Saturday, March 18, 2006

Tallahassee trip

I've just been to Tallahassee for a few days. I've already written about the workshop that motivated the trip. Usually I try to fit a bit of a holiday around long-distance conference trips, but a combination of Japanes rules, and the fact that the organisers were paying, made it a bit harder than usual this time, and I had not made any plans before I flew. In fact, I'm embarassed to say I didn't even know where Tallahassee was before I landed there :-) Nevertheless, I still managed to see a little bit more than the inside of a lecture room.

Tallahassee seemed a very pleasant town, at least in March (I don't think summer can be much fun). On the short walk from the hotel to FSU,

I wandered past several real live frat houses - yes, they really exist outside of Animal House!

FSU has a green and pleasant campus, with lots of oaks which all had beards of Spanish Moss dangling off. Wisteria and dogwood (pictured) were flowering, along with azaleas and rhododendrons.

Lunches were provided on-site, but in the evenings I managed to sample a few pints of the surprisingly good Blue Moon beer and some pleasant enough but not exceptional cooking at "Andrews".

The meeting ended at lunchtime on the Wednesday, and some people weren't flying until the evening (I had a whole extra night), so a group of us drove out to Wakulla Springs for the afternoon. This is a large deep spring in a limestone region, a little like the Fontaine de Vaucluse except with a much bigger, flatter, river. And alligators. Lots of alligators.

Last time I went to Florida I didn't see any, and it's the one question people ask, so it's nice to have encountered them outside zoos (not that they looked different, of course). There were ospreys and vultures and lots of other birds, familiar and unfamiliar.

There are supposed to be fossilised mastodon bones 150m down at the bottom, but the water was a bit too dark to see that far.

The travelling was uneventful, and wasn't even too painful, considering Florida is about as far away as it's possible to get. In fact some people coming all the way from Colorado took longer than I did, spending a night in a hotel lobby in Memphis with there apparently not being a free bed in the whole city! I spent the time mostly reading the amazing "Number 9 dream", a Christmas present from my sister which I'd been saving up for this trip (I think she read it on her trip to visit us last year). Also, I wrote this (but couldn't actually post it).


coby said...

James, the photo of the dogwood is extraordinary, it looks like an impressionist painting! Very nice.

Yes, Florida in the summer is pretty unbearabley hot. The few seconds one spends moving from an air conditioned car to an air conditioned building are very intense. I lived in Tampa Bay for 6 months, June - Dec. We had great lightening storms though.

Anonymous said...

What, no photo of the Official State Laminated Wood Product? But I suppose you weren't far enough south to catch one in its natural habitat... :)

James Annan said...

Laminated wood??

Anonymous said...

Too obscure, sorry. FL calls itself the "Palmetto State" after an ubiquitous tree variety, but of late has been become known as the "Plywood State" due to the extensive use of the latter in connection with hurricanes.

James Annan said...

Oh, no sign of hurricane damage (not that I saw much of the area anyway). Perhaps Tallahassee is a bit far from the coast to bear the brunt.