Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Notes from the road, part 3
I was actually heading for central Missouri, deciding to skip the western Iowa and Nebraska pops until a later time, but because I misread the map I went too far west, to Des Moines. As long as I was there, went to a Cubs AAA baseball game (where I sat next to an entire bachelor party, which was passing an inflatable sheep around to all the hot women to be signed, and it didn't bother me at all that they ignored me b/c I was kind of unshowered and scary), set up camp in the pitch dark in Walnut Woods S.P.
Missouri, Sunday and Monday. Missouri was a bust. In fact, from Des Moines to home I didn't see a SINGLE basswood tree in the wild. I will refrain from expressing my frustration too much - I spent a long day raging about this to myself - but to all the botanists who told me to just wander the countryside and Observe and Stumble Across Populations, it DOES NOT WORK. I thought hard about it and decided not to waste time and gas and to only go places I was reasonably sure I'd find basswood. Well, it turned out even those places didn't have any. However, I spent an hour near Columbia, Missouri collecting what I thought was basswood and turned out to be &$#*!@$& mulberry. ARGH. Tired, furious, frustrated, and desperately in need of a shower, I drove to St. Louis and got a hotel room. Vented at the husband on the phone for a while, showered, collapsed into bed, got up and showered again, then headed south to find an obscure location near Fredericktown. A long drive on a gravel road later, I failed to find either basswood or the forest road I was supposed to turn on, gave up and went to Illinois. Camped Monday night at Horseshoe Lake in southern IL, saw my first baldcypress swamp.
Illinois - My last chance to find trees was in Shawnee National Forest and surrounding areas. Again: nothing. I failed to find the exact site I was looking for, and being so close to home made me itch to just give up and get back. I did a bit of touristing, seeing Cairo (a town slowly decaying into history), Fort Defiance S.P. (oh, State Park System, you have dropped the ball on this one) and the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, Cave-in-Rock, and then that was enough. I turned for home and got there in about 5 hours, arriving Tuesday evening with my truck full of laundry and leaves.
It's good to be home. I don't want to have to leave again but I depart next Monday.