Dear Friend,

This may seem pretty obvious to you, but nature seems to be everywhere. As a nature tour operator, I sometimes (wrongly) tend to think of nature as only being in Africa or the Galapagos Islands or Yellowstone. Maybe in a pinch I could point towards a few more “obscure” national parks like Yosemite or Zion and claim there’s nature there, too.

But the truth is that nature really is everywhere and when I think about it I’ve been pretty lucky to enjoy plenty of very happy encounters with said nature during my life. As a kid, growing up in New Jersey, nature was in the gulley down the hill from my friend Jay Cowan’s back yard. That tiny gulley seemed unfathomably huge back then, endless really. In the mind of a six-year old boy searching for salamanders under rocks, I could have trekked for hours and not found the end, though, of course, I never ventured more than a couple hundred yards. Nature even appeared in my own back yard in those days, when a dear would show up on an early morning or when raccoons visited our tent site when my brother and I camped out (luckily raccoons made early evening appearances since it was rare indeed that I made it through the entire night without retreating into the safety of my own bedroom).

Nowadays I will find fields of wildflowers and towering mountains on a bike ride near my home in Boulder, Colorado, or even deer and elk on a hike. I’d be pressing it if I claimed I enjoyed the bees that visit our sun flowers in the back garden, but that, too, definitely is nature.

Most recently, I set out on a nature tour in, of all places, Italy. This summer my family and I traveled to the Abruzzi mountains, just east of Rome in search of the rare Abruzzi brown bear, a very close relative of the North American brown bear, indistinguishable by a layman like myself. Heading out of our mountain lodge we hiked towards the treeless peaks where we settled in at a two-story, 10 foot by 10 foot cabin (the Italians call them “refugios” and you can find them everywhere in the Italian Alps and Dolomites), before strolling along a path bridging bald mountain peaks. There we gained a birds’ eye view of the bears’ habitat. We walked and we waited, eager to catch a glimpse of the cousin of an animal I have admired for so long. As the sun began to set we knew our time searching for the bears was up and we headed back towards the refugio where we were to enjoy a lovely Italian meal. My son Cole, now 15, was particularly saddened not to see a bear as he is passionate about tracking wildlife. So he stayed a few extra minutes on the trail, scanning the hills with high-powered binoculars. The extra effort paid off when he called me back to show me a brown dot I could barely see with my naked eye, slowly making its way up towards the peak on the other side of the valley. A brown bear! Dang, right here in the middle of Italy! A brown bear!

Nature really is everywhere.

I hope to see you out there!

Founder & Director
Natural Habitat Adventures