Part 2 of 2: Hiking at Colorado National Monument

At the southern end of Grand Junction is Colorado National Monument which extends about 20 miles. The National Park Service employee at the entrance collects your fee or pass at the start of a scenic drive within red rock canyons, sandstone cliffs, and valley floor where the Ute tribe spent many seasons living off the land. I was amazed to see this edge of the Colorado Plateau with all its color and rock formations. There are numerous viewpoints and I stopped at just about all of them. 

Colorado National Monument

The sky was clear, sunny and blue. Some ambitious bicyclists were on the road, steep uphills till reaching the top of the plateau, then through 3 tunnels as we all traveled the length of this National Monument. One couple showed me photos of their sighting that morning of 2 bighorn sheep jumping around on the cliff edges. I was ahead of them on the road and did not see the animals, yet I was sure to keep my eyes on the road! Many places had no guardrails.

Colorado National Monument

National Park or Monument; that is the question.

John Otto was the man who came to the Grand Valley (as this area is often called), loved the canyons, and wanted to protect them. He worked for years to encourage President Taft to designate this area a national park. May 1911, President Taft instead designates it a national monument. John Otto celebrated by climbing, with his climbing partner, Independence Monument. Each July 4th, local rock climbers climb “Otto’s Route” and raise an American flag on Independence Monument. Thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corp, young men in President Roosevelt’s time, accomplished amazing road work for visitors to have access to this monument. 

From the scenic drive, past Independence Monument to Grand Junction.
Independence Monument; ready to climb?

The visitor center has an excellent 18 minute film so be sure to check it out. There is a campground and picnic area a short distance from the center. There are longer hiking trails on the valley floor. It was too hot for anyone to be down there on this day. I walked every short trail with viewpoints. A couple trails had interpretive signs with info about Utah juniper, pinyon pine, Mormon tea, water flow, other fauna and flora, and the history of the area.

View from Grand View.

Other news on this day:

I drove through Fruita, a very, very small town known for mountain biking. (Could not find a laundromat even though the guy who sold me ice thought there was one in this town.) Grand Junction is trying to be a road biking area. I drove the backroads to my campground, rather than the interstate, and discovered an REI! 

While talking with various people at the national monument, I think one woman said it best: a person needs to decide if they like western-slope-living. That’s it! I have been trying to figure out why I have been so hesitant in liking this area despite it having red rocks and sunshine. Western slopes lack the trees and green an upstate New Yorker loves. No amount of tree planting in Grand Junction will do it for me.

While I understand my feelings, I do hope to visit here again. Three future stops: one, visit the Grand Mesa (largest mesa in the world, which is the Colorado Plateau), two, visit Black Canyon, and three, visit Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse area in DeBeque, Colorado in the spring or fall when wild mustangs are there. I will certainly visit the Colorado National Monument again and hope to see the bighorn sheep, and maybe even see a white-tailed antelope squirrel and pinyon mouse.

That is what it looks like!
It would be a challenge to find!

Earlier in the morning, I actually searched out a place to play Pickleball. I did play one game. They only had 4 courts and people were more interested in playing in their little group … it was not a drop-in arrangement … so I drove to the national monument earlier than I first thought. It was a good day. Thankfully I am flexible! Tomorrow I leave for Fort Collins, Colorado.

Another view
A view before I head down to the valley.

Days In Idaho

After bicycling in the Couer D’Alene, Idaho area, I drove through Montana to visit with my friend and her husband for a few days in Ashton, Idaho. They own a beautiful log home and across the river from their land is a good-sized waterfall! It is country-living … quiet all the time, often a starry night sky, some misty mornings, and other mornings with sunny blue summer/fall sky allowing time to enjoy cups of coffee on an east deck and then their west deck as we watch natural grasses and trees sway in the breeze and an osprey or bald eagle fly by … simple beauty and relaxation! My friend shared the Idaho specialties: trout, potatoes and chokecherry jam into meals I will never cook during my van travel, so I loved it all.

