The birds gathered eerily overhead.

It was a warm day when we arrived in City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico. It stood like a natural Stonehenge—in a field—in the middle of nowhere.

We chose a site carefully and nestled among the towering rocks. We were blissfully separate from our neighbors.

Overhead, we could hear a cah-caw. First gently, then it grew. Crows gathered 3 stories overhead and danced anxiously, like vultures in a classic cartoon.

An ominous sight, no doubt. We were Poe expecting them to caw “nevermore.” Or worse yet—we were characters in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

After City of Rocks, we traveled hundreds of miles further west to Sequoia, Yosemite, San Francisco, Redwoods, Mammoth Lakes, et al. No matter the distance, geography, or elevation, at least one crow came to roost by our site.

As we grew accustomed to their presence, we grew to imagine them less as omens of disaster, and more as watchmen. Angels in eerie form standing guard.

Ravens, crows or their smallish blackbird kin are fascinating creatures. A quick journey in Google describes their cunning. Some species fashion tools to fish ants from anthills. Others have learned to avoid the toxic skin of toads by flipping them on their backs and attacking through their soft throats to consume their organs. (Utterly dreadful.)

Scientists even believe that brain-to-body, crows are among the smartest of all species. One of those reasons—they don’t seem to be merely biologically drawn to places they have been, they remember them and pass the memories to their offspring.

Of course, the information was overwhelming—the crow, or raven, must become the official bird of MacBeTrippin.

I now drive a massive Ford Expedition EL. All black. It has a spoiler on the rear. And, it has been dubbed The Raven. Each spring, summer and fall, she takes flight to new perches on beaches, plains or mountains. And we recall places we’ve seen and continue to long for as we recount the tales for our children.

After all—these memories-are sweetest when shared.

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