2022 Expedition in Review

2022 Expedition Map Sections
Payette to Jackson Hole
2022 Expedition Map Sections
Lakewood to Payette
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Medford to Lakewood
2022 Expedition Map Sections
San Diego to Medford

On February 27, I left San Diego on what turned out to be a 16,000 mile tour of western North America that lasted 7½ months. I began with a slow crawl north up the Pacific Coast, with my first stop in San Luis Obispo, and followed it to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. 

During the first stage of the expedition, I explored the California coastline, which if driven from Mexico to the Oregon border, spans more than 1000 miles.

2022 Expedition Map Sections
Slave Lake to Dawson Creek
2022 Expedition Map Sections
Calgary to Slave Lake
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Cody to Calgary
2022 Expedition Map Sections
Jackson to Cody

My first stop, after following about 300 miles of coastline in southern California, which is too civilized for my taste, was at San Luis Harbor. I spent some quality time on the Central California coast at Morro Bay and Piedras Blancas, before skipping past the next 300 miles of the more urbanized coast between Monterey and San Francisco. Not even the wild coast along Big Sur tempted me to linger. I felt the crush of tourists here was more than I could endure.

2022 Expedition Map Sections
Grasslands NP to Scoby MT
2022 Expedition Map Sections
Slave Lake to Grasslands National Park
2022 Expedition Map Sections
Whitehorse to Slave Lake
2022 Expedition Map Sections
Dawson Creek to Whitehorse

I put on the brakes at Point Reyes in Northern California, and spent a few days there. After leaving Point Reyes, I continued north, making several stops on the way to Crescent City near the California-Oregon border.

2022-02-28 Monday at the Port San Luis Pier, 2022-03-01 Morro Bay, 2022-03-03 Piedras Blancas, 2022-03-04 Point Reyes, 2022-03-06 Bodega Bay, 2022-03-10 Redwood Country, 2022-03-11 Eureka to Klamath River, 2022-03-13 Crescent City to Collier Tunnel

2022 Expedition Map Sections
Linwood KS to High Island TX
2022 Expedition Map Sections
Valentine NWR to Linwood KS
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Black Hills to Valentine NWR
2022 Expedition Map Sections
Scoby MT to Black Hills

It was here I veered away from the coast so I could spend 10 days visiting family in Medford Oregon. I also found a few projects on the RV I was able to address during my stay in southern Oregon. When I ended my visit in Medford, I back-tracked to the coast and paid another visit to Crescent City, before continuing up the Oregon Coast. The southern Oregon Coast provided an especially rewarding portion of the coastal stage of this journey.

2022 Expedition Map Sections
Lower Rio Grande Valley Birding
2022 Expedition Map Sections
South Padre Island Birding Locations
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Aransas NWR to Brownsville
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High Island TX to Austwell

With ample scenery and birds, I could have easily justified spending twice or thrice the time I gave it.

2022-03-24 Crescent City Again, 2022-03-24 Crescent City to Pistol River, 2022-03-26 Pistol River to Port Orford, 2022-03-27 Port_Orford_to_Bandon, 2022-03-28 Bandon, 2022-03-29 Bandon to Coos Bay, 2022-03-31 Coos Bay, 2022-04-01 Winchester Bay, 2022-04-02 Reedsport_to_Waldport, 2022-04-03 Yaquina South Jetty, 2022-04-05 Pacific City to South Washington, 2022-04-10 The Road To Mount Olympus

2022 Expedition Map Sections
El Paso to Poway
2022 Expedition Map Sections
Lower Rio Grande Valley to El Paso

I took another break from the trip and enjoyed staying with a dear friend in the Seattle-Tacoma region. I met her in the late 1970s and got to know her entire family. I even played mandolin at her wedding. We lost touch in the 1990s, but a few years ago I tracked down her sister (also a dear friend), which led to a reunion where we shared memories and caught up with our lives since we last were in each other’s company.

When I resumed my journey, I headed east and crossed the Cascade Range and the plains of eastern Washington, before turning south into eastern Oregon, where I enjoyed my first visit to the Wallowa region of northeastern Oregon, and later, a long-awaited reunion with Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

2022-04-14 Island Hopping, 2022-04-21 Richland to Joseph, 2022-04-22 Wallowa Camp, 2022-04-24 Burns Oregon, 2022-04-25 Malheur, 2022-04-26 Burns Again

Grizzly Bear - Ursus arctos horribilis
Bear #399 has raised more cubs than any other Grizzly Bear on record. She has her own fan club, or followers that some have called “Club #399”.

I rendezvoused with friend and fellow wildlife photographer Joe Ford in Jackson Hole Wyoming. Joe’s passion is photographing what I call megafauna. I managed to work some birds into the itinerary, but the highlight of the week was getting to know the world’s most famous Grizzly Bear. They call her “Bear #399”, and her claim to fame is that she has raised more cubs than any bear on record. She had four full-grown two-year-old cubs when we found her, but she sent them off on their own before we left, so they could begin their own life-journeys, and she could breed again and raise yet another generation of Grizzly Bears.

