Monday, May 24, 1999

Family Hawaii Trip

I am unsure of the original date of this report, captured on my Newton. When I research it further, it's official date will be corrected.

- Dawn on the Windward Side of Oahu:
- It has been hard to get all the crew awake, even though it is nearly noon Texas time. Yesterday was a long day, getting up early to catch a plane at the new airport. Everyone makes fun of my paranoia, but I would much rather be too early to catch a flight than too late.
- We hopped 70 Dallas and then boarded a 777 for Honolulu. I don't think there is muck to be said for long trans-oceanic flights except to say that they allow you to do things otherwise impossible.
- Mary Ann made our room reservation at a little resort condo on the other side of The island of Oahu from the airport and the big hotel towers of Waikiki beach so we spent the afternoon hours from our arrival driving around the edge of the island looking at she various beaches
- We stopped a Hanauma Bay beach and unloaded our snorkeling gear. It was a fun couple of hours watching the brightly colored fish and the eels and giant sea turtles.
- After a little fumbling with the maps we made it to Schrader 's Windward Resort. the condo was a 3 bedroom bungalow with the back porch right at the high tide line with a couple of full sized palm trees coming up through holes in the floor and ceiling. None of us were sufficiently energetic to even call for pizza delivery So I just sat out on the porch (they are called lanai here) and watched the catamaran and the outrigger canoe tied up just after feet away. The mountains across the Koolua Bay were a quiet peaceful contrast to the stress of Debra's broken contact lense and the fact that we were 5 people with 5 different agenda's for tomorrow.
- Waiting in the lanai at the Arizona Memorial
- This morning has been pleasant. Of course I woke before dawn, but that just gave me time to listen to the first bird of the morning give its crisp tea-cuacua calls as the first hint of light arrived I went out to sit on the wicker chair under the lanai and was surprised that the low tide had arrived and the boats were all resting on a mud flat. It was fun to sit with Mary Ann and watch the birds and the crabs and the two men in their little fishing boat run the net and collect their catch.
- The breakfast was typical complimentary style other than the guava and pineapple juice and then we were off to obtain eyesight for my daughter. Windward Mall Lenscrafters called back to Austin, confirmed her perscription and gave her a couple of pairs, all for no charge. Friendly place.
- Killing time in Nanakuli
- The day was spent at the Arizona Memorial and flew hitting the big Swap meet at the stadium where everyone but me spent more than their budget. I bought a Pepsi.
- We then had to kill a couple of hours before the Paradise Cove Luau, so we drove over to Nanakuli and The more adventurous of the party went swimming while I relaxed in the shade.
- Morning with the birds
- Last night's Paradise Cove luau was enjoyed by all. The two hours before the food and the main show had something to keep most people busy. I enjoyed the crashing surf on the rocks and general people-watching. Mary Ann and Debra took advantage of the shops. Thomas spent quite a bit of time (and money) in the drink line trying out concoctions of tropical fruits with little umbrellas in them. I certainly hope he never takes up alcohol. There were also craft booths and faux tattoos and skill games. The events built up to the unearthing of the pig and the meal, with variations on hula as entertainment while we ate.
- We packed this morning and drove counter clockwise around the island in search of good beaches. Near the north part of the island we stopped and snorkeled for a while spotting lots of sea life and getting a nice sunburn. We had a small scare when it appeared that Thomas had lost his wallet, a problem these days when they won't let you on the airplane without a picture id, but it was finally located.
- We continued our quest, now looking for a good beach wich breakers for swimming. Thomas wanted to find the Bonsai pipeline he had seen in the movies, and we tried, but the road we thought circled the island turned into a private road and with three maps that didn't quite match up with reality, we ended up on the west side of the island with not much time before our flight out. Everyone but me got wet at Makaha beach where they really enjoyed the big waves.
- A quick beach shower and we headed to the airport to catch an inter island hop over to Kona on the Big Island. We arrived in time, but in the confusion Stephanie lost her expensive sunglasses, an emotional tragedy.
- But, we caught the plane and arrived in Kona. Our accomodations were at Volcano, about 100 miles away, but we stopped for supper and replacement sunglasses at Wal-mart. Then Thomas realized that he had lost his wallet at the Wendy's and we raced back there. It had been found, and they had put it in the safe.
- After a two hour drive,( Chorus:"...,A two hour drive." to the tune of Gilligans Island), we arrived at our nice two storey house with a fireplace ( it did get cool) and room for everybody.
- We slept late, and then took the loop around the Kilauea volcano caldera in Volcano National Park. The smells were very familiar from our Yellowstone trips, but this was lava country.
- After a late lunch at the Volcano House overlooking the caldera, we took a break for afternoon tea at the place we stayed. This was an event loved by the females of our party, but I stayed out in the minivan reading a fascinating book I had picked up about Tsunamis.
- We healed back into the park and after a short hike through the rainforest and an old lava tube, we healed down the Chain of Craters road.
- The volcanoes have many craters. This road roughly follows a string of them from the main Kilauea Caldera to the ocean. Over its 20 mile length, it dropped 4000 feet. About 4 miles from the lava flow, the road was cut off by an older lava flow and we had to park there.
- The enormous steam plume created where the lava flows into the ocean was the main attraction. Thomas was out of the van before I had it parked. and ignoring all the warning signs, was nearly running off onto the lava flow. When the rest of us followed, reaching a little past the marked trail, he finally came back to join us.
- The length of the hike and the approaching sunset could not put a brake on his desire to go see the lava, so in spite of sage advise from his elders, Thomas and Stephanie took one of our two flashlights and headed out. Momma called out as they left, "Only 15 minutes out then come back." The rest of us tried to find a comfortable place to sit on the jagged lava rock to wait.
- We waited.
- We waited some more.
- The sun went down. It got dark. The lava path down the mountain and the base of the plume started to glow red with their own heat. From our position 3 miles away, it was an awe inspiring sight.
- Two hours later, we were still waiting, shining our little AA battery flash light at all returning parties, hoping that the next one would be our prodigals. Some of them were irritated at me for shining a light in their eyes. Others were oh so grateful for finding a light to steer by on the confusing black terrain.