Home sweet home!

It is always wonderful to be outdoors! Upon my arrival, we floated down Henry’s Fork of the Snake River , each in a pontoon boat for more than a couple of hours. The river current was moving right along. No amount of rowing would allow us to row against it when wanting to touch base with each other, so we simply went with the flow! An osprey with a fish within its talons and at least 3 bald eagles were seen. We did not get to wet with the white-capped waves or hitting any rocks in our path. The car and trailer had been shuttled to our endpoint; so easy to enjoy the activity.

Putting in at the river.

Places to visit:

I never visited this part of Idaho before, so we took walks at Mesa Falls State Park and saw the Lower and Upper Falls. Photos below of them; the Upper Falls with the rainbow. We noticed a sign posted warning of bears in the area. No problem for us as that was not where we would take a longer hike. 

Lower Mesa Falls
Upper Mesa Falls

We went on to Harriman State Park. As a New Yorker, I recognized W. Averell Harriman’s name. In 1902 this land was a cattle ranch where wealthy easterners retreated in summer. Railroad magnate W. Averell Harriman and his brother in 1977 donate the ranch to Idaho. There are more than 15,000 acres of land with many trails. As we walked a trail it was obviously used also by mountain bikers and equestrians. It would be a great place for more exploration.

Harriman State Park is also wildlife refuge.

When I mentioned T.A. Moulton’s barn in Wyoming’s Teton National Park to my friend, she knew a bike ride we could do in that area. We drove from ID to WY and started our ride under an overcast sky. The Teton Mountains were not the clearest, but we had hours to let nature take its course. We could view them at various spots on our ride.

The first 15 miles of the ride were okay, except the coffee place did not open till noon. Otherwise, we tackled the hill ahead of us, did miss seeing 30 buffalo cross the road, and photographed what we thought was the famous barn. The final 4 miles of our 22 mile ride was with a strong cross-wind! With my  handlebar and rear bike rack packs, it was like the cross-wind was hitting a wall. I had an upper body workout holding the bicycle up. We were thrilled when back at the car to load the bikes into it.

After lunch we decided to drive back to the Mormon Row area, with hopes the Teton Mountains might be clearer. We decided to drive down Mormon Row, a gravel road, photograph a few other places, and it is not till later we realize we now truly have the correct barn to label as the T.A. Moulton barn! Thomas Alma Moulton moved to this area in the 1900’s, spent 30 years constructing this barn, and it is the only structure from his homestead still standing!

T.A. Moulton barn

Things I learned about Idaho…

  1. The northern panhandle of Idaho is literally separate from the southern part of the state. That is why I had to drive into Montana to get to my friend’s southeastern ID home. There are no roads from north panhandle to southern part, only 4 different national forests.
  2. Ashton, ID is the largest certified seed potato growing area. While you could grow your own store-bought potato with eyes/sprouts, you may introduce potato disease into your soil which are difficult to get rid of once there. Thus certified seed potatoes are the way to go.
  3. License plates have a code in the first number/letter or two indicating the county a person lives. As a result, when one waves to another while driving by, it is easy to see if the person is from your own county.
  4. Ashton, ID is in the northeast corner of a large valley in this state. I never thought about the valley since I was either heading for the Middle Fork of the Salmon River for white-water rafting or road bicycling in the northern panhandle.

Other Idaho photos:

Idaho sunrise
One of many ospreys seen in ID.
One of many bald eagles seen in ID
Teton Mountains
Teton Mountains

Days in Montana

Last night while preparing to get a good night’s sleep for my long drive to Three Forks Montana, the air quality was not good. Fortunately, the air temperature did cool enough for me to only use the front door air vents. In the morning my weather app indicated poor air quality due to wildfire smoke. I witnessed the smoke across Wallace Idaho where many were attending a flea market under the interstate and across much of Montana. Finally about 50 miles beyond Butte, the sky cleared of smoke and was blue; sunglass time again!

