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June 20, 2003

Mississippi River Delta

Thunder rumbles int he not-so-distant distance. I can hear a bullfrog croaking to my right. Geese argue across the street. I am set up a good 100 meters from our instrument, in the closest patch of shade, on a folding chair, wiping sweat from the bridge of my nose. Crows caw, bugs whirr and hum. Smaller, more pleasant birds chirp and make sounds like plucking a wire. Something groans. A cow?

The thunder rumbles closer, and I can hear some crackling intermixed. Soon, it seems, I will seek shelter from the rain and not the sun.


It's my first work trip, as an official UNAVCO employee. Mississippi River Delta, accomanying one Mr. Chuck Kurnik. Kurnik means chicken coop in Polish. Chuck picked me up around 8:30 AM on Thursday, and we drove to the airport. Departure time: 11:30 AM. I hope there's food on this flight, I said. Me too, he said. We were both too lazy to check. As it turned out, we were served a snack-lunch on our way to our stopover in Houston. Chuck assessed the cart as it came our way. I don't know what we get for lunch, but it looks like it involves Fritos. Oh, good, I said, and we were both excited.

The man controlling the food cart merrily hands us two wrapped plastic plates with our names on them. Oh, Chuck says, I guess I ordered us vegetarian meals.

Chuck had good intentions. But good intensions do not necessarily lead to good food. We did not get Fritos. We did not, of course, get turkey sandwiches. We got one half of a pita pocket, each, a small container of hummus, and a packet of salsa. (???) We also got an apple, instead of the Fritos, and a vegan German chocolate cookie.

It wasn't so bad as you may think. Well, except one part. My apple, a small red delicious, was surprisingly good. Crisp, juicy, bright white inside. I was even going to comment on how surprisingly good it was. Then Chuck bit into his. And spit the bite out onto his plastic plate. Both the bite and the bitten apple were solid brown. Disgusting, I said, and he appologized. Not you, I said, the apple. I'm so sorry you had to be subjected to that.

So went our airplane meal. In Houston, we were greeted at our departure gate by a mariachi band and, since our plane out was delayed due to thunderstorms, diverted to a nearby cafe for a delicious (stale) pretzel. The mustard dispenser only worked for a squirt or so, so the girl working the cafe fixed it. The it worked for another squirt and we decided we didn't really need very much mustard anyway.

There's not a whole lot to say about the surveying. We flew into the heat and humidity of Lafayette, Louisiana, and set up camp in an air-conditioned apartement which we shared with PhD student Zenon and undergraduate John. We had a comfy spot on the carpeted floor for sleeping (we had been advised to bring sleeping bags), and most meals were grouped meals cooked by the field team and eaten in another apartment.

[to be continued.]

[John with GPS. John's a piece of work.]

[Petia at the dump. It's stinky there.]

[Juan and Petia play in the mud.]

[Petia likes to play in the mud.]

[On the bayou.]

[Zenon and Juan nap.]

[Me up close and personal with little froggie, through dirty lense.]

[Zenon and Juan do the shove-the-sampler-into-the-ground dance.]

[Zenon gets rewarded.]

[As does Juan.]

[Ah, that's nice...]


[Scott gets ready to pose for a picture. For some reason, I thought it would be funny to get him putting his shirt back on.]

[Funky cricket.]


[Lizard doing its lizardy-thing.]

[Froggie on a palm.]

[Bigger froggie, in a pond.]


Posted by beth at June 20, 2003 12:03 PM


and she's off on more adventures and taking us along through wonderful words and amusing pictures! i'm so glad that you LOVE to write and LOVE photography! wishing you much happiness on this thing called a "job".

Posted by: wilma, mother of beth at June 23, 2003 6:16 PM

Hey, that looks like an interesting company to work for! I'm glad to see your team understands that fieldwork requires good attitude followed by cold beer to replenish the attitude.

Posted by: billiam at June 24, 2003 11:57 AM

I just clicked on to see if you were continuing writing. I'm so glad you are. I really enjoy living life through your travels.
Love all the picture and stories. Thanks for keeping us entertained.
I hope you are still planning on coming to Cincy with your mom and dad this month. Miss seeing you!

Posted by: Linda Collins at July 2, 2003 4:49 AM

So glad to find you here again. Love the frog pictures. Reminded me of our frog hunt in Redmond. Keep us posted. See you in August.
Aunt Pat

Posted by: Aunt Pat at July 21, 2003 5:01 AM