There, I said it. This state is bad. I’ll probably get angry comments from people somehow associated with Alabama, but I don’t care: Alabama sucks. We can’t find a map, probably because nobody from outside Alabama ever wants to visit it. So today we just drove west along highway 84, which is optimistically named “El Camino” and its signs depict other, better, states such as Louisiana and Texas.
We did manage to find a couple of decent sampling sites, despite the suckitude of this state. Locals fishing at the second site, near the border with Mississippi, warned us of recent sightings of an alligator a little further along the side-channel we were sampling in. When I asked “How big?”, the reply was “Pretty good size, maybe 10 or 12 feet”. So, Matt and I did not voyage far down that particular channel.
Our sampling location at Bladon Springs / Turkey Lake / Service Park, Alabama. The names are confusing and overlapping. This channel extends as a shallow bay to the right, where by reputation a large alligator lurks.
Before we got to that site, however, we tried to follow signs to a state park and campground that instead lead us past a pulp and paper mill. We knew we were there when we met the smell. Apparently, all those pine plantations we’ve seen in Georgia and Florida send their effluent-producing output to Alabama. Which, to reiterate, sucks anyways so it’s not like the pollution really makes a difference.
Our last site of the day was in Mississippi, a much, much better place than its neighbour. We were cruising along a very fast, wide, divided highway. I asked Matt if our cheesy little highways map (covering Alabama and Mississippi) showed any smaller highways nearby that might be easier to pull off of, when I spotted an approaching bridge, with a highway rest area adjacent.
The rest area contained a pickup truck that belonged to two young men who were fishing in the creek. We stuck our nets in, and found just a few amphipods and beetles, barely enough to keep us at this site but not happy. However, a little wander just a few meters downstream* yeilded all-important green slime in some abundance, which contained many amphipods, along with some beetles and a few bugs. The fishermen informed us this was “Thompson Creek”, and that it was persistent through the drought mainly because of a nearby spring.
A large crayfish that Matt accidentally collected at Thompson Creek. He has apparently been in a fight or two, to judge from the missing limbs
* I say “downstream”, but the drought of this region renders many smaller waterways still, even stagnant, and directions of flow must sometimes be inferred from other clues.
We ended today in Magee, near the center of the state. We still have no good map of either Mississippi or Alabama, but we feel pretty good about tomorrow, because we’re not in Alabama. Tomorrow we have to return to Alabama, but we intend to get some good collecting done in Mississippi, first.