Friday, July 10, 2009

Northern Tier Adventure
I recently returned from an outrageous adventure across our country's northern tier, including stops in New York State, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin on the way home. The following postings are from my journal.

June 15 -
My good buddy and fellow traveler Jim Denham picked me up at home at 645AM; not too bad a starting time considering the many 6AM flights I have had to make connecting from Bradley through Miami. We drove to Stratford's Sikorsky Airport after a coffee stop along the highway. Landon and David Storrs and Kathy and George Van der Aue had just arrived at our private King Air 200 aircraft for our 830AM "wheels-up" departure. The King Air is truly the Ferrari of the sky. What a way to travel!

Light rain gave way to clearing skies before too long. A short jump of about 50 minutes brought us to Ithaca, New York and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Literally three minutes from the landing, we were at the doorstep. Our host, Scott Sutcliff, Director of Individual Giving, gave us a grand tour of the new facility. The Sound Library, Bio Acoustics Lab, Collections, and so much more were truly impressive, not to mention the unprecedented art collection.

We were able to see rare skins of Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, and Bachman's Warbler. The Fuertes paintings were a treat! The whole four hour visit was a bit surreal.

At lunch, we had a visit with ivorybill author Tim Gallager (The Grail Bird) my eighth encounter with someone who has said that they have seen and ivorybill. I certainly have completed the grand triangle of modern day Ivory-billed Woodpecker hunters now having visited with Tim, Bobby, and Gene. Tim was very kind of take our questions and ice the cake of our grand tour.

Scott took care of us from top-to-bottom including providing lunch. He returned us to the airport by about 2PM where we bid farewell and were back in the very able hands of our talented pilots Doug and John.

Again in the air and about 45 minutes to Jamestown, NY we were met by our hosts from the Oaks B & B. After checking in, Mark Baldwin from the Roger Tory Peterson Institute was kind enough to give us a tour of the town and area including lovely Chautauqua. Not many (live) birds today but that was not really the focus.

We had a fine dinner and view of the setting sun along the lake. Back at the hotel, we all retired with anticipation of the adventure to come. Other highlights of the day included seeing Lucille Ball's birth house, a call home and talk with Sam, and the good company of friends.