This world we live on is a wonderful place, one worth taking care of. Photo courtesy of NASA.
Door to door, it is 1,000 miles from my home in Island Park to my dad’s home in Yuma, Arizona, just eight miles from Mexico. The trip is nearly due south for much of the way, through Salt Lake City and St. George, Utah, Las Vegas, Nevada, Needles, California—where fuel is $2.00 more per gallon than just across the river—and finally, Parker and Quartzite, Arizona, and on to Yuma. That is five states in a single day if you drive the 16 hours straight through, which we have done many times.
I got to thinking about that as we traveled down to Yuma. It seems like a long way, but in comparison to the rest of the world which has a circumference of 24,901 miles, it isn’t far at all. I could drive an extra 270 miles to Los Angeles (it would only be 900 miles from Idaho Falls if I went directly there) and jump on a jet to myriad places.
With nothing better to do, I followed this fantasy. I “virtually” boarded an airplane at Los Angeles and set off for Hong Kong. I have actually made a similar journey and it is a long 16 hours. In this 16-hour flight I would travel 7,251 miles, essentially all over the Pacific Ocean. That is substantially longer than the drive to Yuma AND I would cross 16 time zones.
The next logical step in my virtual travel would be to board another jet for Sydney, Australia. This 4,581-mile flight would take just over 9 hours and would include three time zones. Interestingly, had I chosen to go straight to Sydney from Los Angeles, I would only travel an additional 250 miles over the LA to Hong Kong leg—a tiny distance in this journey.
After a bite to eat, I would choose Cape-Town, South Africa, right on the very southern tip of the dark continent. That journey would cover 6,842 miles and would cross nine time zones in a flight that would take over 15 hours.
Now the game was getting serious though. Where should I go from Cape-Town? North to Europe or west to South America? After much debate, I settled on London, England and hopped on a virtual jet for the 6,008-mile flight. Interestingly, since this was a northerly flight, I would cross only two time zones.
From London, it was time to start heading back home. A flight across the Atlantic Ocean to JFK Airport in New York City from London is a distance of 3,470 miles and crosses five time zones.
In New York, I opted to rent a car and drive the last 2,286 air miles back to Idaho Falls (only three time zones—two hours—difference this time) where, hopefully, my wife will have returned from Yuma and will be waiting to pick me up.
In all, this virtual journey was 31,806 miles, far longer than around the circumference of the equator. I crossed time zones 38 times and didn’t get airsick once.
What was most amazing though, was the fact that I still saw so very little of this world. Even if I had taken a month at each location or doubled-down on the number of stops, I would still have missed the vast majority of the globe. It was a sobering reminder that this old world of ours is a wonderful, vast and diverse place, one worthy of our care and respect.
Help Idaho Wildlife
When we traveled across the state in October 2017, most of the vehicles we saw using the wildlife management areas did not have wildlife plates. Buying wildlife plates is a great way for non-hunters and hunters alike to support wildlife-based recreation like birding.
C'mon folks, let's help Idaho's wildlife by proudly buying and displaying a wildlife license plate on each of our vehicles!
See below for information on Idaho plates. Most states have wildlife plates so if you live outside Idaho, check with your state's wildlife department or vehicle licensing division for availability of state wildlife plates where you live.
And tell them that you heard about it from Nature-track.com!
Wildlife License Plates
Idaho Wildlife license plates provide essential funding that benefits the great diversity of native plants and wildlife that are not hunted, fished or trapped—over 10,000 species or 98% of Idaho’s species diversity. Game species that share the same habitats (such as elk, deer, antelope, sage-grouse, salmon, trout) also benefit from these specialty plates.
No state tax dollars are provided for wildlife diversity, conservation education and recreation programs. Neither are any revenues from the sale of hunting or fishing licenses spent on nongame species. Instead, these species depend on direct donations, federal grants, fundraising initiatives—and the Idaho Wildlife license plates.
Both my vehicles have Bluebird Plates. I prefer the bluebird because the nongame program gets 70 percent of the money from bluebird plates, but only 60 percent of the money from elk and trout plates - 10 percent of the money from elk plates supports wildlife disease monitoring and testing programs (to benefit the livestock industry) and 10 percent from cutthroat plates supports non-motorized boat access.
Incidentally, in 2014, the Idaho Legislature denied the Department of Fish and Game the ability to add new plates or even to change the name of the elk and cutthroat plates (very specific) to wildlife and fish plates, a move that would have allowed for changing images occasionally and generating more revenue. It would seem that they believe that we Idahoans don't want a well funded wildlife program. Go figure.
"WOW. What a phenomenal piece you wrote. You are amazing." Jennifer Jackson
That is embarrassing, but actually a fairly typical response to my nature essays. Since The Best of Nature is created from the very best of 16 years of these nature essays published weekly in the Idaho Falls Post Register (online readership 70,000), it is a fine read. It covers a wide variety of topics including humorous glimpses of nature, philosophy, natural history, and conservation. Readers praise the style, breadth of subject matter and my ability to communicate complex and emotional topics in a relaxed and understandable manner.
Everyone can find something to love in this book. From teenagers to octogenarians, from the coffee shop to the school room, these nature essays are widely read and enjoyed.
Some of the essays here are my personal favorites, others seemed to strike a chord with readers. Most have an important message or lesson that will resonate with you. They are written with a goal to simultaneously entertain and educate about the wonderful workings of nature. Some will make you laugh out loud and others will bring a tear to the eye and warm your heart.
"You hit a home run with your article on, Big Questions in Nature. It should be required reading for everyone who has lost touch with nature...great job!" Joe Chapman
"We enjoyed your column, Bloom Where Planted. Some of the best writing yet. The Post Register is fortunate to have your weekly columns." Lou Griffin.
To read more and to order a copy, click here or get the Kindle version
Copies are also available at:
Island Park Builders Supply (upstairs)
Barnes and Noble in Idaho Falls
Harriman State Park, Island Park
Museum of Idaho
Valley Books, Jackson Wyoming
Avocet Corner Bookstore, Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Brigham City, Utah
Craters of the Moon National Monument Bookstore, Arco, Idaho