Montana’s interstate speed limit is 80 mph. I am comfortable driving the van at 75. Years ago, on our way to a bicycling tour in Wallace, we stopped in Missoula. So just like driving through Wallace, I did the same in Missoula. Both towns have really populated. I stopped in Butte, it too is larger than past stop here, to do my food shopping. As I was parking, I noticed a guy carrying ice to his camper. After talking with the couple, I learned that a short walk away was where to get the best priced bag of ice; $1.89 per bag. The store owner was cranking ice out like crazy. He was trying to keep up with demand. Apparently Butte is a high desert town and this is typical weather for them… yikes … get me to the mountains!

Sometimes technology drives me crazy…

I do not know what the issue is with my van’s back-up camera/radio. First, the back-up camera was on as I drove forward for a few miles. I drove on to a place where I could stop and start the van again. Now the display/radio was black and no radio or media connection was working. A few miles down the road, the radio came on again and when I went to back-up into a parking area, that camera worked!! For the next couple of days … as I write this … all is working!

Welcome to Montana: I got my first mosquito bite, entered a different time zone, magpies and yellow jackets are numerous, and a bag of ice at the campground cost $3.75. This state is correctly referred to as “Big Sky” Country since you look across fields, ranches, and between mountain peaks and the rest is big sky! Unfortunately much of it these days is in wildfire smoke.

Places visited:

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park: It is smoky here. My goal in the heat and smoke was to hike the Greer Gulch Nature Loop and Trail … just over 2.0 miles. When I paid my $8.00 entrance fee the woman said the trail is mostly in the trees. I was glad to hear that since it was already 74 degrees and on its way to a 90 degree day, but I should be done with this trail before we reach the high temperature.

I walked to the trailhead and there is a sign about possible black bear in the area. Interesting, no one at the visitor center mentioned this to me. I know when we visited Glacier National Park, a few years ago, (256 miles from here) we had bear spray. So I carried my pepper spray, wore my emergency whistle on my backpack and made noise … saying Yahoo, hello, and my walking meditation aloud … to warn any black bear munching on trailside berries. No bear to report on this hike; however, in 2 different locations I flushed out mule deer. (Those deer were as surprised as I was!) More people were at this park for the cavern tours.

Interesting last line on this sign … what kind of person would remove it?
Plenty of switchbacks
Wildfire smoke in the air so distant mountains are tough to see.

Iron Horse Cafe: The campground host was telling us all to stop here for pie! In my limiting the amount of wheat I eat, I organized my meals so I could indulge in one slice of cherry almond crisp pie. The cherries were whole and huge; the pie delicious! Worthy of a visit here.

Madison Buffalo Jump State Park: A few miles off Interstate 90 is this state park. A quarter mile uphill hike to the interpretative exhibit clarifies where the Native Americans drove the bison over the limestone cliff. Bison were used in so many ways for these people. My photo and the exhibit sign will hopefully clarify it all for you.

Compare this with photo below
Compare with exhibit sign above

Bleu Horses: A long-time Montana metal sculptor, Jim Dolan, hopes to inspire others to give back to their community, town and state just as he did with these Bleu Horses. The name comes from the blue roan horse which in real life is grayish. There are 39 steel sculptures on a hillside in Three Forks, Montana. I could not get any closer to the sculptures than the photo below and even that I was in a “no parking” area. Take a moment to really look at the sculptures at

What you see from a distance, but check the link above for amazing work done per horse!

Missouri Headwaters State Park: I decide to make mybreakfast at this park and to relax in a new location.History buffs would love visiting this area of Montana. While I am drinking my coffee, I am reading the informational exhibits which explain the historical importance of this river. While I walked the trail by a creek, grasshoppers were jumping all over the place and I unfortunately flushed a Wilson’s snipe. I have seen black-billed magpies all over Montana and now remember the last time I saw this bird was in Penticton, Canada. The only other things flying around are yellow-jacket wasps. Anyway, by the confluence of the Missouri River, people were laying in the sun, fishing and hiking. 

