Big Bend by Air

On Friday I was finally able to get up in the air with Park Pilot Greg Drum, which I’ve been trying to do since I got here. He is one of two National Park Service personnel dually-appointed as pilot and law enforcement officer in the lower 48, and is a really fun guy. More or less as you would expect from someone whose office is the cabin of a 6-seater Cessna from the 1970’s, Greg absolutely loves his job and is a blast to be around. IMG_0793 The park makes an effort to give interns and seasonals the opportunity to accompany Greg on flights whenever possible, and it’s such an incredible opportunity to see the park. We covered the entire perimeter and traced canyons and riverbeds from above, as Greg scanned the land for trespass livestock, errant campers, and other abnormalities. Highlights included seeing the South Rim, the Mule’s Ears rock formation, and the incredible canyon walls above the river. IMG_0812 IMG_0808 At the end of the workday, because it was that type of Friday, some coworkers and I went foraging for wild pitaya (also known as dragonfruit). The pitaya that grows wild in the desert looks a little bit different from store-bought varieties. If you’ve ever eaten domesticated pitaya and concluded that it looks very pretty but doesn’t taste like much, you’re right! Wild pitaya tastes like a hybrid kiwi-strawberry, and might be close to usurping my long-standing favorite fruit of passionfruit. This is what it looks like. IMG_0779 IMG_0818   IMG_0807 Time’s a passing quick as greased lightning!

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