Road trip across America: The grandest stop

My mom, the dog, and I made it home to North Carolina after almost a week of driving. We took the southern route across, driving I-40. Each day, we tried to see at least one fun or amazing thing. The first big stop was the grandest (and also my favorite): the Grand Canyon.

Though pictures don’t do justice, and, quite frankly, neither do words, here are three photographs from our visit there. We arrived in the dark and woke up in the park.

The first shot I took as we reached the rim

That white stuff you see in the foreground of the photo above? Yep, it’s snow. The bitter wind and cold made it hard to linger, but the beauty made it hard to leave.

Below, you can see people to give a bit of perspective. I think you really have to see it for yourself, though.

The morning was quiet and cold, with just a few visitors braving the elements to visit the rim.

Look closely, and you just might glimpse the Colorado River.

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?

The long road home

Three years and three months ago (almost to the day), I stopped along the Blue Ridge Parkway to take this picture. I thought it would be my dog’s last time seeing this beautiful view. She loves to ride in the car, and she loves the mountains—almost as much as I do.

She’ll be fourteen this year, and though she can no longer hop up into the wayback of my car, I’m thrilled to be bringing her home. Would you pray for safe travels for my mom, my dog, and me as we head home?

A final love letter to the river

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I anticipate additional frenzy for another few weeks as our move back across the country happens. I’m saying goodbye to the river this week, along with all the birds and other wildlife the river attracts.

To say goodbye—even typing these words—brings a lump to my throat and the threat of tears. I have loved this place: the American River and its banks. And the river’s last surprise for me (one I first shared with you in January) has brought some of my most cherished memories:

The sea lion visits the river by the fish hatchery.

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A love letter to the river, part 2

As my days here in California dwindle, I’m trying to savor the things and places I’ll miss most. Last week’s post offered up the first part of a love letter to the river here. This week’s focuses on a more specific love I have for the river: the birds it attracts.

A Great Heron keeps a watchful eye from its nest.

Double-crested Cormorants line up along a wire across the river. I love their turquoise eyes.

White-tailed Kites perched in their tree before going on a hunt.

Perhaps it is the birds I will miss most about the river. Unexpected varieties of birds have became daily companions. I’ve searched for them on morning walks and brought friends to see them in pouring rainstorms.

The little Anna’s Hummingbird that perches in the same tree top each morning. The pair of White-tailed Kites who have their own tree to defend from interloping hawks. Owls I can hear but never see in the dimmest early morning hours. The big birds that come in hunting salmon and trout: golden eagles, bald eagles, osprey. Then there are the herons, egrets, cormorants, mergansers, and other birds who are ever present. I’ve even come to appreciate the vultures.

Encountering these birds make up some of my favorite memories, and I will carry them with me in my heart when I go.

Do you have favorite birds you see where you live? Or when you travel?

A love letter to the river

In less than three weeks, I’ll begin the journey back across the country to move home. This past month has brought tears and hugs and goodbye visits with friends who’ve become dear to me. I’m thrilled to be going home, but there’s plenty I’ll miss.

For the next few posts, I’ll be sharing a love letter to the river. The river has been my most constant companion in my time here, and whatever the season, it offers its gifts and treasures and delights without asking anything in return. Maybe the river appreciates that I take the time to stop and notice.

At the start of a bountiful rainy season in 2016

Spring lupines decorate the river bank (2016).

A quiet winter sunset

Whether rushing or gently rolling, the river always carries away some of my cares when I stand at its banks. For that, I am in its debt.

What are some of the things you miss from places you’ve lived before? Is there something where you live now that may be calling for a little bit of your heart?