People also at the park on this day: I met a recently retired woman from Tucson, Arizona, originally from Couer D’ Alene, Idaho. She is traveling in her fully-equipped van, spending time in Yellowstone Park and then heading back to Tucson. A couple from Orlando, Florida flew in … they love Bozeman airport … and are visiting the area for a week. They thought it would be cooler weather here than home. Not true, smoky hot skies here, but cool nights! Another man, a heavy equipment operator, just finished a job west of the state park. Before he returns to St Louis, Missouri, he is sight-seeing – a perk he loves about his job. 

Museum of the Rockies: Many people asked me if I visited this museum, so I decided an air-conditioned place would be wonderful away from heat and wildfire smoke. Wow, one could spend half a day here! My timing with this visit is perfect. It was the last day of the Living History Farm and the Apsáalooke Women and Warriors exhibit closes the next 2 days to culturally place the sacred war shields in the sun and then be cleaned. 

My first stop: planetarium show on super-volcanoes, then so many exhibits about dinosaurs, fossils and archeological work in Montana, and the Crow Native American culture, history of many things with a combination of murals to read, videos to watch and some items to try. Next door to the museum, the Living History Farm with docents dressed and explaining the history of the place and the Tinsley family in the house here until 1920.

Living History Farm

Photos below: 

Big Mike, is a bronze sculpture of the life-size Tyrannosaurus rex at front door of museum. Many real bones and fossils inside.

Rusty, a draft horse sculpture. In the early 1980’s, Bozeman schoolchildren collected recyclable cans to raise funds to gift Rusty to the museum. Jim Dolan is the sculptor of Rusty – same man who made the 39 Bleu Horses mentioned above.

Big Mike – T rex

Hispanic Culture Arrived in California…

It is always with great respect when I walk any section of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Why, you may ask? Because in 1774 this commander, Juan Bautista de Anza, first explored and then was successful in discovering an overland route from Sonora, Mexico to San Francisco, California in 1776. Native Americans, the Tohono O’odham of this area, were guides and interpreters and helped this expedition be a success. 

Having backpacked in my life, I know the challenge of walking miles with every thing on my back and as I walk any section of this trail I imagine the challenge of this expedition. With this commander’s expedition there was plenty of  livestock, equipment and supplies to move as the almost 400 individuals traveled over 1,000 miles on foot, horseback, burro and mule! Remember too it is 1775-1776 when all were heading to new settlements (no San Francisco at this time). Volunteer soldier-settlers came from many different places along with priests, cooks, cowboys and 1,000 head of livestock. Truly an accomplishment!

Some sections of the trail are now narrow foot paths. I discover the trail to be wide here on the the mile I walked north of the Historic Canoa Ranch, south of Green Valley Arizona. It was easy for me to imagine large numbers of people, wagonloads and animals piled high with supplies since the trail here is wider than I have seen elsewhere. 

Here is a map of the entire trail:

Let’s not forget; it is Spain expanding here to protect this frontier against the British and Russians as the American Revolution was being fought on the Atlantic Coast. California is not a state, but instead a frontier in New Spain, and incorporating Hispanic language and customs.

This section of the trail is very wide. I saw one other hiker, a mountain bike rider, a red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, numerous white-crowned sparrows, ravens and a few other birds. It makes sense the trail would be flat, except for the washes which on my hike was dry. That would not necessarily be the case on their expedition! When water flows in rivers and washes one sees the power of water!

