|Blue: counties/states I've been to, Red: counties I've lived in, |
Copper: states I haven't been to, Green: counties I haven't been to
Birders travel. That's the plain and simple fact. It's what we do. Birds live in many habitats around the world and one must travel in order to see them. Whether it's 1, 10, 100 or a thousand miles, birders have always traveled and will continue to travel. Some of us, no farther than our back yards, others, to every corner of the globe. It is an inevitable consequence of being a birder.
I have been more fortunate than most. I've been traveling ever since I was 6 months old when my parents took me on my first trip. This map of the US details all the places I've had to good fortune to travel to. Let me tell you about some of them:
When I was old enough (i.e. around 3) I took my first trip to Colorado. I've been there over a dozen times since then. Florida was a regular vacation spot for my family as well and was a favorite destination for many years. Single trips to Idaho, Washington and Glacier National Park added many of the counties shown there. A three-week trip through central and southern Utah put those counties on the map with places like Arches NP, Canyonlands NP and Zion NP. Three trips to the Grand Canyon of Arizona also added the four corners, much of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.
I lived in Cochise County, Arizona for 4 months one summer and was able to travel quite a bit and add many Arizona counties to my list. California was entirely on my own in the space of two separate week-long birding trips.
The western US was always a favorite destination for family vacations, but we managed to add a few trips to the east as well. A week in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee was a great experience and included a jaunt into Kentucky to visit the world-famous Mammoth Cave. A spur-of the moment vacation to the southeast coast added both Carolinas to my list of states as well as my lifer Swainson's Warbler. Louisiana was done in two different trips, years apart. The first to the southeast, the second to the southwest. The first included a stop in New Orleans which fully qualified as the filthiest city in the country. The second was a birding trip on my way home from Arizona that included birding the famous Cameron Parish. Maine was an interesting trip that included driving through Toronto, Montreal, Quebec and Halifax before returning south through New England.
Being from Chicago and living in WI, snapping up counties in that general area is easy to do and I have almost completed all of the WI counties.
If you follow my blog, you know I'm an avid chaser/twitcher. That little bunch of counties in Maryland were from such a twitch, a crazy, non-stop chase for a Black-headed Gull in a Best Buy parking lot in Cockeysville, MD.
And that pretty much sums up the US for me. Twenty years of family vacations, twitches and birding trips.
But what about Canada?
Canada is a country that can be difficult to get around due to lack of roads. Fortunately, where the roads do go, is spectacular country. The trip to Jasper, Banff National Parks started by heading straight up through MN and then cutting across the endless tracts of open grassland to reach the Canadian Rockies. We completed the loop by returning through Waterton-Glacier National Park into Montana.
Eastern Canada was as much a cultural trip as it was a vacation/birding trip. Stops in every major city were mandated for this trip. Toronto, Montreal, Quebec and Halifax were all included. The churches and old buildings in Montreal and Quebec were beautiful, but nothing compared with the harsh, rugged beauty of the Atlantic coast around Halifax and the Bay of Fundy.
Combined with my recent three trips to the tropics (Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru respectively) and I can only wonder at how fortunate I have been to be able to visit so many wonderful places. Everywhere in the world has something different to offer, new scenery, new experiences, new things to try and do.
Traveling is something I will always do and always be eager to do. The one place I am most at home is en route to a new destination full of new things to do and discover. The anticipation of visiting a new place, finding myself there, not believing that I really am there, brings excitement beyond what words can describe. I will always be on the move, visiting new places, seeing new things. My goal is to visit every country on the planet and to see every sight that everyone dreams about seeing one day. Of course, along the way, seeing every bird on earth would be nice too.
Leaving you with that thought:
I hope to see you out there, somewhere, in the world of wonder, excitement and limitless imagination!
|Even with all my traveling, only a small fraction of the world has fallen under my gaze.|
There is still much left to see
(Travel map idea thanks to my friend Ethan Kistler over at the Nomadic Birder blog)