Thursday, February 8, 2018

More Mobile Art

As in, art in Mobile (moh-BEEL), not art on your phone.

I'm not sure the Dude "roll tides" as this street art would suggest, but it was still cool to see in downtown Mobile.

Part of a larger street art/graffiti work on Dauphin Street. Never forgett-i.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Mile-High Trip Without the High

ATL en route to DEN
 I went to Denver to visit the bro and sis-in-law in January and had a pretty good time.

View from the Capitol dome
Denver and the surrounding Front Range cities didn't look like what I was expecting, being much more sprawly and spread out than the cozy mountain Alp-style towns I had envisioned, but I suppose that makes sense given their Western history and unconstrained locations (a.k.a., no reason to confine themselves or build up rather than out). There were lots of young people in Denver, which meant there was a lot of great cuisine and drinks, and lots of active, fitness-minded people, which was a nice break from Mobile. Because it's kinda spread out and still pretty car-centric, Denver doesn't feel like a big city... until you realize how many people there are everywhere you try to go, and then it's clear that it -is- a big city.
Rare rose onyx marble in Capitol that used up all the world's supply

Capitol ceiling

Official mile high marker: lowest metal marker, with original site engraved in the middle

I had an action-packed few days, on the first day seeing the Capitol building and the official "one mile" marker (and 2 previously official ones) on the Capitol steps (and learning that Colorado has 2 of the most boring state songs ever); visiting Red Rocks; going on the Friday night Art Walk and sampling tasty vegan curry from a food truck.
Official summer sport of Colorado: pack burro racing
Red Rocks amphitheatre

Rock formation at Red Rocks

CCC memorial marker to commemorate the Civilian Conservation Corps workers who built the amphitheatre

On day two, hitting up the Free Day at the Art Museum (where I was particulary struck by how many people there are in Denver); visiting Washington Park; enjoying a local tea house.

RMNP panorama
Day three, passing through Boulder to go hiking at Rocky Mountain National Park to Bear Lake, Dream Lake, and ultimately Emerald Lake (braving possibly 60mph wind gusts? and 20 degree base temperatures without the wind and lots of clouds and snow that blocked the views of all the surrounding peaks); Lowdown Brewery for games and drinkies.
Black-billed magpie
Last day: brunch at the infamous Snooze with nary a wait; wandering around Cherry Creek State Park and seeing black-billed magpies, a nesting pair of bald eages (!!), and deer.
Frozen Cherry Creek reservoir (?)
I'd definitely give Denver another visit sometime.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Southern Winter

Things got a little chilly in the South this December and January, reminiscent of the Polar Vortex of 2013-2014... which I like.

And when I say chilly, I mean there were days where the high was below freezing, which is a big deal for the South. (Heck, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Mobile all got snow! Cue the massive freaking out.) The nice part about winter in the South is that even when it's cold out (and maybe even -especially- when it's really cold out), the skies are clear and the sun shines bright, unlike the gloomy grey European winters we all know and love.

 Obligatory picture of the Walnut Street Bridge in Chattavegas.

Mushroom Rock on Signal Mountain, that Evan and I took a very chilly ~20 degree hike to.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Beignets and Krampusnacht

New Orleans, round two.

Here are the numbers:
1 - nights stayed in New Orleans
2 - hours drive from Mobile to NOLA
2 - Second annual Beignet fest.. essentially just an excuse to eat beignets and listen to music.
3 - Neighborhoods visited (maybe more like 4 or 5, actually), including Bywater, the Garden District, Central Business District, Audubon, City Park, and everywhere in between that our Uber Lyft or St. Charles trolley path took us.
2 - delicious restaurants eaten at: Ethiopian and Costa Rican, both on Magazine Street
3 - cool bars visited: Parleaux Beer Lab (microbrewery), Bar Redux, Circle Bar
1 - first annual Krampus fest
2 - universities next to each other visited in the Garden District (Tulane and Loyola)
1 - crazy man talking to us on the St. Charles streetcar
1000 - number of fog/clouds

It was a foggy day when Evan and I arrived in New Orleans, which ended up being the perfect setting for the first annual Krampus parade in Bywater. We stayed at the Hotel Modern in Lee Square, infamous for its undercover removal of the Robert E. Lee statue this year.
Lee Square, minus Lee
We ate delicious Ethiopian food for dinner and breakfast at Surrey's cafe on Magazine Street; rode the St. Charles streetcar through the Garden District; walked around Audubon park, Tulane, and Loyola; and had a crazy man insist that we too were "other folks from Annapolis" a.k.a. FBI or something.