I only hiked a mile since it was in the middle of the day and the sun was beating down on me. I had water and snacks and was dressed appropriately, but I had already hiked earlier in the day elsewhere so thought it best to only go a mile. Next time I will walk further since I have never been on this part of the trail. I loved imagining the expedition happening and me walking with them all. Here are some photos of this section, just 1 mile of 1,000 miles:

Respect … Can’t Help But Have It Here …

Recently friends and I were visiting an archeological site in northern Arizona. There are a few others nearby, but this site is a favorite of mine despite the 273 steps down to then allow us to walk the Island Trail. That hike does give you pause when you realize people who lived here so long ago did hike further down to the river to get water or returned above to farm their land and there was no concrete stairway as available to us today. I have great respect of these people and their success in living on the warm side of the canyon in winter and the cool side in summer. As we walked the Island Trail, walls of rooms and remaining alcoves are seen. With a look across the canyon, many more of the estimated 300 rooms can be seen.

Walnut Canyon with San Francisco Peaks in the distance

As we walk this trail, it is with respect for the people who lived here. While some moved on and others stayed and died here, these sites continue to remain sacred to Zuni and Navajo people even centuries later because their ancestors had been here. I can understand and respect it all.

This man made important and lasting decisions.

Stephen Mather’s name is noted on many historical signs in northern Arizona. Fortunately he had developed and conserved places for future generations to know, understand and respect our ancestors and their lives. As a result, I can visit a place, such as this Walnut Canyon National Monument, and also have the opportunity to learn about ancestral life. I appreciate what I have in my own life even more and know I too must protect what is here for the generations following me.

After walking the Island Trail, 273 steps back up to the visitor center, take time to walk the Rim Trail. Imagine farming at this level, keeping young children safe from the cliff’s edge, protecting your tribe from invaders, and what is involved for daily living when your home is down the cliff! It was with great respect, I looked down from the Island Trail where I had come and across the rim to the visitor center imagining life for these people so long ago!

If you plan to visit Walnut Canyon National Monument in Flagstaff, Arizona, here are a few things to remember. Water is most important whether in a water bottle or water bladder so you have easy access to it. Sunscreen and a hat should be worn since most the trail is in the sun. Bring a camera and take photos when you are standing still. Handrails are not along the majority of the trail. If you are uncomfortable with ledges and edges, always remain on the inside wall. But do not fear because the trail is comfortably wide even for you. This area may be at an altitude new to you so walk slowly down and even more slowly coming back up. It is perfectly fine to stop often, read the informative signs, take in a view, sit at a bench or talk with the volunteers on the trail. Allow your breathing to be more comfortable or give your leg muscles a chance to relax. Respect your needs and take care of yourself. Enjoy your lunch at the picnic area near the Rim Trail. Respect all that is here … that includes the flowers … so everyone who is visiting will see them too! Have a nice visit!

Two Hikes … One Day …

We had a hiking plan which changed quickly when we discovered prescribed burns happening in the Flagstaff, Arizona area. (One cannot help but notice and smell the smoke in the air if the wind is blowing your way.) Controlled burns in forests are intentionally set fires to reduce excessive trees, brush and shrubs, encourage native vegetation, and for some plants they actually need a periodic fire to help their life cycle. Forest management is important to help prevent destructive wildfires. So while there would be smoke in the air this day, we headed west to where the air was fresh and we could hike new places.

To get to our first hike we drove down a dirt road at least 3 miles, past campers on national forest land, and finally to the middle of nowhere. It was interesting to see the variety of tents, trailers, and ATV’s scattered throughout the area where people were camping. Some also had solar panels and propane tanks, but I think there is a 14 day limit per site so I am unsure how long people do camp. The US forest ranger was out and about checking the area.

We drove the first part of the Walker Hill Trail because it is a lollipop-shaped trail. Since the “stick” was a dirt road, we drove it. At the loop we walked the trail around Walker Hill, about 2.3 miles. We were the only hikers out there and I suspect few people hike this area. ATV riders and mountain bikers would love this area, riding dirt roads across large stretches of forest land. We did not see any of them so the forest was quiet except for a few birds.

After driving back on the the dirt road, we drove west on old Rte 66 to our starting point for another hike: Keyhole Sink Trail. The parking lot is also for Oak Hill Snow Play Area where they offer 2 runs for sledding and snow tubing. Sounds like super winter fun! I imagine the place is packed when the snow falls.

