Camping & Birding With Friends: A New and Wonderful Experience

John and I like routine, particularly knowing what lies ahead. In real life however, there is much uncertainty, adding interest and the opportunity to live in the moment, while disrupting the routines that we have come to appreciate, particularly as we live this vanlife. 

This trip finds us chasing birds, with a long stopover at Magee Marsh. Magee Marsh is adjacent to Lake Erie in northern Ohio, consisting of marshland and forests on the lake’s edge. Lake Erie is a huge body of open water that tiny warblers, migrating from South and Central America, must cross to make it to their breeding grounds farther north. The warbler’s preparedness to successfully cross the water involves the layover at Magee Marsh to gorge themselves on the plethora of bugs and worms whose hatches coincide with this massive migration. Nature is marvelous in that way! Because the warblers, and other birds, are focused on plumping themselves up, they are quite tolerant of the vast number of humans who also show up in early to mid-May to observe and savor this glorious annual event. Depending on the winds and temperatures, the number and variety of birds changes from day to day, so that each visit to the Marsh is unique – some days there are so many of these magnificently colored birds flitting about that it’s nearly impossible to see them all, whereas other days offer far fewer sightings. Either way, it is a certainty that hundreds, sometimes thousands, of humans will be there with binoculars and cameras to photograph these little marvels of nature. 

This is our seventh year for a May Magee Marsh pilgrimage, and our first year of camping in the area. Finally! Prior to having Vanda, we’ve stayed at the Hampton Inn in the town of Oregon, which is 15 miles away. Our dream has been to camp at the Maumee Bay State Park campgrounds, not because it is five miles closer to the Marsh, but because we have fostered visions of parking a camper van at Magee, arriving early for sunrise, spending the morning on a birding walk, then having lunch followed by a nap, or just lounging around in the van mid-day between birding walks. Manifesting our dream is as wonderful as we had imagined – our “home on wheels” has everything we need, I can cook us a hot brunch, and we can nap/lounge to our hearts’ content. Bliss. 

Sunrise on Lake Erie

In addition to (finally!) camping here, another difference this year is that Evansville friends met us for three of our five day visit to camp alongside us, as well as international friends from Canada also being here during the same time, giving us the pleasure of their company. We’ve met them in the early mornings for sunrise, birding walks, shared meals, and evenings around the fire. Their presence in our otherwise solitary life has been delightful, adding interesting and fun companionship layers, and for the first time, we’ve let go of some of our routines to be part of this larger group. Change is good! Flexibility is an important trait to possess! I’m working on it!

Mother Nature offers so many gifts, we were blessed to see the antics of these two red fox kits, a result of our typical early morning up and at ’em routine.

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