A week in the life of a MRBO marshbird technician

We got this email from Tami Courtney, recent UCM grad and stellar marshbird tech.  Had to pass it on…
Hello again, Family and Friends!
 
Week three draws to a close and for the most part, uneventfully.  This is good!  However, I would like to share a couple good things and not so good things, most of which I already thought I knew, but were reinforced and driven home this past week:  maps are good, detailed maps are better, more than one detailed map is best.  Trying to drive through and around record flood damage, even one year past, is an exercise in futility without the aforementioned detailed maps.  Do not ask locals for directions:  They have NO IDEA!  Nope, not one. 
 
I actually learned this last year in Wyoming; but it came up when trying to locate an address near Marshall, Missouri three weeks ago, and became painfully apparent again this past week.  Locals may be able to get you some where, but tell you a road name or number?  Forget it!  And they always think they know everyone for miles and miles. . .  Don’t kid yourself. . .  They DON’T!  My experience when asking a local for directions is first a blank, deer-in-the-headlight-look; then a “huh?”, followed by the question of whose place are you looking for?  This ensues over five minutes of befuddlement by the local; and better yet, if there are more than one local present when you ask the dreaded question, I flinch as I ask; well, then you get 10 minutes or more of baffled mumbling, requests to see your map – of which you do not have – that’s why you’re asking them. . .  and then shoulders shrugged and “wish we could help”; as they drive off leaving you scratching your head in the middle of. . .  you guessed it . . .  absolutely nowhere!
 
Missouri sand and silt carried anywhere and deposited anywhere is treacherous – and as those who call the Show-Me State home can attest – silt equals Missouri Quicksand.  Don’t go there!  Becoming mired past your ankles and approaching your knees in the boot sucking (and often boot keeping) banks of a so-called little creek rates right up there with swimming in your chest waders and paddling your boat against the current and into the wind.  Heck, why not brighten your day even further and spit into the same wind?  Maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll land on a secretive marsh bird instead of smacking you directly in the face.
 
Roads are good.  Gravel roads are good, chip and seal roads are better – unless they’ve just oiled them and you discover trying to stop in order to avoid anything – doesn’t work well; paved roads – for those of you city dwellers and complainers of potholes – well, paved roads are the crème-de-la-crème of roads, in almost any condition they are presented to you.  The next time you are complaining about how your county, city, state, or federal highway department maintain their roads think of this:  in attempting to get to one area for a survey this past week, even in Missouri, in the middle of our great country, there are so-called roads to absolutely nowhere!   And they don’t tell you that until you are at “nowhere” and have to somehow get your beast of a truck turned around in less than 12 linear feet without sliding into – yep, a Missouri Marsh, oh, or a farmers freshly planted field.
 
These so-called roads are NOT roads.  I repeat, they are NOT roads.  They are some person’s warped sense of humor in full bloom.  I know, I experienced them first hand.  They are farm roads disguised as county roads.  They are dirt, no, they are sand, silt and Missouri mud, with a splash of rain and washout mixed in.  They are a rear-wheel drive sedans worst nightmare; and an off-road four-wheelers dream come true.  They are not roads!  They are a legal excuse to get your vehicle really, really, really (notice I used 3 really’s) –MUDDY!  And you better be moving when you hit them; otherwise, they are going to be the 1-800 call to a friend, parent, child, or better yet, $200 tow truck; that by the way – proceeds to get stuck too; so they call the local farmer and he brings his front loader over and pulls everyone out.
 
No, that didn’t happen to me.  My beautiful, big blue beast of a truck got through it all safely; albeit with the mud slung everywhere, including the door handles and windshield, but hey!   It’s a truck, it adds character.  I shiver with terror each time I think about taking my now traded-in cadillac to any of the spots I experienced these last three weeks.  Relief washes over me each time the Beast gets me through a boulder flanked low water crossing, mud resembling the Borneo Tar Pits, up and down soggy levee slopes, and acts as my refuge after swimming in waders, battling 20 mph winds in a flat bottom boat, or extracting my knee boot from Missouri quicksand. 
 
Lovin’ the Muddy Marshes of Missouri!  Wish you were here!
 
Tami
 
 

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