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Ellen's Rover Diary Day 1 2 3

Day 1
So what was Rough Science 4 day one like? It started with a gathering call for 5:30am, helicopter training, and the trip to Darwin Mine, our base for the new series.

Darwin Mine is thirty miles from Lone Pine, where we are staying. The land and vegetation change dramatically. Yes, lots of creosote bush in fruit, but the plants get smaller as we go higher. Then tall Joshua trees spring up — Don Quixotes on the land. We are no longer in the lush Owens Valley. The town of Darwin has no facilities open to the public and is several miles from the main road, a dead end of sorts, though tracks head off into the mountains. Small towns around here seem to be collections of past hopes — trailers, cars, stuff, lots of stuff that just doesn't rot or rust here. No longer like your dwelling? Get a new one and place it by the old one. Do this enough and your yard is filled with your past, as well as the histories of those who came before you.

Challenge: Iain and I are to find water in one of the driest places on Earth. Kathy and Mike are to purify it so that it is drinkable — and someone is going to drink it. Jonathan is on his own to build a rover.

First, our home base, Darwin Mine, is fabulous. It is completely decked out with tools and electricity, which after Rough Science 2 on the island of Carriacou, I'll never take for granted again. The only thing I don't see is an oven or stove that is not wood-fed. It looks like we'll be spending time collecting wood, chopping wood, feeding the fire, monitoring the fire, and getting hot for yet another season. It is quite grounding. Fire-making still dominates the lives of many women around the world...

Hey, it's great to have Iain, the geologist, as well. There will be two of us wandering all over the place now. Geology, like botany/biology, can't be done indoors. That's one of the things I love about what I do. In the past, this has meant I've unintentionally hogged a camera and sound team every time I've needed to go find something. Hopefully, Iain and I can coordinate our efforts — it will be easier on everyone.

More specifically, I haven't laughed this hard in ages. Iain's dry humor is right up my alley. Plus, his stories about his family (spouse and two girls) are so loving and delightful. On occasion he just breaks in to song — children's songs that I haven't thought of in ages.

Finding water around here is going to be a bit tough, which is probably the point.


Ellen collects water from the desert plants
Scientist's Diaries

Water or wheels? How did the other members of the Rough Science team cope with the first challenge? Read their diaries to find out: