February 4 – Spring Break

Wednesday morning I was driving to work when I saw a small dog running along the side of the road.  With the sun behind it I couldn’t quite make it out, but when I got beside it I saw that it was actually a coyote.  I often see them in this area (Taylor), but I wished that my class was there to see it.  In the afternoon  I took the vert field class out to Siloam Springs State Park.  I’ve never taken a class there, and hadn’t even been there in years.  It’s a good 40 minutes out.  We hiked a trail that one of the students had taken recently.  We didn’t see many birds, but the rock formations and icicles were pretty cool.  We saw driving out three new species for us: turkey vultures (sure sign of spring), eastern bluebirds and wild turkeys.

Brian, Sam, Kass, Shawn

I tried some artsy shots of these icicles, but this basic one came out best.

I shot this bluebird out the car window.  Should have cut the engine, image might have been cleaner.

Here’s a male house sparrow from the back yard.

Thursday morning I gave my freshman class the option of eating some Japanese rice crackers (wrapped in seaweed) and dried squid.  They wall went for it.  Both nearly gagged Savannah the night before.  I think extra credit makes things taste better.  I also fed the snake in front of them.  It took down one mouse pretty quickly.  The students weren’t too happy, as they had used these mice earlier in the week and given them names.   They thought he needed seconds, however, and I threw in another mouse.   He seized it by the tail and, as a result, didn’t get a good wrap on the body of the mouse.  It was still alive when he started to eat it.  The struggles induced him to put the final coils around the mouse and snuff it. 
In the afternoon I wandered around North Campus.  I spotted these mallards on the pond, but couldn’t get too close.

We had an Environmental Club meeting in the afternoon.  We went to Keller’s to buy some seed and planted stuff in little pots in the greenhouse.  It was pretty fun.  We put out the recycling too.  My student Laura noticed a striking resemblance between myself and one of her boyfriend’s collector G.I. Joes.  She brought it in to the office, they made a little insect net to go with it, and we posed it on my photo stand.

Ride ’em, cowboy!  Note the dork hat, mustache, sunglasses and vest. 

This is actually the “Wild Bill” version of GI Joe, but we call it GI Joe Coelho.  I’ve put a bid in on one that’s on eBay.

Friday morning I took the Taurus to the tire shop.  It had a pretty bad vibration/oscillation thing going on.  I had checked the tires, but apparently not the one that was showing wires coming out of the steel belts.  Well, at least we got about all the mileage we could out of that one.  After the new tires, I changed the oil, fixed the siren (with much cursing), vacuumed the interior, changed the air filter and cleaned the tree sap off the hood.  That shot most of the day until it was time for Lowell and I to go to the QU Basketball game.  Our women’s team has the best record in their conference, and, therefore, hosts the tournament.  We won the game, but it was hard fought.  Our star player had an off night–only 20 points.  The others compensated though. 

Saturday morning Stacey and I went to an estate sale.  I bought a few small things.  We ran errands around town, and spent the rest of the day housebound.  It rained pretty hard for awhile.  I packed for the Taneycomo trip. 

Sunday morning Lowell came over, we picked up Jim Behn and headed down to Branson.  We made the obligatory stop at the Bass Pro Shops Mothership.  I went through the catalog clearance center and was tempted by a few things, but didn’t get much.  When we got to Lake Taneycomo and Trout Hollow Lodge, Tom and Joe were already there.  In the office I had the lady check on the web, where I found that our women’s basketball team had lost the Conference Championship game.  Dang!  Maybe it’s better I wasn’t there.  Probably would have tried.   We rigged up and tried to catch fish from the dock, but got no bites.  This was a foreshadowing of events.

Monday morning we took out our rented pontoon boat and motored upstream as far as we legally could.  We drifted down and bounced our baits on the bottom.  We didn’t catch much right away.  I was hoping things would pick up when they stopped releasing water from the dam upstream.  It didn’t.  We stopped for lunch and ate at the Italian place across the street.  It was good.  All other meals we ate at the Farm House Restaurant, which is relatively cheap for any place in Branson.  It was also good, and I overstuffed myself one night with blackberry cobbler a la mode one night.  After lunch we went back at it.  We found a spot by the bridge that yielded a few fish, but that petered out too.  We gave up and headed back for beers around 5.  I had caught one small rainbow trout and a nice brown trout.

Tuesday we went at it again until noon.  Joe Dieker was having some success with gulp baits, which he generously shared.  I caught one rainbow with it, but that’s all.  Three fish the entire trip.  I think when I went two years ago I caught 46.  That was the best year ever.  This was the worst year ever.  On the other hand, the weather was great.  We didn’t get rained on (against prediction), and it was unusually warm.  I got to fish with guys I don’t get to go out with that much.  The best part for me was the opportunity I had to photograph great blue herons.  The birds are abundant because of the numerous trout and habituated to people because of…the numerous people.  I will publish a special entry with all the photos shortly.

Wednesday I slept in (ahhhhh).  But when I got up I got to work on things.  I started up the wood stove again.  It supposed to be cold for a few days.  I changed the oil on the Echo and vacuumed it out.  Then it was time to relax with indoor pursuits.

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