A crisp wind blows in from the northwest, and the few deciduous trees around my camper slowly lose their still-green leaves. As Tango and I walk, my boots make a crunching sound. Already, snow falls in Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain National Park, Glacier National Park, and other northern-tier mountains. Bears move about rapidly, searching for 25,000 calories per day, which will help them survive the advancing brutal-cold nights. Birds migrate en masse.
Days here are still sunny and crisp, in the 60s. Nights hover in the 40s but next week, drop into the mid-30s. Most leaves will be down, and my shaded retreat will open to the winter sky. I can stay cozy-warm in my camper at those temps but worry sets in with the chill air. Will the mountains passes be safe? Can I get through? I have a long drive to New Mexico, through the Rocky Mountain West, and something stirs in me as I watch the birds hop into those northern winds and head south. In 12 days, I will join them in the annual trek.
Although my plans are somewhat elastic, this winter, I plan to stay in New Mexico (except for a quick Thanksgiving week trip to Ohio to visit and pick up mom’s car). Since May I will have logged 8,500 long distance miles. Compared to commuting miles that may not sound like much, but in 1500 mile and 1800 mile increments, that is a great deal of travel in a short time. My goal this winter is to explore the NM State Parks and other local spots as much as I can. My new home state is full of history, including preserved Native American pueblos and rock paintings. I will also spend some time at Bosque del Apache, a famous site along the Rio Grande River with wintering Sandhill Cranes.
Despite the winter migration urge, I will miss my new grandson and his parents. Twelve more days of grandbaby bliss before I head out.