@Herpetologyguy, where have you been?!

in #life3 years ago

Okay, I'm sure nobody has been asking that, but I like to believe my absence hasn't gone completely unnoticed by the steemit community. I've logged in here and there, but I haven't posted in almost a month so I figured it was time for at least a brief update of what I've been up to the last few weeks. 

I'm starting a new job (don't worry, I'm not giving up on my namesake)! Our family has been doing fairly well financially; we're making all our mortgage and bill payments, slowly working down our debts, paying off a car, buying food, clothing, etc, but we don't always have a lot of wiggle room. With @ellepdub working a demanding full-time job and myself balancing a part-time herpetology position and being a stay at home dad, we've been looking to beef up our savings a little bit. And of course, we've all seen the value of steem drop quite a bit over the last few months (luckily we haven't relied on steemit income too heavily!). 

These people are way too excited to be paying bills.

For the past couple months or so, @ellepdub has been...let's say "encouraging" me to get an evening/night job. I'll admit, while we do need the income, I've been fighting her on this a bit. Part of this is because the idea of throwing another job into the mix sounded almost a little too overwhelming, but the bigger challenge was finding a job opening that seemed like a good fit for me...especially at night. I really just didn't love the idea of working a job in the food services or anything that had me sitting behind a register or at a desk for hours; I don't mean to disparage those jobs or the people who work them (major props for those of you who do!), I've just become more accustomed to jobs that have me moving around all day and active (museum employee, warehouse worker, produce market stocker), so the idea of taking what seemed like a slower pace/more stationary position just didn't appeal to me. And yes, I'm well aware that might sound quite selfish or even lazy, but I've always been of the mindset that life is too short to be spending your time doing something you don't enjoy. I felt that if I was going to be adding more to my schedule, I had to find the right job for me.

Interestingly enough, the job actually found me! I was skimming facebook a couple weeks ago when a job posting popped up: Evening tour guides wanted. I give tours on occasion at my museum job and I often have a lot of fun doing them, so I was definitely curious to learn more, especially since it was a night position. The position was in colonial Williamsburg, giving nightly ghost tours! I immediately jumped at the chance; I love scary stories and all those ghost hunting television programs, and the idea of walking around Williamsburg at night sounded like a really fun opportunity. And with pretty impressive pay, there really didn't seem to be a downside; I applied immediately. Within a couple hours, I was emailed to come in for an "interview" (less of an interview, more of a ten minute conversation to determine that I was a sane individual), and found out that I essentially had the job, but there was just one obstacle I had to take care of first: I had to obtain a tour guide license from the city of Williamsburg.

Didn't know you need a license to be a tour guide? Me neither. In order to procure a license, I had to pass an exam within a week's time...an extremely detailed exam on the history of Williamsburg. Important people, dates, events, locations; I had to know the name of each building, when it was built/rebuilt, who lived there, etc... No small feat for a biology major who hasn't had a history lesson in over half a decade. It makes sense, of course, that the city would want to be sure that all tour guides know the correct historical material, but good golly was that an unanticipated challenge. So I've spent a lot of the last week studying my butt off with a mediocre study guide, literally trying to learn the entire history of Williamsburg in about 5 days. The most frustrating part? Most of the information I needed to learn for the test wasn't even necessary for the job (which really just requires memorizing local ghost stories and urban legends).

This afternoon, I reported to the Williamsburg police station for my test. I was given the exam...and crushed to realize that much of what was in my study guide wasn't even on the test, and many of the questions pertained to people and events that weren't in the guide...great. After what felt like an eternity of testing (and some guessing), I turned my test in... AND I BARELY PASSED. I needed to get at least an 80% to get a passing grade and I hit 80% on the nose. Again, for a bio major who never excelled in history, I have no regrets about that grade. So as of today, I am an officially licensed Williamsburg tour guide!

I definitely look like someone who just finished a horrible test. (Yes, I shaved the beard!)

I am now studying local stories, lore and experiences to prepare for my first tours (to me, more interesting than the deluge of historical information I just endured!). So what does this mean for my activity level here on steemit? I hope to be posting again more frequently (at least a couple times a week) when I have time to spare. With the weather getting warmer, reptiles and amphibians are getting more active, so I'll be sharing more of my herpetological experiences (our first FrogWatch outing is next week) as well as new research and important studies. And of course, should any fun/interesting experiences or stories arise from the ghost tours, I'll share them here as well! 