The trailhead for our hike was across the road where we hiked the Keyhole Sink Trail to its end, about 1 mile. It is a nice trail with plenty of wildflowers just wanting to bloom. Once you arrive at the box canyon, you’ll notice it is in the shape of a keyhole, there is a pool of water and petroglyphs which date to around 1,000 years ago. This place was where the Cohonina people hunted and held religious ceremonies, but apparently it did not seem to be a place where they settled permanently. Anthropologists believe the Cohonina lived around 700 to 1100 and are the ancestors of today’s Navajo, Hopi and Zuni tribes.

While I was researching the history of this place, I was saddened to read of the 2010 vandalism to the petroglyphs. It necessitated an expert coming in to restore the site and as a result hidden cameras now monitor the site. The dreadful behavior indicates huge disrespect of our history.

Here are some photos from the 2 hikes. Walker Hill Loop:

Keyhole Sink Trail:

Elden Pueblo Archeological Site

At the foot of Mount Elden in Flagstaff, Arizona is Elden Pueblo, site of an ancient Sinagua village, from about A.D. 1070 to 1275. This ancestral Hopi site had approximately 70 rooms. It is a short, easy walk from the parking lot to the ruin. I would recommend downloading the trail guide on your smart phone and having it with you when walking the interpretive trail around the ruins. Or scan the bar code and download the info when you arrive.

From the 1978 work, archeologists interpret the site as a trade center due to the found artifacts: macaw skeletons from Mexico and shells from California. This area is also part of the Northern Arizona Bird Sanctuary so keep your eyes open for birds.

If you are interested in archeology, you will discover there are many other sites you can visit in the area, so be sure to do your research and visit the other sites too. This site is the most convenient for a quick visit while traveling elsewhere. It is on northeast side of Flagstaff just off highway 89 which is the road you take when on your way to the east gate of Grand Canyon National Park, an hour and a quarter away. Someday when Covid-19 is history, the Tusayan Ruins will be open for visitors in the national park and worth a visit too.

Cabrillo National Monument

After a relaxing morning with breakfast, coffee and reading, I decided to visit Cabrillo National Monument, part of the National Park Service. It’s an easy drive 10 miles north of San Diego, California, yet parking at the tidal pools was impossible. I parked further up the road, walked the half mile coastal trail to the tidal pools, past eroding cliffs and was able to keep a distance from others. (When within 6 feet of each other, people did wear masks, as required.)

There were plenty of birds, but no gray whales. The whales pass by mid-December till March, from the Arctic Sea to Baja California, and do not stop here to eat. They migrate each year of their 60 year lifespan. Most numerous were brown pelicans, double crested cormorants and western gulls.

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped on this shore in 1542 as the first European (Spanish) on the now west coast of the USA. He had arrived from Mexico and anchored his ship in the now San Diego Bay as he liked “the enclosed port”. He died during the expedition, but his crew continued on possibly to what is now Oregon. A statue of Cabrillo at the Cabrillo National Monument:

This Old Point Loma Lighthouse is the original lighthouse, no longer in use. It was used 1855 – 1891 and restored in 2004. The lighthouse used now is further down the peninsula and at a lower elevation. There is plenty of history about both lighthouses. A military historical trail is interesting to walk also.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

Driving a short distance outside of the national monument is the Fort Rosencrans National Cemetery, located on grounds of the former Army coastal artillery station Fort Rosencrans. I stopped along the road to take a photo which does not capture the thousands of headstones on the 77 acres of land. I also noticed a sign I had never seen elsewhere on the wall where I stood.

I am so thankful for the availability of national monuments, national parks, state parks and places designated for protection of land, animals, plants and some places even have “dark sky” designation. We need to prioritize the needs of our environment along with less pollution of many types and more awareness of how we as humans are dependent on having a healthy planet. When I visit places like today, I can only be thankful for the past smart decisions made and hope that we can be so smart in our present time for future generations to see and experience what I have been fortunate to enjoy. Let’s leave a healthy planet for others to enjoy life in!