Audubon Park was a lovely place to walk, and we saw several bird species there, including mallards, wood ducks, coots, and whistling ducks (all pictured above). Tulane University had a nice campus; it even had a study break party in its quad with snow available to play in (the palm tree with ferns was also on campus, for contrast):

We didn't hit up the Breaux Mart; I just thought it was a funny name, especially since there were so many breauxs heading in for a beer run (or at least that's what I like to think).

Friday, December 15, 2017

My first animated GIF

... which I refuse to pronounce "jif."

Melanoides tuberculata, or red-rimmed melania, for your viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Further Nature-inspired Art and Amusements

One post wasn't enough for the entertaining signs and amusements I've seen around Louisiana and Alabama. So without further ado, here are some of the more "nature-inspired" things I saw around.
Barnacle-covered driftwood on Dauphin Island, Alabama

Magnolia flower from outside my apartment

Cypress knees from our lab aquarium covered with dried (probable) cyanobacteria

African iris (Dietes) planted around Baton Rouge

Water hyacinth covering the swamp at Buffalo Cove

Chanterelle mushroom found near the office and its light spore print

American beautyberry, one of my favorites

Small snake in the middle of the log.. hard to tell from the pic, but I think it was a water snake (Nerodia)

Roseate spoonbill feather that probably belonged to the bird that I saw fly off as we approached in the boat

Giant crawdad statue at the LSU Hatchery

Pumpkin butt scarecrow

Ducks at the LSU lakes (mallards + muscovy)

The total (partial) eclipse, viewed on a sheet of paper through my binoculars

Monday, December 11, 2017

Baton Rouge: Life in the Big Greasy

I'm trying to make "The Big Greasy" stick as a nickname for Baton Rouge. Despite the fact that Baton Rouge is generally cleaner than it's more cosmopolitan neighbor New Orleans (The Big Easy), Baton Rouge's relationship (dependence) on the oil/gas/chemical industries is on full display with its skyline as you cross the main I-10 bridge. It's half city skyline to the south and half Exxon refinery to the north.
 Anyways, this post is just a mish-mash of some of the different things I took pictures of in BR.

I didn't believe some redneck telling his little kid that Huey P. Long was buried under the massive statue in front of the capitol building, but it turns out that guy was right. (Geaux Tigers!) Despite ol' Huey's stated desire for a small, simple grave marker, he got a whopping statue on a pedestal with tended flower displays. (He allegedly requested a very simple grave, so maybe this was another middle finger from his political enemies.. but maybe not.)

And of course, here's the capitol itself (not to be confused with the Old State Capitol that I shared a picture of previously), the tallest state capitol in the US as of 2017.

View from the top, of the grounds below, with Huey P. Long's memorial in the hourglass-like shape in the middle.

Three ships side-by-side here: the USS Kidd on the left, whatever that boat that played the Black Pearl in Pirates of the Caribbean is called, and one of the casino riverboats (Belle, I think) on the right in the distance.

Hilarious old photo of a researcher from the 1970s measuring trees at one of our sites in the Atchafalaya River basin. No shirt, no problem.

Great example of Cajun ingenuity on the swamp: just work with what you've got (especially if what you've got is an old school bus and some empty drink syrup barrels), and voila, you've got your floating houseboat/fish camp!

Zoom in close to the pier, and you can see a logjam's worth of lumber strained out of the river (unintentionally).

Long-horn cow at the LSU Rural Life Museum.. definitely a place worth checking out, and not just for the cow.

Someone decided to speak for our lab truck and declare to the world, "I'M DIRTY".

And speaking of Cajun ingenuity, just DIY your own home repairs: grab a bobcat and rip up that annoying concrete-slab driveway.