- I soon started to worry about the three of us and our ability to make it back with our little flashlight Once we started moving from our waiting spot, I realized just how difficult it was to navigate on the flow at night. I lost all of my bearings after travelling 50 feet.
- The park service had placed a blinking light near the parking lot for lost hikers and that was useful. We finally noticed another party watching the steam plume from the end of the marked trail and once we reached them it was a simple matter of following from one cone to the next all the way back to the parking lot and a walking surface where you didn't have to watch where you placed every step.
- Once in the car I grabbed the other cell phone and tried to call Thomas. There was no signal. The phones were useless out here. They couldn't call for help if they were in trouble. And there was nothing I could do but wait.
- Several more parties returned from the plume as Mary Ann relocated the minivan to shine the head lights in the right direction and Debra used the little flashlight to be a light house up at the end of the lava. I had my GPS and made navigation marks with the intent of taking it, fresh batteries for the flashlight, and water to go out to look for them if they didn't show.
- Waiting with Debra, we watched and listened as another party came over the hill. They had one weak flash light. The voices sounded right and it was soon clear that it was them. Thomas called out, "I'm sorry." I yelled back, "You'd better be!"
- Stephanie was exhausted and dehydrated. Debra made a dash to the car and quickly returned with water bottles.
- Everyone was safe and uninjured except for sore feet and a couple of minor scrapes. There had been quite a few sincere prayers from them and us and nothing was damaged except perhaps some youthful over confidence. There was a general agreement that with water, good flashlights for everyone and my GPS, we would like to try it again.
- Tuesday
- After sleeping late, we went over to Chateau Kilauea for a formal breakfast. This is Slow food, with the emphasis on fine china and the dining experience. The food was light but good, in several courses.
- The next stop was the Black Sand Beach for snorkeling. This was also the home of the Hawksbill Sea Turtle and one large specimen was sunning himself on the beach.
- After several missed phone calls, Mary Ann arranged for a helicopter tour of the volcano, so off to Hilo we went.
- With five of us, it took two flights. It was a narrated view of Hilo and the farms and the lava flows, with progressively more destruction as we approached the active lava flow.
- We circled the plume where the glowing lava was being washed by the surf. The pilot was careful to keep clear of the plume because in addition to the steam, the explosive combination of sea water and lava produced hydrochloric acid and other nasties in the cloud.
- We circled low over the lava tube, looking down into the underground lava flow where the roof of the tube had collapsed. The rock had a sullen orange glow. The lava itself was brighter, almost cheery in its heat.
- Following the smoke vents up the mountain, the white smoke showing steam, the grey smoke, other gasses cooked out of the rock, we reached the crater. It was a cinder cone with its mouth filled with steam and gasses, its floor totally obscured.
- Heading back to Hilo, we looked down at the chain of wafer falls that made a black stair step from the shoulder of the mountain down to the bay.
- We ate at Hennessey's on the water's edge and headed home. Everyone was happy with the ride, but in what seems to be the theme of this trip, all the lost sleep ended up in lost tempers, always a peril in group vacations.
- Wednesday
- In spite of our intent to get up early, we all slept late. The day went lazy. Thomas lost his sunglasses. Stephanie lost her film, but found it again.
- We circled the island, stopping at scenic vistas of the blue, blue ocean and hiking over to see some spectacular long water falls.
- We stopped at the beach at Waikola for our last minute swim before catching the plane. True to form, Debra lost her prized rose ring in the sand and was not able to find it before we had to leave.
- Arriving at Maui, we took Highway 340 around to Honokeana Cove Condos near Lahaina. While this looked like the most direct route on the map, it was actually 20+ miles of twisty cliff-hugging one-lane road. While I enjoy steering wheel wrestling, I'm not sure my passengers were happy.
- Once we reached the area it proved to be well developed and our place had a wonderful view over the cove and snorkeling beach just a few steps from the door.
- Thursday
- Mutany day--nobody really wanted to do any of our pre-planned activities so we didn't. The kids rented boogie boards and played on a big-wave beach down the road. Mary Ann snorkeled the Cove. I picked up a Mitchner novel from the condo's bookshelf and read that. It was a relaxing day.
- Friday
- Up at dawn, to drive down to the harbor and catch an excursion boat to Molacini atoll. On the way out, the water was perfect, but we were beset by Maui snow--the well-carbonized chaff from the sugar cane processing plant on the island. At the atoll, the water was exceptionally clear, over a hundred feet, and the fish and the Moray eel and the octopus were there to be chased by the tour photographer. We left a few minutes early due to the increasing waves and wind, but we stopped over a different reef on the way in and watched sea turtles, huge ones, come to the surface for air.
- We headed back to the condo to change clothes, but every one of us promptly fell asleep.
- Supper time, we headed over into Lahaina to eat at Bubba Gumps and to buy the required Hard Rock Cafe/Maui shirts as gifts.
- Saturday
- Leaving day. Mary Ann and I got up early to snorkel the cove for a little while. I saw another moray eel and a variety of other fish. The coral were very colorful.
- After breakfast, pancakes with coconut syrup, it was time to load up and check out.
- That duty done, we headed across the island to take the Hana road. This was the rain-forest side of the island, and the road was another, cliff-hugger. While easier than the first road we took coming to Maui, this was still a road replete with 1912 vintage one lane bridges and numerous places where yield signs dictated where the road was too narrow for traffic to pass each other. This was a good place for waterfalls, but as driver, I spent most of the time watching the often Picasso-inspired center lines on the road.
- Hana has an intresting fine-grained black sand beach. Thomas called it a brown sand beach, because it was indeed a mix. Off on one end, we saw a man build an interesting sand castle with tall sharp spires purely by dribbling the sandy water to build up the peaks.
- We retraced back along the same twisty route, stopping to take pictures of waterfalls and beautiful valleys. Near Wailuka, there was a windy point that appeared to the local surfer and wind-surfer spot. Off to the right, surfers paddled and rode the big waves. Off to the left, the wind-surfers were racing at what appeared to be 40 miles per hour directly at the rocky beach, only to pivot at the last minute and tack back out into the ocean for another run.
- With time to spare, we turned in the rental minivan and boarded for LA. Only on board did I discover what was lost. The Avis people lost the key to their minivan.
- Sunday
- LAX, at least the part we are trapped in, is a very boring place.

