Oh, the places we've been and the things we've seen! This year has truly been amazing.
In January, we left Arizona, headed for Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. We made a stop in Big Bend National Park, where we saw this raccoon and duck.
Then we continued to Santa Ana for two weeks of training to drive the big green tram around the refuge. We enjoyed giving the tours.
In February, we learned more about birding. At least 400 species of birds have been documented at Santa Ana, more than anywhere in the country other than the states of Arizona, Texas and California. This is a Northern Shoveler.
We learned about beer can chicken at the Smokin' on the Rio Grande BBQ Cookoff.
You can see many more birds if you check out my posts from late January and February.
In March (clockwise from top left) we spotted the scissors-tailed fly catcher, a raccoon in the trash dumpster, the colorful green jay, the fly catcher again, a screech owl camouflaged in a tree stump, and fallen trees blocking the tram route.
In April we visited the South Padre Island Birding Center, where we saw this little blue heron. Across the canal from where our RV was parked, we spotted these crested caracaras. John spotted this coral snake. We learned the warning, "red touches black, friend of Jack; red touches yellow, kills a fellow."
In May, we headed north to Colorado and beyond. The trip didn't start out very well. First, we had a flat tire on I-10, then our front landing gear failed. We made it to Albuquerque, where we had repairs done. In Colorado we watched John and Kylie in their sports events. We ended the month in Alberta, Canada, and saw great scenery on a visit to Waterton Lakes National Park.
In June we drove from Banff National Park to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. We saw Lake Mistaya as we drove along the Icefields Parkway. The campground in Jasper National Park was full of cow elk and their calves. We saw a number of black and grizzly bears along the way, made a stop at the Signpost Forest in Dawson Creek, and watched the start of Yukon Quest, a 444-mile canoe and kayak race on the Yukon River.
We spent the month of July in Alaska, including a tour of Denali National Park and another through Kenai Fjords National Park. We rode the riverboat Discovery III out of Fairbanks; saw lots of wildlife, including sand hill cranes, caribou and moose; the volcano Mt. Redoubt; numerous bald eagles; a calving glacier; a puffin at the Seward Sea Life Center; Portage Glacier; and this great view of Mt. McKinley (Denali), the tallest mountain in North America.
August took us to Valdez, where we saw a bear in the campground and watched the salmon run upstream from the sea. Then we drove north out of Alaska, back through part of the Yukon, where we saw more great scenery. We then boarded an Alaska Marine Ferry that took us through the beautiful Inside Passage and back to the lower 48 at Bremerton, WA.
In September we stopped at Promontory Point National Monument in Utah to see a reenactment of the meeting of the rails on the transcontinental railroad. Then it was back to Colorado, where we spent time on their boat with Eric, Liz, Kylie and Eric, saw a beautiful sunset in Chatfield State Park and viewed great fall colors in the mountains.
In October, we returned to Arizona, where we saw more great sunsets, bought new chairs, enjoyed Oktober Fest, and dealt with a dead truck battery and later furnace problems.
In November, I spent time in the pottery shop at our resort. We went birding at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, attended a historical festival and a chuck wagon cook off, and hiked in the desert. John completed three hiking sticks from diamond willow branches he obtained in Alaska.
This month, we have faced a couple of RV issues with the bed and TV, I did more work in the pottery studio, we enjoyed Christmas decorations at our resort and attended a concert at Organ Stop Pizza. The month ended with an unforgettable time at the Fiesta Bowl parade.
Over these months, we have spent good time with both new friends and old. Some of these folks we saw here in Arizona, some in Texas, others in Colorado. We also met family and friends as we traveled in Canada and Alaska. We met with RVing friends who are also relatives, Harry and Marilyn, and visited with John's sister Cindy and husband John in May and John's brother Tim and wife Diane and sister Kendal and husband John in late September. This month we attended an neighborhood party here at the resort with our neighbors.
As you can see, it has been an amazing year. We have been so blessed to live this life.