Up with the sun, guiding the car alongside the familiar curves of Oak Creek Canyon to one of his favorite birding spots, D mused how he has traded one obsessive hobby for another. Left on his own in the States last summer, D spent a lot of time behind the wheel, traveling to see as many of his favorite bands in concert as he could find within a reasonable driving distance of D.C. Nowadays, with no live shows for the foreseeable future, D has turned the same zeal toward birding, poring through bird lists instead of concert listings in a bid to find as many unique species as possible.
Posts tagged ‘safari’
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.
We just passed one hundred days of rupture. A handful of countries – China, Italy, South Korea, to name a few – faced the pandemic sooner, but for most of the rest of us mid-March marks the breaking point of lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and other social distancing and virus containment measures. Speaking from experience and judging by our social media feeds, the last three months have fueled a wide array of personal obsessions as we all struggled to adapt to this new normal.
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.
Kathmandu has a peculiar time zone – coming from Manila, D had to set his watch back two hours and fifteen minutes. It wasn’t enough to cause major jet lag, but the time difference did work in D’s favor when he set his alarm to go off before dawn his second full day in Nepal. After wandering around the heart of the city the previous evening, D wanted to venture farther afield – and see some of the Kathmandu Valley’s seven UNESCO world heritage cultural sites during daylight hours – before his work meetings commenced.
TV screens tuned to CNN and Fox News trumpeted the impending government shutdown as we made our way to our gate two Fridays ago, boarding our flight to Phoenix hours before a lapse in appropriations, which is now in its 13th day and appears to have no immediate end in sight. Our automated furlough notices arrived the next morning, as we started our second Southwest road trip with an ambitious itinerary of national and state parks in Arizona and New Mexico.
Perhaps the saddest moment of our Kigali tour happened a couple of months before our departure, when D realized just a split second too late that he had neglected to zip up the side pocket of our camera bag. As if in slow motion, he watched with a sinking heart as the camera tumbled out and dropped several feet, the lens landing with a sickening crunch on the tiled floor.
As with our previous trips out West, one of the biggest highlights of exploring the great American wild is the opportunity to get up close and personal with the wild animals that call it home. We saw plenty of mule deer, prongorn, and smaller animals (rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks), and quite a few of the woods’ larger mammals. S and Junebug even had a terrifyingly close encounter with a bear.