Friday, June 13, 2008

Dakota Driving

I think the people behind Birding Drives Dakota must be pretty smart: they understand that those of us from more heavily trafficked parts of the world are awed and befuddled by the emptiness of the prairie pothole region. It's as if they anticipate that we'll bliss out with the scenery and forget that we might just need directions to find all those prairie specialties.

They've conveniently created a couple maps and a glossy brochure to lead the directionally-challenged (like me!) to the best birding spots. I'd imagine it easy for more left-brained folks to navigate the right-angle distances, but I found myself constantly distracted by something... a group of pelicans kettling overhead... a jackrabbit running through a farm field... a pleasing look at cattle at the roadside... you name it! North Dakota was made for daydreamers like me, I think.

That being said, I was glad for the maps detailing the more than 600 miles of birding possibilities in the Jamestown/Carrington area alone. They make it easy to wander at will at your own pace and on your own schedule, which is the way I prefer to bird. I can handle only so much time spent in a bus with strangers peering out through dirty windows. Sure, I did some of the planned events with the
festival, but there was also lots of time spent exploring in solitude, wondering what might be found at the next "X" on the map.

I wonder about the rest of you that've had the opportunity to attend a birding festival or two: would you rather have every minute of your trip planned and scheduled for you or, like me, do you appreciate the chance to be a little more adventurous?


Anonymous said...

Life has been crazed of late (end of school chaos) so I haven't been commenting but I've enjoyed everyone of your posts on your trip to Dakota. Amazing.

As for me, I haven't been on any sort of organized bird event ever. I would like to do that at some point. However, I would want a mix of options -- go on some guided bird trips where I am pretty much guaranteed seeing some amazing things and learning some cool things. And, also, going out on my own with a GOOD map for some solitary bird watching. I need both social time and solitary time to maintain my soul. :)

Mary said...


I'd need a very good map. But sometimes a very good map doesn't matter when I'm behind the wheel for the same reasons you stated - taking advantage of time to explore.

A heavily scheduled adventure? Not for me. I need time to browse around :o)


Rabbits' Guy said...

Around here are lots of hills and wooded areas so you know you need a good map to find places. But it is so amazing to drive through those prarie states and it is so flat you figure you can see everything for about 50 miles. But whole other pieces are just barely below your line-of-vision!

RuthieJ said...

Alone time is good and so is daydreaming! (I found that out on my solo trip to Devil's Lake.) My rental car had a GPS, so I didn't have any worry about losing my way.