Tag Archives: alligators

A busy week off work

We have had an interesting week thus far. Both Mrs. Poolman and I have the entire week off work.

On Monday, Mrs. P and I drove down I-95 to meet her sister and brother-in-law and our 11-year old great-niece, Christine, for lunch. Christine returned to Savannah with us. There some problems with child care over her Christmas break from school, so we invited her to visit us for one of the weeks. We ate leftovers for dinner and watched an age-appropriate movie we had rented, “Monte Carlo.” I am happy to report that, although the movie is clearly aimed towards a younger audience, it was cute and entertaining, even for us old folks.

On Tuesday, we got a late start and ate lunch before heading out. We cruised downtown Savannah for a while. Christine enjoyed some of the antique (She called them “junk.) stores – at least for awhile. Eventually, everyone’s patience wore out and we returned home for a dinner of take-out pizza, and a viewing of “The Help.” Poolboy and Girlfriend came over to watch with us, and Christine was very excited to see someone other than Mrs. P and myself. (We don’t take it personally; we understand.)

Today’s big event was ice skating. Each year at Christmas, the Savannah Civic Center creates an indoor ice skating rink for several weeks. Christine had been very excited about the prospect — until it came time to step onto the ice. Both Mrs. P and I had brief discussions with her and advised her that a “whiny brat” act does not work well with us. Christine ventured out on to the ice, and seeing that this is Savannah, she was not the only novice out there. She stuck close to the side and only fell once, with no damage.

On a personal note, I stayed up, but it was touch-and-go all the way. When I was a young teen, I was fairly good on skates. There was a skating rink within walking distance of our house. It was the “go-to” gathering place for all our classmates on Friday nights. My brother and I had season passes and probably went ice skating two to three times a week for several years. We taught our younger sisters how to skate.

Of course, that was 45 years ago, and  I haven’t been on skates in more than 20 years.  But I thought, “Hey, it’s like riding a bike, right?” Wrong! I looked and felt like a complete novice. Eventually, I got somewhat into the rhythm, but was still “jerking” all over the place. Fortunately, for me, Christine did not want my assistance. She much preferred the side-boards. The two of us flailing around together would have been a truly ugly experience.

After the ice skating, we drove over the Savannah River Bridge to visit the Savannah Wildlife Refuge.

The Savnnah National Wildlife Refuge was formerly old rice fields.

In warmer weather, this is a great place to see alligators. No such luck today. But it was a beautiful day and the drive through the refuge was very picturesque.

Mrs. P and Christine at the Wildlife Refuge.

Lots of birds, but no reptiles.

I believe this is an American Coot, but I wouldn't swear to it.

Another movie rental for tonight, and we are ordering wings for dinner. Should be a good evening.

A great day on Ossabaw Island

I had a great time on Wednesday of this week – a day trip to Ossabaw Island. Ossabaw is one of Georgia’s secluded, undeveloped barrier islands. The only practical way to reach it is by boat.

The beach

We took off from our campus at 8:30 in the morning with a group of eleven scientists and technicians for the one hour trip down the Intra-Coastal Waterway to the island.

Ossabaw Island is held by the State of Georgia as a Heritage Trust. Access is by permission only.

We had several reasons for this trip. One reason was to conduct some maintenance on the “Barrier Island Observatory.” We are part of a group of organizations that are developing an observatory network on the island. This is a series of sensors and cameras that can by accessed through the Internet. Right now there is a weather station, a water sensor at the dock and at two wells, and a camera at the dock. You can see what they pickup here.

We also had a couple of geologists who needed to dig some core samples, and a graduate student who collected Spanish moss and air samples.

I went along to take pictures and to enjoy the day.

It was great to get out of the office. Along the way, we passed the bald eagle nest on Pigeon Island.

Once on the island, we got around on the back of pick up trucks.

The causeway from the dock to the island.

The island is beautiful and peaceful, with scenes ranging from maritime forest, to salt marshes to open beaches.

Salt marsh

Dead palm trees

A dead tree -- the result of erosion.

An interesting matrix of dead wood on the beach.

Tabby former living quarters

When we first arrived, we were greeted by “Paul Mitchell,” one of the island’s pet hogs.However, unlike on my last visit to the island, we didn’t see very much in the way of wildlife. We saw only one alligator. I think part of the reason for this is that the fresh water ponds on the island are very low, so the gators aren’t close to the various roads and causeways.

No water = no alligators.

All in all, it was a great day and a lot of fun.

A new routine and hungry gators

I need to get some exercise, but “darn” it’s been hot lately. So I’ve decided to change my daily routine.

I used to run for exercise, but in recent years the gout in my toe and my sore knees have put an end to that. Instead, I have been walking about two miles nearly every day, usually on my lunch hour. I have time for about a two-mile walk and a quick lunch at my desk.

I don’t normally work up so much of a sweat that I need a shower after the walk, but that has changed in recent weeks. Mid-day temperatures have been in the mid-90s most of the summer. So I tried changing my walk to the early evening.  It’s still hot, but I don’t have to worry about sitting around the office dripping in sweat afterwards. Yesterday, it was still in the mid-90s at 6 pm and the humidity was like a locker room. I was totally drenched in sweat, and not from the exertion. That’s ridiculous.

This morning, I set the alarm for about 40 minutes earlier and went out for my walk before the sun came up. I am not an early-morning person, so I don’t know how long this will last. They say if you do something consistently for 30 days it becomes a habit. We’ll see. The good parts are that it is much cooler. And on many days, if I don’t walk, I can cut my lunch break to 30 minutes and leave a half hour earlier. That has a draw to it.

*    *    *    *

I remember very well my first introduction to a wild alligator. Fresh from Pennsylvania, it was my first or second day as a student at the University of Florida. I was walking across campus with one of the guys from my dorm when passed by one of the many ponds on campus.

He said, “Let’s check and see if Albert is out.”

I didn’t know what he was talking about, so he explained that Albert is the nickname for the UF mascot, Albert the Alligator, but was used generically to refer to all alligators.
I thought he was pulling my leg.

“Yeah, right. Alligators right in the middle of a college campus. What’s next? Lions, tigers and bears, oh my!”

Much to my surprise, there he was — a six-foot gator, just catching the rays at the water’s edge. I soon discovered just about every one of the very numerous ponds around the campus had a resident alligator. Lake Alice, on the perimeter of the campus, was a nature preserve with an entire colony of the reptiles. Not-too-bright students would feed them marshmallows. One crazy dude, “Gatorman,” would wade out into waist deep water to feed them.

All of that is just a long way of saying that I don’t get freaked out by alligators. I think they are pretty cool. However, I ran across this video today from a South Georgia state park, and it did give me the chills.

Supposedly those guys were in a 14-foot aluminum john-boat. They are as crazy as my old friend, Gatorman.