Thursday, January 07, 2016

2015 In Review

December, 2015 marked the completion of 10 years of full timing – how fast the time goes!  It seems like just a few years ago that we were attending RV shows and taking factory tours, planning for a life on the road.  We’ve no plans to slow down, and look forward to another year of adventure!
2015 TravelOur  year started in Patagonia, a small town 20 miles from the Mexico border where we spent three months volunteering at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek  Preserve.  It was as if we had our own nature preserve; over 300 acres of Cottonwood, Sycamore, and Hackberry trees, a year-around stream, and open meadows.  We marveled at the wildlife; each day seemed to bring a new variety of bird to the area, and we watched Javelina, Coyote, and Bobcat from our site.  Birders came from all over North America to see the elusive Rufus-backed Robin, and  we expanded our birding “Life List” along with our “learning new things” list – what a great time we had!Patagonia Montage
We found time to make a trip to Whitewater Draw, winter home to thousands of Sandhill Cranes.  Each day in late morning they return from foraging in the area, and the sight of more than 20 thousand of these beautiful large birds as they maneuver to land is an unforgettable sight.
Sandhills
We also had the chance to visit two of our favorite “sky islands”, the Chiricahua Mountains and the Pinalenos, better known as Mount Graham.  BakeryThe Chiricahuas have always been a favorite; remote, majestic, and lightly visited, they’re mentioned often when reading of Geronimo, Cochise, and the Apache wars.  Some accounts mentioned Camp Rucker, but there are no mentions of it in Forest Service literature.  Using Google Earth, we were able to find what looked like remains of buildings, and after a search along back roads, found a trail to the historic campRocks in Fog2Walking through the remains of the camp we wondered how men managed to live in this isolated, but beautiful place.  Our trip to the summit of the Pinalenos was cut short when at the 9000’ level we ran into snow and freezing rain.  Although the snow and fog on the rocks was mesmerizing, we decided to turn back and try again on some other day.
Leaving Arizona, we traveled east to Las Cruces for a stop at La Posta, our favorite Mexican restaurant, then up to Alamogordo to visit the Sacramento Mountains.  Colorado SnowThen up through Albuquerque to Santa Fe and a bit further to Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument.  We were impressed with Bandelier and the surrounding area; an unusual mix of plateaus and canyons.  From there, we headed north into Colorado and then through the plains into Nebraska and up to Rapid City.  Along the way we woke up one morning to an unexpected world of snow, and along the way were treated to vistas of the snow-covered Rockies.Near Alamosa
Kneeling MooseAfter finishing up a visit to our home state to renew our driver’s licenses, we drove west through Wyoming to Sheridan, an interesting town surrounded by high mountains.  We enjoyed the town, but the highlight of our visit was a drive into the Big Horn Mountains where we watched as this young Bull Moose had to kneel to graze on the turf.  Brenda's Party1Then on to Missoula, where we celebrated Brenda’s birthday with friends from our volunteer days at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge along with a visit from our friends Kirk and Sue.  Brenda had a surprise when our daughter, her husband, brother, and nephew appeared at the party.  The look on her face was priceless, and of course after 45 years together, so is she!
clip_image001All too soon it was time to head for the Oregon Coast. We took our time traveling through Eastern Oregon, spending time at the now-famous Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Steen’s Mountain. We spent a few days in beautiful Bend, and then spent a few days visiting with our friends Rob And Syd who were hosting at Humbug Mountain State Park. Finally, we drove north along the coast to Newport and BLM’s Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.
Volunteering at Yaquina Head was rewarding, enlightening, and fun – everything we had hoped for and more! As a “tide pool guide”, I spent my time on the cobble-rock beach interpreting tidepools to visitors, while waves crashed and gulls screamed…..an amazing experience. Brenda ran the desk at the Interpretive Center, where she helped the many visitors, scheduling lighthouse tours and providing information. We learned new skills, made new friends, and discovered new restaurants – a perfect summer! Some of our favorite images:clip_image002
Lava Beds NM View2Leaving Yaquina Head, we decided to detour from our normal route and visit South Central Oregon, stopping at the Klamath National Wildlife, and further on, Lava Beds National Monument. Both were first time visits for us, and we were especially impressed with the lava beds – miles and miles of rugged country riddled with over 800 caves. Another area of natural beauty with very few people!
Lake Mead 2015Continuing south, we visited Reno, then pushed east to Ely where we had hoped to explore the Great Basin National Park.  Alas, the weather wouldn’t cooperate, so we traveled down to Las Vegas for a week at Nellis AFB.  We didn’t visit the strip or downtown, instead we spent time in Red Rock Canyon and took a trip to Lake Mead to see that the lake levels have continued to fall.
Organ Pipe Arch RockWe finished our travels with a visit to Organ Pipe National Monument, another seldom-visited place with unique beauty.  Adjacent to the border, the rugged mountains and lush desert monument is a magical place that we’ll come back to.
It was a great year and we made lifetime memories.  But without doubt the most memorable day occured while we were volunteering a the Patagoinia-Sonoita Creek Refuge.  While talking with a group of visitors on the viewing deck, a Black-chinned Hummingbird, fighting with another, flew smack into the feeder’s support bar and fell onto the feeder, eyes closed, tongue hang ing out, wings askew.  We all crowded around – it looked dead…..no movement at all.  Brenda ran back into the office, got on the computer, and googled “hummingbird ran into feeder support bar and knocked itself out”.  Right……..like a computer will understand that!  She came running back out, saying “I know what to do!”, reached down and gently stroked the hummingbird’s chest a few times…..stopped…..did it again…..and again….AND SUDDENLY THE BIRD’S EYES OPENED!  It blinked a few times, sucked in it’s toungue, pulled in it’s wings, and slowly raised itself up…..and flew away.  Brenda just smiled and said “it’s what google told me to do – CPR for a hummingbird”.  So now I’m married to a woman who is hummingbird CPR qualified!  Just another of her many talents…..
Thanks for reading our blog, and we hope we have the opportunity to meet you somewhere along the road.  We’ll be starting travel again soon, so stop back and check on us!


7 comments:

  1. Wow! What an awesome year you had. Makes me want to sell everything and buy an RV. Looking forward to your next adventures!
    Safe and Happy Traveling!
    Karl Bagby

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    1. Thanks, Karlton, C'mon out and join us!

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  2. What an interesting lifestyle you have chosen. We who are more-or-less "homebound" are jealous. Thanks for sharing an overview of your experiences of 2015. We hope to see you on the road in the future. Good luck on your 2016 adventures.

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  3. CPR Brenda to the rescue!! Great way to end another great year. 😀

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    1. Thanks Greg. It was a definite first for me. Who knew you could give CPR to birds.

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  4. Ed and Karin3:32 PM

    KJ and I are looking forward to starting in 2018!

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  5. Next time you come through New Mexico I'll give you an aerial tour.

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