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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

hummingbird heaven

Long before Junebug discovered and befriended the great blue herons that frequent nearby Bubbling Ponds and enlisted them as unwitting participants in a long-running, one-sided game of tag, she got really into with hummingbirds. The Anna’s hummingbird — a gregarious species whose males flash brilliant pink feathers on their heads and necks — quickly became a particular favorite, pink being Junebug’s favorite color.

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raptors delight

By almost any measure, we consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have spent the last three months in Sedona. For D, who has spent much of this time wandering the surrounding countryside in search of new birds, our stay in Arizona has resulted in a birding bonanza. He is reminded of just how lucky he is in this respect every time he meets fellow birders out on the trails. Frequently, they are out-of-state visitors who have travelled to Arizona for a chance to glimpse some of its unique birds, especially raptors.

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petrified wood and painted deserts

The summer heat, not to mention Arizona’s lackluster coronavirus response, has soured S somewhat on Sedona as a retirement destination. Even so, we are continuing to enjoy our temporary residence in the Grand Canyon state. To escape the heat, we have been exploring the northern ponderosa pine forests around Flagstaff, hiking in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness and birdwatching at the Kachina Wetlands. Last week, taking advantage of D’s mini work break, we ventured a bit farther afield, visiting the Petrified Forest National Park.

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taking stock

Several years have elapsed since we last revised our bucket list. Our recent hot air balloon ride prompted us to take another look. The first few years after we had penned this list on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, we updated it regularly, ticking off completed adventures and adding new life goals. We slowed down considerably after having kids. The last time we updated the list we were still a family of three. A lot of water under the bridge, and yet not a lot has changed in the intervening years.

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flying high

For S’s birthday this year, D sought to borrow a page out of our friends’ playbook by organizing a surprise get-together with a few of S’s close friends in Siem Reap. That plan clearly did not pan out, as the pandemic forced us to cancel the trip. S did not get much of a birthday present at all this year, at least not on her birthday, which fell during Arizona’s stay-at-home lockdown, shortly after our departure from Manila. Instead, we celebrated belatedly, taking advantage of S’s mom’s visit to cross off an item that had long been on our bucket list.

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free bird

At the height of our lockdown desperation, we had sought escape by dipping into photos from the handful of trips we had managed in Southeast Asia before the pandemic, settling on images of the region’s colorful birds as the antithesis of our physical confinement.

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the last hurrah

The circumstances of our departure from Manila left a bit of a sour taste in our mouth. It’s hard to reconcile how relieved we are to be back in the States with how much we had enjoyed the first nine months of our assignment in the Philippines. Just a month before the virus hit, for example, we spent a long weekend in Bohol – our last taste, for now, of the country’s many natural wonders.

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before the storm

The last three weeks under enhanced quarantine have produced a kaleidoscope of emotions: our frustrations tinged with thankfulness, refracted through a prism of alternating hope and despair. Even now that we have come to terms with the undeniable fact that the pandemic response is likely to last far longer than originally anticipated, our minds are rebelling against our circumstances. As Arundhati Roy put it, we are caught desperately longing for a return to normalcy and struggling to stitch our past and future together while refusing to acknowledge the rupture.

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trip down memory lane

After an eventful week in northern Vietnam, we caught an early morning flight across the border to Laos. Two impressions struck us on arrival in Luang Prabang. First, after relying almost exclusively on Google Translate for communication in Vietnam, it was refreshing to hear English spoken widely. Second, because Luang Prabang is a backpacker haven, a powerful wave of nostalgia swept over us.

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high life

After nearly a decade in the Foreign Service, the appeal of the lifestyle has lost none of its luster even if the novelty of the experience has worn off a bit, both for us and our loved ones.

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