Bugs and traffic get the best of us

As the teams switched once again, Sophie and I looked at our schedule for the
upcoming two weeks - we were to be surveying mainly at Sidney Lanier for the next few
weeks. At this point in the season, we are fairly well established as far as surveys are
concerned and have our travel routes committed to memory. Yet despite our confidence
and experience with surveying, challenges and difficulties have a way of arising.
At the end of the first week together, Saturday July 28th, we were scheduled for late
surveying periods at Little Ridge and West Bank (2 of the busiest sites at Lake Sidney
Lanier). We started at Little Ridge at 3:10pm. It was an ordinary enough survey day,
even slow for a late Saturday at Lanier. It wasnʼt until about 15 minutes into our survey
period that we realized our challenge for this particular survey period: mosquitoes. We
had been at this site before, but for some reason there were swarms of mosquitoes this
night (to the point where sitting in one place was not a viable option). Being that we had
forgotten our bug spray, we spent the survey period smacking bugs and pacing back
and forth to keep them from landing on us (a surprisingly effective method).
Albeit irritating, the mosquito issue ranked low on the scale of possible work related
problems, and the first survey period finished up without any major issues. Having
learned a lesson in remembering the seemingly minute details (i.e. bug spray), we
packed up and headed for West Bank.
We were scheduled to start surveying at West Bank at 6:20pm. West Bank is a huge
park, and being that it was a Saturday, we were bound to catch a large amount of
people exiting the park. We began surveying and ran into our next challenge of the day
- one of our survey computers broke down. Despite turning the computer off in between
surveys and storing the computers in a cool location, one died and was showing no
signs of life. We were now down to one computer, at the busiest park on Lake Lanier, on
a weekend, when the park was emptying out. We continued surveying with one
computer, and the cars began to pile up. It seemed every time we began a survey, 10 or
12 cars would line up and we would have to pass many for back-up. As the line
emptied, Sophie would begin to survey and the cars would pile up again - it was a
constant “battle against the survey pile up”.
Eventually the survey was over, and we realized that there are some problems that
arise despite the best preparedness. Since this day, we have come to utilize paper
surveys on days that we only have one computer and may be facing high survey levels.
The take home message of the day: Be as prepared as possible (i.e. Bug spray) and
have a back up plan for problems that you canʼt control (i.e. Paper Surveys).
Written by Ryan.