Saturday, May 15, 1999

Galveston Seaweed Landfall

May 15, 4pm , high tide on he shore of Galveston Island. This was the seawall area, with families and couples and ambitious surfers taking advantage of the beach and the sun and the water. I was up on the fifth floor of the San Luis looking out over the water between sessions of plot work on a new novel, when off in the distance, I saw three odd-colored brown patches in the gulf. I watched from time to time, and abruptly, I realized that the closest patch was close. It was huge, about 3 acres in size, and it was going to come ashore right here.

I grabbed the binoculars and took a closer look at the brown patch and the people watching it. It just missed the breakwater to the left. The patch was oval, enlongated as the waves started breaking up the edge closest to the shore. The wind and the tides were moving the patch to the right, and inwards towards shore.

People were watching it, but most continued whatever they were doing. The surfers did take a look at it as it limited how far back they could swim before catching the next wave.

The texture of the patch was interesting, like a patch of grass, only rippling from the waves beneath it. All through the patch, there was evidence that many items, such as 4X4 timbers, were trapped in the patch.

As the patch moved on, finally making landfall, people started paying much more attention to it. Children quit playing with the sand and water and started picking clumps of the seaweed out of the water, the more experienced of them checking for the creatures that lived in and among the floating mass. One mother was hauling in a 4X4 to shore so that she wouldn't have to worry about it hitting her two small children.

By the time it was half in, it was clear that the whole patch was going to hit between these two breakwaters. The other two patches out to sea moved on south out of the picture.

I abandoned binoculars and plot outline and headed down to the water for a closer look.

Up close, the seaweed was composed of little clumps, from fist-sized to large enough to fill a salad bowl. Together, they covered the water's surface with hardly a break between them. The waves were pushing a long pile of the things up onto the sand. In turn, the pile of foliage was providing a barrier to the waves.

Just in shore of the mat of brownish foilage was a line of beads, the air-bladders that had come loose in the action of the waves. They were each about half pea sized and they popped as you walked on them.

