The pavement ends. You know things are good when you have to drive on dirt to see them. I snap my forehead off the windowpane before the washboard road makes me crack my head on the glass. From here on you need a good car. We don't have one, so we can't go much farther without getting stuck.
To one side of the car there is an immense wall of green. I can't make out the individual trees very well: there are too close and too many. On the other side the ground drops away and tumbles helplessly before reasserting itself far, far below. I squinch my eyes shut and am silently grateful that I'm not driving.
Down the road is RMBL, the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. Judy, who owns the car we're driving, did her grad work here. Among the trees there are signs asking passerby not to disturb the local life. Soon we get to the lab, which is a collection of buildings that look like they belong in the mountains, a stark contrast to the largesse of hotels and showpieces five miles back. There's a large mess hall with a spigot outside, some medium-sized teaching buildings and a bunch of small shacks where the researchers live. One semester a fox built its den in one of the teaching buildings. The researchers took it in stride, of course, and held classes elsewhere. Nobody wants to mess with a fox and her litter.
Out here the moths have seven-inch wingspans. You don't mess with the moths either.
We know some of the researchers here. They're tan from the sun and perfectly happy running around in the thin air. They agree to let us use their water. They are nice people.
We don't stay long. The science is over our heads, and we're anxious to go down the road.
I. II. III. IV.