The third day of our New Years road trip adventure, we begin in California. Humboldt bay shines on this winter morning, so white it shimmers like a mirage in the deeper areas. After breakfast, we decide to stick around the area and drive to the South Jetty, along the mudflats that comprise the driveable portions of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Do you remember a time, somewhere +/- nine months ago, when I said we were making some changes in our lives?
No, no, not that kind of change. Somewhere around June of last year, we moved to the Pacific Northwest to take on new jobs and a new corner of the country. Since then, we’ve been exploring pretty much non-stop, and I have to say, hiking in our new location is a bit different than at our prior abode: more elevation changes, more climate zones, more amphibians, more people. Up here, if you aren’t out at dawn or dusk, you’re pretty much guaranteed to run into at least a few dozen people and their canine companions on even the shortest walking trails.
One of the first places we checked out was the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1992, it is another fairly recent addition to the US refuge system. The area open to the public is a square section of land (approximately 640 acres) along some drainage dikes and through a quiet wooded area studded with benches.
Ok, so maybe our goal is to visit all of the US National Parks, but so far we’ve been doing a good job of visiting the US National Wildlife Refuges instead. This time, we were on a mission to see whooping cranes. There are a few good locations to find the tallest North American bird, and one of them is Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (and the nearby Goose Island State Park) in winter.
As a veterinary student, I get a number of weeks to travel to different universities or veterinary clinics to broaden my experiences prior to graduating. So of course I spent 2/3 of them traveling to programs in different states (Colorado, Ohio, and New York). It was an exciting time that unfortunately overlapped with my anniversary with the Other Half; through a wonderful gift from some of our very good friends, we were able to spend that time together in Colorado for what we called ‘Operation Swanky Date Night.’ We went to a nice dinner, booked a nice hotel, and woke up with the crack of dawn to complete our date with some wildlife-watching just outside of Denver.