2022-05-04&05 First Days In Jackson Hole, 2022-05-08&09 Teton Bear Hunting, 2022-05-10 Birds and Megafauna In Jackson Hole, 2022-05-12 Wrapping It Up At Grand Teton, 2022-05-13 Yellowstone Red Dogs, 2022-05-15 Yellowstone Get-a-Way, 2022-05-17 Two Days in Cody Wyoming, 2022-05-18 Lovell WY to Bridger MT, 2022-05-21 Saturday in Lewistown Montana

I did a lot of driving to get from Montana into Canada. Once I crossed the 49th parallel, and entered the Canadian province of Alberta, I spent some time figuring out how to get the internet through my cell phones while in Canada. My original thoughts about my Canadian tour centered on a drive north up the prairie country to Lesser Slave Lake, but after finishing up business in Calgary, I revised my plan and drove west to the Canadian Rockies in Banff and Jasper, before zig-zagging east again to my destination in Lesser Slave Lake.

Magnolia Warbler - Setophaga magnolia
After arriving from a long drive at Slave Lake Alberta, I stopped at Northshore Beach on the way to my camp at Marten River Campground at Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park. Most of the birds stay high in the canopy, but a few graced me with closer looks.

I spent three nights at Lesser Slave Lake before turning west and driving to Dawson Creek to begin my ascent up the Alaska Highway. I reached Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory on June-9 and stayed until June-20, exploring several nearby locations.

2022-05-25&26 Long Drive Through Banff and Jasper, 2022-05-30 Late May At Lesser Slave Lake, 2022-05-31 Crystal Lake in Grande Prairie, 2022-06-02 Taylor Landing At Peace River, 2022-06-03 Charlie Lake, BC, 2022-06-05 Sunday In Fort Nelson, 2022-06-06 The Long Road To Watson Lake, 2022-06-07 Two Nights at Watson Lake, 2022-06-09 Getting to Whitehorse, A Little Whitehorse History, 2022-06-15 Whitehorse After A Long Rain, 2022-06-16 Thursday At Lake Lebarge, 2022-06-17 Friday At McIntyre Marsh, 2022-06-18 Friday & Saturday’s Arctic Terns

When I set out from home in February, I intended to continue north out of Whitehorse another 860 miles to the Arctic Ocean. But during my drive, several reasons came to light that convinced me to change my mind and reverse course, making Whitehorse the apogee of my Canadian explorations, and from there, I back-tracked down the Alaska highway, revisiting most of the locations I enjoyed on my trip north, and adding a few new ones.

2022-06-20 Whitehorse Exodus, 2022-06-22 Return To Watson Lake, 2022-06-23 Muncho Lake Through Toad River, 2022-06-24 Fort Nelson Once More, 2022-06-25 Road to Fort Saint John, 2022-06-27 Birds in Fort Saint John, 2022-06-27 Return To Charlie Lake, 2022-06-28 Taylor Landing Once More, 2022-06-29 McQueen Slough, 2022-07-02 Piper Pond, 2022-07-03 Return to Grande Prairie, 2022-07-05 Kimiwan Lake, 2022-07-06 Revisiting Lesser Slave Lake

Bay-Breasted Warbler - Setophaga castanea
Prior to this visit to Boreal Center for Bird Conservation at the edge of Lesser Slave Lake, my only meeting with a Bay-Breasted Warbler was in south Texas during the spring migration of 2021.

I continued east from Lesser Slave Lake into Saskatchewan, then I turned south with Grasslands National Park in my sights, which was the last destination in Canada for this expedition. I spent six nights at Grasslands NP, splitting my time between Frenchman’s Camp on the western tract of the park, and Rock Creek in the east, before turning south into Montana and working my way through the American Heartlands.

2022-07-09,10,11 A long Drive To South Saskatchewan, 2022-07-16 Adieu Canada, 2022-07-18 Devil’s Tower & The Black Hills, 2022-07-21 Nebraska’s Sandhills, 2022-08-10 A Taste of Kansas,

I left Kansas, reaching the Texas Gulf Coast at High Island in mid-August. I continued exploring the Texas Gulf Coast, driving counter-clockwise until I reached the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

2022-08-14 High Island, 2022-08-17 Anahuac NWR, 2022-08-18 Thursday’s Gulf Coast Tour, 2022-08-21 Sunday Tour of Blackjack Peninsula, 2022-08-21 Mustang Island, 2022-08-30 at Laguna Atascosa NWR

Beginning early September, I began an almost three-week stay on South Padre Island.

2022-09-01 SPI Day One, 2022-09-02 SPI Day Two, 2022-09-03 Saturday at the SPIBNC, 2022-09-05 SPI Convention Centre, 2022-09-06 SPI Convention Centre, 2022-09-08 on the Island, 2022-09-11 Saturday on SPI, 2022-09-12 SPI on Monday, 2022-09-15 Thursday on the Island, 2022-09-16 SPI on a Friday, 2022-09-17 SPI Beaches, 2022-09-18 SPI Farewell

Summer Tanager - Piranga rubra
The Summer Tanagers visiting South Padre Island during fall migration were eagerly hunting the wasps that the rest of us tried to avoid.

I left the island and spent the last week of September exploring various destinations in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Some of my favorite memories are from the time I got to spend with my good friends at the National Butterfly Center in Mission Texas. I made two more stops in Texas, before I ended my expedition, and I reached home on Sunday 2022-10-09.

2022-09-19 Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, 2022-09-20 Tuesday at Quinta Mazatlán, 2022-09-22 Santa Ana NWR, 2022-09-25 Rollin’ on the River, 2022-10-01 Kickapoo Caverns, 2022-10-04 Davis Mountains

No sooner than arriving back home after a long drive through New Mexico, Arizona, and California’s Imperial Valley, memories of this trip trickled into my thoughts. Writing about these times helps keep them fresh in my mind, yet they do not prevent me from thinking about my next trip. I’d like to explore the eastern seaboard and Canada’s Maritime Provinces.