NOS Mission

Nevada Outdoor School inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.
This is the spot for us to share stories, fun ideas or general musings. When you aren't in here, we hope to see you out there!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Blog!

Our adventure began one year ago today! Since then we've had 3,247 page views from 10 different countries including here in the United States, to Australia, United Kingdom and Canada! Thank you to all of our frequent visitors and keep spreading the outdoor ethics word!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Lorax

Is it March yet?! I'm really excited for this to hit theaters, hopefully it makes it to Winnemucca...

Happy Turkey Day,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Earthcaches on the Playa

Some of you may already be avid geocachers, but for the muggles (non-geocachers) out there…geocaching is a high-tech scavenger hunt where you use a GPS unit to find a hidden container that might be an old Altoid tin with tiny log book or an old ammo container full of goodies to swap. You can find a wealth of information about this worldwide recreation activity on

Nevada Outdoor School recently published two Earthcaches allowing geocachers to follow Tread Lightly! principles as they discover the geology and ecology of the Black Rock Desert! Earthcaches are different than traditional geocaches in a few ways: there is no container to find, no log book to sign and you answer geology-related questions to prove you found the site. However, you can still log your find on and post photos from your visit!

Next time you’re in the Black Rock Desert find our Earthcaches:
A Beach in the Desert: GC2VFKX
Why is that rock black?: GC2VFMW

Happy hunting and please be aware of playa conditions when traveling in the Black Rock Desert, especially this time of year.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Newly Discovered Creature: The Banana Slug

This past weekend a few NOS folks were able to attend an environmental and outdoor education workshop in Little Basin, an area of Big Basin State Park, which is near Santa Cruz, California. The workshop was fun and educational and on our last day we decided to explore the area a bit. I had been to California before, but hadn’t seen the redwoods, and it was one of my coworkers first time in California so we were excited to go exploring. We headed over to the visitor center and decided on a short trail through the redwood forest. Right before we started our hike, Trails mentioned we might come across a banana slug, something I had never heard of growing up in the Northeast. After finding out they are enormous for a slug - up to 10 inches - and bright yellow I was excited to find this new creature, but had doubts that I would be able to find one.

Low and behold about 10 minutes into the hike I stopped short. Right in front of me was a banana slug about 5-6 inches long just hanging out in the middle of the trail. Trails proceeded to ask us if we wanted to kiss it, because apparently it will make your lips numb, but we decided to pass. That got me curious though, about these crazy creatures, which look like something from a fantasy movie, so I decided to do some research.

The banana slug, which is the University of California, Santa Cruz mascot, is actually the second largest species of land slug in the world and can weigh up to as much as a ¼ lb hamburger (The Biogeography of the Banana Slug). The numbing factor has to do with their mucous, which has anesthetic properties when it comes in contact with a wet surface, such as inside a predator’s mouth, or a daring human’s lips. A way to get around this is to roll the slug in the dirt to get rid of the slime, which is a great option of a hungry raccoon, bird, or snake (Banana Slug Biology).

Some other interesting things I learned from The Biogeography of the Banana Slug:
• Banana slugs are mostly found in the Pacific Northwest and love the moist weather, which, because it had been raining all night is probably why we saw about a dozen
• Although they are land animals today, they are a mollusk and evolved from marine snails
• These slugs are pretty much loners, leaving their eggs as soon as they’re laid, and only interacting with other slugs during mating
• Mushrooms are their favorite food and they also like to feast on dead and decomposing plant and animal matter

Although I am new to this part of the country and am fascinated by a creature others may have seen their whole lives, it inspired me to take a closer look at plants and wildlife I’m familiar with. There may be something in your backyard that you don’t know much about, or maybe an animal you’ve seen your whole life; but do you really know why it lives in that environment or why it behaves the way it does? I challenge you to find out a new, interesting fact about a local creature—some things may surprise you!

Be Curious,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Winter Travel

Nothing puts a damper on a winter adventure like getting stuck in the snow. Or sitting for hours on the freeway in an attempt to get over the pass. Or spinning out on black ice. Trust me – I speak from experience… Here are a few items I carry with me during the winter months to prepare for the unexpected.

Water – This is really a year-round item, but it’s important to stay hydrated! Keep in mind, frozen water is tough to drink. A potential solution – don’t leave water in your vehicle overnight.

Food – Your body can survive a surprising amount of time without food (as long as it has water), but why test that. Plus snacks can make a two-hour wait on the freeway more enjoyable.

Warm layers – If you’re stuck in your car for a long period of time, running your heater is a good way to run out of fuel. Stay warm with layers and a blanket instead.

Boots – I recall getting stuck on I-80 for an hour or so in Converse (not a snow-friendly shoe) and was glad to have boots to change into to keep my toes warm.

Gloves – Can be handy (ha!) when spending unexpected time outside your heated car, say putting chains on or shoveling snow. Glove/mitten combos are good for putting chains on when bulky gloves are getting in the way of dexterity.

Ice/snow scraper – Sometimes you just don’t have the five minutes to let your car warm up and thaw the windshield itself. Plus, let’s be honest, your car may be toasty warm when you finally get in it, but it’s not the most eco-friendly solution.

Shovel – Better than having to shovel snow with your hands! I have a collapsible shovel that fits nicely in my emergency tote.

Cat litter – Cat litter took up space in my emergency tote for two years before I put it to use. I parked in a snowy area to go on a snowshoe hike, returned to my car to leave, and the tires just spun in place packing down the snow into a slick surface. I put some cat litter behind each tire and backed right up. I’ll admit I left the cat litter there in the snow, but looking back I should have scooped up the cat litter snow and disposed of it. An alternative to cat litter is sand; it will also give you traction and I wouldn’t feel bad for having left it in a parking area.

Chains – Don’t just carry them, have the correct size for your tires, have them in an accessible place, and know how to put them on. I have an all-wheel drive vehicle and have yet to put on chains, because typically if the road is treacherous enough to require all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles to put on chains the department of transportation would simply close the road. However, get caught traveling without chains and you may look forward to a ticket that will probably cost you more than purchasing tire chains in the first place.

In addition to winterizing your emergency kit, there are a few maintenance things you can do to ready your vehicle: make sure your wiper blades are in good condition, use windshield washer fluid that is anti-freeze, and make sure your tires are in good condition.

Truck bonus – my first big experience driving in snow was when I lived in Truckee for the winter. My Toyota Tacoma’s truck bed was full of snow and I had great traction all winter. However, the next winter driving up to Kirkwood I spun out on black ice. I was baffled because little cars without 4x4 were zipping by me. Turns out the bed of my truck was too light (no bed full of snow). Sand bags are one way to add weight to the bed or your truck and to maintain traction to all four wheels.

Safe travels,