Tag Archives: travel

Casualities of the Road

Last week my mom and I drove from Kansas City to Glacier over a couple of days. The Midwest-Montana connection is a journey I have made more times than I can remember, but the last time Moms did it with me we (well, I should say I, because she found it morbid and perhaps a little unnerving) started a tradition.

Perhaps you have a road trip tradition. Maybe it involves playing I Spy, eating condiment sandwiches, looking for different states’ licence plates, or singing songs about washing your neck, like I used to do as a kid with my grandparents. Those are all great, but that’s not what we do.

Nope, we count animal casualties on the road. But in a non-creepy way. Yeah, I mean road kill, though I don’t like that term. Yes, it is depressing, but it does pass the time, and it does make you bear witness a little, and it does provide some vague ecological commentary about our country — heavy on the raccoon the first day, none by the last day, and so on.

road casualities

The drive is nearly 1500 miles and 22 hours, not including bi-hourly pee breaks. During our three-day journey we encountered at least 181 fallen fuzzies. The mile/kill ratio was by far the highest the first day between Kansas City and Mitchell, SD.

181 animals. It’s a number worth thinking about.

111 unidentifiable small furry creatures
23 raccoon (17 on the first day, none on the last)
15 deer
11 skunks
8 birds
4 coyote
4 squirrels
2 bunnies
2 pronghorn
1 porcupine
1 dog
and 2 black shoes


Sting City

Ever wonder what it would feel like to hold a five-foot animate chicken cutlet? Curious about what an animal with a kisser like vacuum might look like? Want a little magic in your life? Fear no danger? Like getting mobbed by moving pancakes underwater? Appreciate flatness? Then I highly recommend you find a boat and make a sojourn to Stingray City, where the sea puppies live, and all your weirdo dreams can come true. I know mine did.

Southern stingrays (Dasyatis americana) can be found elegantly gliding around the ocean floor in tropical and subtropical waters from Jersey to Brazil. Their pectorals fins stretch out like stealth wings, trailing long, barbed tails behind. Diamond-shaped, their dorsal side is olive-hued and rough like a fleshy sandpaper, while their underbellies are a smooth, soft white. Their namesake stinger barb is tucked in about half way down their slim tails, and while its venom is not fatal to humans, a poke would sting like all hell. (Incidentally, Steven Irwin’s fatal heart-sting freak accident was not at the fins of a southern ray.) 
This genial lot of wild rays hangs out at a large, naturally-occurring sandbar within a huge salt-water lagoon on the island’s northwestern end, walled in by the barrier reef that rings the whole island. Apparently these usually solitary creatures cued in to a free meal years ago when they realized fisherfolk came to these shallow waters to clean their fish and toss the delicious guts overboard. And before you knew it hungry rays were coming out to the sound of boat engines like a flock of pancakes looking of syrup. Shortly there after, industrious humans realized they could make a buck by bringing animal-crazed tourists out to feed (mmm, calamari), pet, and generally love up on the now quite tame rays, and in the process make my decade.
Some of the rays have been coming around for years, like Rebecca, the biggest, oldest female, and Stumpy, who lost her tail, and Scarface of the distinct features… And when these gentle creatures whimple by, grazing your knee-backs and ruffling over your shoulders to hoover at the fish in your hand, you will not be able to cease laughing like a happy maniac, and you will fervently wish you were a mermaid just so you could keep one as a friend.

He Hath Founded It Upon The Seas

Yesterday I returned from a lovely week of sand, sea, family, and rum on Grand Cayman. Returned to the snow, naturally, with the ocean still in salting my hair. This here is the first installment of usual suspects encountered. All were quite congenial. Except for the cockroaches, who shall remain nameless.

A wee crablet
Demonstrating the power of suction, and creepin’

Went a courtin’

Dove Rae Me

Nice beret, Luc

Still life with Chuckles

The long shanks

And now she’s blushing

Just another goth kid

Forget something, blue-throated anole?

Make No Little Plans

Oh, Shedd Aquarium, how I’ve missed wandering among your wonders…
A little white whale on the go.
Hardly scaling back.
Not your typical sea monkey.
Sauron’s got nothing on this one.
Peep show.
Flotsam or Jetsam?
Dude knows how to lurk. 
Check out the big brain on Brad!
Caimans can creepers.
Animated doilies?
Ruffle your bustle.
Medusa. Sea nettle. Jelly bonnet. Bloom.
Flapper fringe.
Dance of the Sugar Plum Faerie.
Roxanne, you don’t have to wear that dress tonight.
Look familiar?
Do not disturb.