Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring is sprung and other reflections

It is spring -- at least in southern Louisiana. I have now been driving I-10 from New Orleans to Baton Rouge daily since December 1. It is about the same distance as from Eau Claire [WI] to the Twin Cities. I have noted some significant differences, besides the volume of traffic.

The first part of the trip after leaving the New Orleans metro area is across a swampy area, the Bonnet Carre Spillway, and more swamps. It is over 25 miles of bridges in the first 35 miles of the trip. After that, there is not much "built environment" until you get to the outskirts of Baton Rouge. I first drove the route right after Hurricane Gustav, and noticed that not only were there trees downed, but there were not many leaves on the trees. While my next several trips along the route were space out (early October, late November), the leaves never came back. Of course, it was soon "winter" in Louisiana.

About a month ago, I began to notice that there were "red buds" on some trees, and that others were getting green-ish at the tips. Well, in the month since then, the trees (many stripped bare at the end of August) have fully leafed out. It is a much prettier drive.

Here, we had a dry winter. However, after a couple of days of thunderstorms, I will note that it does not take long for the water to come back -- or it may just be a case of not draining quickly. Many places that were swampy last fall had dried up over the winter. But this morning I particularly noticed how high the water was in Lake Pontchartrain, and that not only the swampy areas along side the road, but the medians had filled with water.

One big difference is what you see along the shoulders. Last winter/spring, I counted over twenty dead deer, and many other dead animals on a trip from Eau Claire to the Cities. Here, while there is the occasional small, unidentified road kill, I have only seen one dead deer -- and that was gone in 24 hours, unlike the upper Midwest. What there is instead, are vehicles. There were a dozen or so (not counting the accident which had just occurred) along the side of the road as I drove this morning. Some of them have been there for several days to a week. I am not sure what it means.

Over the weekend I will be adding some recent Baton Rouge photos to my Flickr account (and will come back and insert a link). The flowers are out, and when it is not raining, it is very nice to walk around the Capitol grounds. There are many trees, flowering shrubs, and even flowers. With the day-time temperatures getting into the low 80s, it is very nice -- especially when the humidity is low. We will see what the summer means!

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