I always mean to blog more than I do, and now is no exception. While we haven’t had a full day off of work yet – this will take some creative accounting since our boss can’t afford to pay us overtime – we do get off at 3:30 p.m. every day since we start so early in the morning. I like our early mornings because they beat the heat, and as anyone who has ever seen me rollerski on a hot summer day can tell you, heat is not something I adapt to easily.
One thing that has taken up some extra time is the fact that I decided to work on a long article about the mess the Russian women’s biathlon team is in. It took a few days and you can read it here.
Another reason I haven’t written was that on Saturday, I was having too much fun.
We haven’t had a day off, but Saturday was close. Instead of doing fieldwork, we spent the morning taking a class on riding ATV’s. All-terrain vehicles are available for us to use to haul our gear from site to site, but we had to get certified to ride them first. Hence, the class. We spend several hours zipping around cones and over obstacles. The point was to learn how to ride safely, but it was a lot of fun, too. Not to mention the easiest hours of work we will ever have.
And after that, we were free for the afternoon. Jamie and I took full advantage of our brief window of freedom, and began by hitting up a tourist-trap shark museum and shell shop.
Did I catch this guy with my own two hands? Yes, absolutely, like every other tourist. And I’m about to make him into shark soup. It will be especially delicious because he’s made out of plastic.
Inside, there was a museum which actually was pretty cool. I had never seen an armadillo, which are supposedly vermin around here, but luckily there was one for me to examine so I’ll know what to look for.
Jamie’s favorite was the pufferfish. She tried to mimic the little guy, but it was kind of tough, not being full of spikes and all.
We ended up spending much too much time in the tourist trap shop, looking at shells and cheap plastic crap. I bought some postcards because I felt bad making the lady stay open when it turned out that she was waiting for a bathroom break, and Jamie bought a couple of shells for her hermit crab and some saltwater taffy which turned out to be not very good.
Our next stop was the fishing pier. The pier sticks 900 feet out into the Gulf of Mexico and on Saturday, it was packed with fishermen casting bait fish far out into the Gulf. We watched one lucky fisher land what seemed to me like a quite large fish, but most of the men and women seemed to be relaxing with their friends while they waited for a tug on the line. Two cute girls drove a golf cart up and down the pier selling concessions and cold beer from a cooler strapped on the back.
It was cool to be able to enjoy the beach just for the beach’s sake instead of worrying about getting to work on time or already being exhausted and sweaty. Plus, out on the pier the wind was gusting and gave us a respite from the sun. I hate doing touristy things, but this was just what the doctor ordered.
After touring Navarre Beach, driving through the picturesque nearby section of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and checking out Gulf Breeze (boring), we finally finished up the trip with some snow cones. Snow cones are becoming our weekend tradition. After picking mango last weekend, this time I went with “hula girl”, a combination of polar punch (whatever that is, it’s blue) and kiwi. We were served by the aging proprietor of the stand, who was on hand, unusually, to help out his younger, entirely female crew. He had an impressively dry wit. We sat at a picnic table and savored our treats.
We ended the day with a glass of wine and a dip in the pool. All in all, pretty nice.
And now it’s back to the fieldwork grindstone – something our RV park neighbors never cease to comment on. “You girls are working all the time,” they say. True – but not all the time!