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Archive for the ‘Journeys’ Category

            “In a nervous frenzy, I fling words as if flinging mud at a wall. Blurt out, heave out, babble out something – anything – as a first draft.” – John McPhee.

It could be a mistake wandering around beneath this flamboyant sunset in Kenya's Serengeti National Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean

It could be a mistake wandering around beneath this flamboyant sunset in Kenya’s Serengeti National Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

Thankfully, I’m a Writer

            Working on a deadline, sometimes of just minutes, occasionally meant that typos and even factual mistakes made it into the newspaper when I was a reporter. It was at those times that I used to comment that if I had made a mistake as a carpenter, my product could have been used as firewood instead of being exposed to thousands of readers.

If a lion focused on you, such a mistake could e deadly. Thankfully, typos are only embarrassing. -- Photo by Pat Bean

If a lion focused on you, such a mistake could e deadly. Thankfully, typos are only embarrassing. — Photo by Pat Bean

Recently, however, I came across a comment that made me look at mistakes from a different perspective. A blogger noted that she was thankful she was a writer instead of a brain surgeon because her mistakes weren’t deadly.  I guess the same could be said of an airline pilot, an explosives’ expert, or a snake charmer.

Even so, I still recall with embarrassment the first time I had to write a front-page correction. I was still a green-between-the-ears reporter, and had arrived late to a city council meeting. I’m normally a person who is always early, but back then I was a working mother with five children so I’m assuming I had a legitimate excuse.

Anyway, the next half hour after I arrived, the council members debated whether or not to give residents a 5 percent reduction for the cost of a particular city service. They finally agreed in the affirmative, and that was the big headline on my story the next day. Unbeknownst to me, however, was the fact that before I had arrived, the council members had already agreed on a 10 percent reduction, in addition to the additional 5 percent.

I think that was the biggest correction, thankfully, I ever had to write, as I became an avid adherent to the philosophy of double-checking facts, and then checking again.

But then I’ve made plenty of other mistakes that have been doozies, some even that could have been deadly. Don’t we all?

Bean Pat:  A thought to start your day http://tinyurl.com/of9dsgt I couldn’t agree more.

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For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci

            “Don’t live the same life 75 ties and call it a life.” – Robin Sharma

The Smiley Creek airport with the scenic Sawtooth Mountains in the background.

The Smiley Creek airport with the scenic Sawtooth Mountains in the background.

Stephen Coonts Inspired Memories

            I’m addicted to travel books, and nothing pleases me more than finding one I haven’t read. So it was with quite a bit of delight that I came across suspense and thriller author Stephen Coonts’ book, “The Cannibal Queen.” I found it in the used book section of the Golden Goose Thrift Store in Catalina, Arizona, just 20 miles up the road on Highway 77 from my apartment. I felt as if I had found a golden egg.

The book’s subtitle “An Aerial Odyssey Across America” is the topic of Coonts’ book, which follows his plane travels with a teenage son in the summer of 1991. The Cannibal Queen is a rejuvenated 1942 Stearman open cockpit biplane. Coont’s tales of flying it reminded me off how much I love flying in small planes.

The Smiley Creek Lodge on a snowy winter day.

The Smiley Creek Lodge on a snowy winter day.

The first time was in a four sitter that took off on a sunny day from Logan, Utah, which took me and a music professor from Utah State University to Roosevelt, Utah, where he was to teach an extension class. I was along as a reporter doing a story on the professor.

The flight back to Logan that night was a windy, rainy one, and the professor clung to me for comfort. I was elated (by the adventure, not the professor), loving every moment of that wild, dark ride through the sky.

Another time, another story I was writing, found me buckled into a Pitts Special aerobatic biplane flown by an F-16 pilot who let me handle the controls for a couple of show-off rolls over Great Salt Lake. This was one of those bucket list check-offs that had my head spinning for days afterward. I was loving my life.

Looking toward the Sawtooths from the lodge on a sunny day.

Looking toward the Sawtooths from the lodge on a sunny day.

But the flight that Coonts’ stories most brought to mind was a more mild-mannered flight in the back seat of a four-sitter Cessna of a friend’s uncle who took me and his niece to lunch in Smiley Creek, Idaho. We took off from an airport in Twin Falls, Idaho, for the 125-mile or so flight, and landed on a grass runway across Highway 75 from the Smiley Creek Lodge. If I remember right, I had the lodge’s famous chili.

I think what made me remember this fine day was Coonts’ description of setting his plane down on a grass runway. I guess there are still several like the one in Smiley Creek that exist.  But the Sawtooth Mountains that provide the backdrop for the Smiley Creek primitive airport still make it the most scenic landing spot, I suspect.

Thanks Stephen for jogging my little gray cells back to this magical day.

