Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Back Again, Debriefing

I arrived back at my Fall City home on April 1st, in time to do taxes and celebrate Easter with the grandkids. 

Grandson Lane showing off his bag of Easter Eggs after the hunt.  4/20/14 

Grandpa (John) and Grandson Luke planting pumpkin seeds
for their Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns.  4/20/14 
With those two events in the past, now is the time to wrap up my Jan-Feb-Mar travel blogs.  I left the Florida Keys on March 16, taking I-10 west until I veered north at Phoenix to spend a bit of time with friends in the Prescott National Forest.  Then I had a short visit with a couple of my other brothers in Orange County before going north on I-5 toward Washington State. 

Last few nights in the Keys were spent on the dock while brother Gary
tried to catch another shark.  3/10/14 

Folks launched lanterns from the dock ... 

The gentle breeze carried them
over the water ... 

until they were just a
small point in the black sky.

On my westward drive on I-10, I spent a day in southwest Louisiana to
explore the Creole Nature Trail, a loop within the "Louisiana Outback,"
south of Lake Charles to the Gulf of Mexico. 3/19/14 

I find that my travels often have a theme or purpose.  Sometimes I know what those are prior to leaving.  This time I didn't.  This time I discovered them in the midst of my travels.  One discovery was that I want to be a snowbird, spending winters in the dry heat of the desert southwest (vs. the warm humidity of Florida).  And an unexpected purpose was to reconnect with each of my 4 brothers -- Ray in CA in January; Gary in FL in early March; and Glen & Kyle in SoCal in late March -- what a nice treat!
I joined some of my friends in the Prescott National Forest
near Cottonwood.  3/23/14 

I was weary from driving; camping in nature feeds my soul.  3/23/14 
A couple of sub-themes popped up too.  One was tornadoes -- advisories, watches, and warnings -- in SW Louisiana, in the Keys, on I-75 in western Florida, and finally on I-5 in northern California (west of Chico).  Twice I saw wall clouds (FL Keys & CA); both times I was in awe; neither time did I see any rotation. 

Another sub-theme is that I re-learned that I can have a first experience only once.  In 2012 I did a slow mosey along the Gulf Coast.  I was amazed at the flora and fauna of the wet lands -- swamps, everglades, bayous -- really taking it all in, really loving it.  I so wanted to re-live that adventure, exploring the Creole Trail in Louisiana and the Loop Road in Big Cypress National Preserve.  Although I enjoyed retracing my steps, I didn't experience that same sense of discovery.  And that's OK as it was still very beautiful and amazing; and I've many other places I can go to for the first time; discovery is fun!

Here are some photos from 2012 of places which I got to re-experience in 2014: 

Ferry on the Creole Nature Trail takes you across the
Calcisieu River.  2/19/12 

Spider webs decorated with morning dew at the
SW Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex Visitor Center
(on the Creole Nature Trail)  2/22/12 

First wild alligator I ever saw on the Pintail Wildlife Drive in the
Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge
(on the Creole Nature Trail) 2/22/12 

Blue Angel's jet on display at the rest stop in Milton, FL.
The home of the Blue Angels is in neighboring Pensacola, FL.  2/29/12 

View from my campsite in the Apalachicola National Forest south of
Tallahassee, FL (tornado watch while there in 2012)  3/1/12 

Ochopee Post Office is the smallest in the US. On US-41 (Tamiami Trail)
that goes through Big Cypress National Preserve and borders
Everglades National Park.   3/7/12 

Alligator warming up in the morning sun, Loop Road,
Big Cypress National Preserve.  3/9/12 

Great White Egret as seen from the Loop Road in
Big Cypress National Preserve.  3/9/12 

Canoeing through the mangrove tunnels,
Big Cypress National Preserve.   3/10/12 

Now, I'm in Washington for the bulk of the Spring, Summer and Fall, hoping to have friends and family visit, do some local camping, and take an RV vacation with hubby. 

Our Bing Cherry Tree was in bloom when I got back to Fall City.  4/14/14 

And April is when I remember my daughter's
birthday.  I feel especially close to her
on my road trips ... she was a traveler
 and a lover of nature too.    4/11/14