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Posts Tagged ‘lucky finds’

The Sand Rover, May 2014, Falls of the Ohio

 

A gorgeous morning at the Falls of the Ohio and the urge to explore is strong.  Our current spring pattern is holding.  We will have a few days of steady rain resulting in localized flooding which is then followed by the river rising as all that water seeks the lowest level and here we are after all at the bottom of the Ohio River Valley!  The latest reports on the potential effects of climate change for our area have been predicting this.  In the years to come, we can expect more fierce storms with heavier than usual rainfall causing periodic flooding.  Actually, that’s just one prediction among many.  There is also the specter of hotter summers and invasive, non-native species among other scenarios.  We will each do what we feel compelled to do to cope with it all.  For now the sky is mostly clear and the river has retreated and it’s time to break out the old sand rover and see what there is to see and find what there is to find on the banks of the Ohio River.

Sand Rover, Falls of the Ohio, May 2014

We don’t need to travel very far to stumble upon unusual objects and startling sights.  The flotsam and jetsam that can’t evade the stronger currents and navigate that hard left turn westward towards the Mississippi River get deposited in the park.  Something flesh-colored has been spotted lying on the surface of the sand and our intrepid driver moves in closer for a better look.

Headless Barbie knock off doll, May 2014

Upon inspection it turns out to be a headless, knock-off copy of a Barbie-style doll.  It’s made from cheap, hollow plastic instead of the more rubberized material that the better Barbies are made from. Thus far, this has been a good year for finding dolls at the Falls of the Ohio.  I seem to find one or two new ones each time I come out here.  Of the common objects that I routinely find…all these dolls still strike me as being especially odd and sad.  Taking a picture, it’s back aboard the sand rover and on to our next stop.

Detail of Sand Rover driver, May 2014

We don’t need to travel very far for our next discovery.  With the sun up, there is a strong glare emanating from something shiny half buried in the sand.  Pulling up to the object, our driver is  startled and bemused to find a glass jar of spaghetti sauce!

Partially buried jar of spaghetti sauce, Falls of the Ohio, May 2014

Would you believe me if I told you this is not the first jar of pasta sauce found out here?  Because it is relatively easy to prepare…I’m assuming that spaghetti is among the more popular dishes among folks who like to recreate around the river?  Over the years, I have also found jars of pickles, condiments, soup, and one very large, memorable jar of bologna.

sand rover, May 2014, Falls of the Ohio

The sand rover crosses over the sand easily, but it’s a different story near the edge of the river where sticky, thick mud cakes the ground.  As the sun dries the water out of the fine silty mud, deep cracks appear and widen with the heat.

Sand Rover and mud, May 2014, Falls of the Ohio

The driver decides that caution is the proper way to navigate around this mud.  This surface can be deceptive and it’s easy to step ankle to shin deep in this sticky quagmire.  You could lose a shoe in this stuff and I’m speaking from experience!  Once your shoes are coated with this mud…it’s hard to get them clean again.  You can tell where I live by my front porch…it’s the house with the muddy shoes lined up in a row.

Sand Rover at the Falls of the Ohio, May 2014

Carefully maneuvering around the pitfalls, the sand rover is once again safely on the shifting, but surprisingly secure sand.  There are other river treasures within view worthy of investigation.

baseball losing its cover, May 2014

A water destroyed baseball lies nearby.  This is more of an old-style ball because its core is still made with string wrapped tightly around a hard rubber core.  The covers, however, are not leather and so this isn’t an official baseball of any sort.  Just a little further down the beach is another toy that was immersed in the former liquid sand and now lies trapped in a fine granular matrix.

toy truck half buried in sand, Falls of the Ohio, May 2014

Once upon a time, this may have been a remotely controlled vehicle?  The style of this truck looks like military vehicles I have seen.  Having explored the sand, it’s time to cruise by the driftwood.

sand rover, Falls of the Ohio, May 2014

Having initially spotted something lying on the driftwood, the driver decided that he would check out the mystery object more thoroughly upon his trip home.  The closer the driver approached the stranger the object became.  In fact, he felt it was looking right back at him.  Parking the sand rover nearby, the driver climbed upon the driftwood to get a better look and this is what he found.

partial, artificial deer head, May 2014

It was heavily weathered, but there was enough present to suggest that this was the hard foam head of a deer.  The driver thought that this was perhaps part of a taxidermy trophy or maybe the head of a figurative archery target?  The object’s single dark eye was piercing and made the driver uncomfortable.  Satisfied for now, the driver climbed back aboard the sand rover and headed towards home.

head of the sand rover driver, May 2014

Well, there you have it, another interesting day at the river.  The driver was glad he came since each excursion promised new sights and mysteries to solve.  Already the next trip was being anticipated and all that was now required was for nature to cooperate.  It’s still spring and we shall see how it goes at the Falls of the Ohio this year.