It was fascinating, walking along the beach, looking at all the debris that the mat had captured over time. In addition to the timbers, there were coconuts, long abandoned shoes, glass and plastic bottles. There were a more than the expected number of chemical light tubes caught up in the weed. Had this mat of seaweed been marked by some passing boat, or had the seaweed caught up the results of some nighttime scuba expedition?

It was something of a game for me to take a look at some of the items, like a coconut or a shoe or a piece of timber and see just how many barnacles had attached to it. At a guess, it could tell me something of the age of the debris, but it also made a difference how rough the item was.

The kids and the hundreds of seagulls were after something else entirely. The seaweed mat had been an ecosystem that contained its own set of animal life. In addition to the barnacles that rode the driftwood and old shoes, the weed had been the protective home of crabs, shrimp and something I had never seen before. The boy with his plastic pail full of them called them mermaid purses.

By the time I had walked from one breakwater to the other, there was no clear beach to swim from, and the beach chair rental people were packing up. The shaved-ice concession was driving up the ramp and you could tell that this beach was done for the day. Even the man with the kite was reeling in.

But maybe it was all premature. I headed back up to my 5 story lookout perch to write this all down before it faded in memory and from where I can see, things have changed again.

The tide is going out, and there is now something of a beach in between the beached mat of weeds and the surf. In the middle of the beach, there is still a floating mass of the seaweed, maybe hopeful of riding the tide back out into the open water, maybe not. The gulls are still working hard, browsing the salad bar, but the kids are gone, perhaps tired of the novelty, perhaps because of the fading day.

Friday, January 01, 1999

Armadillocon 20 Notes - August 28, 1998

Real Date: August 28-30, 1998 -- Omni Southpark Hotel (formerly the Wyndham), Austin, TX

Here are the notes for the panels I attended at Armadillocon 20. I won't even try to give you a play-by-play of all the people I met and all the things I learned. However I did take notes at the panels, so I can share that.
Luckily, Armadillocon 20 put their schedule up on the web. I was able to download it into my newton and scratch out old events-- it was like having an enchanted scroll where the lines vanished as you
read them.
For panels I attended, I copied the program guide entry over to these notes and added items of interest as I listened. The number of notes is not a judgement of the quality of the panel, rather an indicator of how sleepy I was at the time.

