An Open Letter to the State of Missouri

Dear State of Missouri,

Because my extended family lives in Kansas and I live in Tennessee, I am routinely forced to drive through your state.  I have always loathed this drive because  your roads are poorly designed, heavily-trafficked and generally awful. This year, though, you outdid yourself. The plan you had to control the masses driving through your state on I-70 was sheer diabolical genius. Stationing highway patrolmen every 8 miles in the median was a fabulous way to utterly fuck up traffic. The speed limit in your state is 70 miles per hour, but I doubt I made it much over 55 all the way through because every time the very heavy stream of traffic would approach the actual speed limit en masse, your highway patrol cars in the median would be spotted and my fellow drivers would panic and slam on the brakes, creating a chain reaction fuck up that would only clear up 8 miles further down the road. This hellish cycle repeated every 8 miles in an endless Groundhog-day-style loop. Instead of the three and a half hours it typically takes to drive from Saint Louis to Kansas City, you held me an unwilling captive for six long hours.

I was presented with some “fun facts” about Missouri at one of their rest stops which presumably exist to give you hope that you may someday get out of Missouri. Tourist bureau, you might want to edit your tourist information:

  1. Missouri is known as the “Show Me State”. Yes, show me how to get the hell out of this state as fast as possible.
  2. The ‘Show Me State’ expression may have begun in 1899 when Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver stated, “I’m from Missouri and you’ve got to show me.” You’ve got to show me how to get out of this state.
  3. The first successful parachute jump to be made from a moving airplane was made by Captain Berry at St. Louis, in 1912. Even flying over the state leaves you suicidal.
  4. The most destructive tornado on record occurred in Annapolis. In 3 hours, it tore through the town on March 18, 1925 leaving a 980-foot wide trail of demolished buildings, uprooted trees, and overturned cars. It left 823 people dead and almost 3,000 injured. Nature abhors Missouri.
  5. Josephine Baker was born in Missouri. And promptly ran screaming to Paris to get out of Missouri.
  6. The first Capitol in Jefferson City burned in 1837 and a second structure completed in 1840 burned when the dome was struck by lightning on February 5, 1911. I think someone is trying to tell you something.
  7. Creve Coeur’s name means broken heart in French, comes from nearby Creve Coeur Lake. Legend has it that an Indian princess fell in love with a French fur trapper, but the love was not returned. According to the story, she then leapt from a ledge overlooking Creve Coeur Lake; the lake then formed itself into a broken heart. Because she was trapped for eternity in Missouri.
  8. The most powerful earthquake to strike the United States occurred in 1811, centered in New Madrid, Missouri. The quake shook more than one million square miles, and was felt as far as 1,000 miles away. Hello, Missouri, the planet wants you to go away.
  9. Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis, Missouri is the largest beer producing plant in the nation. If you lived in Missouri, you’d need buckets of beer to tolerate it, too.
 I never thought I’d be so happy to see this sign:

75 mph speed limit and 100% less annoying.

Suck it Missouri. Kansas is a much better state, Gov. Brownback lunacy notwithstanding.

Shark diving on the cheap and other really bad ideas for vacation adventures

It is indisputable that sharks are extra cool. Every time I go to the beach, I look in vain for a shark. I’ve never seen a real shark in the ocean, not counting the two-foot-long baby shark I saw during my disastrous canoe trip with my sister. Naturally, Shark Week is a big geek-out time of year for me and I never miss the episodes reenacting the attack on the poor slob at the beach. For those of my morbid followers who just want the link to the shark attack videos, here you go.

Since I am such a shark geek, I am dying to go shark diving. This week, I got an email offering the trip of a life time to go “Budget Shark Diving.” This causes me some concern. I think that economizing to save money is not really my primary concern when picking a shark diving outfit. If you need an explanation why, take a gander at this outfit’s liability waiver you have to sign before you hit the cage. (Note: this dive group did not offer a discount trip to me). Keep your hands in the cage kids!

If shark diving on a budget strikes you as a bad idea, how about having a guy hold you by the ankles so you can look over the edge of Victoria Falls?

This hiking trail in China looks like it was built to last. I definitely want to try this one.

