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As unhappy as a clam, sitting in the mud
It’s no treat to beat your feet against the Alabama crud

This week will feature Mr. B.’s  and my photographs of the four days we spent on the Gulf Coast.  These were taken up to the day before larger spill made landfall.  On Saturday, we were appalled to see that beaches we had visited 72 hours earlier now had significantly more sludge.

Over the weekend, I read a brief article about the spill on the WMBB Web site.  WMBB is an ABC affiliate based in Panama City, Florida.  In the article, reporter Mary Scott Speigner quotes BP spokesperson Lucia Bustamente as saying that the water at Perdido Key (now closed) is “not toxic.”  Relative to the tar balls, Ms. Bustamente adds, “It’s really just a big nuisance it’s kind of sticky so try to get away from it” (lack of punctuation Ms. Scott Speigner’s).  Additionally, Ms. Bustamente describes the tar balls as being composed of “paraphin” (Ms. Scott Speigner’s spelling).  According to her, all the hydrocarbons have “washed out.”  Ms. Bustamente needs to brush up on her chemistry; “paraphin” is a hydrocarbon, although one routinely and harmlessly used as mineral oil, in cosmetics, and in candle-making.  Mineral oil, as you know, is used as a laxative.  BP has taken a giant dump in the toilet bowl that is now the Gulf, so perhaps this unintended irony is apropos.

Also over the weekend, Gainesville.com (the Gainesville Sun) published an op-ed piece I wrote about my experience in the Gulf.  The article is now a “period piece,” describing the days before the thicker spill made landfall.  As I walked the beaches from Navarre to Gulf Shores, I had a sense of impending doom with each orange-y cast to the waves.   I am both glad to be home and frustrated that I am not out there still as a citizen journalist; I feel I have been witness to something nearly apocalyptic and the urge to tell the story is stronger than the desire to avoid it.

The following photographs were taken by David Ballard.

A bird takes flight at Fort Pickens in the Gulf Islands National Seashore.  Fort Pickens was a magical place to watch a sunset.  It is at the end of a thin peninsula that stretches to the Pensacola Pass.  We spent two evenings there, talking to people and photographing nature.

I took this photo of a distant supercell thunderstorm with Mr. B.’s Panasonic Lumix.  I remarked to Mr. B. that we spend most of our time in “green,” visiting Central Florida’s many state and county parks.  Landlocked as we are, we rarely get to the ocean, so the sunsets streaked with blues and pinks were that much more special to us.  Florida, for those who haven’t visited, has an intense color palette the like of which you will not find elsewhere.

An early-morning vigil on Pensacola Beach.  A powerful and silent moment.

Just down from the vigil, a sand-rake dragged across the beach.  The routine began at 6 AM, when clean-up crews started combing the beach for tar balls.  On the last day we were there, they began earlier.

Qu’est-ce-que c’est ce poisson-la? I have no idea. It’s a fish skeleton and I hope a reader can identify it for me.

Julie Martin of The Weather Channel readies her first spot.  Ms. Martin was on the beach for a few days and then left.  Two days afterwards, she reappeared at the Arkansas flood.

Sunset at Margaritaville, the new luxury hotel bearing Jimmy Buffett’s name that was set to open this weekend.  The story behind this hotel is interesting.  Although it bears Mr. Buffett’s name, it is not his project.  He came late into the game after the hotel was nearly completed.  The hotel was built by Little Sabine, Inc., an investment group.  The hotel sits on a 26-acre site formerly occupied by a Holiday Inn that was wiped out by Hurricane Ivan.