Black Friday Getaway

American White Pelicans

Away from the malls, far from the madding crowds we went today. Anne and I took Dave and Maren to the Riverlands for some birding. It’s supposed to rain all weekend, so we took advantage of this interval of relative dryness to get outside. It was a grey day, but most of the birds that we saw were roosting and not on the wing, mitigating the day’s slowed shutter speeds. It is prime pelican season, but a little too early for eagles or swans. Our first stop was at the Audubon visitor’s center, where there were a couple of old guys running the array of spotter scopes. They had spotted a lone Bald eagle for us. Getting out and walking around we saw the pictured squadron of pelicans. We also saw a pair of Kestrels that are apparently regulars. We also saw a raft of scaups, of the lesser or greater variety and no other birds of note. Except we finally saw one Trumpeter swan. Swan is the loneliest number that you ever saw…

We ducked over to Alton, Illinois for some lunch at Just Desserts, where because life is both short and uncertain, you always order dessert first. The building where the restaurant is located is historical enough that Abe Lincoln once frequented it too. I hope that with what eventually happened to him, he also ordered dessert first. Then it was back to the Riverlands. We wanted to take Maren to the Confluence. Where the two great rivers meet at the point of Ted Jones State Park. She had even worn her rubber boots for the occasion and was prepared to plant one foot in the Mississippi and the other in the Missouri, but the road was closed due to flooding. We tried again, circling around to Columbia Bottoms, but were flooded out there too. It was then high time to head home. Passing the exit for Galleria, I noticed that traffic was backed up onto the highway. I hope that all those shoppers were having as good a time as us today.

Thaw

Trumpeter Swans

Today featured a high in the upper fifties. Quite the change from even this last weekend. The warmer weather seems to have unlocked all of the moisture that has been trapped in the soil. This thaw has unleashed both fog and mud. A particularly drab combination. Anne and I got out for a walk today.

On our walk we surveyed all of the construction that is occurring in our locale. Closest to home are the dueling utility projects. We have AT&T installing fiber and the sewer district uncrossing the streams. Both of these activities seemed to had gone dormant during the cold weather, but today both are being worked in full force. The sewer district had moved a block closer to home. They’re on the next block over now and new hieroglyphs, scrawled on the asphalt, appear daily in front of the house. The drilling rig is back again. I’m not sure what they are drilling for, but I don’t think that it is oil. On our walk, we encountered a weird audio phenomenon. A strange deep basal echo that appeared to bounce from one side of the street to the other. It was caused by the phone company’s pushing of fiber cable beneath the ground. 

In addition to the ongoing utility work, which to the casual observer appears to be rather amorphous and disorganized there are also a number of construction projects in the neighborhood. The biggest one is where a new hotel, restaurant and shopping center adds to the advancing retail sprawl that has been moving ever eastward towards us for years now. At the other end of the neighborhood, a quaint old retail building that had featured a florist and an antique store, for longer than we have lived in Saint Louis, is slated for immediate demolition and replacement with a doctors building.

Dan’s old middle school was demolished in prep for an almost 200 unit, five-story apartment building, but the site has sat idle now for almost a year, while the developer tries to get funding to commence construction. Word is that the old Schnucks property that has sat idle for two-decades may soon be developed. Plans include a new smaller grocery store where the old store building still sits and a high-rise apartment building where the parking lot is now.

All of this work will be good for property values, but much of the new building will only exacerbate local traffic, which is already bad. Not as bad as when the New I-64 was under construction, but do we really want to return to those days? I certainly don’t, but I must admit that this is a desirable area to live in.