Many of you know every May I go somewhere or do something to remove myself from “real life” on the anniversary of my youngest son’s death (May 13, 2002).
Four years ago I planned an elaborate road trip with Vinny O’Hare, Liz Fogg and Alec Ababon through Nevada and Utah to visit some parks and places I had enjoyed previously without them and wanted them to share. Due to schedules it was going to be high pressure, short times at each location.
As “luck” would have it my concussion started acting up and I wasn’t going to be able to drive and focus my camera. At the time Vinny didn’t drive yet and we had to get from Phoenix to Vegas and I didn’t like flying.
I had been watching posts in a group I was in related to birding called Birding – Arizona and the Southwest. They kept talking about all the birds and relaxing nature areas in this place called Madera Canyon which was slightly south of Tucson. We lived in Phoenix and it was about 2 and half hours away.
So I did what I do – I went online and did research on this place people seemed to love. I found websites for 3 places to stay in the canyon – all of which said “be sure to gas up in Green Valley and stop at the grocery store for supplies because there are no restaurants or gas up the canyon.” Well that was a bit scary to me but I kept checking it out.
The website for the Santa Rita Lodge was the nicest of the three places and they had availability for a couple of nights. I didn’t know yet that May was peak hummingbird time and we were lucky to stay there at all.
May 12, 2015 Vinny and I drove up the canyon road and it seemingly took FOREVER and when we got their it was closed because it was 6 or 7 and the gift shop where you check in closed at 5. We looked around and found the mailbox with an envelope with our name on it and a note that “the key is in the cabin”.
And thus began my love affair with Madera Canyon and the hummingbirds of Southeast Arizona. I loved it so much that in November 2016 we moved to Green Valley and I have been able to see the canyon from my windows and yard every day.
Tomorrow we leave this magical place but I have tens of thousands of photos and thousands of videos of not just the hummingbirds but the other birds and nature that has helped me heal emotionally and physically.
I leave with many new lifelong friends in all parts of Arizona and other states as well as my photo and birding journeys have evolved.
I know we will return but closing this chapter is emotional for me. I am grateful for every person I became friends with that I met at Santa Rita Lodge birding area, Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary and other places in Sierra Vista, at the Paton House in Patagonia Az, and in Portal Az and in all points in between.
As we return to NYC I am already planning to work on creating the books to share all the magnificent nature that people outside this area have no idea exists.
Pay attention to the little things in your life that can turn into the big things. This was just a 3 day getaway that turned into a life changing adventure.