I think that zoos that allow visitors to simply walk into enclosures to pet the lions are charming, and also, operate to remove stupid people from the reproductive pool.

If you are brave and/or stupid enough to want to canoe a remote part of Africa, remember that hippos are not your friend.

Yachting around the Horn of Africa is lovely, and also, exciting as you attempt to outrun the natives who would like you to the their “Guest” while they ransom you. This site as some helpful tips including Somali phrases to memorize for your captivity.

On balance, the budget shark dive seems alright.

The Grim Reaper Report: National Park deaths

I have noticed an uptick in people who find this blog with searches for people who die in various national parks or as dinner for a shark or grizzly bear. Y’all are clearly a morbid, bloodthirsty bunch. This morning, these searches found this blog:

Searching for dead people

As a public service, for those of you with morbid curiosity wasting time looking for information on people who have died in National Parks and how, here’s where you need to go:

Yellowstone deaths

This bear in Yellowstone did not eat us as we stayed a long way away. If you surprise a bear with cubs, you can expect to be dispatched to the hereafter. Note the grainy picture which denotes long distance away from danger.

 

Yosemite deaths

3 people just died here. We didn't, but we stayed behind the rails.

Zion National Park deaths

This is why people die on Angel's Landing. It's 1200 feet off to one side and 900 on the other. I'm not insane enough to climb this, but Troy was. He's alive.

Grand Canyon deaths

Death Valley National Park deaths

Mount Ranier National Park deaths

Great Smoky Mountain National Park deaths/statistics

People die in Great Smoky Mountain National Park every year. Mostly because they are stupid. Waterfalls are dangerous.

 

Acadia National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Channel Islands National Park

Biscayne National Park

The water at Biscayne National Park is crystal clear. You can drown here or be eaten by a shark. According to Troy, who has to my knowledge, never set a toe in the ocean.

Big Bend National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

I did not drown, fall off a waterfall or get eaten by a mountain lion in Rocky Mountain National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Troy hiked all 19+ miles of this trail in Grand Teton without dying

Badlands National Park (click on the compendium for details by year)

The Badlands are named that way for a reason. Troy survived it. Because he's not an idiot and took water and knew where he was. Also because I was not there for him to argue with about which way to go.

Canyonlands National Park

Just past the arch is a drop of over 1500 feet. Don't go to the edge and pose.

Haleakala National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Sequoia National Park

Kings Canyon National Park

Denali National Park

Sadly, there’s no statistics kept on who had it coming. Darwinism may be at work in many of the deaths.

For those of you even more determined to track down who met their fate in the form of being dinner for a wild animal, here you go:

Mountain lion attacks

Black bear attacks

These baby bears are adorable. Mom is pissed off. We stayed a respectful distance away.

Grizzly bear attacks

Polar bear attacks

Shark attacks

Killer bee attacks

Snake bite deaths

You’re welcome.

Something new to add to my list of things that suck: cicadas

Troy and I were married on Friday the 13th thirteen years ago this coming June 13.  I had forgotten that the year we were married coincided with the arrival of the 13 year cicada invasion which is probably some sort of omen. May started out kind of cold here and the cicada invasion was on hold which was perfectly fine by me. I hate flying bugs. I especially hate mass legions of flying bugs. I knew trouble had started when I spotted the first one:

Loud, obnoxious and gross. Look at those beady red eyes.

One is bad enough. Millions of them are intolerable. It is hard to describe the sound so I have thoughtfully recorded it here:

Seriously, this sound will haunt me for years.  It’s like a million rattle snakes hanging in trees shaking their rattles simultaneously. This afternoon, I went to wash the kamikaze cicada debris off my car at the local car wash. Bad idea. I was attacked by dozens of the damned things. One flew down my cleavage. The outrage. As I gingerly tried to locate and remove the buzzing insect from underneath my sweaty left breast, I noticed I had attracted the attention of a few fellow car washers. In my mind, I bravely stared them down and flung the carcass of the dead insect at their feet. In reality, I probably stuffed my not quite as perky as it once was boob back into the sports bra and hid behind the car wash vacuum cleaners. What the hell were they staring at anyway? It’s not like I was picking the underwear out of my ass or something.