything you might need in the US for the next six months. Realize that water is incredibly heavy when 300 bottles of it are packed into one box.

8) Pack everything else securely into the tents. Remember that this season you have had a new tarp ripped in half by a giraffe and two jerricans destroyed by lions. Add extra ropes.

9) Drop by to say goodbye to all the friends who have helped you out during your time here. A field project is an effort of many, and you can't get by without help from friends.

10) Remember to stand outside your tent for a minute before you go to bed and be grateful for getting to live in this place. Listen to the distant rush of the river and the gentle grunting of hippos and give thanks.
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