Fr1700E Generating Ideas That Sell Fri 5:00 PM-6:00 PM Ballroom E Barrett, C. Spector, Webb, Wentworth* Where do writers get their nifty ideas (subscribe to the Time Idea-of-the-Month Club?), and how do they fashion those nifty ideas into saleable stories?
Ideas are cheap
Matching the markets is an iffy proposition
Writers get ideas.
The more you create idoas the more the ideas come
Don Webb does a 1000 word column on the web each work as a writing exorcise.
Caroline Spector can't talk to people affor she has been writing
Neil uses driving time
K.D. Wentworth tried getting borod by doing laundry.
Too many stories are endod poorly because the author runs out of steam.
It the hero is in too much trouble and the author can't figure out how to solve it, get them into More Trouble. NB
Never cheat the audience, but you can fool them. NB
Slush pile Tales CS
Reject if the protagonist wakes up on the first page KDW
Getting a job as an editor educates you Dw
Writing Novels And shores are different skills. CS
Needed to puc her Fifth unsold novel on the shelf For 6 Months. KDW
You can go crazy chasing different editor's opinions about your story. NB
Fr1800D It Ain't Over 'til the Fat Lady Goes FTL: The Space Opera Panel Fri 6:00 PM-7:00 PM Ballroom D Clark, Gibbons, Hamilton,, Moon* Space opera seems to be making a comeback, but it's grown up since the Forties and Fifties.
Almost all media science fiction is space opera.
Vast Scope
Technology dictates trade Items
Aliens are fun
Literature is explaining the world through the author's viewpoint. PH
Some people don't understand that some space opera is operatic instead of operetta. EM
Non-SF readers complained about Weird Names.
Writing for the younger readers need to write shorter works and to make fewer Cognitive demands on the reader.
EM I want some sparkling stuff in my story.
Opera is written about people living on a grand Canvas.
Fr2200D The Rebirth of Hard SF Fri 10:00 PM-11:00 PM Ballroom D Gibbons, Hamilton, Hartwell*, Hogan, Latner For years we've been hearing that the science in science fiction was becoming an endangered species. Now, with hot new authors like Egan, Hamilton, and Baxter, it's roaring back into the fray.
Bad science in Movies
Movie makers do it on purpose
Fr2200F Reviving Roadkill: The Sorry State of Texas SF Conventions Fri 10:00 PM-11:00 PM Ballroom F Beckwith, Blaschke, Cupp*, C. Siros, Wells, Wolf Lone Star conventions are going belly up all over the state. What's to be done?
Aggiecon used to be funded by film showing. When VCR s came out, the cost of film rentals went up.
The Internet provides an alternate outlet fan communication.
Younger fans tend to have media cons.
Some commercial Trek conventions tend to burn out the peripheral fans.
The hotel can make or break a con. Never sign the boilerplate contract.
Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed hotel economics
Authors in book conventions are generally available to the fans. Accessible media guests are rare jewels.
Alternate funding.
Arts grants
Lone Star Con II
Sister gaming cons
Sa1100E What the New York Review of Science Fiction can Do For You Sat 11:00 AM-Noon Ballroom E Houghton, Hartwell, Van Gelder* Current and former editors of the multiply award nominated semiprozine give you the lowdown.
100 new SF books are published monthly
Most are not reviewed especially paperbacks
The more expensive the book the more it is reviewed
Their policy is to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of good books.
They pay $10 per review $5 per essay.
Sa1200F Can SF Magazines be saved? Sat Noon-1:00 PM Ballroom F Daemon, Datlow, Gibbons*, Person, Van Gelder Or are they in the midst of long, drawn-out, painful death throes?
greying of the audience
distribution issues
web sites
younger audience spends their money on computer games.
using web sizes to get readership for print magazines
Computerized shelf space control
There will always be semiprozines
Sa1400F The Business of Writing and Selling Sat 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Ballroom F Carl, Clark*, Hambly, Hogan, Martin From how to compose a query letter (and when to use one) to when to acquire an agent to how to protect your copyright, and more.
Make sure your submission is solicited
Get an agent
No illustrations
Sa1500D Cross-Pollinating the Genre Sat 3:00 PM-4:00 PM Ballroom D Blaschke, Crider*, Mallory, Wade, Webb Some writers just don't fit into a convenient genre cubby hole. Thank goodness.
Sa1600D Armed Conflict: Military SF Sat 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Ballroom D Clark, Hamilton, McCarthy, Moon*, Osborne It seems that we will always have wars, but is it really practical to wage a war in space?
Sa1700D Lone Star Cases: Texas Mystery Writers Sat 5:00 PM-6:00 PM Ballroom D Barrett*, Carl, Crider, Cupp, Mosiman Texas is blessed with a number of talented writers of mysteries who also have ties to science fiction. Come and hear some of them take about what it's like to bestride two genres.
Sa1800E Short Fiction Rules! Sat 6:00 PM-7:00 PM Ballroom E Blaschke, Datlow*, Richerson, Wade, Webb Despite the dominance of huge novels and series in the marketplace, there are some advantages to working at shorter lengths. Learn about the experiments in style and content available best in short fiction.
Sa2000F What it REALLY Takes to Get Published Sat 8:00 PM-9:00 PM Ballroom F Barrett, Datlow, Spencer, Van Gelder, Wentworth* Veteran writers and editors will tell you the REAL secrets to getting your work in print. (C'mon, you always knew there was a secret to it, didn't you?)
Sa2100F Moving From Fan to Pro Sat 9:00 PM-10:00 PM Ballroom F Crider*, Dalton-Woodbury, Hale, Wells How to make that transition from fan to neo-pro to professional writer. Seriously.
Su1300D The Best of the Decade: The 90's in SF and Fantasy Sun 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Ballroom D Daemon, Datlow, Hartwell, Houghton, W. Siros, Van Gelder* Our panels of experts helps you find good stuff you should be reading.
Su1400D Fantasy and SF Mysteries Sun 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Ballroom D Carl, Effinger, Hambly*, Hamilton, Wade Learn about the modern day successors to Asimov's The Caves of Steel and Garrett's Too Many Magicians.

St. Louis Flood Trip Report -- July 17, 1993

The following was a rough, stream of conscious report of a two-day trip I took to check out the flooding in St. Louis. I have done very little editing. I apologize for the grammar and spelling. This was probably captured on a Newton.

