Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Five Months on the Road!
Bismarck, North Dakota

Today is my birthday and I am very much loving and appreciating life! My tenure with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency - Department of Homeland Security) working with disaster relief efforts in Iowa and North Dakota has been filled with hard work, long hours, sobering reality regarding loss of property and infrastructure destruction, and limitless learning opportunities. I have also met many wonderful colleagues and members of the communities where I am stationed - many of whom have become fast friends, mates, pals, amigos & chums!

I am resolved to regularly post to this blog site. Thanks to all who have commented and otherwise contacted me about it. One of the reasons this particular endeavor has lagged a bit is that I have spent quite a lot of time and brain power getting my Flickr photo site up and running ~ and up and running it is! Here is the title and address:

The Chinese Buffalo ~ Tales, Travels and Photos Thereof



Please check it out and leave comments - sign in to receive updates (which I enter on a weekly basis).

One note I must make is that although I received birthday greetings this morning from a number of friends, family, & colleagues, I received three very special shout-outs -- one from my lovely and wonderful wife and two from my two best friends (Carolyn and Tommy Z). Even though hard at work I reflected on and off just how important family and friends are. I often turn to these thoughts whilst on the road -- normal bit of loneliness, but the true value of amigas and amigos is easily understood.

I journeyed out to North Dakota over Memorial Day weekend, leaving Iowa and my duties there for a little while (due to return sometime later this summer). I drove north through western Iowa and into southwestern Minnesota, stopping at Pipestone National Monument to view the historic Native American
catlinte quarries. From there I crossed into South Dakota and over the beautiful Bois de Sioux and James rivers, and ran across the northern tier of the state. At this point two pheasant cocks (Phasianus colchicus), weighing about a kilogram each, flew into my car and hurt it pretty badly. These beautiful (and tasty) birds were introduced into the Dakotas from China in the early 20th century and are thriving! A short mechanical delay ensued and I rolled into North Dakota during a great thunder storm late in the evening. And so began my deployment in the land of the "Fighting Sioux."

I am signing off as there is threat of a tornado - and if the tornado does not materialize, then at least there is likely to be high wind, heavy rain, and hail. I am off on the morrow (weather permitting) to visit the Spirit Lake Sioux Reservation.

Ciao, Chinese-Buffalo (at large)