Mt. Washington 6,288′ tops the North Country from Boston into New Hampshire. The White Mountains NF introduces the Presidential Range, part of the Appalachian Trail. Access: I-93 corridor, NH16, the Kancamagus highway, US 302 or US 2 northern tier. Numerous ski areas and Lakes Region boating/resorts dot the area for all the multitudes! Autumn of course attracts leaf peepers for good reason as the fall colors are famous. I’ve seen scarlet tanager, evening grosbeaks and red breasted nuthatch among other NE species. Snowmobiling and ice fishing also bring in local tourism dollars. Watch for moose in the road! Watercolor.
Beyond skiing, the Denver Broncos and the Stock Show, Colorado has plenty of activity in its mountains and canyon country. Echo Park (above) comprises the Yampa River flowing west, joining the Green River out of Wyoming from the north. Rafting popular here. Hunting in the surrounding BLM and national forest areas some of the best in the nation! I’ve seen mountain bluebirds, eagles, magpies, elk and antelope in this NW Colorado setting. Brown’s Park NWR and the Gates of Lodore nearby. Deerlodge Campground in a cottonwood grove with aspen accessible west of Maybell. The Split Mountain anticline campgrounds are just over the Utah stateline west of here. Unlike other national parks/monuments in the state, Dinosaur with its quarry of bones is more remote and not as busy. In 1992 en route to Utah skiing, I slept in 10 above zero at Split Mountain-it can be cold. The elevations are a little higher too than the Four Corners region to the south. Watercolor.
After the tenants leave, it’s family time! The Chatham experience includes Stage Harbor, Oyster Pond swimming, Mill Pond repose, Harding Beach and “the cut” near the lighthouse for sailing and kayaking. I like to paddle out at low tide near the North Monomoy flats, where I’ve seen oystercatchers, black-bellied plover, short-billed dowitchers, willet, semi-palmated plover and sandpipers, Hudsonian godwits and other shorebirds! Terns screech and dive. Look for seals. And yes the sharks have made headlines too! The winter storm Nemo opened a breach February 2013 on South Beach, bringing in a sand fan deposit with open surf from the ocean side. At Chatham Light you can see people, the Coast Guard station, sand dunes and the Outermost inlet near Morris Island and the Monomoy NWR visitor center. I’ve seen whale spouts distant! Chatham has great shopping, food and summer band concerts. Art galleries and a fine museum are recommended. A few years ago the kayak swamped, filling with water in the choppy, incoming tide and I was swimming; I didn’t have the jacket on so I towed the boat while doing a sidestroke to shore, where I simply drained the kayak and headed home. Luckily that time I didnt have the binoculars with me, or the saltwater will ruin ’em!
Photo: K.Daley August 2009
My Arizona sagas of October 2006 (90sF); late 2007 and most of 2008 occurred resulting from homelessness/spot jobs during the Great Recession. But what great places to be! Grand Canyon, Navajo Nat’l. Mon., Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, the Mogollon Rim near Payson, Tonto Basin/Roosevelt Lake/Gila County, Mesa, the Apache Trail area, Miller Canyon, Dragoon Mountains, Tucson area, Lake Havasu and the Kofa NWR, Wickenburg and Prescott. I did some factory work, landscaping labor, construction, unloaded a truck and washed dishes while camping out with the birds! Gila woodpeckers (above), verdin, phainopeplas, gambel’s quail, red cardinals, thrashers, black phoebe, peregrine falcon, black-throated sparrows, olive warbler, western grebes, roadrunner, dusky-capped flycatcher, American pipits, green-tailed towhees and blue indigo buntings are indigenous to Arizona’s Sonoran desert and highlands. I was lucky to see two California condors below Hopi Point in the Grand Canyon! The Ajo Mountains and other landmarks within Organ Pipe provide a spectacular setting overlooking the Mexico border, accessed by AZ85 from Gila Bend at I-8 or from the Phoenix area.
