The Condor

This past summer, my father and I took a trip to the southwestern U.S. to see some of the natural wonders of a landscape far more arid than our native New Orleans. My father and I share a love for the road less traveled, tending towards abandoned, half-overgrown paths rather than popular tourist destinations. It was due to this mutual love that we found ourselves hiking on a dusty, deserted trail off of House Rock Rd. in Vermilion Cliffs, AZ. Red and orange stone behemoths jutted out of the earth, and as we climbed up over the rocks at the foot of one cliff I became acutely aware of how much higher in elevation we were than my mother and brother, who were still below sea level back in our hometown.
Near the foot of the cliff there had been a condor watching station, complete with mounted binoculars, informative signs, and a rugged picnic table on which some child had abandoned their Spider-Man-themed sunglasses. What it lacked was any visible condors, so after ten or twenty patient minutes, we headed up the trail. However, as we arrived at the summit of the cliff and turned to look out at the desert landscape below us, an enormous bird swooped into our field of vision. It was much too big to be a vulture, and the bases of its wings were coated in downy white plumage that stood out against its inky black body. It was a California condor, a member of a slowly dying race. It whirled and looped in the sky above us for perhaps a minute before swooping out of sight again, but it wasn’t until just now that I realized just how impermanent that reaction was. If I had arrived on that cliff five or ten minutes early or late, I might not have seen that condor, and that may have been my one chance to glimpse this beautiful species. I’m glad I was able to seize it.

One thought on “The Condor”

  1. California condors are super rare, even with their successful reintroduction to the wild, so it’s incredible that you managed to see one! I did some digging after reading this and, if the information I found was accurate, you saw one of the 89 total condors in all of Arizona. An incredibly lucky sighting, to say the least.

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