Go for the snow this winter

snow geese
Snow Geese at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge by Rick LoBello

Happy Holidays everyone. 

It’s a wonderful time of year and I am making plans for another trip to my favorite winter spot near El Paso – Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.   Last year I made a little video about the refuge that I sent out at Christmas time.  I sent it to my friend Jim Tolbert who decided to make it his video of the week at elpasonaturally.com.  Thanks Jim.

If you have not been to Bosque del Apache then consider giving yourself a special gift this Christmas with family and friends.  Located 176 miles north of El Paso along 1-25 on the interstate towards Albuquerque, the refuge is the winter home to nearly 10,000 Sandhill Cranes and tens of thousands of Snow Geese.

The best way to experience this wonderland of birds is to stay at a motel in Socorro, New Mexico the night before. You will definitely want to get up very early so that you can leave Socorro about an hour before sunrise.   By arriving at first light you can experience the first flights of thousands of geese followed by sandhill cranes as they soar overhead.  Go straight to the main Flight Deck by turning left at the first intersection once you pass through the entrance gate.  Check out the refuge visitor center and flight deck the afternoon before if you have the time.

I have posted a couple of videos on YouTube to help you get some idea of what the early morning experience is like.   When you get there don’t rush home, drive the entire loop several times, bring binoculars, lunch and enjoy all the moments.

Watch this 2 minute video   Bosque del Apache at Sunrise

Sandhill Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge by Rick LoBello

Tree of Hopes

new treeA little over a year ago I realized something about myself that I knew was there, but for a long time was hidden from view.   As a wildlife conservationist working all of my adult life in National Parks and now the El Paso Zoo, I have always focused on my job and on related environmental education and advocacy efforts.  Then one day last year I discovered that I had a place in my heart that was pretty much wide open. It was a place where I have a passion for helping the less fortunate.  Soon I was doing what I always seem to do, trying to make a difference by encouraging others who also care.

As a member of Rotary International for over 30 years I have been encouraged to live by the 4 way test – (1) Is it the truth?, (2) Is it fair to all concerned? (3) Will it build goodwill and better friendships? (4) Will it be beneficial to all concerned?   I really want my life to reflect Rotary values which in my opinion are in line with my Christian faith and everything about being an American.  They are also in line with many other people’s values around the world like the global network I am a part of with 1.2 million business and professional leaders in Rotary.

The tree I helped to plant last year I am happy to report is growing.  Thanks to the Rotary Club of West El Paso Foundation and most recently the Zaragoza Rotary Club, Tree of Hopes is gaining more and more support everyday.  Our Helping Families in Need This Christmas Project is touching hearts as our Tree of Hopes bears fruit and grows into a stronger part of our community.

One of the greatest things that I have realized over the past year is what I describe as a “ocean of poverty” in my own back yard.  Back in the 1990s when I visited El Paso’s sister city Juarez, I only experienced the business district near the Bridge of Americas.  Today I am learning that the poverty of Juarez is much greater than I ever realized.   I can’t sit back and just pretend that I don’t live next to this ocean. I can’t drive to work every day on I-10 and not look to the right and see the homes of so many in need.   I just can’t.   It is my hope that this Tree of Hopes will become a important outreach effort for good in the days ahead and that it will encourage others to plant trees of hopes everywhere.

I tell my friends that when you help the Tree of Hopes grow, you can also experience an inner peace as you realize how “we belong to each other (Mother Teresa).”    Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Rotary Logo

President George H.W. Bush

41_george_h_w_bushI was greatly inspired this week when I watched America remember a great president like President George H.W. Bush.   With all the negative news and stories about President Trump, I only wish we had a president like President Bush today.  Like so many American’s I believe that President Trump wants to be a good President, but I really don’t know what to believe anymore about him and the rest of the bureaucracy in Washington D.C.   We need a great leader like George H.W. Bush as President.  I hope that if President Trump has committed treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, that  he will resign for the good of the country.  If he has not done anything wrong then I hope he will study the life of the President H.W. Bush.   We need our President to be a point of light, not someone who so many people around the world do not respect and believe is unfit for office.