our wheels. long story.

our digs in Panama City Beach

The first week in January,  AstroDimers sam smiley and Lisa Lunskaya Gordon went on a 3 day road trip beginning in Panama City Florida January 3, 2011 and ending in Tifton, Georgia on January 6, 2011.

We went first to Panama City to talk to Betty Pleas Taylor, the great great grandniece of Charles Earl and Lillie Pleas. C.E. Pleas was a botanist, photographer, and did many other artistic and scientific endeavors, and Lillie was a painter and taxidermist. This couple introduced Kudzu to many parts of the U.S. through their plant nursery in the early 1900’s.  You can link to a wonderful accounting of this by Lynne Mayhew on this blog:


Betty and John Taylor

Eden Gardens State Park where we talked

Kudzu letterhead from early 1900's

The next day, we had a really long drive through torrential rains, but arrived safely and well fed in Pensacola around noon, thanks to the largess of our car, and the proximity of Waffle House.

much needed waffles after long drive

After that we went to the University of  West Florida, in Pensacola, Special Collections Library and talked to Dean Debolt, the curator of the Special Collections in the Pace Library. There we saw a lot of great photographic plates from the Pleas photography business..and more of C.E. Pleas’s photo experiments. The web site for the library is here: http://library.uwf.edu/About/SpecialCollections/index.cfm

Dean DeBolt, Curator of Special Collections

Kuma Lisa in archives

Our last leg of our journey took us on a drive to Tifton, Georgia.

There we went to the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. We talked to Karan Rawlins, Invasive Species Coordinator, and Joe LaForest, IPM and Forest Health coordinator. Karan took us to see all kinds of invasive species right outside the door, and we got to hide out in a kudzu stand. The web site (one of them) that they maintain is, amongst other things, a tremendous resource of images of all kinds of different species..images that people send in, images they create. This is in a public database open to research at http://www.bugwood.org.

Karan Rawlins

Karan and Kuma Lisa in dead Kudzu pile

sam gets eaten by Kudzu

Joe LaForest, IPM and Forest Health Specialist

Currently, I am exhausted but happy, and collecting all my videos and photographs.  Lisa picked up her rentacar at Michael Moore’s Auto Body and Paint Shop, and then drove to Atlanta. I’m off to Savannah to do some teaching, and then back to Boston to edit! More to come later…-sam smiley

No not THAT Michael Moore!