{ Triceratops Weekend with the Missouri Institute of Natural Science }

April 20, 2014 § 1 Comment

It’s like the start of a joke: a geologist, a psychologist, a journalist and a jolly man named Larry are going to retrieve a triceratops skeleton from Wyoming…

Triceratops baby along for the ride. He kept us company through the Osage Plains, loess hills, IOWA, Badlands, Black Hills and empty, empty Wyoming grasslands. What a trooper.

Triceratops baby along for the ride. He kept us company through the Osage Plains, loess hills, IOWA, Badlands, Black Hills and empty, empty Wyoming grasslands. What a trooper.

The dig site! Very cool to visit.

The dig site! Very cool to visit.

Ok, who has a Bobcat in Springfield? We're going to need one.

Ok, who has a Bobcat in Springfield? We’re going to need one when we get in.

Matt Forir ratchets it in.

Matt Forir ratchets it in.

“How often does a little hillbilly girl get to meet people who do important things like this?” – says the woman at the hotel who just took a picture of our sorry 5-hours-of-sleep selves. Sigh.

The short of it: I had the opportunity of a lifetime to go with a ragtag crew of Ozarkians to retrieve a dinosaur for display in the Missouri Institute of Natural Science. It was sick. I’ll let you know when the story’s out. If you see a U-Haul on the road today, assume it’s carrying a dinosaur.

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{ The Prairie-Grass Dividing }

April 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

THE prairie-grass dividing—its special odor breathing,
I demand of it the spiritual corresponding,
Demand the most copious and close companionship of men,
Demand the blades to rise of words, acts, beings,
Those of the open atmosphere, coarse, sunlit, fresh, nutritious,
Those that go their own gait, erect, stepping with freedom and command—leading, not following,
Those with a never-quell’d audacity—those with sweet and lusty flesh, clear of taint,
Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents and Governors, as to say, Who are you?
Those of earth-born passion, simple, never-constrain’d, never obedient,
Those of inland America.

— Walt Whitman

{ Sandhill Cranes on the Platte River }

April 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Words can’t describe the sky-splitting sound of ten thousand cranes taking flight at one time. Pictures can’t really, either*, but if you get the chance to see one of nature’s greatest shows, it’s definitely worth the trip. These photos were taken from a blind at Rowe Sanctuary. « Read the rest of this entry »

{ Kearney’s giant calzones }

April 5, 2014 § 1 Comment

Let’s start from the end of the day, when Andrea uttered, “I am going to tell my grandchildren about this calzone.”

The most unassuming restaurant I think I've ever seen.

The Flippin Sweet. Pretty sure it’s in an old garage.

As journalists and lovers of rock music, we were obligated to order the “Almost Famous.” Pretty sure it’s the best calzone I’ve ever had. Or best food I’ve ever had? I’d post a picture, but this isn’t Midwest Living, and we ate it all in five minutes. “If you were a baby, you would fit in the calzone,” says Andrea.

Anyway, to her credit, after the calzone she did add, “and the cranes,” rather quickly.

Because that’s why we’re really here. To see the Sandhill Cranes staying over near the Platte River. Us and dozens of these other suckers:

Viewing deck on the Platte River just off the Lowell Road bridge south of I-80 exit 285.

Viewing deck on the Platte River just off the Lowell Road bridge south of I-80 exit 285.

This is my third year in a row to see the cranes, but the first time I’ve planned a trip myself. First, I went with a group of journalism students, and last year I went with ornithology students. Now I’m with my Grampa Marty and good good friend Andrea. Very different experiences. I should write a guide book.

I'm fixing my hair, not tired of Grampa's company.

I’m fixing my hair, not tired of Grampa’s company. Although he does tease us quite a bit.

I knew they wouldn’t judge me if I royally messed up plans, and I needed someone to write down our bird list!

Thanks, AK!

{ Not pictured: } our hike around the Eastern Nebraska Platte River Preserve Native Prairie Nature Trail. (That’s a mouthful. They could work on marketing.) Anyway, I’ve been following Chris Helzer’s blog, “The Prairie Ecologist” for several months and was excited to see some of his work. Even though it’s April, and you kind of have to poke around in the grass to see green things.

Also, there’s a great Vietnamese/Thai restaurant on 4th Street in Grand Island, Nebraska. But what is this, Midwest Living? I’ll shut up now.

Can you tell I’m tired? I’m writing like Ernest Hemingway. We’re waking up in four hours to go to the blinds at Rowe Sanctuary. Those birds better appreciate it.

{ Ay yo Denver, it’s been nice }

April 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Did you know that Denver is in the Missouri River watershed? I got to walk near Cherry Creek and the Platte River a few times during my stay for the AHCJ Conference. It’s little, but pretty, so we’ll claim it.

I also wrote a killer post on hydraulic fracturing, health and occupational hazards for the organization’s blog. This was in addition to “8 Lessons Learned from New Journalism Business Models” here on The Gasconader.

When I wasn’t learning new things, I explored a whole lot. Highlights include three phenomenal meals with great service at Gallo Di Nero (hell yeah to its happy hour), Wynkoop Brewery (the B3K Black Lager is off the chainz), and Linger (bring a bunch of friends and/or journalists and order basically everything off the menu); and a great night at Bluebird Theatre to see Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, which somehow combines Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds with Big Smith to stunning effect.

This weekend, it’s back to the Platte, this time in Kearney, Nebraska to see the Sandhill Crane migration! More soon.

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