Getting to and Volunteering at Sacramento NWR Complex

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The beginning to 2018 was rather “complex” but, I believe that we have finally managed to normalize our situation and settle in to our current volunteer assignment at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

To explain, a day before we left Death Valley I felt like I had gotten a cold, which seemed reasonable since a couple of staff members I was working with recently had colds. On departure morning I was feeling bad enough (and now thinking that I had a serious case of the flu) that Ken had to do all of the outdoor disconnects and towing hookups by himself, though I did manage to do the little things inside to get us ready for travel.

I spent most of the trip laying down while Ken drove and when we arrived at the KOA he checked us in and asked how to get to the nearest urgent care facility. At first, I resisted, but he wasn’t giving me a choice so away we went when all I really wanted to do was cry and maybe eat something (yes, I am a whiny butt). Long story shortened, as many of our readers know, it turns out that I was suffering from walking pneumonia (still). Two days later we went back for another urgent care visit before we began our move north to the Refuge.

As I was still in the throws of pneumonia and not up to working, Ken reported without me for a week and finally I was feeling well enough to work. I’m writing all of this just to bring you up to date and start blogging about our experience here at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex (SAC).

We provide information to visitors who drop in to the Visitor Center (VC) asking about what they might see when they go out on the six-mile auto tour loop. The usual response is that they might see a few Bald Eagles, the Peregrine Falcon, Northern Shrike, Snow Geese, Canadian Geese, Say’s Phoebe, Pheasants, Pintail, Mallards, Great Egrets, etc.

Since we are a Complex comprised of five different Refuge locations, we are required to rove. So far, in addition to working here at the Willows location VC, we have each been assigned to work at the Colusa and Llano Seco Refuges. That work consists of setting up a scope and tripod on a viewing platform, looking for interesting birds/wildlife, and sharing that info/viewing with visitors.

We also drove to the nearby town of Chico and represented the Refuge with an informational table. The day was busy with about 200 people stopping by to ask questions and pick up literature. Since we worked on the final day of the festival, we had to pack everything up and bring it back to the VC at the end of the day. We were guided through this exhausting process by a very capable VSA… thanks, Jessica!

Ken and I are also pleasantly surprised to be working with a wonderful woman who has previously volunteered at Tetlin NWR near Tok, Alaska where we will be from May through July this year. It’s great to be able to pick Sherry’s brain and try to learn as much as we can about what to expect and do while we are there. How interesting that our paths have crossed!

Since I began this part of our adventure from my sick bed, there are noticeably fewer photos attached here, hopefully my next update will give you a better look at where we are. For now, we wish good health to each of you and appreciate that you follow our travels.

Dorothy and Ken

Eucalyptus Tree at the VC – non native to California.

Snow Geese lifting off at Llano Seco Refuge because Bald Eagles were hunting them.

Olive grove along the road to Llano Seco – these olives are processed for olive oil.

Rice paddy opposite the olive grove near Llano Seco.

Resident Turkey Vultures in the Willow trees near the VC.

Smoky Bear and Puddles at the Snow Goose Festival

Ross’s Geese and Ross Blue Morph/White Fronted Hybrid at Colusa NWR

Spring has sprung

Great Egret at Colusa

Bald Eagle at SAC NWR

Snow Geese at SAC NWR

The view (looking West) from our entrance road – Snow Mountain (Coastal Mountain Range) in the distance.

4 Replies to “Getting to and Volunteering at Sacramento NWR Complex”

  1. Hi. Man oh Man….what a terrible start to the year. I am sure things will only get better for you guys. I’m so glad that you are on the mend. I hate to hear you were ill. Anyway, Alaska!!! how exciting. I bet you can’t wait. I will call you soon. Stay well girlfriend! You too Ken! Bye


  2. Thanks, Robin. Please do call when you have a chance. I saw your email with your travel itinerary, but we’ve been working with no time to call you during the day and brain dead in the evening. Off for the next few days starting tomorrow! Love you 😘


  3. Perhaps we’ll see you – Tok is a long way from Homer but….
    We take the ferry on April 23 to Haines and then travel to Anchorage to go to Costco. Then on to Homer to begin volunteering on May 1. We’ll be in Homer until September 8 and driving home to Colorado to see the family. Keep in touch… sorry you’ve been ill…. changing positions doesn’t seem to agree with you! Hope your feeling better!!


    1. Hoping all medical issues are behind us now! Five months in Homer is quite a stretch. We want to know more about the ferry, so expect a call from us on that. Would love to see you in AK. As it looks now we will drive the 2,000 miles from Seattle through BC and Yukon Territory, though that could change depending on RV warranty service in Oregon. Hoping to get everything done and out of there quickly.


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