Okay, I'm beginning my trip to St.Louis at 6am on July, I guess this is the seventeenth, Saturday, 1993. I just set the trip counter to zero (Beep. Beep-beep). And the flat mileage is 70320.1.
4.6 miles, turning onto highway 79.
12.2 miles, turning onto I35.
6:26 21.6 miles -- McDonalds drivethrough in Georgetown
6:28 back on the interstate.
6:47 I see the sun above the horizon over there.
10:05am 261.5 miles entering Oklahoma on I-35mile marker 264.8 I stopped at about 10:09 for 5 minutes at a roadside park. This is the Oklahoma entrance park, roadside park and I got a map of the state and a coke and talked to a man whom I had seen who I had passed some miles back. He had a RV with a couple of funny motorcycles on the back -- real small wheels, name is Sprite, only weigh 90 pounds. He is retirement age and he said he had no problem lifting
them up and putting them on the rack. He said they only do about 45miles per hour. It looked like an ideal little vehicle to go along with an RV to carry around. He said that they had taken them to Alaska and back. That brought back nice memories.
mile mark 269.5 the Southwestern Bell Mobil Cellular phone area in Oklahoma did one of these automatic calls to my phone announcing themselves.
Oklahoma really is pretty. I am driving through a stretch of land that is rolling hills that is oak trees mixed with prairie or pasture, whatever. Sort of like the look of the field in Jurrasic Park where they first saw the brachiosaurus. Tough these trees are not quite as tall as the one the brachiosaurus was chewing on.
There are little ponds everywhere. Every time you go over a hill there is another pond in the distance. Some of them are real blue.
11:57 308.2 miles Oklahoma City city limits.
12:04 I missed my turn. I think... If I recall, I missed this turn before. Sort of an intersection, a big cloverleaf, I keep
expecting to stay on I35, but I35 is a turnoff. I'll get back on it.
12:20 I'm off on Interstate 44, which is a turnpike. And I hope I find a gas station before I run out. The next time I do this kind of trip, remind me to take that pocket database thing that has all the gas stations and such along interstate highways.
Well at 12:41 I got off the I44 because I'm trying to find gas, and there is a McDonalds around here somewhere. The only problem is--at this point there is no on-ramp back onto the interstate, the turnpike from this location, so I'm going to have to take some side roads to join back up. But at least there is a Phillips 66 station here. 422.4 miles.
I'm getting gas at a town called Wellston. I put in 20.7 gallons. $21.25
Well I'm now on Route 66, although now it is Oklahoma 66, paralleling the turnpike. What's interesting is that there was a McDonalds there at Wellston but it was on the turnpike property and the only way get to the McDonalds was to enter the turnpike entrance to go back to Oklahoma City. In other words it was a westbound turnpike McDonalds only. And since I'm eastbound, there was no way to get to it. I'm just wondering if the people that live in Wellstom, if they're able to use the McDonalds that's in their town.
Well, we're in Chandler, and turned off on 18 because it says "to 44" this way, so maybe I'll be able to get back into high speed.
Route 66 is nice. Two lane blacktop, 55 mph. And if I could drive 55 mph it would sure be pleasant. Unfortunately, it is definitely rural. Lots of people driving on it at 35mph or less and in town you get lots of stopsigns, red lights ... Well, I guess back to the turnpike.
Okay, 1:08 and tripmile 435.3 I'm back onto the interstate, and I just passed a gas station, accessible to the turnpike. So this little turn off was pretty much a wasted stop, other that being able to drive on Route 66 for a little bit.
Okay 1:19. Another couple of miles and another McDonalds, this time a plaza on the interstate.
Back on interstate 44 1:27 trip counter 446.7. That was a big McDonalds! Oh-oh. Turn pike gate...
Mile marker 490.7 2:08pm. I'm stopping in Tulsa to see if I can get a battery for the camera.
Well, Radio Shack had the battery, Mays Drug next door had the film. So that worked out pretty good. Tulsa 2:16 pm on an asphalt parking lot is HOT.
2:22 tripcounter 491.4 back on the interstate.
I just crossed, I think it was the Arkansas river. Anyway it was broad. Driving past the Camelot, where we had the science-fiction con. Oh, I remember these places. I remember the places were Thomas and I went for a walk to hit different food places. About 5 or 6 blocks from the Camelot. Yes, this brings back some memories.
556.2 There is a McDonalds built as an arch across the lanes of the interstate. So you look in the distance and you see this Bigggg yellow arch. Not like the monument. It's a building, sort of like the bridge across Lake Austin. Not that big, but thats the design, except it's a yellow arch.
597 miles 3:57 I'm in Missouri. Just crossed the state line.
Okay its 4:05 598.9 miles. I stopped at the Missouri travel information bureau and picked up a map and a Diet Pepsi, they didn't have any Diet Coke. Well, it looks like all I have to do is drive across Missouri and I'll be there, right? It's all interstate. So off I go. Almost 600 miles here. Well next question. Is it turnpike or free?
Do you know what gets me about this trip? I'm already in Missouri and I realize it is still a few hundred miles to get to the river but, it's a hot sunny day. I mean, in this part of the state, it's not like the place is cloudy and dreary. The skies are partly cloudy, little white fluffy cumulus's here and there. Back in Oklahoma, skies were clear. I'm getting more cloudiness as I get further east, but I had expected the weather to get worse sooner. But I think that's just an illusion. I think it could very well be sunny and hot when I get to St.Louis. At least I hope it's sunny when I get to St. Louis! I'd hate to look at the river in the dark.