Arching willow at the Falls of the Ohio, May 2014

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Landscape at the Falls of the Ohio, Sept. 2013

This post is the last of this year’s summer posts and documents a walk I made at the Falls of the Ohio State Park one week before autumn officially began.  As you can see by the pictures…it was a very beautiful day filled with all kinds of discoveries.  There was a profusion of yellow-flowering plants of various species including goldenrod and sunflowers.  Here is a detail, I think from the Woodland Sunflower?  I wish I was as confident about plants as I am in identifying animals.  When I break out my flower books, I realize it would aid identification greatly to have an example on hand.  Collecting plants is not allowed within the park limits…so I try to take photos that might be of use in discerning the various closely related species.  Besides, I don’t think pressing these plants flat would even work?  I ask myself, what leaf shape does it have?  Are the leaves serrated, smooth, or hairy and how many rays do the flower heads have and other such questions of concern to the botanist.

Sunflowers at the Falls, Sept. 2013

I suppose I’m more of an imaginative botanist at heart who also appreciates the beauty and variety the many flowers add to the temporal landscape.  I do, however, stumble upon plants that I wonder if anyone else is noticing?  I’ve posted about these anomalies before and as the seasons change, the parade of these “unnatural plants” and “faux flowers” continues.  Consider these fresh blooms.

The Surprising Poinsettia, Falls of the Ohio, Sept. 2013

I call this one the “Surprising Poinsettia” because it comes shockingly red and completely unexpected.  Its sepals are rather fabric-like and its stem is grafted upon this sunflower by some unknown means.  The next plant is more subtle.

Orangey-tickseed, Sept. 2013

This is “Orangey-tickseed” and at first blush, one might be tempted to pass over it.  I had to do a double-take on this one, however, my instincts told me something was not quite right here.  Indeed the orange-colored flowers are not at all like the yellow plant it is cohabiting with.  Again, the texture is very much like plastic.  One final plant before moving on to other interesting discoveries.

Pink Sand Lily, Falls of the Ohio, Sept. 2013

I found this beautiful flower growing near the river in the sand and I have designated it the “Pink Sand Lily” because I’m not sure what else to call it?  It is for the most part, a low growing plant and the “flower” appears at the terminal end of a wiry green stalk about four inches tall or so.  The flower petals are composed of a string-like fiber while the stamens are hard and have pseudo-pollen on them.  These unusual plants were not my only discoveries on this fine day.  I nearly always find some doll or doll part that the river has washed into here and today was no exception.  I spotted a form in the wood chips and bark bits and went in for a closer look.  Dusting off the form revealed this doll body.

"rubberized" foam doll body, Sept. 2013

This was quite unlike any other doll “body” I’ve found before at the river.  The material was obviously made from a foam-like material, but it had the flexibility of rubber.  Nearby, I also discovered  an unusual serpent.

red, plush toy snake, Sept. 2013

Approximately a foot long, this red plush snake had large black eyes and had just a bit of its tongue sticking out.  This is the first of one of these objects that I have come across .  The river was flowing nearby and I walked over to the edge of the riverbank.  The water level has finally leveled off to more of its seasonal pool and the fossil banks on the Kentucky side were exposed for the first time this year.  Looking along the water’s edge, I came across this Freshwater Drum that an angler caught and released.  Unfortunately, for the fish…it did not survive being captured.  Here is its final portrait.

Freshwater Drum, Falls of the Ohio, Sept. 2013

The Freshwater Drum (Aplodinotus grunniens) is a widespread fish and common in the Ohio River.  It has several molar-like teeth in its mouth that it uses to crush and eat snails and small clams.  The drum is not considered a desirable food species around here.  Here’s another fish I found on this walk that is also inedible.

red plastic fish bottle, Falls of the Ohio, Sept. 2013

The second “fish” I came across was this plastic bottle.  I’m guessing that the bottle may have contained shampoo for children?  Regardless, I was struck by the level of abstraction occurring here.  The tail is minimally represented and the gills are indicated by two lines near the eyes, but there is enough here to suggest a fish.  My next find is mid way between the drum and the plastic bottle being closer to the latter than the former.  Here are two views of it.

The Silvergill, Falls of the Ohio, Sept. 2013

Silvergill, Sept. 2013, Falls of the Ohio

This is a Silvergill which is closely related to the Iron Gill (which I have posted about previously).  Differences between the two species include size (this fish is smaller) and some of the fins are not the same shape or in the same position.  The Silvergill is much more rarely encountered than its larger cousin.  It is found in water of average to poor quality and often associated with coal and coal dust. It is omnivorous and eats aquatic insect larvae and algae which it grazes off of rocks.  I’m assuming that it washed up here a victim (like the Freshwater Drum) of an angler looking to catch something more worthwhile.  I took a few photos and then moved on.  The fossil beds were beckoning and I could see the resident flock of Black Vultures congregating on the rocks.  No doubt they had discovered a fish or two on their own.  Until next time from the Falls of the Ohio.

Fossil beds and Black Vultures at the Falls of the Ohio, Sept. 2013

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