Mission San Juan Capistrano

At least 55 years ago my family and I visited the Mission San Juan Capistrano. I remember nothing else around the mission at that time, yet now the town is jam-packed with homes and businesses. The old train depot has been converted to a restaurant and the nearby street has old houses with shops, but all else is new construction. Beautiful flowers are everywhere!

The story of the swallows and San Juan Capistrano is well-known, but if you do not know it, here it is in a nutshell. In the 1930’s the swallows were a nuisance for a shop-owner in town. As the person was destroying their mud nests, Father O’Sullivan asked the shop owner why they destroy the homes made by and needed for the swallows? In discovering the person’s annoyance, Father said the swallows were welcomed at the mission. The swallows did begin building nests at the church.

In the 1990’s the nests were removed from the ruins of the Great Stone Church and with the loss of habitat the swallows did not return. With the help of cliff swallow experts, they have been able to lure the swallows back to the mission. Nowadays the number of swallows fluctuates. Their migration along the Pacific Flyway is really amazing when you realize these birds are flying 6,000 miles one way from Argentina to California!

Here are some photos taken at the mission:

After a delicious lunch in San Juan Capistrano, I drove to the San Joaquin Wildlife Marsh, Irvine, CA, and parked near Tree Hill. Of course, now I realize how huge the water treatment district is with 5 ponds. I discover this first-hand walking from one end to another. I saw a number of birds; 2 new ones for me: black skimmer and Clark’s grebe. 

I had a fascinating moment watching bird behavior between a male and female house finch. The male house finch was singing loud, non-stop and looking at the female as he continued to sing. The female house finch was not impressed or playing hard to get. She flew off!

To find my car, I walked the road/pedestrian access walkway along the San Diego River. There was the killdeer on the berm again (saw it 2 days ago), yet it stayed on its nest as I walked toward it. I walked near the wall since due to “no trespassing” signs posted on the berm I could not go below it to give the killdeer more space. The bird remained on the nest, looked at me, and seemed unstressed by my walking by. Maybe the bird remembered me from a couple of days ago when I had seen the egg the bird was sitting on.

Here are a few other photos from the visit to the San Joaquin Wildlife Marsh:

Common yellowthroat

The mission was a busy place but people wore masks and kept their distance. Parts of the mission were closed and other indoor places they did limit the number of people inside at a time, so all was good. I ate my lunch at an outdoor table and waiters wore masks. Tables were close, but the outdoor air helped alleviate any concerns I had. At the two birding places today, people wore masks if within 6 feet of another and for the most part it was just me outdoors with the birds. Californians seem to follow directions well when masks are required and some people shared the fact they had been fully vaccinated. It seems travelers have a natural sense of doing all that needs to happen to be healthy and out traveling again. Heck, whatever it takes to motivate people to get vaccinated, I am for it! Stay healthy all!

Stop By Marana’s El Rio OpenSpace

In the 18th century Juan Bautista de Anza once camped in this area as he and his followers were on their way from southern Arizona to San Francisco. I could see how this area would be best to travel through; flattened by any run-off from the Tucson Mountain slopes and the Santa Cruz River overflow. Today, many people live in the Marana, Arizona area and enjoy the outdoor space for hiking, bicycling the Loop path, and bird-watching. Within the 104 acres, the wetland area attracts resident and migrating birds. Recently I observed 15 different species of birds of the 244 individual bird species reported to stop by sometime within a year. 

Looking for another area to explore? Stop by when you are riding the bicycle Loop path or park your car and observe birds from the observation deck. A hiking trail seems to be taking shape and you’ll also notice a variety of bird houses. It looks like the area will continue to develop.

Here are a few birds I saw on my most recent visit:

Greater Yellowlegs
Solitary sandpiper