Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Finish Iowa, into Nebraska

May 11, Monday

I was awakened by Willets flying down the lake, and found some other birds as well, gulls and a late duck or two. The hiccups were gone until I ate something, then vengeance. I went to Picalt Nature Center on the northwest edge of Sioux City, nice place with good trails through good habitat even though the building was closed. It's in a state park, but I've not timed it yet to camp there and catch the dawn action. I ended up Iowa with 25 new species for the state, which put me at 36%. Pleased.

Into Nebraska, first stop at Ponca State Park. That is a must see for birding, on the Missouri River, good woods and grassland habitat beside the flyway action. The park has a conservation area attached, managed by the same guy who told me wondrous tales of shorebirds on the Migratory Bird Day count the weekend 2 days past. I went to the places he showed me on a photo map, but there was hardly any critter to be seen. The cold weather I'd been through had parked the migration for a couple of days, but the wind had shifted to the south so everybody had headed north. I headed further west to Niobrara. The hiccups had become relentless and it was about then that I figured out that the stirring of upper GI by poor bumpy jumpy two lane roads was a real problem. The hic,hic,hic was relentless.

I was trying to figure out some way of reducing the aggravation to the sensitive spot at the esophagus/stomach junction, called cardia, which seemed to be the trigger point. I tried anti-gas OTC antacid meds, to relieve pressure, and aspirin to reduce pain-receptor sensitivity as well as maybe getting blood pH more acid, which is what breath holding does. Nothing worked very much. I was also trying to find food that wasn't greasy and aggravating, but the ranching heartland is not a place for fruits and vegetables. Maybe if you're a cow and grass is considered a veggie. I ended up with a Buffalo burger, at least the meat is really lean and it didn't make it any worse. Niobrara State Park is just outside town so I retreated there after driving the road along the river as far as it went in both directions and the park roads.

May 12, Tuesday

Sleep was lousy with every pee setting the hics off again, and stopping them becoming a two minute breath hold until I thought I'd pass out. Trick was that when you started breathing again, it had to be very gently. A big gulping breath meant relapse, and then the whole drill again. The morning started beautifully, but turned gray and windy and decidedly cooler. I headed west on route 12, another roller-coaster, and made a stop at The Niobrara Valley Preserve, a Nature Conservancy place a long drive back a dirt road, but well worth it. Wish I'd felt better. I did get some sympathy fro the woman, wish I'd got her name to say a personal thanks, who was taking care of the little office and VC. She offered water and bananas, and books and stories. Some human contact and comfort. The birding was good but nothing new except Pine Siskins. They have a policy of no bird feeders, but still the open space around the office attracted sparrows and finches.

Next stop was Fort Niobrara NWR, with it's predictable Burrowing Owls. I forgot to look for Mountain Plovers; they were probably there. That's a measure of the disorientation I was getting into. I had exhausted my ideas for relief, so I called my doctor at home in Arkansas. His idea was Thorazine suppositories, which I was okay with, just a really deep sleep, but when he called the only pharmacy in Valentine NE, they didn't have it. His next idea was to rent a motel room, go to the hospital ER, and get a Thorazine shot and have a cab take me back to the motel. Somehow being the star of a fifties psycho thriller with the nurse hitting me with the needle and me dropping to the floor, well... Not to mention the truck with all the gear and optics unwatched, not to mention the ER charges, not to mention the trank hangover. I rejected my physicians advice and started driving toward bigger cities where I could get the meds as tablets. At that point driving south and east, I was having two hics per three breaths, with aftershocks, sometimes 8 or 10, until I wasn't sure when I'd get to just breath again. I'd end up shaking myself hard to get the spasms to stop, jumping in the truck seat at 50 mph.

I managed to make it to Nebraska National Forest, strange place, a CCC experiment in planting an evergreen forest in the Nebraska sand-hills. The trees survived, but the forest wouldn't spread naturally. The restrooms and showers were closed. It started raining. It rained all night, a great thunderous hailstorm with ice lumps that dented the camper-shell, which is like sleeping inside a drum being beaten randomly with a baseball bat. Did I mention the hundred car coal trains that run along the edge of the forest, complete with two mile horns at the crossing a hundred yards away. About every 20-30 minutes. I did get the hics to stop enough that they at least weren't a problem, but still there was little rest that night.


Post a Comment

<< Home