Re-posted from Danelle’s Science Blog. I’ve added some extra photos at the bottom.
Since my research is on winter use of road salt, much of my field work has been completed in the winter. I’ve spent days climbing down storm drains to learn about municipal salt use. This year, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I spent the day in the field with Cathleen Yung (an undergraduate student who has been helping me in the lab) and my helpful husband Hogan. We visited Sugar Creek in order to hunt for a large number of a single species of flathead mayfly for a toxicity study that I would be conducting over the following two weeks.
Cathleen transfers mayflies into a clean container while I look for more mayflies under the rocks. Photo by Hogan Haake.
Normally, I wouldn’t consider field work before Thanksgiving to be winter field work, but when we arrived at the site, the water temperature was only 3 degrees C and there were small patches of ice along some of the stream banks. We proceeded to spend about 7 hours in the chill water (with waders on), picking up many small rocks (and several not-so-small rocks) with our bare hands in order to look for our mayfly friends. While slow and tedious, this hand collecting method is the most effective for gathering wild specimens without causing injuries to the delicate critters – as long as you can still feel your fingers.
By the end of the day, we had collected over 450 mayflies. As someone who is working to preserve aquatic life, there is a part of me that regrets taking so many animals from the stream. Fortunately, I know that this stream is supporting a very large and healthy population of this species. Within the 120-meter segment of stream where we sampled, we left large patches of habitat undisturbed and did not take the smaller individuals. In addition, there were many other patches of prime habitat both upstream and downstream of the area where we collected. I share these bits of information because I want to make it clear that, as a responsible scientist, I consider the environmental costs and potential long-term effects of any collection efforts that I undertake.
Flat head mayflies are abundant in this stretch of stream.
Before I close out this post, I need to express my gratitude to my two amazing helpers. Hogan and Cathleen not only helped get the job done, they were cheerful and enthusiastic about it! I could not have asked for better help in less-than-comfortable conditions!
I’ve heard from outdoor friends about Don Robinson State park. It has an interesting history from an interesting guy. Don bought land trying to create a place the size of Central Park in New York City. Don Robinson is 800 acres while Central Park is slightly bigger. The hiking trails are supposed to be good and I wanted to go somewhere to hang out with Danelle.
We took the blue trail (LaBarque Hills Trail) since it is shorter. Due to the mud, it was quite difficult to get through some places, but we didn’t mind the challenge.
The hike was great and the views perfect. Its pretty amazing how different this landscape is, being less than an hour from St. Louis! It was even better getting to spend a quite morning with the woman that I love.
Jason is turning 50 and Jo planned a nice get together to celebrate. We started off meeting at the Venice Cafe. This place started around the time of the City Museum. Every inch of the place is decorated! unfortunately for us, it was November and most of the place was closed. The bar was open, so we got to get a glimpse of what it would be in the summer time. I will have to go back and take Danelle as its quite the site!
Joe Sartori on the left and the birthday boy, Jason Locke on the right inside Venice Cafe.
After a few drinks, it was time to move on. Jason with the cement frog outside.
Judy taking his photo.
We walked over to Frazer’s restaurant for dinner. Its one of the fancier places I’ve been to eat before. Not what I consider fake fancy like Ruth’s Chris where the food is extra expensive so it has to feel special. The food here was presented in unique ways with interesting flavors. Definitely worth a visit for unique quality food.
Dinner lasted a long time and we had a fantastic time chatting. Jo brewed a special beer for the occasion as a gift to each of us for coming. She also baked a delicious cake that we shared for dessert. A perfect birthday for a landmark year!
I don’t remember how many years we’ve had our sectional sofa, but it has to be getting close to 10 years. Its taken a lot of abuse from the kids. Lots of climbing over and sitting down hard. Eventually some wood broke and it wasn’t providing the support it was supposed to. Furniture is too expensive to replace unless you have to, so we had to do something. Ok, Danelle did something and I just supervised.
Danelle found the broken board on the back of the sofa. She determined that the only way to get to the broken board was from the cushion area. So the sofa got rolled over and we found a 2×4 that could be screwed in to bridge the gap of the broken board.
It was decided after much trial that one of our clamps could be used to hold the broken piece and the 2×4 up in position while the screws were added.
I can report that its been a bit since the repair and it is holding up nicely!
Jake and I had not met up in quite a while. We decided to meet early morning and go on a hike. Its always fun to hike with long time friends as there is always plenty to talk about. We started out on the White Bison Trail that goes around the park. During the hike we saw several deer that Jake wished he saw during hunting season.
About half way through the hike, we saw a female elk standing there. It was far enough away, we were not concerned. However, as we came around a nearby building, we saw her male counterpart very close. The trail went between the pair. We waited for a couple minutes, but they didn’t move and we didn’t want to get in their way, so we hiked back the way we came.
Back at the parking lot, there was a group of elk between the truck and us. They watched us for a while before Jake slowly went around and got in so we could leave them in peace.
What a great way to catch up with a friend and enjoy a morning! During the hike I used my new Zippo pocket hand warmer. It was very good at keeping me warm and I was glad that I had it!