Portugal – June/July 2022

After over two years of trying to return to Portugal (with the trip planned four times…and cancelled), we finally made it there! Instead of cycling and birding, the original plan, we decided to be “regular tourists” – as much as we ever are – and get to some places missed on a 2017 visit, south to north (see map below). This trip was also an opportunity to meet up with Robert’s cousins Rob and Linda from Maryland and a few of their friends.

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Spain (Andalucía) – Sept 2021

We (finally) made our long-awaited return to Spain, after a couple of years of being thwarted by the pandemic on a combined Portugal/Spain itinerary. The trip focused solely on Andalucía, for cycling with Bike Spain Tours, and birding with Wild Andalucía (Álvaro Peral) and Doñana Wings (Vicent Esteller). Keeping the trip all in Andalucía meant no pesky border crossings and thus only one set of rules/restrictions to keep in mind. Although we didn’t actually know for certain that we would get there until less than a week before we flew, as the guidance kept changing!

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Big Bear (Not Lake Tahoe) – Aug 2021

In August we had a family trip in Lake Tahoe planned (courtesy of niece Margaret), but wildfires and poor air quality led to a last minute change of plan. Instead of Lake Tahoe, Big Bear! Neither of us had been to Big Bear for probably 40 years, and at that time we would have stayed at a cabin in Fawnskin belonging to our friend Tom’s parents. This time we were in an AirBnB adjacent to the Bear Mountain ski area, where we arrived on a Sunday after first (and finally!) going up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, and driving up to Big Bear via the “back route” through Yucca Valley.

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Central Colombia – June 2021

After getting some favorable reports about conditions on the ground, we made our first international trip since the pandemic began, to central Colombia with Mark Pretti Nature Tours and several friends. Our visit focused on birding the cloud forests and páramo of the western and central Andes, including Las Tángaras and Yellow-eared Parrot Reserves, Río Blanco Reserve, Los Nevados National Park, and Termales del Ruiz. And Liza was eager to try out her new camera in the field!

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New Mexico and Texas – Apr 2021

We’d longed for a return to Big Bend National Park this spring (Colima warbler, woo hoo!), and had reservations at the Chisos Mountain Lodge in the park for this month made waaaaay back in February 2020 (if you want to stay *in* the park, in April, you have to reserve over a year in advance). We were vaccinated and ready to do anything that didn’t involve being around lots of people! The plan was to meet our Brooklyn friends Mark and Joanne in El Paso, continue onto Big Bend for three nights, then drive back north through Carlsbad and Ruidoso and onto Las Cruces. They’d fly home from El Paso and we’d drive home.

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Fort Bowie National Historic Site – June 2020

Another day trip! Feels so good to be out and about. The target of this trip was Fort Bowie National Historic Site, ruins of the Army fort that existed for 20+ years in the late 1800s. First stops included birding at the Benson sewage ponds (birders go to all the best places!) and the Twin Lakes Golf Course in Willcox. Then it was onto Fort Bowie, on probably the hottest day of the year. From the trailhead it’s a 1.5 mile hike to the ruins of the fort, with interpretive signs along the way. The visitors’ center was closed, but we were able to refill bottles there, and relax on their porch with our picnic lunch.

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