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Dan Jordan’s Wild World: Olean to Utah, part 1


Jordan shows off some highlights from a recent “epic drive”

By Dan Jordan,

In November of 2021, my daughter, Mia and I embarked on an epic drive across America to allow me to check off some bucket list items.  We covered 7200 miles in 16 days.  I was able to visit the last two states I had not previously visited during that trip (Arkansas, and Montana), as well as to stand by all five of the great lakes (I had not been to Superior previously).

As wonderful as that trip was, however, I was left with an empty feeling about missed opportunities.  Specifically, missing out on three of the Big-5 National Parks in Utah.  So, I immediately began planning for another epic journey in Eagle One (my pet name for my Bronco) (Eagle One, because it guides me to excellent eagle photography almost every day).

Anyway, this blog will cover my more recent adventure, with some mentions about the previous one along the way.  It will, of course, include many photos of my journeys.  Afterall, I am a photographer.  Speaking of, I was accompanied by another professional photog and friend, Bruce Hawkes on this trip.  Between us, we took 6 cameras and probably 20 lenses, not to mention lots of other photog gear.

Day one was an afterthought, more or less.  My original plan called for a long drive to Missouri on the first day, but due to a cancellation in my studio, I was able to leave a day early.  So, I scheduled a stop near Toledo, Ohio to visit Magee Marsh and the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR).  Magee was so great, that we never even made it to the neighboring ONWR.

By great, I mean great in the most awesome sense of the word.  My previous trip to Magee Marsh was very ho-hum in nature, but this day (5-6-23) I saw 8 eagles, 3 eagle nests, and had close encounters with three of the eagles.  I define close encounters as any time an eagle gets within 30 feet of me (or so).  Want proof?  Here is one of the first photos from that day along the boardwalk in Magee.  The photo is not cropped to a large degree, the eagle was so close that I could not get its wings into the photo.

All told, our tally of eagle sightings that first day was 22 and we saw 14 eagle nests.  I decided to take a circuitous route to Toledo, since the drive was short (only around 350 miles).  Near Cochran, PA, we encountered a nest with eaglets on it, which was very accessible and great photos were captured.  All along Ohio Route 2, eagles were spotted, some presenting for great photo ops.  It would be safe to say that Day One of the journey was all about eagles.  From my perspective, that would be true.

Bruce took a different track at Magee.  He was able to photograph birds he had never seen before, such as a whip-poor-will and a ruby crowned kinglet.  I saw the kinglet but was distracted by an eagle which flew down to “say hello”, so no photos in my collection.

My preoccupation with eagles wasn’t new on this trip, it’s pretty much an everyday thing for me.  That said, I did capture a lot of images of great egrets, Canada goose goslings (try saying that three times fast), and purple martins at Magee.  Unfortunately, those images, as good as they may be, won’t make this blog, which is eagle-dominated.

For the record, I paid $ 3.719 to fill up Eagle One in Olean before leaving.  I filled up in Oregon, OH that evening with $ 3.359 priced 87-octane.  Eagle One managed 27.04 MPG that first day, despite being fully loaded including a lot of gear in the “snail” on the roof.  The stay at the Courtyard Inn in North Toledo, OH was highlighted (lowlighted really) by a wedding reception which played bass-dominated music at about 120 dB until precisely 2:15 AM.  Day two driving of 507 miles had to be done on almost no sleep.

By any measure except for sleep, Day One was a smashing success.  Truth be told, I may not have been able to sleep that night for replaying the eagle encounters in my brain, even if the reverberations of the bass from the music in the hotel hadn’t shaken the building until the wee hours.

I will let the photos speak for themselves. (All photos are from Magee Marsh)

And lastly, to show that I am not a one-trick-photographer, a shot of a young gosling, to tug at your heartstrings.

The final tally of photographs on Day One was 890.  You might guess that there are others worth sharing.  You’d be correct, just not enough hours in the day for editing or space in the Sun to share more than a handful of them.

The next blog will cover Day Two, which was dominated by weather!  Stay tuned.

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