Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 4 (Day 185) - Stories from the Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July, all! It's Sonia again. I hope all of you have found a way to spend the holiday relaxing and enjoying the company and surroundings around you. I had an absolutely blissful day. It was spent in the company of an intimate group of friends here in Nashville. We sat around a campfire listening to the beautiful sounds of some exceptionally talented musicians as fireworks went off overhead. It sure seems like it's' a requirement for everyone who lives here to be able to sing, play an instrument and write music. Here I was with a group of friends and yet I felt like I was at a concert. I was so caught up in the moment that I didn't think to take any pictures, so you'll just have to envision it for yourself. It was perfect. I'm actually preparing to leave Nashville next week and I have to admit I'm going to miss it dearly. The past 1.5 months here have been so fulfilling. I have so many wonderful friends, both old and new, who have opened up their homes and lives to me with such warmth and kindness. This is a chapter of my year I will forever hold dear to my heart. Thank you Nashville.

I did speak with Dorian briefly this morning, but I wasn't able to connect with him again in the evening so I only have his voice message to go by. From what I've heard, he's had a fantastic time in Pawnee. He has received incredible support and companionship from two different groups of people who have camped and hiked with him over the past two days. I know some details on what he did/did not find, but I won't spoil it for you since Dorian will fill you in tomorrow.

I'll leave you with some photos and memories from last year's Fourth of July celebration with Dorian. We spent about 10 days up in Newfoundland, Canada where we got to celebrate both Canada day and the Fourth of July. I seriously think this was one of the best trips Dorian and I have taken together. My two favorite memories are 1) the hours spent overlooking a massive seabird colony in Cape Saint Mary's and 2) the time spent watching puffins walk around us in Elliston. Below are a few photos from the seabird colony in Cape St. Mary's. It's located on the eastern side of the island and it's the largest bird colony in Newfoundland. We're talking about 60,000+ breading gannets, murres, razorbills and kittiwakes. It's located at the end of a mile long walk and as you take that final step to look out over the colony, it looks as if the world drops off. It is SPECTACULAR! Dorian spent hours upon hours photographing while I spent them simply sitting and watching the wildlife show taking place in front of me. We also experienced one of the most incredible displays of honesty and care from the employees working the at the nature center. The first time we went to the colony there was horrible dense fog and we couldn't see more than 10 feet in front of us. Since we weren't able to see the colony on that day, we decided we would return a few days later when the winds were predicted to shift. In the rush to leave, Dorian had accidentally left behind his backpack in the parking lot. It wasn't until the following day that he realized he had left his bag which carried his scope and a couple camera lenses. He thought these would clearly be lost forever, but I kept telling him to keep faith. Newfies were some of the nicest people I have ever met, so part of me felt like someone would have found the bag and returned it to the nature center. And whatta ya know, that's exactly what happened. There are so many good people in the world.

View of the colony from a distance 
(these are all photos Dorian took)

Northern gannets beaking in between taking 
turns watching over the nesting eggs 

View of the common murre colony from a distance

The second set of photographs below are from the puffin colony located in the funky little town of Elliston. It's significantly smaller than the colony in Saint Mary's, so it's a much more intimate experience. We sat on the grassy island where the birds nest and puffins were literally walking within 5 feet from where we were sitting. On top of that, we were surrounded by an ocean filled with migrating whales. Again, I just sat for hours alternating between watching the funny little puffins in front of me and the whales breaching in the background. This was such a peaceful place. Oh, and Elliston also happens to be located very close to Bonavista where you can find THE BEST fish and chips at a local dive restaurant called Little Diary King. I still have dreams about that meal. 

The puffin colony from a distance. 
Note, this is NOT Dorian's photo, just pulled from the web.

Some of Dorian's incredible photos of 
the Atlantic puffins. I pretend that the bird on the
left is him and the one on the right is me 
(awe, how cheesy, I know)

My favorite headshot he took

Hopefully these stories and photos give you a taste of what our Fourth of July was like last year, as well as demonstrating what Newfoundland has to offer. If you haven't been, you must move it to the top of your travel list. It would be a crime for any birder, nature lover or outdoorsman to miss visiting this place.

Thanks for sticking with me while Dorian has been out of contact. It's been fun. Tomorrow your regular scheduled program will resume. I'm sure you'll get some great stories from Dorian as he updates you on what he has been up to the past couple days. Goodnight all.

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