On our way down to Arizona this past fall, we visited a California Condor release site at Vermillion Cliffs, then saw 5 Condors at the nearby Navajo Bridge. Thrilling!
Next we went to that grand canyon, Grand Canyon National Park. No words suffice.
From our Arizona base we made a week-long excursion to Big Bend, Carlsbad Caverns, and Guadalupe Mountains, all national parks. The USA National Parks Service celebrated 100 years during 2016, making visits to their national parks even more rewarding.
So far our time south has provided sun, rain, snow, wind, hot, cold, a variety of extremes, which we cherish. Temperatures can be -8C overnight and by noon be 20C or more. We enjoy the nightly visits behind our abode here of Javelina, Skunks, Raccoons, Deer, Coyotes, etc. The Coyotes serenade us nightly. We welcome it all!
Signs of Spring on Pender 2016
While many of you are enjoying the mild winter damp of Pender Island, I find myself writing this in the arid desert of Arizona. Shortly after arriving here last fall, I had the following 3 close encounters in less than a week.
1) Walking along a familiar trail one sunny afternoon, I heard a weird sound. It reminded me somewhat of those late night domestic cat happenings on Pender with all their hissings and howlings. As the noise repeated itself in about 30 second intervals, I crept quietly in its direction, eventually finding myself in a dry creek bed. The sound stopped and so did I. Scanning with my binocular, there it was, up on the creek bank about 30 yards distant, peering over a log: a Mountain Lion. I froze.
Finally I fumbled for my camera in my knapsack and took a few shots, as it watched. I then had an eerie feeling. I realized I was in its territorial space. What was its intention? I thought I should withdraw. Turning my back and slowly walking away, I could feel my neck hairs rising. I kept looking over my shoulder until I eventually came to a bench, stopping to relax and contemplate the experience, my heart slowing. The intensity of this thrilling experience remains to this day.
2) The next close encounter occurred 2 days later. I was strolling along a small pond, looking for birds, when I heard another strange sound. About 7 feet away was a rattlesnake, raised, coiled, rattle shaking. I got the point - once again, I was in this wild creature's space. The afternoon was warm enough to draw it out for a sun soak. I backed off and let it be.
3) The third encounter a couple of days later was with the pictured Skunk. As I walked, it came out of the brush about 15 feet ahead, sniffing and poking here and there. As I took some photos, it started directly for me. I stumbled backwards, taking this photo, not even sure if it sensed my presence. Then it definitely saw me, stopped, stared at me briefly as it lifted its bushy white tail straight up, then turned and scampered away into the brush again, fortunately leaving no spray behind! As exceptionally exciting as these 3 encounters were, and still are in my spirit of spirits, all Nature connections should be close ones, whether in the Arizona desert or the forests of Pender Island, renewing our determination to be forever on the alert.