Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Like migratory birds, we began our
northward trek in mid-March after spending the winter months traveling
along the northern Gulf Coast. We would have preferred to have gone
further south, perhaps to Florida or even Mexico, since winters in Texas
and Louisiana can be bone-chilling. We had good times nevertheless,
sometimes getting together with friends in Bay St. Louis and New Orleans,
and even getting to spend some time with DJ and his girlfriend, Ariel,
in Austin. Even when were not socializing, we have a good time
exploring new locations. The travel bug has bitten us hard!
We bought our 5th wheel new, but
still, there were a few minor warranty issues that we needed to be corrected,
so we made an appointment at Keystone (the RV manufacturer) in Goshen,
Indiana for the first week of April. What were we thinking? Early April
in northern Indiana is very likely to be breezy, if not downright frigid.
And so it was this year. Add to that, snow on Easter, and lots of it.
Luckily, we had made arrangements to stay in a condo in South Bend (home
to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.) Kate drove up with Bobby, and
we had the best time visiting museums, swimming in the indoor pool,
and just plain hanging out.
After staying in the area for another
week making sure everything was in working order, we headed for southern
Illinois, where we accepted a workamping position at Crab Orchard National
Wildlife Refuge. This has got to be one of the best-kept secrets in
the Midwest! Just two hours east of St. Louis, the refuge is a 44,000
acre wonderland of flora and fauna, with 700 species of plants, 245
species of birds, 33 mammalian species, and 44 species of reptiles and
amphibians. The refuge provides a winter feeding and resting area for
Canadian geese, where the flock builds up to nearly 180,000 birds by
December! Three active bald eagle nests overlook the flock, and seeing
a bald eagle perched in the trees is a common sight. We have bird feeders
hung near the RV, and its awesome to watch nature. Cardinals, woodpeckers,
hummingbirds, you name it, were feeding it. Well probably
go through a small fortune in birdseed, but thats a small price
to pay for the joy we get out of observing Gods creatures up close.
When Im walking Jim and Victor around the lake, seeing and hearing
all the birds reminds me of Snow White and her forest friends. Its
We got here just in time to witness
the wildflowers at their peak. Hiking trails, auto tours, and viewing
blinds have been developed to encourage and enhance wildlife viewing.
Hunting (deer, turkey, goose, duck) and fishing are popular activities
here, not only as recreation, but important in the management of wildlife
populations. Crab Orchard Lake is known for its healthy largemouth bass,
crappie, catfish, and bluegill populations. We have our fishing poles
ready to go at a moments notice!
We are the Marina Hosts from now
until early October. Our work week consists of Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays
and holidays, 9-5. In exchange for a full hook-up site, we pump gas,
pump out heads, and generally oversee the marina. Kate, Steve, and Bobby
live just two hours east of here, and were so excited to be in
a position to see them often! St. Louis, where Marias mom, brother
Don and sister-in-law Terri live, is two hours west. Its good
to be near family again.