The Missouri county roads or state highways aren't numbered, they are letters. They are like K and PP.
678.6 miles. It's about 5:15. Off in the distance. The clouds are no longer little pretty fluffy things. Looks like a stream... a chain of growing thundercloud type stuff. It's strange. It's like it's in a string along the horizon. Like way off in the distance. About every two degrees there is another one. There may be weather up there after all.
Well, looks like the cloud band evaporated. Wasn't as big as I thought it was.
Well it looks like it's down to the wire. My best estimate of when I will arrive in St. Louis is that I will arrive at sunset, or even after sunset, I don't know. My problem is that I don't know what the sunset time in St. Louis is. It's east of Austin, so that would make it earlier. But it's also north of Austin which would make it later. So I'm not sure when the sunset is. The sun is pretty low on the horizon already. I've still got 70 miles to go. The sun angle.. I estimate about an hour left of sunlight. It's pretty close.
I'm following a small convoy of National Guard. I don't know why they are heading towards St. Louis. Be curious to ask them.
mile 840.9 7:37pm I'm approaching St. Louis. I'm in the country, still not in the suburbs yet. The grass is kinda brown. The local creeks are not up at all. It is interesting that I am going to see a flood in a few minutes and there is no sign of rain. Like it hasn't rained here recently.
Well I think I've got sunset... well maybe. I can see reflections of the sun on buildings, but I can't see it myself. 8:01pm I don't see the river yet.
I'm starting to see flooding. The tributary rivers are backing up. No flowing, they are just overflowing their banks just sitting there. Overflowing some of the roads. And I'm still 10 or 15 miles from official St. Louis. Probably still that far to the arch at least. 8:03 870.4
Oh there's still some sun over there.
Official city limit of St. Louis 8:10pm 877.4 miles 1 gallon of gas.
I see the arch. 8:12 pm 879.6
I didn't really remember how old the architecture of St. Louis was. Brownstone everywhere. Brown brick houses. Acres and acres of them. Mostly two story. High peaked roofs. They all look the same, except for the windows painted differently. They are all brown brick.
Hmm. There are some alternate bridge route signs. I don't know what that means.
I'm down town here. The traffic is really backing up here. I don't see any sign that the bridges are closed or anything. I'm going to go straight to the arch and see what I can see. Well there is a parking lot. I'm going to get out and take some pictures. That's going to kill all my daylight. But I think it is worth it. If I can get to the parking lot. I'm close enough to the arch that I can't even see the top of it. The traffic is really backed up. I can't see how to get over to this parking lot. I'm not sure I can. Some roads are closed off. Police are posted. barricades. Yes. This parking lot is the cathedral parking lot, not for tourists. No idea where it park. I still can't see the river.
I have no idea what to do here. Boy. Back to back jam.
I'm at the arch. This is just after I called you. Oops, I forgot to do the star-18. Hang on.
North of here underneath the arch, is a thunderstorm. I can see the flash of lightning. I tried to take a picture of the arch and try to catch a flash of lightning in the background. Who knows if that worked. Here I am without a tripod and the light level is just so low. What I am trying to do is take pictures with silhouettes. People on the shore looking at all the stuff in the river and using the lights on the boats and stuff to catch the pictures with the silouttes of the people. Hopefully that will be nice. I ought to get something.
I've talked to some local people and the Casino Queen which is across the river and spewing out large numbers of spotlights is apparently a new boat on the river. Maybe the one next to it. You see the casinos can't go up an down the river anymore, because they are too high. They won't let them underneath the bridges, but they are still operating.
Well I got hit up by a panhandler. Gave him three bucks. I'm always a soft touch I'm afraid. Of course the second panhandler didn't get nothing. Have to reward the guy who gets there first.
I am rolling with sweat. I have to figure out how to get out of this maze. You see I'm down here at this place that's sort of like Sixth street, you know its a place where you park your car and walk around all the cute little shops and probably bars and underneath everything.
I'm taking 70 west, away from the waterfront. I'm going to have to stop here in a little bit to see where this goes. But my first order of business is to get some gas. My gas gauge says "E" and DTE says 17 miles. And so I'm going to have to get gas real soon now.
Well I'm heading upriver a little bit--assuming I know how to get around these roads. I sure wish I could have showed up thirty minutes earlier. I took a look at the pictures I took with the Polaroid and the light was so low that the shutter speed was real slow which means that I got a lot of jitter and they are useless. Even then they didn't get bright enough to see anything. I'm afraid the 35mm is going to be the same way.
I'm now crossing over the Missouri river. Big bridge. That's good.
Okay 916 miles turning on highway 79 north which should parallel the river. It's 10:38 at night.
There is a lot of flooding along 79. There is a lot of people that used to have homes along 79 and they are parking their cars up on the side of the road because some of the property is in the water. Not everybody is flooded out but the water is not all that far from the road.
Highway 79 is closed. They have a road block here to let local people in for now. I think I am going back and see if I can take highway 61 north.
