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Friday afternoon/evening: Whirlwind grocery store stop after work, made dinner, and fed my sis-in-law and kids. Seitan fajitas! The grown-ups enjoyed them tremendously*. Note to self: get or think of more kid-friendly entertainment stuff for when kids come over to visit. Then, packing for hiking and camping.

Saturday morning: Up early, made coffee and breakfast burritos for myself and brother's family, wedged camping supplies into the car, then wedged myself into the middle seat of their Subaru between two kids in car seats. We drove up towards Oak Creek Canyon, with a quick stop in Sedona for second breakfast*. We reached the parking lot for the West Fork hike at 9:30 am. There were four cars idling in line, and yes, the lot was full. So we backtracked one site to the Bootlegger Picnic Area and splashed in the creek there. Maybe it was for the best, as the small children were only up for about 0.5 miles of hiking anyway.

After lunch, we drove up to the Lava River Cave, which was very popular with the short set AND the adults alike. Primitive camping out in the Coconino National Forest was also a hit. So nice and quiet among the pines. What a relief. C enjoyed getting to watch and listen to some common nighthawks dive-bombing (see/hear an example here), but didn't find any nightjars.

Sunday - Tuesday: Got up, packed up, drove back to Phoenix, said goodbye to my brother and family, ate lunch, jumped in the shower, did some repacking, then loaded gear into another postdoc's car for the 6-hour drive out to Pine Valley, CA. Thankfully her car wasn't as cramped as the Subaru.

The last time I went out to collect harvester ant foundress queens in southern California was over a decade ago, I think in 2007 or 2008. Cibbet Flats was still a nice campground. The big field in Pine Valley was still there. The campground at Lake Henshaw is still sketchy. The pie from Julian is still mighty fine.

The mating flights have definitely shifted earlier over the past decade. The peak used to occur right around the 4th of July; now the flights are mostly done by then. We still managed to come back with 46 queens from the cooperative site and 59 queens from the non-cooperative site. It was a fun group of people to collect and camp with.

The break from typing has been helpful. Back at it soon. Also, it's July already and almost time to start packing things up again. Also time to keep looking for a place to rent.

*Comments about children with extremely picky eating habits deliberately left out.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1235091.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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