by Brittanie Rodriguez, Biology Researcher
The team ended our field day a bit early, and since we had worked so hard in the field Jess and Carlos told us they were treating us to ice cream! We saw a huge line of cars all trying to get back to Los Angeles and knew we would have to hang out at the gas station for a while anyways, so the timing worked out perfectly. All of us were busy conversing about our day in the field, laughing at some of the awkward video footage that had taken place and generally getting to know one another. We confessed our past and present soda addictions, what we like to do for fun, our love for iced coffee, and admired the hard work of two men laying down floor tiles. It was nice to be done with the day and just relax for the rest of the evening.
Some of the guys were hungry and decided to get a burger - since we were eating primarily vegetarian, they felt they were "deficient" in protein. As they were standing in line we saw a small birdlike creature flying really fast toward the burger joint. Jess exclaimed, "That's a bat! We have to get it out of here." We saw the bat fly back towards the entrance of the gas station and I joined the group there, trying to see the bat through the pillars. By this time there were tourists, stuck at the gas station due to traffic, who were also standing in a circle looking up and trying to see the bat. Jess suddenly remembered that she had a bat net in the truck and decided we could safely catch and release the bat using thick gloves. She quickly came back with the net, and all of us (tourists included) helped hold the net.
By this time it was clear that the bat did not want to come down, so Carlos downloaded an app that made bat noises, in the hope that this would entice the bat to fly into our net. While this scene was unfolding, people kept entering the gas station attempting to buy gas, and we had to keep telling them to go under our net while explaining our bat fiasco. The bat never came down and we eventually had to give up, but our antics had attracted lots of interest. A woman with two children said to me, "If we're going to be stuck in traffic, we might as well be having an adventure and learning stuff." Her kids had fun, and hopefully our adventure sparked an interest in science. Ultimately, going out into the desert is always an adventure. You never know what will unfold, how it will unfold, or even where it will unfold! But it's always certain that you will have fun and learn something new while creating great memories with great people.