Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A New Year (General Update)

It's currently January 12; 2015 is now over, and 2016 has arrived. This blog has kind of been all over the place recently, and so I wanted to give an update over the state of this blog, what my plans are for it, and also give a review of 2015 and some potential future events/subjects for 2016. Basically, I want to regroup my thoughts.

Olivia and I on top of Breathed Mountain in the Dolly Sods Wilderness, West Virginia.
First, a bit about my experience with 2015. It was an absolutely amazing year, probably the best year of my life so far when I think about it. I fulfilled many dreams and goals that I had for years and years. I finally had the chance to travel like I've never traveled before. Up until 2015, I was lucky if I traveled out of Ohio at any point during the year. Over the course of 2015, I ended up traveling to 16 states, including 10 I've never been to previously. I finally got the chance to go out West and see deserts, steppe grasslands, and high mountains. In March I camped in 15 inches of snow at 7,000 feet above sea level, and then in September I camped along the beach at about 3 feet above sea level. I went on several backpacking trips and ended up climbing my first mountain (although it wasn't that tall). I also had the chance to go caving, and ended up traveling a mile under a mountain in Virginia while going through incredibly tiny squeezes and past giant chasms. I spent my summer helping with salamander research across northern Ohio, finally getting the chance to explore the one section of Ohio I really hadn't yet. I saw many new creatures, including my first venomous snakes, dozens of new bird species, and more. My top sightings for the year include a California Condor (AZ), Northern Gannets (SC), Cave Salamanders (VA), Timber Rattlesnakes (OH), a Cecropia Moth (OH), Long-Tailed Skippers (SC), Crested Coralroot (OH), and so many more things I won't even begin to name. In addition, my year at Ohio University has been exceptional; I've gotten involved in a lot of research, I'm an officer in the Ohio University Wildlife Club, and my classes and the OU Outdoor Pursuits have exposed me to a whole new world essentially. And finally, I've met some absolutely amazing people throughout the year.

Anyway, onto the blog. I recently went on a 2060 mile solo road trip from December 27th to January 4th. I spent most of that time along the coast of South Carolina, and naturally I came across some cool stuff while down there. The next several blog posts I'm going to be writing will be covering some of the highlights from that trip. These posts will cover subjects including Cottonmouths, Corn Snakes, Little Blue Herons, and more, so stay tuned!

The La Sal Mountains as seen from Arches National Park.
The highlight of the year was a 5,000 some mile road trip out to the Southwest with the Ohio University Outdoor Pursuits, an absolutely wonderful group of outdoor-minded people. By way of a mini-bus (which knows no bounds), we visited several national parks, drove through the Painted Desert, passed tall mountains, and so much more over the course of Spring Break. This trip happened way back in March, and I've been putting off all posts pertaining to this trip for nearly a year now. So far I've only written a post on Petrified Forest National Park, which you can read here. Once again, this trip is going to be put on the back burner until I get through my more recent road trip material. But once that road trip is done, expect several posts on places out West!

The Grand Canyon during winter.
This leads to the next point I want to make. As you might know, I recently changed the URL of this blog. It was originally www.ohionature.blogspot.com, but it is now www.kylefromohio.blogspot.com. This change is due to my planning for the future. I am currently in my junior year of college. Once I graduate, I will have a degree in Wildlife and Conservation Biology. I plan to spend some time working seasonal field technician jobs upon graduation. The thing about these jobs is that they can be wherever. I don't plan on staying in Ohio for the rest of my life, and I decided it was kind of silly to have a URL of "Ohio Nature" if the posts aren't necessarily always (or at least a majority) from Ohio. In my opinion, it is better to have a more vague URL, and then simply tailor the blog name to whatever you want it to be. Of course, changing the URL proved to be a bigger deal than I had imagined; my pageviews took a dive bomb, and my blog disappeared from Google search for awhile. I later learned this is a normal reaction to a URL change, but it also shows that if you are going to change the URL, it is best to do it as early as possible. Since then, my posts are slowly being added back to Google search, and pageviews are increasing. Most of my pageviews came from people searching keywords such as "Spiders in Ohio," and Google then directing them to related posts of mine. The URL change basically ended that, but it is slowly coming back as my posts are re-cached.

What does this all mean for the future? Put bluntly, this blog will probably end up not being Ohio-based at some point in the future. There will most likely come a point where I will change the name of the blog (to what, I don't know). I do know that this blog will eventually become based around nature as a general subject, and not as a regionally-specific nature blog like it is now.

The view of the Great Smoky Mountains from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Taken this year during my winter break road trip.
I still have over a year until I graduate, so there won't be any name changes yet, but it will happen eventually. I have no idea where I'm going to end up yet, but I'll always be covering interesting things I come across!

That's about it for this yearly update. Stay tuned for some South Carolina based posts! Thanks for being a reader!