Yesterday Marilynn and I went to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. It’s a large piece of land across the Columbia River in Washington. One section of the refuge called “Unit S” is pretty unique because you see the wildlife from inside your car. There is a 4.2 mi road on the banks of sloughs and levies around large, flooded, shallow lakes. You’re not supposed to get out.
There are pluses and minuses to automotive wildlife exploration. The birds and other animals seem to be pretty unafraid of the cars creeping along at 5 mph (maximum 15 mph), so they’re not far away. There was plenty to see yesterday although the big migrating flocks of geese and ducks have already gone north. There were turtles sunning themselves on logs in the sloughs, nutria waddling around, raptors circling over head, and swallows skimming the water.
The downside is that it’s hard to take pictures out the window of a car. There are things popping up on both sides and it’s frustrating no matter which side you’re on. You can’t get out for a better angle or back up because something has gone out of view. I kept thinking about what I must be missing because I couldn’t go for a walk. There are signs posted along the route that say, “If you stay in there, they’ll stay out here.” Obviously some people just can’t resist jumping out now and then.
There is a lot to see, and there are walking paths in other parts of the refuge open after May 1. So we’ll be going back again.