Okay, let me explain three things that have come together here:
1. I’m turning 39 in 2011. Kind of the thing you do before turning 40. Going into my 40th year, I’m hoping to take some time to clear the brain, reflect, look for clarity, etc.
2. When Bre and I first started dating, we went on a road trip around Puget Sound looking for lighthouses. I love maps, and I traced out the roads we travelled in my big Washington gazetteer. Over the years, we kept tracing new lines in there as we drove them together. Eventually, we realized that it was a good bit of the state we had covered together – why not hit all 39? We eventually finished this up on a trip to Pend Oreille County, and fell in love with a lot of little corners of the state. Orondo, Republic, Goldendale, Clarkston, Coupeville, all the national parks, waterfalls, Grand Coulee Dam…
3. Just as we were finishing up our 39th county was about the time I started noticing the birds in the back yard, and everywhere else around me. I think it was a Killdeer at Cedar River Park that finally pushed me to get a field guide – it was nesting, and I was walking too close to the nest, so it did this crazy thing, leading me away from the nest and pretending to have a broken wing. I’d wondered enough about some of the things that I’d seen, and this was kind of the last straw!
So our state has SO many different beautiful places: rainforest, islands, lakes, sandy beaches, mountains, sage, farmland and prairies. Each of these places is home for a slightly different set of birds – and whenever I go to a new spot in the state (or out of state), the different things that I see and hear have added to my sense of place. I’ve been back to some of these places since the end of our 39 county tour, but there are many that I’m dying to see again.
So… in 2011, I’m going to try to hit all of the counties in the state. While I’m there, I’m hoping to see at least 39 species of birds in each county. Just playing around with it this year, it seems like this usually means making a couple of stops in different places in the county. One visit to a seashore, or lake, or trail, or park will usually give you a couple dozen different kinds of birds if you’re paying attention, but 39 will probably take another stop. Many of these will be hit shortly after school ends in June. This is the time when most of the birds are done migrating and are still singing before they get to July and start serious nesting. There will be some other trips here and there, and some of the trips I’ll make with the fam, but I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of the state in this big swing, and getting some much needed time to think.