You know you’re a redneck when…

you walk on the street despite the sidewalk, something I’ve found myself doing here.

The apartment search is stagnating. I’m waiting to hear back from one of the landlords. Met a couple of nice people in town last night. They just walked up to me and started talking. At first I thought they wanted me to vote for someone or convert but they were just friendly.

Home-hunting

I am spending this fine weekend immersed in the drudgery of finding a place to live. I want to live in Iowa City, somewhere conveniently between work and downtown. Iowa City is a University town and a lot of the rentals are sort of junky. There are some nice condos and apartments, but not in the area I want to live in. We’ll see if I’m so picky in the next week or two.

I drove around a few neighborhoods, block by block, looking for rental signs. There are a few. I’ll start the real estate agent route this week when somebody is in their offices.

Iowa City will be somewhat more expensive than Ocean Springs.

Here I am

Road sign on US Highway 61: \"The people of Iowa welcome you.\"I have arrived.

I am staying in a hotel in Coralville. It’s okay. Iowa weather is nice right now. It’s getting green. Work is okay so far. There is a lot to digest as usual. I’m looking for places to rent; I think that an apartment in Iowa City equivalent to the one I just left in Mississippi will be much more expensive. I have to figure this out. It may be more economical for me to buy.

The way people talk here is very funny, though not altogether surprising. Even more funny than Staten Island or the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Imagine that.

And away I go…

I am getting out of here much later than I wanted to. The movers never came to pack yesterday, then they came late today. It’s funny, the movers were a married couple, and they travel in the big tractor-trailer with their dog. They even talked to each other like a married couple. “Honey, can you help me move this box?”

The bottom line is I am out of here.

Good-bye Ship Island

We had Lance’s farewell Friday night at The Shed Barbecue, the coast’s flagship barbecue spot in Vancleave. And then we had an extended farewell at Kwitzky’s Dugout in Ocean Springs.

And so I was pretty tired for my long last day Saturday. After the 2:30 boat left the island, I went for a walk to the east end of the island, maybe two miles from the fort. There were some nudists on the south beach a mile east of the boardwalk. I steered clear of them, but walking along the shoreline for the last time gave me the urge to go swimming; had nobody been around I might have disrobed and dove in for a quick swim.

Even without a last swim I had a nice walk. I like to think that I appreciate the subtleties of the beach as much as anyone: the wave-sculpted rills and washboarding in sand, the mixture of light and dark grains, bare little sandbars, the many hues the surface of the water takes on according the bottom. The beach dissolved into muddy flats at the east end; lots of the usual shorebirds were there. I hoofed it back to the fort to close up and take my last look around my little kingdom of the last three and half years.

I am not inclined to consider my departure from the Mississippi Gulf Coast as a sad thing. I never wanted to stay here more than a few years. I know am better off for having spent the time here–and I hope the park is better off for it as well–but it is time to move on. But as the island receded from the stern of the ferry, and as a pod of dolphins played in the surf nearby, and as the soft swells sloshed against the hull, and as the warm breeze and gentle sun of a perfect spring afternoon touched my face, I felt sad.

Yellowstone

Every once in a while I get calls from parks interested in picking me up off the transfer I requested. Of course, I’m committed to going to Iowa. Glen Canyon called a few weeks ago. Today it was Yellowstone.

There’s a tremendous opportunity I am passing up. But I don’t feel very regretful. I am  comfortable with my decision.

Yellowstone. Wow.

Short-timeritis

When I accepted the position in Iowa two months ago, I resisted strongly the short-timer syndrome. Despite the very low visitor attendance, there was plenty to do at work: plan for Park Day, get the fort ready for visitors, work on the boats, and so forth. But this week all of my willpower deserted me; with the ferry cancelled the last two days I’ve taken sick leave to attend to matters at home. So there.

Bratwurst

Steve and Lois had me over for dinner: barbecued bratwurst. Being from Minnesota and the Dakotas, they know their bratwursts and told me I’d be able to get some good Wisconsin brats in Iowa. Steve’s island-themed yard looked as good as ever; every day he’s on the island he combs the beach for the unusual. I’m pretty sure he can find anything out there. After years of working on polluted New York beaches I started ignoring the stuff that washed up.

Polenta

Tonight I cooked up some leftover polenta. I bought Italian sausages at the Cajun butcher and put them into the marinara, added some pignolia and topped with romano. Green beans with almonds and olives on the side. All I needed was some red wine, but I’ll wait until I move to buy a new bottle.

One more week on the island

We had some good volunteers for our Reach for the Beach Clean-up. Some of them came to the fort for an afternoon tour and were a very good audience. I also did some more painting and baiting for fire ants. I saw a northern waterthrush, a magnificent frigatebird, a flock of dunlins, the nesting pair of osprey, and lots of least terns. Some kids reported a turtle at the beach but I didn’t see it. Supposedly someone took a photo and will e-mail it to my boss.

I’m in the home stretch now. Next Saturday is my last day of work.

A good day today

Good weather. A thunderstorm missed the island, passing south of us from the west. I continued painting the cannon tools. They were a bright “Dempsey Dumpster” green, but now they are a more businesslike olive drab.

My colleagues at Aunt Jenny\'s in Ocean SpringsTonight was my going away dinner with folks from work. We ate at Aunt Jenny’s, a good catfish place, but I was really disappointed with the food. Way too salty. It was a very nice time though. A lot of people showed, more than usually come to these things. I got some nice gifts: a watercolor of the island, some oven mitts (funny right?) representing New York, Mississippi, and Iowa, corn cob holders, a little hog magnet for the fridge, and a “You know you’re from Mississippi when…”.

And then when I got home, my brother called with news that his wife is pregnant. I will be an uncle by next January. My whole family is changing; my parents just arrived in Colorado where they’ll live for now, I am moving, and my brother and sister-in-law are having their first child. Wow. I could go for some good old-fashioned boringness (not really).

New home for my blog

Well it took me half a day yesterday to get this set up here. LiveJournal doesn’t let you export the whole blog at once; you have to do it month by month. My short term goal here is to have the journal ready for when I move to Iowa; I should be able to update regularly once I get there in a couple of weeks. My long term goal is to revamp my personal website, Adam’s artificial habitat, and integrate with the blog so it’s all seamless.

Yeah, Adam, good luck with that.

Sunday in slow motion

Since I don’t have to go to work until 10:30 on Sundays, I decided to go to yoga this morning. Sunday mornings are the full Ashtanga series, something I’ve never done before. It was brutal, especially because I didn’t eat anything until after class. I was beat all day.

The ferry was cancelled again because of high winds and rough surf. So I spent a very long and boring day in the office. I worked on our little john boats a little, meaning I trailered them to a place where I could drain them out, then I replaced the tarps which had blown off. So today was cloudy, humid, rainy, and hot where the wind wasn’t blowing. Biting gnats, deer flies, and mosquitos were all out and biting. My forearms are covered with itchy little bug bites. In other words, another day in the bayou. I betcha I’ll have plenty of little peccadillos in Iowa too.