Alaska Bound – Adam Eichenwald

I’m sitting in the Seattle airport waiting for my next flight, which is in 6 hours. It’s late, I’m sleep deprived, and frankly a little bored. So I figured I’d start working on my small section of the Internet to scribble the vague thoughts that pop into my head, discuss what it’s like to perform wildlife research, and mentally imagine crowds of readers cheering me on.

Like I said. Sleep deprived.

I figure I’m going to save my in-depth discussion of my research for a later date. Don’t want to give the game away too early. I’ll just say I’m researching falcons in Alaska and leave it at that for now (plus I need to make sure that my project ideas will actually work before I talk about them in front of an audience). Instead, I’m going to talk about an item I’ve found to be absolutely indispensable over my few years of conducting fieldwork, something I really, truly can’t live without in the field.


Sure, some ecologists probably have their notebooks, or a certain pen, or favorite boots. I’ve heard nail clippers crop up often as an indispensable item, which is a pretty fantastic choice if I’m being honest. But for me personally, I will never, ever leave for the field without a massive box of Q-tips.

I spent time in the field without them ONCE. Imagine, if you will, a nagging itch in your ear that you just can’t scratch, no matter what you do. It’s like a song that gets stuck in your head on an endless loop, one that you can’t shake off. Sure, you can deal with it for a while. But after weeks and weeks of an endless chorus, you want to just go pour a large bucket of ice down your back to forget about it for a while.

It’s one of those things that is really easy to forget. Really, when you pack for a trip it’s difficult to remember to pack q-tips “for an emergency.” Sure, maybe you pack a handful…but I feel like in that case, those are intended to serve their original purpose. Makeup remover and the like.

Anyway, thought I’d share. It’s getting really late and a bunch of police officers just walked by with an unsavory-looking chap in handcuffs. Kind of want to find out what’s going on with that and maybe get some sleep sometime in the next century.

Stay tuned for status updates from The Edge of the West!