Monday, July 4, 2011

Day -251

Happy 4th of July.  Ideally, I'd be at a baseball game with a nice cool beverage.  In reality I'm at work, moving tiny amounts of clear liquid from one tube to another.  The good news is that I'm working on this most hallowed day because I spent the last week in the field! Hurrah!

The fish that I study lives along the entire eastern coast so once a year I get to drive from Florida all the way up to Maine in what I like to pretend is a warp-speed thru-hike.  There are many similarities. 

There's the 'green tunnel' of highway 95.  Driving 4,000 miles in 7 days along with fishing at 6 sites is definitely an endurance event.  

We sleep wherever we crash--rest stops, camp grounds, friends' houses.  On this trip I hung my hammock between trees in Maine and between the support beams inside an old cigar factory.

We obsess about food.  My lab mate and I made up songs about the food we were looking forward to eating ("Chimichanaga chimichanga chimmichanga, yes yes yes") and experienced extreme exhaustion while always pushing to the next site.  ("Are we supposed to be going north or south?")

We encountered wildlife.  I saw my first bear along highway 64 in eastern North Carolina.  It didn't look scary at all tossing its head back and forth watching traffic. 

We experience 'road magic'.   All of our fishing sites were easy except our last one in southern Virginia.  We had to abandon that one and move down into NC--which we'd never fished before so we were not familiar with the area.  We got down to the Outer Banks around 11 pm and realized that it was 4th of July weekend and we'd never find a hotel with 1. Vacancy or 2. rates < $200.  No Bueno.  We drove inland a bit and realized that we weren't going to find another hotel within 50 miles.  We pulled off at a gas station to buy ice for our fish.  There were some cottages behind the gas station.  I said "Hey, that looks like a hotel, but there's no sign or office"  My lab mate called his girlfriend who did a quick search of the internet for us (She's a keeper, it was like midnight and I'm sure he woke her up)  "There's a 'White Store Hotel' somewhere out there, but nothing else for miles" he relayed.  I pointed out the cottages and my lab mate agreed to drive around back and check it out.  At that exact moment, the house keeper was getting something out of the utliity closet.  I spotted her, jumped out of the van (It may have still been moving), flashed a smile and showed just a little leg.  In that manner we procured the LAST ROOM EVER IN NORTH CAROLINA for a mere $70.  The housekeeper didn't have access to the office or even a room key to give us but she let us in and made us promise to pay on our way out in the morning.  We did.

All that fun work has put me behind in my dreary-lab-work.  So here I am.  Ahh, the centrifuge beckons.

Fig. 1.  Field work is fun.

Fig. 2.  We study mummichogs, they love dogfood and will gladly swim into a trap to get it.

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