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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Well, we’ve found some cold weather

We’ve just completed an interesting and scenic journey from San Diego to Port Townsend, Washington.  We visited with the Tazeau family in San Jose and with the Draper family (my twin brother) in Rio Vista.  We’ve known the Tazeaus for many years and had a good time with them.  I’ve known my brother Rich, however, longer than anyone else since we were in the womb together.  We had some laughs and geneology discussions with Rich and Linda.  All of us like to have some kind of project to work on.

Our Drive:  Only in California and along the Pacific Coast (and New Mexico) can you continuously drive through areas that stretch to a far, far, FAR horizon…..crossing the immense Mojave Desert, the endless rolling farm lands of central California and the tree-studded hills and valleys of Oregon and Washington.  Each environment has its unique character and beauty, even the desert.  We try not to think about the fuel we’re burning up as we drive along.  Besides, we live in a miniature motorhome world that probably consumes 20% of what housebound families use up.  After we “settle down” somewhere, we have a very small footprint.

The Mojave Desert, compared to years before, now has such interesting sights as an aircraft “furlough” area where commercial airliners are stored in a low humidity environment until needed again.  We saw a borax mine operating in the desert that brings in $90 billion a year.  Think about that if you ever wash anything with Boraxo soap. 

The huge croplands of central California are suffering through a lack of water, partially because of drought but partially due to legislation to protect an endangered fish.  The farmers are mighty angry.  Is this why we import much of our fruit, vegetables, and meat from other countries?  Not sure this is really a good thing.

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We visited with my cousin Greg, a former police officer, and his wife in Oregon as we motored on up to Portland, staying there a couple of nights.  It started to rain and get quite cold during this part of the trip.  We did go to Tualatin NWR, spotting a nesting bald eagle, a nice low-flying great blue heron and fields of American robins everywhere until the freezing rain chased us back to the visitor center. 

We drove through a lot of rain, crossed lots of bridges (which dwarfed our motorhome), felt our way along smaller and smaller roads and finally arrived at our promised spot in Port Townsend.  Our motorhome is now on the grounds of Ft. Worden State Park, of which the Coast Artillery Museum is a part.  After we get our sea legs, we’ll post some pictures of the park.  We had a lovely light snowfall our first morning and are getting acquainted with the people who operate the museum.  More on this as we get settled in.  It’s been in the low 40’s and high 30’s but it’s sunny right now.  We’re glad to be here.  We’ve spotted a few birds already and Arlyne added a ruby-crowned kinglet to her list.  This reminds me of our bird trip to the famous King Ranch in Texas a few years ago.  As our little tour van drove through the dirt roads of the ranch, a pickup truck with four rowdy boys in it flew by us.  Our birding guide told us they were grandchildren of the original King who started the ranch.  I said to him “I guess they’re kinglets.”

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Random Thoughts:  Yesterday we bought some sliced turkey at the supermarket.  It was advertised as reduced sodium.  I asked the lady if it weighed less than regular turkey because some of the sodium was taken out.  She said “No, but it costs more.”

Driving down the highway, I went past two road signs only about 20 feet from each other.   The first one said “No Parking at Any Time” and the other said “Emergency Parking Only.”  If I had to pull over with an emergency, would I be fined?

I couldn’t find vanilla ice cream in the supermarket.  After refusing chocolate chunky monkey, crème brule, banana foster, cheesecake brownie swirl and a dozen other unusual mixtures, I had to settle for peach cobbler ice cream.  We’ll see.

I love hot and cold cereal but can’t tolerate regular milk.  I’ve tried soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, lactaid milk, lactaid pills, goat milk, reduced fat milk, low fat milk, skim milk, fat free milk, and the organic version of all of the above, with no luck.   So, yesterday I bought almond milk that was FREE OF dairy, soy, gluten, lactose, cholesterol, eggs, casein, MSG, artificial colors, artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup and GMO ingredients.  I still had to pay for it.  I poured it on my oatmeal and expected to find a clear liquid but it looked like milk.  I’ll wait and see.

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Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Bird Lover

 

On the Road Again……….

We’ve wandered again (as nomads do) from Texas to California, with only a few mechanical motor-home difficulties.  We fixed the front rotors on the brakes but this sort of thing is to be expected.  We are currently parked in San Diego, where the sun is shining and the temperature is 87 degrees F.  If only we had been able to take the motor-home to Colombia.  Maybe in a parallel universe we could have. We’re pretty busy visiting friends and family but we’re getting short of time for our next nomadic trip.

After a final tally, we confirmed a total of 40 new birds from our January trip to Colombia.  Our list is at the bottom of this post (for those really dedicated bird fans).  We loved as well all the birds we saw that we already knew.  I also think we created a few new birders in Colombia.  Jorge and Maria have put up hummingbird feeders at their “farm” and will be telling us what flies in.   It’s terrific how much fun I have watching people as they become aware of the bird life (and other wildlife) around them.  And Jorge can spot movement in a tree a lot better than I can.  I think he’ll probably have a nice list of hummers before too long.  Arlyne sees them better than me as well.  Once on a bird trip Arlyne and I both saw a bird fly by us.  She asked me “Did you see that?”  “Sure”, I said…..it was brown wasn’t it?”  Arlyne says to me “Yes, and it had black legs, brown eyes, yellow wing bars and a little red patch on it’s face.”  But we do have a good time.

I thought I would post a bird picture here from a previous trip to Costa Rica.  Our plan is to spend a couple of months there next winter, maybe Jan/Feb 2014.  It’s hard for us to plan that far ahead.  We’re trying to get one or both of my brothers to come down for part of that time.

We’ll also be trying to see some birds in the state of Washington, where we’re planning to spend a few months.  I can already imagine getting shots of puffins in flight and several new birds that we’re targeting.  We’ve been in the Olympic Peninsula area before and love that part of the country.  There are a lot of nice birds up and down the coast and along the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca that separates the US from Canada.  We want to do a pelagic trip, maybe two, during the spring and see some nesting activity.  We’ve seen three or four albatross species off the coast of New Zealand and when you see an albatross, you never forget it.  We hope to see a black-footed albatross.

An exotic Costa Rican bird: black-faced solitaire

FINAL COLOMBIAN NEW BIRD LIST:  great thrush, white-bellied woodstar hummingbird, indigo-capped hummingbird,  gorgeted woodstar hummingbird, brown violet ear hummingbird, black-throated mango hummingbird, white-vented plumeteer hummingbird, crimson-backed tanager, palm tanager, masked tanager, lesser kiskadee, grey-breasted martin, black-billed thrush, cattle tyrant, saffron finch, spectacled thrush, rufous-browed pepper-shrike, yellow oriole, black flower-piercer, rufous wren, scarlet-bellied mountain tanager, rufous conebill, pale-naped brush-finch, sierra finch, green train-bearer hummingbird, Andean guan, streak-throated bush-tyrant, white-capped tanager, white-rumped hawk, blue and black tanager, masked flower-piercer, white-chinned thistle-tail, Bogota rail, southern lapwing, spot-flanked gallinule, tropical mockingbird, smooth-billed ani, superciliaried hemispingus, yellow-backed oriole, masked crimson tanager.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Bird Lover