Sep 11, 2017 - Dec 6, 2017
After the "Eclipse of 2017" in August, we escaped the smoke that was choking the Willamette Valley in Oregon by heading to the southern Oregon coast. We spent September and October slowly working our way from the Oregon Dunes near Florence to the Arcata Marsh in Arcata, California, a mere 322 miles apart. Our original plan back in the fall of 2016 was to head down the coast, but torrential rains drove us east of the Cascade Mountains and we didn't make it back. This fall gave us a chance to fill that gap in our travels.
As we slowly worked our way south, we saw snowy plovers, black oystercatchers, seals, and a smattering of other sea and shore birds. We didn’t really experience much of the fall shorebird migration, though. Once in California, we enjoyed the redwoods and camping with elk.
As we were considering when to head back north, we were informed that we must visit the Arcata Marsh. The Arcata Marsh is part of an innovative wastewater treatment facility within walking distance of downtown Arcata, California. On my first visit the tide was in and I witnessed thousands upon thousands of shorebirds using the marsh as their wintering grounds. I immediately informed Katie that I had found all of the shorebirds we had been looking for. But it wasn’t just limited to shorebirds. Many kinds of waterfowl and wading birds used the ponds and lakes as well. Great and snowy egrets were found throughout, along with black-crowned night-heron and many types of sparrows.
It was inspiring to see such a fantastic integration of human and wildlife needs. Albany, Oregon has a smaller, but similar, system that also attracts waterfowl and is another example of innovative thinking. The more we learn to create systems that are inclusive, rather than exclusive, of our cohabitants of this unique planet, the better citizens of this blue-green marble we become.
A Vagabond Life?
Technically, no. I don’t want to pretend that we are really vagabonds, but we definitely no longer have a settled home.
When Katie and I visited our house in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle this summer, we both realized that our path no longer included living their. We understood that going forward we would eventually sell the house and direct those resources elsewhere. We did not expect it to happen so quickly, but our renters made us an offer we couldn’t refuse, and as 2017 came to a close we closed on the sale of our house.
In the process, we put our trailer in storage after Thanksgiving and packed everything we needed into our truck. We have been bouncing around between friends and family since, dealing with the house sale as well as seeing people for the holidays.
I’m not sure we fully realized what it all means, but the end of 2017 definitely signals another significant step in our journey. There is no looking back. And, yet, it should not mean that we focus only on what is next, at least in terms of a new home, etc… We still need to be better at being in present time while being open to what the future may bring. We have our trailer, and we currently plan on taking it out of storage this spring and exploring the Pacific Northwest a bit more. During January we will be staying in the Samish Flats in northwest Washington to hang out with the snow geese, swans, eagles, hawks, and, most importantly, the short-eared owls. It is still undecided what happens after that.
The one thing that Katie and I have noticed from the start of this journey, and especially since last summer, is the number of people we have reconnected with, or created a stronger bond with, during this process. For me and my introvert tendencies, it probably has a lot to do with prying myself out of the safety of our house and putting me in different types of contact with others. Whatever the reason, it will likely help shape the next step in our journey.
Have a great 2018!