finally, rest for the guano-covered weary.

I've been having quite the busy past few weeks. I haven't exactly been absent from my computer, but it does feel strange to sit in front of this eerie blue glow for more than 15 minutes.

I've also been well-educated in the nature of bats since my last post, as well.

For example, did you know that:

1) Bats eat mosquitoes?
2) They make cute little chirping sounds when they're disturbed...and high-pitched shrieking noises when they're ANGRY?
3) They look like burnt chicken nuggets when you find one dead outside a building in the blistering heat?
4) They poop...A LOT.

Yes, I've had quite the encounter with bats in the past 2 weeks. We've been working with an entertainment company to document a local company that "evicts" animals from the dwelling-places of humans. Y'know, they'll relocate (but won't shoot) that pesky Cotton Mouth in your front yard.

So one of the big jobs that this local company has is to get rid of some bats in a well-known Victorian house in downtown Little Rock. And by "some" bats, I mean thousands. We followed our heroic bat-removers on their scout, through their "prevention" process (installing bat-doors and caulking windows, cracks, anywhere bats can get in from the outside), and their renovation process (cleaning up bat poo, putting in new insulation, repairs).

Our "talent" consisted of the owner of the company, Mike, and a few of his employees - Tommy, Nelson, and Bubba. Yeah, every company in Arkansas has to have a Bubba, right? They were (and still are) awesome. Laid back, funny, down-to-earth fellas who shy as far away from drama as possible. They're heartwarming, hardworking, and incredibly tan - due to days out in the sun chasing after raccoons, repairing damages to roofs caused by squirrels, and rescuing wounded critters.

But the most challenging part of it all was the heat. We reached highs surpassing 100 this week - which meant heat advisory and a stay-indoors-past-1PM policy. Unfortunately, the high of 99 last Friday meant absolutely nothing.

I started out last Friday morning by hopping in a car with our executive producer on our way to Dardanelle at 7:30AM. Our mission: to document the adventures of Tommy and Bubba in a Presbyterian church filled with bats. The guano falling from the ceiling had caused a stench so bad they had to cancel services. AUW to the rescue!

By the time our day was over, I had been physically pressed the most since the beginning of that week. I'd climbed a 40 foot ladder (I'm not quite the fan of heights) to follow Bubba and Tommy onto the roof to shoot them installing bat doors. I videotaped the end result of spray-foam hardening in an opening while bats had tried to get out some time ago: bat skeletons and gross orange stuff.

I had also fit my upper torso into the attic of the church, later that afternoon, for approximately 8-10 minutes. The temperature ranged anywhere from 120 to 150 degrees. Drawing close to the tiny entrance in the ceiling caused whatever body part was nearest it to immediately perspire. I'd say that part was pretty dangerous - at least for me. I had simply perched myself inside to make sure Tommy, Bubba, and Tim would not pass out and fall through the ceiling.

And last, but not least, right before we wrapped, my last shot was in the space beneath the bell tower of the church, a narrow room with a high ceiling. Its flooring was filled with a mixture of 4 inches of guano and insulation. I met this mixture with an unsteady hand as I hoisted myself and my camera into the space. But at this point I had already had guano fall into my hair, stepped in it, accidentally wipe it on my face...yeah, gross.

All that to was still fun. It's not every day I get to be in a small room with bats flying inches from my face, waving a camera around to try to capture their irratic circling and high-pitched squeals on tape. I'm hopeful that we'll get picked up. This ride has been amazing.

And if you've never seen a bat in real life before...just think: flying chicken nuggets. ;)