Monday, August 18, 2014

A Much-delayed Pick-me-up

You're welcome.

Mermaids and Manatees

I recently visited my dad in Florida, and among other things, went to Homosassa Springs State Park. Besides being the "land where the wild peppers grow", it also plays permanent home to 4 female manatees and temporary home in the winter to hundreds more. The manatees graze on lettuce several times during the day, and they're pretty huge.
A fun fact I learned was that manatees, despite being so large, actually have a very small percentage of body fat. The reason their run-ins with speed boats are so deadly is that their lungs are just under the surface of their thick skin on their backs, so when propellers hit them, they literally cut into the manatees' lungs.
Homosassa Springs has a nice assortment of local, native animals, in addition to a retired movie star hippo who residents petitioned to let remain in the park.

  Out of the 11 alligators on site, I took notice of this guy in particular who I nicknamed Ol' Stubby.

A Brief Outing to Elder Covered Bridge

It's a bridge, it's covered. What more do you want? (Also potentially a great swimming hole near it.)

Research Culture Shock

In May I visited Auburn for a walk on the wild side, or rather, on the "soul" side... the one where you pronounce the word soil as soul.

I was a visiting speaker for an erosion control workshop, where I talked about my rain garden monitoring and modeling research project. In return, I got to bear witness to an interesting niche research area I didn't really realize existed and learn about erosion control practices used in construction projects, which is incredibly relevant to my research area.

Not surprisingly, they are all pretty easy to install in ways that cause them to not work at all.

The highlight of the Auburn campus was Samford Hall, which I'm sure goes onto all their admissions material and postcards, and the highlight of my talk was when I ended it with "Go Dawgs" and didn't get booed off stage. (Little did I know that the tragic story of War Eagle took place during an Auburn-Georgia game... oops!)

Oysters, Oaks, and Tides

.. or, a perfect trip to the Georgia coast!
I went on a field trip to Savannah to check out some potential ecological restoration sites during this past Spring semester, and since I'm running -way- behind with my timeline, here's a brief summary.

We visited the Wormsloe Historic site, looking at pine beetle damage in their loblolly pines and admiring the lovely buildings from the Old South, including their weird, creepy statues..
.. and the Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island, where they have some massive erosion issues due to tides. We also stopped by the beach, where they have these large hurricane tide-measuring sticks.

But the most striking image of all was the mossy-covered oaks. (This particular scene is from Skidaway Institute's Jay Wolf Trail.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Snowpocalypse + Icepocalypse 2014: A Retrospective

It was a cold winter... just how I like it. I've enjoyed a cool spring season, only having just turned on the A/C now in June, and I thank the winter for that. We got a few snows in the South, and not just light dustings! Here's my car to prove it.
Okay, so that's not that impressive.. how about a snowman?
Alright, so there's no snow on the driveway he's sitting on, and the Jaguar he's blocking has been snow-graffiti'd. What about this snow that stuck on the road for multiple days??

At the very start of it all, I visited Toccoa Falls, and even IT was frozen over (or at least the water in its pool)!

That's all the photographic evidence I have to show for our multiple snows. There were lots of carefully thought-out drawings on cars (as the one on the Jaguar) and some guy named Richard wrote his nickname in the snow on top of one of the UGA buildings. Fortunately, I didn't experience the Great Atlanta Snag, wherein the highways iced over and completely scrambled rush-hour traffic. (Atlanta traffic is hellish enough on its own, as is driving on ice. Put them together, and it's a perfect recipe for utter chaos and disaster.) I'm also fortunate that there's no photo evidence of me sledding down a hill in a laundry basket.

The cost of gas to heat the house was out the roof, so I set onto some crafty projects wherein I sewed old t-shirts into rugs. The moral of this story is that I would like more winters like this one, and I am happy that I chose to live within walking distance of my office, perilous though the walk was a few days.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Shoals of the Skull

... or rather, of the Scull. (I suppose it has a slightly different meaning when you spell it that way.)

I'm playing a little bit of catch-up with these next few posts, so the pictures will not reflect the weather we're experiencing in the South right now (90 degrees and humid). Consider it a happy little flashback to the Winter of the Polar Vortex.

Anyways, Evan and I ventured down to Scull Shoals, a former mill town, now ghost town located at the very end of a State Forest road. It was quite cold, and the stream through the town was mostly frozen.

There are remnants of the company store, power plant, bridges and foundations, and the chimney of the manager's house. (Fun fact: the manager's well was located just downhill of his outhouse! Hmm.. cholera much?)

There were lots of interesting old trees, and likely some great old variety wildflowers this spring, though we didn't verify that. Something crazy that I saw for the first time ever was a Browse Line: in the following picture, you can see the distinct line in the trees below which there's no greenery left because the deer have eaten it all to that height. This phenomenon was fairly eery for me when I first saw it.

And plenty of lichen for Evan to add to his Wild Man costume, which is perpetually in the works. But more on that another day.