Wednesday, June 04, 2008
O, blessed, blessed Internet access, how I adore thee.
I sit in a hotel room in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The goal is to finish the draft of the poster tonight in air conditioned comfort. It is hot and sticky here. I'm all damp and drippy and gasping for air, while everyone else looks totally comfortable or maybe occasionally fans themselves and says "Woo!" I easily "borrowed" wireless access in the parking lot, looked up cheap hotels online, and decided that the one where I was lurking was affordable enough. Of course when I checked in and tried to access the wireless legitimately, it wouldn't let me connect. Luckily, the nav system in the car told me where to find an OfficeMax and an ethernet cable, and 20 minutes later I was up and running. I adore my nav system. The sweaty leather seats I could do without.
I read the news earlier today that Obama has claimed the nomination semi-officially. I'm filled with hometown pride and wear my orange Illinois hat (and Illinois license plate, and Illinois accent) for all to see. Not that anyone here knows that Chicago is in Illinois. (I'm not kidding, either.)
The memory card in my camera became defective and I lost two days of pictures, so just imagine to yourself that Missouri and Arkansas were really gorgeous and hilly, lots of grass and oak trees and cattle. The area around Springfield MO was about as pretty as I've seen anywhere. In Arkansas I saw my first chicken... farms? plants? What is the correct term for acres of sheet-metal buildings with fans set into the walls and a Tyson sign out front? Chicken plants smell BAD and make me very sad. At least the cattle get to enjoy a short life of ambling around, eating grass, watching traffic. The chicken thing is just depressing.
I also saw my first paper mills. They also smell bad, like sour cabbage.
I drove very briefly into Texas at Texarkana. Down the main street, on the west side you're in Texas and on the east you're in Arkansas. Some sort of city hall or courthouse straddles the border. Campaign signs for an upcoming election featured men named Jimmy Bob who wore cowboy hats. It's a different world, I tell you what.
I have collected four populations of basswood so far, in Nebraska, Missouri, and twice in Arkansas. I struck out in Louisiana, which probably accounts for my general resentment towards that state. There is only so long I'm willing to drive aimlessly; I will try to find an expert later who can ship me some samples. I have to say that other than certain populations having white undersides on the leaves, I'm not seeing much difference between "species".
I am heading north tomorrow to look for trees in the loess hills, an intriguing landform of lumpy bluffs facing the Mississippi River floodplain. I have reason to believe that I'll be successful, and then I head east to Alabama. I'm making good time and am more or less enjoying myself. Now if only I can get this poster done!
The flickr set for this trip so far is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bintie/sets/72157605437297532/