As it turned out, the next day was cold, windy, and raining. I couldn't find a single bird much less a population of gulls to introduce him to, so I drove on.
My first visit to Malheur was long before I moved to California. I was still a student at University of Miami, finishing up a degree in Biology. I'd started writing by then and I was into photography and birds, birds, birds--thanks to Dr. Owre, a professor of ornithology. On that first trip, I "discovered" Frenchglen, a wonderful little B&B, and spent the next day or two driving round and round the refuge.
After that, I visited every chance I got. I took my friend, Janice, when we drove my husband's old SUV back to Miami from San Francisco, and broke down 5 times in 4 states. We learned to pee on the side of the road by sitting on the running board between two open doors.
When I moved to California, I drove hundreds of miles out of the way because I wanted to see it again. I'd bought an RV for the move and was hauling Hopi, my parrot, now 35 years old, Rosie, my albino red rat snake, Lovie, a tame white dove, and Nauvoo, the coal black kitten I acquired on the way. We stopped for lunch under a stand of cottonwoods in Malheur. The RV door was open and I was making a sandwich when a young deer stuck his or her head in. While I ate, sitting in the doorway, the yearling munched the apple I gave it and let me rub its neck, then broke my heart chasing after me as I drove away.
My friend, Janice, sent this NYTimes story to me this morning. It's a reminder, Malheur NWR belongs to all of us. Anyone can visit. This B.S. about 'returning it to the people' is just that. It was never theirs. What they want is to take it from the many for the use of the few.