Our Window on Nature

. . . exploring the world around us

Motorhomes and Mysteries

Filed under: Others — Lowell Christie -- January 1, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

As an introduction to our writing, we decided that our first entry at Our Window On Nature should be another first — the re-publishing of the original column that started our journey as nature writers. Written in 1983 for Family Motorcoaching Magazine (and still running today), it reflects our continuing obsession with the outdoors and all its wonders. Enjoy.

MotorhomeWhy do you own a motorhome? To flee from the snow and cold of the north? You could rent an apartment in Phoenix. To visit tourist attractions? Surely there are plenty of hotels and motels nearby. To save money on vacations? Considering the purchase price of an RV, it takes a long time before the rig is paid for. There have to be other, more compelling reasons.

For us, the primary purpose for RV travel is to escape the “civilized” life of urban sprawl, and to have the freedom to explore the outdoors. With enough exposure to the wonders of nature, you may find, as we did, that life in the city ceases to be a normal existence. And the outdoors becomes home.

We spend our most rewarding hours solving nature’s puzzles, and have traveled full time for enough years now that we have found the answers to many of our questions. In the process we also acquired a lifetime supply of still unsolved riddles. And we are not alone.

When you want to make friends in a campground, just venture outside wearing a pair of binoculars and have a couple of field guides under your arm. Suddenly, you’re an expert – everyone has something they want identified or explained. They want to know the name of a wildflower, the source of a mournful cry in the night, the identity of the animal who left its footprints outside their door. Then come the questions about animal behavior, the reasons for geological formations and how creatures survive on the desert without water.

After one such recent conversation, a companion turned to us and asked suspiciously, “Are you off-duty rangers?” The answer is no. We’re just two teachers who left our classrooms early to return to school. To study the language of a mountain stream, the rhythm of the seasons, the history written in the face of a cliff – and to share what we’ve learned with others. That’s the reason for this column.

Perhaps you’d like to know how birds find their way south in the winter. We all know why they go – RV snowbirds follow their example. But how can a tiny warbler, smaller than your fist, fly 2300 miles across the ocean without stopping? And not get lost?

Or how can wildflowers thrive in a desert, producing a show to rival that found in well-watered mountain meadows? We’ll explore the reasons, and tell you where to find the finest carpets of flowers.

An equally colorful display occurs during the opposite season – just before the aspens, oaks, and maples drop their leaves. Have you wondered about the magic of autumn colors? So have scientists, and many of the secrets have been revealed.

Sometimes we’ll answer questions you haven’t thought to ask – yet. Like why California gray whales make a 12,000-mile trek each year. And where you can camp with the best view of their yearly passage. Or we may show you the difference between a raccoon’s tracks and those of the skunk. And how, when the skunk is still making those tracks, to tell whether it’s safe to watch or time to beat a hasty retreat.

During the year we time our migration to that of the birds – follow the whales up the coast – or visit special places where the wildflower displays will be the showiest. Our home is the desert, and the mountains, and the seashores. And we’d like to show you our backyard, explain its features and its delights.

Of course, to understand nature, you must do more than read about it. That’s where your own RV travels contribute. We hope you’ll start by looking around your campsite a little more carefully; noticing the local coyote that keeps tabs on camper’s activities; watching the sky for hints of weather that the local weatherman forgot to mention; discovering why a certain plant is abundant here, yet totally absent 50 feet away.

And then, like us, you’ll be hooked on the outdoors. Every step outside your rig invites an adventure. RV travel can be your opportunity to open a “Window on Nature.”

FMC583


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