June 2008 Colorado to Utah, Nevada and California: Salina UT BLM sage lands, Great Basin NP at Baker Creek and two campgrounds within Death Valley-Mesquite Spring and Furnace Creek. Birds & animals seen include mtn. bluebirds, western kingbirds, a calliope hummingbird, western tanagers, two nighthawks, a kangeroo rat, coyote, pronghorn antelope, wild horses, lizards, a spotted towhee, yellow-headed blackbirds to name some. June 4, I had 106F at Badwater Basin at -282 feet below sea level, which I really found bearable actually. Notable phenomenon: the hot haze, alluvial fans, block mountains, dust devils, a windstorm, Milky Way, Zabriskie Pt. sunrise, Artist Palette/Drive, Dante’s View, 11,049′ high Telescope Peak, sand dunes, canyons, the white salt formations, wildflowers, Joshua trees and dramatic Towne Pass into the Owens Valley beneath the Eastern Sierras. I did not enter further into California, rather took hwy.168 over Gilbert Summit back into Nevada; Tonopah east to US 6, on back into Utah through Spanish Fork, Price Canyon, Vernal at US 40 to northern Colorado again. Great trip!
That November I drove south from Boston area to Florida’s national parks and refuges. En route stopovers included Appomattox VA, Wilmington NC, a cypress swamp boardwalk near Charleston SC, Edisto Beach, and the ACE Hollings NWR. Once in Florida I toured A1A along the Atlantic side: Fort Clinch SP, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, Kennedy Space Center (Atlantis on the pad), Merritt Is. NWR, Canaveral Nat’l. Seashore swim, Sebastian Inlet/Pelican Is. NWR, posh Vero Beach homes and on into Homestead, my base. Once there I got to the Miami Metro Zoo for my first flamingoes! The afternoon drive out on SW 328th to the marina at Biscayne was one of the trip’s gratifying sights-deep indigo water surrounded by mangroves and palms, complete with distant Miami skyline and roosting white ibis flocks! Found 8 myna birds in Homestead. Following days, I drove through Everglades (1 nt.) and Big Cypress. Also got to Key Largo in the John Pennekamp SP. Birding highlights: numerous anhingas, wood storks, roseate spoonbills, egrets, black skimmers, white pelicans, limpkins, green heron, palm warblers, avocets, Muscovy ducks, pied-billed grebes, common moorhen, white-rumped sandpipers, a yellow-throated vireo and much more… While on Florida Bay tropical storm Ida threatened on the Gulf side, so I started north for Gainesville. Ida’s rain caught me in Georgia as I meandered up toward Athens and into Anderson SC along I-85. Over the mountains at Brevard NC, through Asheville to I-81 I completed my first-ever Florida visit. Interesting habitat and November climate, but it’s not the West-too much aggressive driving and cluttered urban clamor/development. Perhaps I’ll do the Keys sometime or just “veg” in one beach location. Like in Texas, the alligators and snakes are dangerous and should never be approached! The canals with tall grass hide these adversaries! Yes, the birds are outstanding.
Some 800 miles wide the state of Texas is the largest of the lower 48 states. You go from East Texas pineywoods and bayous to open prairie, lakes, and oak trees. The Edwards Plateau comprises the Hill Country, south along the Gulf, into South Texas brush and the Rio Grande Valley-famous for birdwatching! Completing this diverse region is the Trans-Pecos and up into the Llano Estacado or staked Plains, the Panhandle. Most of the river systems run SE, like the Sabine, Angelina, Neeches, Trinity, Brazos, TX Colorado, Guadalupe, San Antonio, Nueces/Frio, the Pecos and Rio Grande. Going north you’ll cross the Canadian and the Red. The birding here is so rewarding due to the meeting of four bird flyways, migration routes: East, Mississippi, Mexican and Rocky Mountain species. I have visited Texas beginning in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Gulf, 2005, 2006 and 2011, camping & birding over 20 state parks, and the Big Bend NP. Summers are very humid, but the rest of the year is just idyllic!