I spent part of this weekend in northern Iowa. I visited Backbone State Park, Iowa’s oldest state park. It’s a park of rocky towers and cliff faces, full of frenetic gray squirrels, blue herons and vocal geese. Deer were everywhere in the park. It’s truly one of my favorite places in the state.
I’ve spent more time out west in the past year than at any point in my life. The destinations are superlative, but so are the distances. (A book I read last year Earning the Rockies touches on this.) One solution for a traveler who wants to take in the sites but not spend all of their days behind the wheel is Roadies Tours. These tours take place on a giant tour bus, like the ones rock stars travel on. All of the driving happens while you sleep, or rage like a rock star, if you choose. In each city the bus will partner with a local hotel and guests have access to the amenities. Trips start at $1299.
Migratory animals are so incredibly interesting. The knowledge that sea turtles or whales or countless other species have to make long distance journeys is remarkable. The New York Times had an opinion article last week about shorebirds, the ultimate travelers:
“Another shorebird, the pectoral sandpiper, departs from northern Alaska long before its offspring can fly, heading south to spend the winter in the pampas of Argentina. More amazing, the offspring left behind eventually take to the air on their own and, with no guidance, follow exactly the same route, joining their parents at a point 8,800 miles to the south. Scientists have no clue as to how this is programmed into the youngsters.”
It is incredible that these journeys are made at all and the fact that this knowledge is apparently ingrained at birth is awe-inspiring! However the populations of North American shorebirds have declined 51% since 1975. Illegal hunting, climate change and habitat destruction by draining wetlands and building seawalls are the culprits. The incredible part about these animals, their range, also makes addressing the threats facing them so challenging. I’ll let the article make the final point:
“The global collapse of migratory shorebird populations is much more than a calamity facing a group of exquisitely evolved birds. It also tells us that our global network of aquatic systems is fraying. If water is the world’s lifeblood and aquatic systems are its connective tissue, then the decline of the planet’s most spectacular global travelers signals a systemic illness that demands our attention and action.”