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Showing posts from October, 2021

Chimney Rock

 On this trip, I long fantasized about seeing a Northern Goshawk. I had read out them in detail in H is for Hawk, despite never finishing the book because it became too morbid for me to read during Covid. While in the deep forests of Michigan and Maine, I kept my binoculars around my neck at all times as I scanned for one of these elusive hunters. I never saw one.  That’s not so surprising, but what did surprise me was that in New Jersey, one can see Northern Goshawks in substantial numbers when they migrate south. This led me to look for a hawk watch spot, something I had never participated in before. There were a few in New Jersey that seemed to reliably produce Goshawks, but all were more than 40 minutes away. Not a small feat to accomplish with two kids, especially when the end game is playing by themselves while daddy stares at the sky. So instead of going to one of these more inland sights, I settled for Chimney Rock. It was only seven minutes from our generous hosts,

Birding Sachuest Point with Kids

  Sachuest Point, Rhode Island   “Did you see that?” I asked of Leo. He was in a grumpy mood, not having wanted to have left the RV. We had already spent a damp twenty-four hours more or less trapped inside the RV, so perhaps that explains why I was so eager to set out despite the moist weather. I get sitrcrazy in next to no time. Twenty-four hours indoor is not easy. “There was a rock wall, pretty cool!” He did not respond to this obnoxiously dad-like comment. We left our campsite on the north side of the same island as the town of Newport, where one can go and see the mansion that Vanderbilts back with the money they did not pay to the railroad workers who made their fortune. Instead of heading to the southwest of the island, we went southeast, for a point that stuck out into the Atlantic, that is a designated wildlife refuge. I was hoping to see a Saltmarsh sparrow and/or a Nelson’s sparrow and was not about to let the rain get me down. The boys had rubber galoshes and raincoats

Kennebunk with the Kerrs

  New England Prior to this week, I had never been to New England. In fact, I would say that my geographic knowledge of the area was less than A+. I could maybe name all the states on the map (but likely not without), but I have no idea whether New Jersey in fact counts as part of New England. But I know that my geographic ignorance of the rest of the states is not localized to myself. If it did, I do not know what could have compelled a grown man to see us driving our RV down the tiny streets of a picturesque town in Vermont, hauling our 11-foot, 6-inch rig trailer behind us, and declare, “Texas plates. Yee-ha.” That he said it in the driest, most unimpressed voice I had ever heard, only added the perfect waspishness of the comment. But perhaps there was something mad about driving a travel trailer through this tiny valley town. It felt like we filled the entire space between the mountains awash with the first tinges of autumn color that rose up and hemmed us in on either side.

What to do in Albany in September

"The Great is the Enemy of the Good." Wisdom imparted to me by a dear friend when I asked him if we should go to another bar in Amsterdam or stay at the one we were atm which was in fact, pretty good.  And is not true? How many good experiences do we pass up, so we can wait in line or pay too much money for something we hope will be great?  Try as we might to chase those 'great' 'once-in-a-lifetime' experiences, sometimes that chase leaves us (me) feeling hollow. Expectations are a dangerous thing, and who among us has daydreamed too highly of something only for the reality of it to disappoint? The converse is true as well. Haven't we all turned on some crappy Scifi movie or a Romcom expecting to fall asleep but instead find ourselves enthralled because our expectations were sufficiently low?  Set your expectations correctly and anywhere can deliver a fun-filled day. To illistrate this point, I present to you: Albany, New York Hand Hollow Conservation Area

Difficult Creatures

  We call our RV the Whitehawk, because that is the brand that it is, and, well, also I like birds. But perhaps after three weeks of travel, it is time for that name to change. My cousin Natalie named our RV the Icebreaker, upon saying bon voyage to it and the stinky Mitchells it carries. And indeed, I believe that there it is something glacial about our passage as we tow it across the country, driving the speed limit (or 5 under to burn my gas more efficiently!) while Americans of every stripe rush past me. We visited my family this month, Jehovah’s Witnesses from central Michigan. We arrived on the eve of a craft fair, to a piece of land crowded with sheep, chickens, dogs, beehives and people busy packaging laser cut merchandise. Their yard had been a swamp until the Father of the house filled it in with backfill from a basement and planted it with grass seed. I had to be careful not to run over the head to a well, which looked like little more than an easily crushed clump of gra