Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Well, I’m holed up in a bar in Mobile, AL. I swear it was not my intention to be holed up in said bar from the minute I awoke this morning.

I’ve been collecting water samples from Harrison and Jackson county beaches and inland waterways all day. I moved from west to east and finished by dropping them off at a lab in Mobile. On the way over, I-10, one of two ways into Southern Mississippi from Alabama had gridlocked traffic for something like twenty miles. The amount of 18-wheelers and heavy equipment was amazing. Somewhere in the middle, I saw a caravan of eight airboats being pulled by pickup trucks. Must be a group from Florida.

Anyway, the shear volume of traffic made me realize that it would be better to get a hot meal (with some Stevie Ray Vaughan playing now- bless his Texas Tornado heart) than to wait on the pavement.

It’s good to be away, even if it’s just for a few hours.

I am amazed at the look of the six different sample sites I went to today. Every one of them smelled completely rancid in its own special way. Some of the water near residential areas smelled like sewage and rot, while the Gulf water smelled mainly of rot. I went to a few industrial sites that smelled of chemicals and petroleum. They all had amazing amounts of debris in them. There was a whole bed in the Mississippi Sound.

The last place was a bayou that is home to MS Phosphates, a Chevron refinery and a couple of big ship builders. I had to lie down to reach the water and had some thorns from dead submerged vegetation stick into my arm a little bit. Almost immediately, the very light wound inflamed and made my lower right arm slightly numb. Glad I got a tetnus shot. Ummm, industrial chemicals. Delicious.