Sunday, July 28, 2013
Signs of Change and Time to Explore: A Road Trip
I drink my morning coffee out of a thermos. Almost every morning I start my day in my yard with binoculars and coffee, casually looking and listening for all the birds on and around the farm. The world seems to be in order to start the day with the chirping of Purple Martins, the rattle of the Eastern Meadowlark, the bubbly Bobolink song, and the trill of the Savannah Sparrow.
This morning I started my routine as usual, and time is marching on. We are having an unusual cold snap for July and the air is cool, crisp and hinting that fall is approaching somewhere in the not-too-distant future. The pastures are harvested or cut. There is not a sign of any Red-winged Blackbirds, Meadowlarks, or Bobolinks. The chorus is changing. The 2013 crop of nestlings are fledged and the birds are moving. The new pasture growth is rejuvenating, but for all practical purposes summer is closing.
I have been thinking about and planning a trip to California for nearly a year. I envisioned a road trip of camping and exploring the American heartland and west, taking a northerly route to Huntington Beach California and a southerly return through the southwest. I have mapped out my route including birding in Southern California for about a week. I will travel some 6,000 miles in about 7 weeks. Each and every day will begin with binoculars and coffee, and I will be exploring some of the most wonderful real estate on the planet each day, until my head hits the pillow.
This is but another of many natural history road trip of various lengths and destinations, but by far the longest and farthest so far. I am compelled to do this by my passion for nature, birds, wildlife, and especially wild places. This wander lust, although probably wired within from birth, was encouraged by several catalysts early in my life. There is one that fueled my interest in travel and exploring.
While studying Natural Resources at OSU, I attended a program at the Mershon Auditorium on The Ohio State University campus that was part of a “travel-log” series. It was, I remember, a speaker narration synchronized beautifully to wonderful film. It was a program series that documented the slapstick adventures of two brothers that traveled around the Rocky Mountains in an old flatbed truck with a cabin built on the bed of the truck. This series covered the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Alaska. I can’t remember the names of the presenters, nor the program titles. It was, as I recollect more entertaining than it was educational but it was a visual experience that resonated and sparked something in my heart that strengthened my resolve for adventure.
It seems to me that many people have interests and activities they pursue to escape reality. I bird watch, study nature, and seek outdoor adventures to immerse myself in reality. Seven weeks of exploring will have some challenges but it will yield incomparable and memorable experiences that can be found no other way.
My trusty 2002 Toyota Tacoma is tuned and primed for the journey……and I might add, my expert mechanic is Jim Berry, who is the greatest naturalist I have ever known. I am mostly packed. I have checklists of all the stuff I will need for a long journey. I am still working out a system to blog about my experiences and share the discoveries with those that have an interest.
I will depart August 8, 2013 for the Nebraska and eastern Colorado prairies like Pawnee National Grasslands, Rocky Mountain National Park, along the Continental Divide and then east to Monte Verde National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Las Vegas, and Joshua Tree National Park. Finally I will arrive for dinner on August 24th with my nature center colleagues at the Association of Nature Center Administrators annual Summit at the Environmental Nature Center in Huntington Beach. After about 6 days in Southern California I will be heading once again east for great birding in SE Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and probably Oklahoma before heading home.
This morning’s walk on the farm was telling me that regardless of the weather, the fall migration in August and September is eminent and my timing for a road trip is likely to be more productive than I had envisioned.
Stay tuned for stories and pictures from the field afar. Visit Where The Middle of Nowhere Is Somewhere beginning in August and follow my adventures until I return to the Farm in Ohio.