Bean Pat: Janaline’s World http://tinyurl.com/nxsww4f Great armchair travel piece on Babylonstorem, a place I never knew existed before.

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“The world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau

The old cemetery at Tumacacori National Park south of  Tucson. Drawing by Pat Bean

The old cemetery at Tumacacori National Park south of Tucson. Drawing by Pat Bean

A Sketchy Morning

I recently joined the Sketchbook Artistry Guild and went on my first outing, which took place at Tumacacori National Park south of Tucson. It was the first time I had sketched outdoors in about 10 years. It was a glorious, beautiful day and a win-win-win for this non-wandering wanderer, who is always eager for new sights, learning something new and meeting new people.

The church at Tumacacori. -- Drawing by Pat Bean

The church at Tumacacori. — Drawing by Pat Bean

The ruins of the once Jesuit mission to bring Christianity to the O’odham Indians, who were often at war with the Apaches also located in Southern Arizona, spoke to me of a past riddled with men too sure they were right in their beliefs, hardships, struggles, community and survival. How little we have changed.

So I focused on the sketching possibilities of the ruins with its roofless bell tower, and the trees that created an artful composition in a small graveyard – and tried to capture their memories on paper. I sketched on sight, and then went home and added watercolor to the paintings.

Afterwards, eight of us went to Wisdom’s, a delightful restaurant with huge chicken statues in front, for lunch. The fish tacos I ate were yummy, and the table conversation delightful. What a great way to spend a day.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Prairie flameleaf sumac http://tinyurl.com/mlbqfrc Great blog about flowers.

 

 

 

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100 Reasons I Have to be Thankful

My new great-granddaughter, Savannah Kay.

My new great-granddaughter, Savannah Kay.

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” Zig Ziglar

In no particular order, I’m thankful:

  1. I survived the year in good health, and still with an adventurous spirit.
  2. My new great-granddaughter, Savannah Kay.
  3. That nearly 40 years ago I stopped believing I had to be perfect, because I’m surely not.
  4. New friends I’ve made this year. and the old friends who have managed to hang with me. Friends are one of the greatest gifts of life.
  5. Pink and lavender sunrises and orange and gold sunsets (and all the other colored ones) that enrich my days.

    Tucson sunset from my front balcony. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    Tucson sunset from my front balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

  6. Pepper, my canine companion, who will turn three on December 1.
  7. I’m doing drawing and water coloring again after a 10-year absence – and grateful I don’t think my art has to be perfect.
  8. Authors who write the books I love to read.
  9. I can afford to pay for adequate health insurance when so many can’t.
  10. Mother Nature’s many wonders, which help keep me sane in today’s chaotic world.
  11. My role as matriarch of a family that includes five children, 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and of course thankful for them as well.
  12. I live in a country where a lone female, like me, can travel across this country alone without a male escort or fear of being stoned.
  13. Story Circle Network, a supportive group of female writing colleagues who daily enrich this writer’s life.
  14. My small, third-floor walkup apartment that sits in the shadow of the Catalina Mountains.

    The Catalina Mountains from my bedroom balcony. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    The Catalina Mountains from my bedroom balcony. — Photo by Pat Bean

  15. The hummingbirds, verdins and finches that almost daily empty my feeders, and for all the other magical birds that flit around my life.
  16. Beautiful blank journals for me to fill.
  17. Learning something new, hopefully every day.
  18. My new car, Cayenne.
  19. The music of rain and thunderstorms, and the rainbows that follow.
  20. Spell check, even if it’s imperfect, too.
  21. Soft pajamas and fleece blankets to snuggle in.
  22. Tie-Dye T-shirts to feed the flower child in me.
  23. Caring people.
  24. The Internet that almost always has an answer to my many questions, and which keep me connected to family, friends and writing colleagues.
  25. A hot bath in a comfortable tub, the one thing I missed during my RV-ing days.
  26. Mornings, with a cup of bold, cream laced coffee and a too-full list of things I want to do.
  27. Tucson’s desert flowers, especially the blooming red bird of paradise bush.
  28. Moisturizing cream.
  29. Manicures and pedicures, when I can afford them.
  30. Smiles and laughter.
  31. Pleasant surprises.
  32. A stiff Jack and Coke with a friend and good conversation.
  33. Maples, redwoods, live oaks and all other trees that reach to the sky while remaining rooted to the earth. Yup, you guessed it. I’m a tree-hugger.

    Autumn in Ramsey Canyon. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    Autumn in Ramsey Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

  34. That I overcame my childhood angst and came to love my mother so much that I still miss her.
  35. Being a writer, because it’s through the written word that I get to experience the world twice, and also learn what I really think about it.
  36. Hugs.
  37. The Colorado, Snake, Green and Salmon rivers for all the thrills they gave me during my white-water rafting days, and all the river rats who shared the daytime excitement and the nighttime campfires and tall tales.
  38. Good chocolate .
  39. Scenic byways and back roads.
  40. A great pen, (Uniball Vision Elite, bold black).
  41. Massages.
  42. Hiking trails, easy ones these days.
  43. My almost daily e-mail from a daughter-in-law, and weekly calls from my children.

