Thursday, December 18, 2014

Here At The End of All Things

We explore the mountains of Costa Rica
Step boldly forward.  Change my footing so that my legs do not become tired.  Step beyond personal limitations.  

I fall in love with the Andes mountains between Argentina and Chile.  Sunset was magical
Always remember those who helped me get to this point in my life and keep learning. 

The lagoons of Semuc Champey, Guatemala reveal to me that there are truly magical places out there
Grow bored. Experiment.  Face a fear.  Question this self-inflicted reality. Encounter new people.  Embrace change. 

My first real life challenge....and life change.  Growing up.  Cape Verde taught me many things.  I will go back and confront that life lesson again. 
New bird challenges are interesting.  A birder can play it safe only for so long before s/he hits a "life bird wall".  The risks are higher and the payoffs are either an extreme success or a very disappointing low.  

An island of ancient people live their lives in the middle of Lake Titicaca, Peru.  I see the Milky Way for the first time in their cold clear dark skies.  No light but the stars.  I know nothing. 
One group of experts is replaced by another.  Many territories are unexplored.  It's an opportunity to become an explorer while stringing missing data and personal hunches together to help save our birds. Neil Armstrong. Marco Polo. Vasco Da Gama. Hernan Cortes. Sacagawea.  Any one of us can still discover if we choose.

We climbed Machu Pichu like everyone else.  It tests my physical endurance and my fear of height.  At one point, I break down and cry because of the physical stress.  I move inches to the top.  I discover I can do it. 
That's also the danger.  The uncomfortable truth.  To find a new life bird, I have to challenge myself to be open and smart about what's around me.

Color is life.  Cuzco, Peru
Keep an eye open for strange human behavior, wild animals foreign to me and ever changing environments.

I stand in a dark forest along the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica tracking Howler Monkeys and Scarlet Macaws.  My first experience birding.  I stand alone in the forest and feel frightened.  I am truly in the wild. Alone.
Some places may be safe.  Sip your tea and watch a Blue Tit at a new friend's feeder.  Or climb to the top of a jagged mountain and find a Himalayan Snowcock.  Each bird brings with it a story.  A connection. 

We explore Chile.  Even at great heights we find fish in a small frozen lake.  How is this even possible?
It's time to leave my desert nest and begin the gamble.  1000 life birds?  Is it possible to reach that epic mark in a year or two?  We'll see.  As I leave my safety net of "knowing", I enter a strange world of the new and bizarre.  It will require me to study thousands of strange new species that I've never heard about before.   

I explore a beach for sand crabs
Live the daily routine.  Pay the monthly bills.  And explore when there is an opportunity to do so.  I'm a Cormorant stretching my wings out......waiting for them to dry.  

We explore the Mediterranean Ocean around the Italian coast.  Still not a birder. Sigh. 

For soon I will take flight across the oceans of the world, to the tundra of the North and the glaciers of the South, and touch the sun baked pyramids of the great African desert. 

My travels sparked with this amazing group of people.  I learned a lot about myself....who I was, how to speak another language, how to party like a rock star and......and discover this amazing world.  Today we are all 20 some years older.  The girls are women.  One is a mother!  This year I will return to visit them again.  It has been too long.  Ahhh Mexico!
These pictures were the beginning photo documentation pieces of my work.  Later they would evolve into this blog.  All I can say is that my life has done a complete 360.  It began with culture, plants and photography.  Today, this process has naturally led me into birding and travel. For anyone thinking about blogging, I highly recommend it!

Barcelona, Spain
Everything changes now. In a way, it's sad to part from the crazy road treks around Arizona.  Now my journeys will only focus on life birds.  Arizona still holds a few, but my eyes now wander south to the lands of Mexico.  To the North, Alaska is home to many incredible birds.  San Francisco calls to me again.  The prairies of middle America are home to the ancient mating dances of several types of grouse.  And this "thing" that I have only just begun goes on and on.  Here at the end of all things, I am both sad and happy.  One chapter ends.  Another begins.......


  1. Chris, you are a poet and a philosopher, along with being a birder and a friend.

  2. I can feel the "sad and happy" in your post. Transitions - even ones we bring on ourselves - are usually difficult. I wish you all the best, Chris. It sounds very exciting to me!

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading more about your life adventures! You've been to some very interesting places.

  4. You have been busy.
    This is a grand roundup.

  5. Wonderful to see how your life has grown and shaped the marvelous man you are today. Keep on learning and enjoying the pleasures.

  6. Lovely post but a question: does this mean you are moving away from Tucson??

  7. This was very refreshing. One more Christmas cookie recipe and I would have to choke someone!
    Very nice Chris.

  8. Hi Sue, No I'll still be here, but the travel will begin to happen on a more frequent manner around to various places. This year, I've actually retracked birds that I normally wouldn't track once found. Now the focus will just be on the lifebirds and anything else that pops up along with them:)

  9. Chris, I enjoyed reading this post on your past travels. Wow, you have been all over the world! I still have a lot of lifers to see here in the states. It is always fun to looking forward to see the next new bird.. Awesome photos. happy birding.

  10. Wonderful post Chris - I have so enjoyed journeying with you and look forward to new journeys in the future. You are such an inspirational person :)

  11. It's obviously been an interesting and mainly enjoyable journey through life. Good luck with the next phase. We'll all look forward to hearing about it.

  12. Very cool pictures .. Merry Christmas Chris.. :-)))

  13. Amazing adventures, Chris, and I wish you many many more!

  14. So interesting! I hope you find what you're looking for. Have a really nice Christmas.


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