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Last Friday Mom flew from Grand Rapids to Phoenix as many other snowbirds do for the winter. I volunteered to deliver her car to Phoenix so that she’d have wheels for her six month stay. To make my drive more productive, I turned the 2000 mile journey from Grand Rapids into a mini photo trip.

Just as many retirees make the trek to warmer climates in the late fall, so do many northern birds. One of their gathering spots is the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. I leave Grand Rapids on Tuesday at noon (ahead of Mom) and set the destination in my GPS for Socorro, New Mexico – about 90 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Eight hour later as I’m passing through St Louis, I’m attracted to the night time lights of the Gateway Arch. I exit the interstate and head towards the Mississippi River where I find a place to park my car adjacent to the river front. Here’s what I see:



Four Seasons casino and resort


the Gateway Arch


After 30 minutes I’m in the car and back on the interstate. My next stop is a rest area in Oklahama near the Texas state line at 3am. I grab a few hours sleep in the car until I awake from the cold. Drive on. Approaching Amarillo, I spot an unfamiliar aircraft circling the airport. Then I recognize it as a V-22 Osprey doing touch and go maneuvers. I pull off at the next exit and grab my camera with a long lens.



V-22 Osprey doing touch and go’s


what a beautiful looking aircraft

On the road again, it’s a pleasant drive on a warm, sunny day across the high plains and farm lands of New Mexico. For the next few hours I pass by towns with great names: Tucamcari, Cuervo, Santa Rosa, Moriarity, Albuquerque.





The final leg is south on Interstate 25 to Socorro about 1500 miles and 28 hours from Grand Rapids. I check into the Howard Johnson motel, drop off my suitcase and hop back into the car for the short 30 miles trip to Bosque del Apache. My goal is to be able to see the sunset at Bosque.



Nat’l Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center


sandhill cranes feeding in the marsh


coming in for a night landing


alone again

The next morning I’m up at 5am to arrive at Bosque again to experience the solitude of dawn.



dawn arriving at the north pond


early morning flight

From here on, I’ll skip the text and show you some of the snapshots



small flock of snow geese


northern pintail enjoying the pond


juvenile northern harrier scanning for food


sandhill crane touching down


high flying adult northern harrier


gorgeous warm and sunny day at the NWR


spectacular flyout by thousands of snow geese


this harrier scared an awful lot of snow geese
See video of flyout


duckling enjoying a swim


sandhill crane moving in late afternoon

Although I had only 16 hours to explore Bosque, I thoroughly enjoyed this amazing outdoor environment. I dispensed with the typical hiking clothing and footwear; although unpaved, the park roads, hiking trails and boardwalks are well cared for.

While there, I shared the refuge with several hundred other nature lovers – some with binoculars or scopes and others will ample photo equipment. I’ve already seen some of their photos on Flickr. Go to flickr.com and search for the Bosque del Apache group.



warm and sunny day at the NWR

While my stay at Bosque ended on Thursday evening, I awoke on Friday to complete the drive to Phoenix. I had a much shorter 350 mile drive ahead of me and again I turned it into another mini-photo trip. More about the Socorro to Phoenix leg in my next episode.

1 Comment »

  1. Great travelogue and pictures! Sorry we didn’t connect; next time!

    Comment by Deb Toner — November 15, 2010 @ 11:29 am

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