Man, I love Bonnie Rait. I was finally able to enjoy some downtime after Christmas. The grandkids were gone, and the other kids, home from college or the military were sleeping off their evening adventures. I was sorting through the music my son had downloaded onto my computer from his ipod, named Pinky. Other than the techno stuff that all sounds the same to me, he actually has good taste in music. Lots of R&B, classic rock and some American standards. It was fun to see Aerosmith and Perry Como mixed in with 50Cent and Sublime. Anyway, I was happily listening and organizing my itunes, when my phone beeped and a text came in from Sammy. “Hooded Crane in Tennessee”.
Before I could answer the text, my phone rang and it was my birder husband. Funny how that timing worked. He’d gotten Sammy’s text too. So, why beat around the bush. “Are we going?”, I asked. Hooded Cranes are from Japan, so hearing that one had dropped in only 7 hrs south of us, was a real score! We were going to have to cancel bird banding tomorrow anyway, because of high winds, so we COULD get away. I don’t see a trip to Japan in our near future, and Dave has been obsessed with Vanderpool’s Big Year, so I already knew the answer to my question. “I’m on my way home now”, he replied. “If we leave now, we can be back home tomorrow”. He’d already reworked his schedule and called our sleeping 20-something year old children to make sure they would take care of the pets while we were gone.
By 4pm, we were on the road. Then, we had to turn around and go back home because I forgot my phone on the charger! So, at 4:30pm we were at the bank getting cash, filling the gas tank and running into Radio Shack to get an adaptor so we could listen to a book on the ipod through the truck speakers. Man, I love Radio Shack. I really like those new 4 G phones – maybe a HTC Resound or Thunder…. I guess I took too long in the store, because the next thing I knew, Dave was pacing next to me asking me if I was done yet. Yep, done. Adaptor in hand, and off we went to Tennessee.
But, wait, where was Dave's phone? He's ALWAYS on the phone - worse than a woman. We scoured the truck and called home on my phone. Nope, the kids couldn't find it at home, but the bank had called. He'd left it there, and Amanda would pick it up tomorrow. LOL! They say the mind is the first thing to go, sweetie! :-)
We made it to Athens by 11pm and got a room at the Holiday Inn Express. Very nice hotel with comfy beds and friendly staff. 6am wake up call, a quick shower and breakfast and we were on the road by 7:30am. 27F with frost on the truck, Thursday, December 29, 2011. I‘m surprised that it’s already light outside! We soon hit fog as we meandered our way up Hwy 60 to Birchwood and the Hiwassi Wildlife Reserve.
The fog was thick and visibility was only about 30 feet until about 9:15am. Even so, there was an average of 30 people on the observation deck all day. Apparently, John Vanderpool saw the bird yesterday morning by 9am, and no fog. So our hopes of seeing the bird were high. Dave and another guy saw a fly-by of the bird at about 3pm, but that was it.
Two Whoopers were hanging around all day. We were pretty far away, but Dave got this shot of the younger one.
We stayed until dark, but didn't see the Hooded Crane again. I hate to come all this way and not see the bird, so we've decided to spend another night and try again in the morning. I’m hoping for no fog in the morning.