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Hey, good to see you are back!
That sounds like a cool job you got there. Telling BS to tourists... :) Well, may be there is even some historical truth among it. Like witch hunting and so on. Who knows... people were pretty weird back in those days.

LOL! I jumped at the chance to be paid to tell creepy stories at night. While there definitely is the ghost portion, a lot of it is really just sharing actual historical information about these sites in Williamsburg. Think of it more as a "dark history" tour; Williamsburg has its share of murder, violence, suicide, betrayal and other events that make for some pretty chilling stories. It even has America's first insane ayslum (the Eastern Lunatic Asylum)! I think just being around some of these sites at night after most people are gone will be really cool!

Perfect! Just the guy I was looking for!

I came across some snakes today and was wondering if you would be able to identify them. I'd Google it, but I figured this would be more fun for everyone!

Here's a photo, taken in the large sand dunes of Florida's eastern shore:

dune_snakes.jpg

Oh man, those are some nice snakes! I have to admit, I'm not as familiar with Florida's snake species, but this looks either like an Everglades racer (based on length and shape) or maybe a species of ground snake, based on color. It's kind of hard to tell from the picture, but I'm going to break out my big guide and see if I can't narrow it down!

Cool. As you can see in the photo, they're fairly long and narrow-bodied. I'd say they were probably 6' long or more. And the location is northern Florida, if any of this helps.

There are a lot of different corn and rat snakes around there that I've seen over the years, but I had not seen ones this size or with that particular color scheme. They're usually a red and tan pattern or just a plain black. Then we have the pygmy rattlers and full-size ones, and the moccasins, of course. These guys were just chilling near the top of the 25-30' dunes on the beach.

There was also a large turtle about 20 feet away from them digging a hole in the sand, then he buried himself for a nap, I suppose. He was tossing sand everywhere while I was trying to focus in on the snakes. Lots of activity out there this afternoon/evening.

Anyway...congratulations on the tour guide job. Sounds like a lot of fun. And welcome back!

Hrmmm that size and shape makes me think some sort of racer then. Whatever it is, its head is really ornate!

Did you happen to get a picture of the turtle?

No, the turtle was a little farther away and I was more intrigued by the snakes. But it was a really dark color, shell and all. Maybe about two feet long. Pretty roundish body and a thick, shorter head. Digging like crazy though. He was throwing that sand pretty high and far. My wife may have gotten a shot of him. I’ll see if I can get it on here tonight.

[EDIT] - Sorry...she didn’t get a picture either.

That's okay! It probably wasn't, but I just have to ask since it kinda fits your description...it didn't look like this did it?

You think maybe a kind of Coachwhip? That would be my guess.

Long time no see! haha that is an awesome story...
Can you give a Tour of anything with a Tour Guide License?
Perhaps start your own Herpetology tour business

Haha while that would be awesome, I am an independent contractor with a particular company. The license really just gives me permission to provide historical information about Wiliamsburg, so it doesn't really apply to the wildlife. I probably could give a tour like that without a license, but I don't think you would see a whole lot of snakes in the city. I still give tours of our collection at the museum on occasion!

Also to give my own independent tours, I'd need to file for my own business license as well.

That is so friggin awesome! Nice job passing the test.
Now go study up on your ghosts. :)

Here we see a group of jazzy ghosts that haunt a cave by the bay
Ghosts.gif

I did think you were being a little bit quiet but I also do everything manually so thought maybe I was just missing your posts, as I don't always check everyone's profiles manually (bad me).

Glad you found an interesting job to supplement the income, I totally agree with you about life being too short to be stuck doing a shitty job just for the monies :) If you can intersperse interesting tour guide experiences with the reptiles, feel free to do so ;D

goatsig

Welcome back! Haunted tour guide sounds like an awesome side gig. I'm a sucker for all that paranormal stuff. I'm sure you'll meet some interesting people, too. Congrats!

I actually totally did miss your posts, glad to see you back! Also, I've got a snake identification question for you, if you're game- someone submitted a snake that's got me stumped in my weekly Nature Identification Thread.

Your new gig sounds like a blast, by the way!

Congrats! That seems like a nice job!

Got a turtle I need some help identifying... I'll get a video and photos shortly.