The Mojave

Yesterday I had the awesome opportunity to see the work that Sam does in Nevada. There’s a solar project going on here in part of the Mojave Desert that is expected to supply energy to California and Sam is an environmental scientist/biologist for an environmental company that is on the project to make sure construction complies with environmental codes, etc. but what is most awesome is that they are protecting the highly endangered Desert Tortoise. Since there’s a lot of construction and activity going on at the site that could potentially harm the tortoises (and they have put up fencing around the site), Sam’s company relocates them to a safe habitat. What they did is took all of the tortoises that were on the construction site before construction began, checked their health, stuck trackers on their shells (which doesn’t harm the tortoises and they don’t notice them at all) and then drove them to a relocation site that is also on the Mojave Desert (their natural home) where they were introduced to a tortoise burrow (their new home) that is the perfect size for them and they are essentially free. Sam’s company is still legally responsible for the tortoise’s well-being so they track the tortoises and check up on them regularly to make sure they are doing good.

Yesterday I got to see the whole process! They had a tiny baby tortoise that was found the week before on a road near the construction site and they saved him. There’s an in-between safe zone that they bring the tortoises before they are relocated so that they can make sure the tortoise is in good health before they release it and so that they can put a tracker on it. I got to see the whole shebang: they put a tracker on the baby tortoise, relocated him to a perfect burrow, and then I got to track all of the others with Sam the rest of the day. It was SO much fun to find these tortoises that they saved and relocated two years ago; just chillin in the middle of the desert, eating or sleeping under a bush. I wasn’t allowed to touch any of them by law (only certain people are licensed to handle them), but it was really awesome to see them up close. They are SO cute and really do have unique and individual little personalities.

Sam’s job is pretty awesome, He’s one of the people who is certified to hold and touch the tortoise’s, so he gets to know the little guys pretty good. There’s one that Sam found awhile back who had built a burrow too close to where flood waters come through when it rains and his burrow had collapsed on him. Sam dug him out and he was in really bad condition but has since brought him to good health. They think they will probably keep him through the winter before releasing him, to fatten him up a little more and really make sure he is in his best health. Sometimes Sam will take some Globe Mallow (a plant the Tortoise’s love) go and sit in the little habitat they have the tortoise in for now and he will come right up and sit in Sam’s lap. I think it’s the coolest thing!

So yeah, I was impressed. Oh we also got to have a really neat little picnic lunch in the middle of the desert with a beautiful view. About a month ago we decided to watch the movie, The Lunchbox, which is pretty good and you’ll just have to watch it or look it up to see what it’s about if you haven’t heard of it; but what we really loved was the lunchbox that was used in the movie. It’s called a Tiffin and it is in one of the pictures below. Basically it’s a stackable steel lunchbox that allows you to separate your food into different compartments and instead of having to put food into plastic bags first you just put whatever you are bringing directly into the four bowls, stack them and then seal them together with the clasp. It might not look big, but you can fit more food in it than you need to eat in one sitting. Sam and I had chicken and steak strips, pita bread, garlic, grapes and cheese in our tiffin. It was the perfect lunch, perfect size, perfect for carrying around in a backpack. Really, a Tiffin is a pretty genius invention. We found ours on Amazon, it was the cheapest we could find: get one! Seriously, they are super fun to use and really convenient.

Read more about the solar project here

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This is the baby tortoise that they relocated. The plant it’s eating is called Globe Mallow and the Desert Tortoise’s love it!

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Watching this little guy eat was the cutest thing! Nom nom nom

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We saw a Leopard Lizard and several super cuuute bearded dragons.

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Desert picnic

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Me “helping” track tortoises.

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