In August our schedules all aligned so we could do a “tour of two nieces” – San Francisco to visit with Margaret and her boyfriend Micah, and Eugene, Oregon to visit with Rachel (that’s Dr Weissler to you :-).
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.
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.
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.
2020 has been a challenging year so far. We did enjoy a wonderful trip to Chile and Argentina in January, but then COVID-19 upended everyone’s existence. Planned trips to Portugal and Spain (April) and Colombia (June) were rescheduled to 2021, and staying home became the norm. And while we’re luckier than most, in that we live in a rural area and it’s easy to enjoy outdoor activities such as biking and hiking while social distancing, by June we were getting pretty antsy and just wanting to go *somewhere*. So, off we drove to the Chiricahua National Monument, a couple of hours away, on a much-needed day trip. Somehow, going to a national park just says “vacation”!
October we were on the road, once again with Brooklyn friends Mark and Joanne Guralnick, for more national and state parks, national monuments, etc. The main goal on this trip was to get to three in southern Utah that have long been on the bucket list, and somehow we’d never gotten there: Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands. But as always seems to happen on a driving trip, we tried to cram as many other locations in as we could! And we did much better on this trip understanding the geology along the way.
We finally managed a trip back to Arkansas in coordination with Liza’s mother Alpha, to spend some time with family, but also to see some sights that had escaped us on many prior visits. We met up with Alpha in Dallas (thank you American Airlines for neither flight being late) and continued on to Little Rock. After telling the rental car company no, we don’t really want the behemoth SUV to drive down the road (seriously, a choice between an Expedition and an Armada … what are we, the Spanish off in search of gold?) we stopped in for “dinner” at the Flyway Brewing Company in Little Rock before continuing on to Hot Springs.
We decided this year to spend the Christmas holiday in New Mexico, to do some birding (sandhill cranes, rosy finches, etc.), see friends, and enjoy the cuisine (“red or green?” being the standard “which chile sauce do you like” question). We packed quite a lot into a one week trip!