Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hangin' with Carol "Kiwi" Donovan in Alaska - May 26, 2010

Wed. May 26, 2010

Rafael began his adventure across Alaska today. He is travelling by train to Denali for a few days, where he will be taking a couple of nature tours and a plane ride over Denali. From there he will continue by train to Anchorage, where he will stay for a day and check out some museums. Then on to Seward – my favorite place in Alaska. The Kenai Fjords boat tours take you out to watch glaciers, including the The Northwest Glacier, calving. Along the way you can see otters, sea lions, puffins, murres, orcas, harbor seals and many other animals. Seward also has a sea life museum that one of our former students worked in for a year – she loved it!

Dave dropped Rafael off at the train station in the morning and then went to the Alaska Bird Observatory’s (ABO) banding station for a little while before class. It’s been a little slow at the banding station, because many species are already on nest. But, they still have some Sandhill Cranes hanging out.

I went to the office to get my lectures ready. Even though I’ve taught A&P for 15 years, I still like to update the figures in my PowerPoints when I use a new textbook. I can’t seem to get the computer in the classroom to run the Shockwave Flash animations that are embedded in my PowerPoints. If I can’t get it to work today, I’ll just have to use my laptop.

Being married to a birder is a lesson in patience. For those of you that remember the story of the last night of our honeymoon – where my “special” nightie never got worn, because my birder husband decided to show the other guests at the B&B all of the bird photos he’d taken, you will know what I mean about patience. I knew then that I would always take a back seat to birding.

Five minutes before our classes began, Dave came rushing into our office and collided with me as I was heading to class. His face was flushed, and he was talking a mile a minute. He said, “I met a woman named Carol at the banding station this morning and she’s coming over for dinner tonight!. You’re gonna love her – she’s a free spirit! Here is her name, just Google her and you’ll know all about her”. He dropped a torn piece of paper on my desk and raced off to class.

How many of you have a husband who invites random women over for dinner? Women he just met that morning? Patience.

So, after class, without Googling her, we dashed off to the grocery store, purchased items for dinner and headed home.  He was making shishkabobs - he NEVER makes shishkabobs!

Dave had met Carol “Kiwi” Donovan and was instantly smitten. Carol saved up her money and travelled the world on a quest to see every bird on earth. After 6 years, she came home discouraged and frustrated. Her good friend, James Clements who wrote the Checklist of Birds of the World, asked her how many families she had seen. “Hell, I don’t know!” she replied. He quickly counted up her list and she was only 40-ish birds short from having seen a bird from every family in the world. So, off she went again – on a budget of $600/month – on her second great adventure around the world. She has now seen a member of every bird family in the world. What a delightful person. Her stories are colorful, funny, painful, and thrilling! Plus, she lives in a RV van! My hero!

We talked so long that before we knew it, it was after 11pm. That’s when I found out that Dave had suggested that ABO have a potluck and ask Carol to speak about her adventure on Friday evening. We’ll bring the baked beans!


mmnatparks said...

Hi Jill and Dave,

Great "Kiwi" story! We spent a day with her in August 2010 in Homer at the Alaska Islands & Oceans Visitor Center. We were "smitten" as well! Her humor, passion, and wonderful gift of relating true life adventures makes her a joy to have met as well as an inspiration to us all! We gave her some of our red salmon to enjoy. We hope to touch base with her but left her email address in our rv in Alaska so unfortunately it may not be until summer 2011... If you happen to contact her, please let her know Mike and Marty (Martha) would love to hear from her especially about her journey to Cold Bay! I believe she has our email address. Jill, although we are not offical "birders" we truly love winged things! My husband's addiction is to fish so I do relate on some level!! Keep enjoying the outdoors. We,too, love the Nat Parks! Perhaps we will meet some day!

Best regards,
M & M

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave and Jill,

I also had the honor of spending the day with Carol Donovan in June 2009 at the Sage Creek Campground at Badlands National Park. We talked all day and I was touched by her stories and her Kiwi kindness. She was a true inspiration for me and now I am building a small rv van myself to travel the USA and Canada. She taught me where to stay for free, how to live cheaply, and how small can be beautiful. She lived out of her van and was very happy to do so. Her material things did not own her; her true treasure was in the places she has been and her experiences both good and bad. Having seen violence a few times in her life - she pulled through and did not let it defeat her. If anything it made her stronger and more determined to travel the world. Carol is one of the finest people I have ever had the honor of running into in my life and she is a true role model to all.

Best regards,


mrsbirder said...

I hear ya Jonathon. She's an inspiration to many of us! I hope our paths cross again.

Anonymous said...

hi jill,
my name is Kelly and i had the pleasure of meeting her when she was in anchorage where i live with my husband and two kids. i met her while working at costco and she was like a grandmother to me. i looked forward to everytime i would see her and she would tell me when she came in and when would be her last day. on my break once she showed me her rv and the things in it. i was supposed to say goodbye to her and almost missed her. i was pregnant at the time she came in and she gave me her email address and i lost it soo i was hoping to send her pics of my daughter and catch up with her is there anyway i could give u my email address and you could email me hers ? i know she would love to hear from me. thanks !