Well, it looks like I'm stymied in both directions. I tried to take 61 south. I found out it was blocked as well. This was about 12:40 12:35 Road closed marked with barricades. and about a dozen people sleeping in their pickup. Pickups piled high with all their household goods. Looks like nowhere else to go. Just waiting at the edge of the area they are blocked out of until the water subsides.
There is a lot of contrast around here. St. Louis, for the most part looks like nothing has happened. It looks just totally
unaffected by this flood. Until you drive through the streets of St. Louis and you turn a corner and you've got refugees. Waiting by the water. I don't know. I'm having trouble absorbing it all.
I think my picture of a flood has changed. This isn't a flash flood. This isn't a torrent that's rushing down a creek. It's quiet. It's just relentless. It just keeps coming up higher and higher and higher. And there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.
You can fight a fire. But if your property is below the water level of the river... The river doesn't fight you. It just ignores everything you do. The river is going to rise.
6:08 am . The sun is up. Just barely. I think I made the right decision to go on an put some miles... It would make a more pleasant drive home not to have to race the whole time. And it was just an almost impossible deal to try to move upstream or downstream along the river. All the roads were blocked. I don't got time to experiment. It would have been nice to have seen more of it but I just can't do it this trip.
I ran into roadblocks on 79 going north and 61 going south, and as I was heading out there was an announcement on the radio that there was a big group on highway 21 basically refugees from the storm...the flood, that were desperate for clean water and ice. And if there was anyone who could get them some ice and some water to take it to them.
I think I am going to take a little side jaunt. It is 6:54 in the morning. 1059.3 Cuba Missouri. There is a thing a few miles south of here called ... I don't know what it is called...something "Scenic Waterways"? It will probably take some extra time to see it, but it might be fun. If this is 19? And it won't get me too much in trouble. I mean the whole trip is kinda silly. I'll give it a shop.
I mentioned the lettered roads. It looks like the state highways are numbered. I'm on state highway 19 and the sign looks like the outline of the state with a 19 in it. The county roads...I assume county roads, equivalent...are letters. And their roadsigns are in squares.
I'm in Steelville Missouri. There are three things of interest. One, the gasoline here is real cheap, 91 cents. I`ve noticed that is has been relatively cheap all throughout Missouri, but this is the cheapest I have seen it. Two, Steelville advertises itself two ways--one is the "Floating capitol of Missouri". There are all kinds of float trip tour places around. The other is an advertisement as the "Population center of the United States". Apparently if you make a weighted map by population of the United States, this would be the center.
Highway 19, which is a two-lane blacktop, has a couple of stretches of one-lane blacktop in it.
I'm off in the middle of nowhere. I am literally in a situation where you can't see the forest for the trees. I think this is probably beautiful scenery, but there are no viewpoints and the trees are right up next to the road. Every now and then, I catch a glimpse of what looks like a beautiful vista, through the trees, but I can't see it.
I am entering Ozark National Scenic Riverways. I'm wondering if ... Ah! A vista.
I stopped at a river access point at Current River, which is in the Scenic Whatever, basically just to get out an walk around. I took a couple of pictures. I would kinda like to have the roll I took ready to put in for processing. Interesting. The water was kinda swift, not all that deep. It looked like it would be fun to canoe down that thing. There was a lot of mist, fog, fog coming off the water in the morning. I tried to take a couple of pictures of it, but I don't know if it will show up.
The forest has got some pine in it. For the most part it is deciduous, but I'm going through a part that has some pine in it, mixed.
I actually saw a roadside pulloff viewpoint. Pulled in to it, and it was pretty trashed out. There was a man and his two little girls with trash bags and rakes cleaning up the place. The man said that in the fall it was a really pretty view out here. I can imagine it would. It is mainly deciduous forest, although there is some pine and maybe looks like cedar.
The town of Mountain View has a water tower, like Hutto's, but it is painted such that the ball and maybe ten feel of the pillar looks like a hot air balloon. At first glance, it looks like there is a hot air balloon floating over this hill, but its really a water tower.
I'm about 30 miles out of Springfield on Highway 60. Two items, a few miles back, I passed the Laura Engels Museum-- this is apparently the part of the world where the "Little House" books were written. Item number two, apparently there are Amish or some like around here, because I've seen at least two people on the highway in horse and buggy wearing dark clothing. I don't know, two thus far.
I stopped at McDonalds in Springfield and I am filling up with gas. Buying at 89.9, that's only because it is close to the interstate. I say 88.9 at a couple of other places.
The disadvantage of running somewhere on the interstate and running back on the same route is that it is kinda boring when you've been on the same route the day before. I'm going through Tulsa, and I am going to follow the same route back although I have a strong inclination to take a different route back. Basically because I know that the route I took is the fastest one. But it does get a little boring.
Well, I'm back. Mileage is 1958.2. Time is 12:48 am. Average speed over the whole trip, for the times that the engine was running was 57.1 mph. Gas economy was about 20.5 miles per gallon.