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Annual Newsletter to Family and Friends -- December 2013

Desert Rat Times

The Desert Rat Times

A Familial Publication by Liz La Rue and Jim Boone

(adapted for the web)

Desert Rat Times
Volume 26, Number 1 December 2013

2013 in Review

What a year we had! This year more than ever before, we mixed time visiting friends and family with birding, camping, and hiking. We did spend some time at home. Liz spent that time with her school kids, Jim hiked with friends and the hiking club, and we got back into the game of hard-core birding.

January was the only month this year in which we spent every night at home. We spent days out birding and hiking, but we spent the long, cold nights of winter at home.

During February, our friends from Boston came out for their annual Death Valley National Park trip. Jim spent the week with them, and Liz came out for a few days.

March was a busy month. John Boone came down from Portland, and we spent three days camping in Mojave National Preserve. We also took two short trips to Death Valley and another to the Gold Butte Region.

We spent most of April traveling. We drove to Oklahoma for the Lesser Prairie Chicken Birding Festival. On the way, we spent two nights with Bill and Karen LaRue in Albuquerque. We then spent 5 days birding in Oklahoma; and yes, we did see Lesser Prairie Chickens on their lek (where males dance and fight showing off to females). We came home via Texas visiting Bill Boone and family in Dallas and Cathy Boone and family in Austin. We also had a chance to visit with some of the extended family.

May saw us back in Mojave National Preserve twice, but mostly we stayed around home birding and hiking with friends. We also conducted our 5th annual nighthawk surveys, but again we saw more rattlesnakes than nighthawks.

In June, we backpacked for 3 days in the Escalante region of southern Utah with an entomologist to collect some of the fireflies that Jim found two years before. We also did some trail work with the Friends of Nevada Wilderness in our local mountains. Kit Boone, Jim's mom, arrived late in the month to house-sit for our upcoming trip to Alaska.

On July 1, we set out driving north to Alaska. We stopped in Portland for a few days to visit Dad and Joe and John Boone's family. From there, we drove farther north to Bellingham, Washington. We parked the car for two weeks and boarded the Alaska ferry upon which we spent 6 wonderful days. We sailed north along the coast of Canada and Alaska to Chenega Bay, a small fishing village in Prince William Sound. There, we spent four delightful nights with Kate McLoughlin and her family relaxing, hiking, boating, and catching hummingbirds. Kate bands hummers, and we got to help.

Departing Chenega Bay, we spent another 6 wonderful days on the ferry returning to Bellingham. We then drove to Port Angeles to visit Jerry Freilich and his family for 2 nights. We had a nice time hiking and birding with them, then headed for the coast for a relaxing 3-day backpacking trip (3 days, 9-1/2 miles — pretty relaxing!).

Jim and Liz

We retuned to Portland for a couple of days with Dad and Joe, then headed to the Oregon coast for a couple of nights for a mini-family reunion (Dad, Jim, Cathy, and John). After that, a few days on the road brought us safely home. Mom headed on her way a few days later.

September saw Jim and his brother John backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California for 5 days. They had a great trip, but the weather wasn't the most cooperative (lighting when far above timberline is never fun). Later in the month, we headed to southern California to look for some rare birds and take a half-day boat trip out to Channel Islands National Park (So Cal Birding #1).

October saw two more birding trips to southern California. We returned to Ventura where we did a 12-hour, far-offshore birding trip and a day trip to Channel Islands National Seashore that included a few hours of hiking on Santa Cruz Island (So Cal Birding #2). Later in the month, we did a birding loop through San Diego and the Salton Sea (So Cal Birding #3). Jim also did a couple of pretty tough hikes in the local mountains that left him feeling that he needs to get in better shape.

November was good birding month. We took yet another trip to San Diego that included a 1/2-day not-so-far-offshore birding trip(So Cal Birding #4). We then took a trip down along the Colorado River looking for birds in Arizona (Lake Havasu Area Birding). Uncle Peter Boone and Aunt Mary came to Las Vegas, and we had a nice day out in the desert looking at the geology with them.

December has been a quiet month at home with Jim using the long, dark nights of winter to finish a database project for the National Park Service. With our life list of North American birds finally over 600, we are chomping at the bit to look for some rare species down in Arizona. Jim's contract is due December 31st, and after that, we will be off on the birding trails again!

Happy Holiday Everyone!

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Family News 2013

Bill and Karen LaRue continue in Albuquerque. They are busy in retirement, Lorena takes classes at the local college, and Grandma turned 100 in March.

Mom Boone continues traveling, visiting friends and family around the country, and just finished her 11th season as a state park volunteer. We expect her in Las Vegas to house-sit for 2 months next summer.

Dad Boone and Joe are well in Portland. Dad tutors 5th-grade math, maintains his yard, and agitates for social change, while Joe hikes the neighborhood and fixes grand dinners. Both say they like having time to read.

Cathy Boone and Peter moved to England to teach at the London School of Economics. Josh and Sander are off at college (Chicago and Boston).

Bill Boone and Maria continue in Dallas. Bill's job at American Airlines seems secure, and Maria works in a neighborhood elementary school. Billy went off to college this year, and Catherine is making plans.

John Boone remains in Portland where he runs his new company, Lori sings in dinner clubs, and the three kids are growing up. Ashley is a high school sophomore, Eric goes to high school next year, and Andy is following along behind them.

Mocha Cat mostly ignores us, preferring to lie in the sun and watch birds. The birds don't mind her, and still she has never tried to catch one. but the yard rat is another matter.

liz and mocha

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wishing you and your family all the best in the year to come.

Cheers, Jim and Liz

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 131226

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