Saturday, February 03, 2018

Not the best

That was most definitely not the best trip I've ever taken. No fault of the conference organizers and once I got there, everything was fine (more on that later)

First up: I woke up shortly before 5 am, sneezed, and got a copiously bloody nose. It's been very dry here; the relative humidity in my house was 20% this morning. I have a humidifier but it can only do so much.

And then my clever "Let me avoid Ardmore and also try driving the hypotenuse of a right triangle instead of both sides" plan wasn't so clever - about 35 minutes in, one of the rural routes I was to take? Was closed for construction, no detour suggested, and at that point it was still dark AND the relevant page had fallen out of my Gazetteer. (I need to invest in a new one anyway). So I wound up trying to guess. Drove through Tishomingo TWICE. Finally said "Bag it, I think 199 will take me to Ardmore, I'd go there and catch 77.

But guys. My state. My stupid state. I don't know if it's budget cutting (signs fall down/get stolen, never get replaced), or the assumption that "If you're not from 'round here, you got no business drivin' on our rural roads," or the assumption "But everyone uses their smartphones to tell them where to go now."

THEY DON'T MARK THE STATE ROUTES. Or at least not regularly. In a couple places I found you go 15-20 miles before you see a clear indication of what you're on. And MULTIPLE times (I am looking at you, Purcell, and also you, south end of Davis), there is an intersection, it's not clear which way you're supposed to turn (or turn at all) and there is NO SIGN. So, if like me, you assume, "No indicator sign and arrow means you keep going straight," you get off your path badly.

I got turned around multiple times. It got later and later. Finally, outside of Davis, I stopped to ask directions (And got asked, "Why don't you just take I-35" and I responded "Because where I'm going to is harder to get to from there" which is true but also I didn't want to say "I-35 drivers be crazy, y'all" which is also true but I know some people don't like hearing it)

I also called the organizer of the meetings, as he'd helpfully included his cell number on the confirmation form. I don't know what I thought....that they'd lock the doors, or tell me "YOU ARE LATE. NO MEETINGS FOR YOU!" and I had already planned that if that were the case when I arrived, I'd say "bag it," not argue, and try to find "fun" shopping in Norman instead. And then I thought when I called him from Davis, that if I got a whiff of "You should have planned better" I would just turn around and go home and, I don't know, go back to bed.

But his response was, "Oh, you'll be fine. Get here when you get here, drive safely" so I decided to push on.

I missed the entire first talk.

Understand: Norman is allegedly 2 1/2 hours from me, and I left the house at quarter to 6. I should have been there by 8:15, when registration opened. But between having to re-route, getting turned around by LACK OF SIGNAGE and also having to go slowly behind some guy in the Arbuckles who apparently wanted to look for was almost 10 when I got in there. And was upset and frazzled.

I hate being late for things. In fact, I frequently leave with more than a half-hour's wiggle room just so I WON'T be late. So it upsets me when I am. I think it bothers me more to be late than it bothers other people to be late, and I think it bothers me more than the people around me are bothered by my lateness.

Anyway. At least I got there in time for the talk I really wanted to see: one of my former students, who now works for The Nature Conservancy, was speaking about a couple preserves she helps manage. I wanted to be there partly to support her, but partly because I wanted to hear her talk.

The funny thing was, when she got up there, she commented, "I was okay with the level of nervousness about speaking to such a big group until I saw [fillyjonk] walk in, and now I"m nervous."

(At the break, I wound up telling more than one person: "I'm not scary, really")

But she also added that I had been her ecology professor and noted "She is one of my heroes" which surprised me a little because honestly, in terms of things that have actual lasting value that benefit a lot of people, she's done more with her life than I have.

At any rate, it was an interesting talk, though she noted a couple of the preserves were suffering the impact from nearby sand mining. Apparently there is a worldwide sand shortage (fracking, as it turns out, uses it) and so now sand deposits that were more expensive to mine in the past are now profitable.

(And it would stiiiiiiiink to be a neighbor to the mine - she said it's a 24/7 operation and they have it lit up very intensely at night. A lot of the folks there are on land that's been in their family for generations so selling it would be a BIG decision, not to mention that the presence of mining in the area probably lowers the value, at least as land to live on)

The other talks were good. One was a little disorganized (more "artistically" minded people sometimes give talks I find hard to follow) but was still good.

I took off around 2:30. Once again had a couple of "wait, this isn't right, should I have turned" moments, even after having more landmarks in mind to refer to. I got in HERE around 6:00, but that was because I stopped to get gas, and also stopped at a slightly seedy McDonald's to use the restroom and to get something to eat because I was starving (protip: Chicken McNuggets are not great on an empty stomach if you are not accustomed to eating them). I went home the 77-to-Ardmore, then to 70, then to 199 so I could go over the Cumberland Cut rather than the scary Roosevelt Bridge. (I had been over one scary bridge twice today - I think it was the Canadian River near Purcell? Very long, over both a railroad yard (?) and the river itself).

But yeah. Glad to be home. Once my parents call (they typically do at 7 on Saturday nights) I think I am changing the sheets on the bed and just GOING TO BED. Because getting up at 5 on a Saturday seems somehow worse then getting up at 5 on a workday.

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