    I'm thankful for hiking trails that lead me into the midst of Mother Nature's wonders. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    I’m thankful for hiking trails that lead me into the midst of Mother Nature’s wonders. — Photo by Pat Bean

  44. My monthly Social Security check.
  45. My digital camera and my old-fashioned cell phone.
  46. Audible books that let me listen far into the night and still rest my tired eyes and be comfortable.
  47. A virus and malware-free computer.
  48. Kind people.
  49. WordPress for hosting this blog.
  50. Comfortable shoes and clean white sox
  51. The wolf tattoo that I was brave enough to get on my 75th birthday this year – and for the wolves return to Yellowstone.
  52. For art and music that touches my soul, and their creators.
  53. That despite evidence to the contrary, I still believe peace might someday be the norm on this planet we share with a multitude of cultures and religions.
  54. For the aurora borealis, which I still hope one day to see.
  55. For my writing desk that looks out onto trees and a red-tiled roof visited often by ravens.
  56. A sky full of stars.
  57. My Kindle.
  58. Scented candles.
  59. My curiosity, which hopefully I’ll never lose.
  60. Clean kitchen drawers, which reminds me of something that should go on my to-do list for next week.
  61. Waterfalls and lake reflections.
  62. New experiences.
  63. A long snail mail from a friend.

    purple mountain

    Purple mountain majesty. — Photo by Pat Bean

  64. National and state parks.
  65. Board games with competitive people.
  66. My small crockpot.
  67. Electricity, hot water, heaters and air conditioners.
  68. My African safari, and other travels, that live on in my little gray cells.
  69. Glasses that let these old eyes continue to read.
  70. Stained glass windows.
  71. The nighttime howls of coyotes, as long as they don’t eat my Pepper in the daytime.
  72. Libraries and bookstores.
  73. Good movies, like “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
  74. Christmas Trees.
  75. A good haircut.
  76. Live theater.
  77. A gift of flowers.
  78. The pair of Cooper hawks that I saw grow from egg, to chick, to free flying this past year. They were raised in a tall tree I could see from my living room balcony.
  79. The color red.
  80. Butterflies.

    I'm thankful for butterflies and flowers. -- Photo by Pat Bean

    I’m thankful for butterflies and flowers. — Photo by Pat Bean

  81. Agatha Christie mysteries. I’m currently reading all of the Hercule Poirot books in order and am once again enchanted by her masterful writing.
  82. Wildlife and nature sanctuaries, like Ramsey Canyon that I recently visited.
  83. Texas bluebonnets, which I saw in April, and the always colorful front garden flowers here at my apartment complex. .
  84. My armchair travels of the world.
  85. Thanksgiving dinner with family.
  86. Dragons and castles in a cloudy sky.
  87. Good ice cream. Blue Bell in Texas and Blue Bunny here in Tucson.
  88. Helen Reddy singing “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar.”
  89. My wrinkles, because I earned them.
  90. America’s purple mountain majesties and fields of amber grain.

    ge3

    I’m thankful for my curiosity, and for this planet’s nearly 10,000 bird species.

  91. Shade on a sunny day.
  92. My trip to the zoo this week with a three-year-old great-grandson.
  93. Cheesecake.
  94. For completing the fourth rewrite of my book, “Travels with Maggie,” hopefully leaving only a fifth proofreading task ahead.
  95. The strong women who came before me.
  96. The overhead honking of Canada geese.
  97. A comfortable bed.
  98. The scent of gardenia, which always makes me think of my grandmother.
  99. Wind chimes.
  100. And all my blog followers.

 

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fall leaves

Autumn in Ramsey Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

  “I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me — I am happy.” — Hamlin Garland, McClure’s, February 1899

Point of Interest for a Non-Wandering Wanderer           

Miniature waterfalls were around every bend. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Miniature waterfalls were around every bend. — Photo by Pat Bean

  Ramsey Canyon, south of Tucson, is one of North America’s hottest birding spots – but not in November. In November, it is just a delightful place for a hike and a delicious feast for the eyes.

My son Lewis and I got to the  Nature Conservancy visitor center early, and paid our $6 to gain access to the canyon. The first two amazing things I noticed different from the usual Sonoran Desert landscape was water in the form of a spring-fed stream bubbling down the canyon — and trees, lots of tall, stately giants, and broad-branched monarchs that made me want to clamber up into their arms.

My son Lewis near the start of the trail. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My son Lewis near the start of the trail. — Photo by Pat Bean

Lewis said it was the trees, which Tucson lacked, that kept me oohing and ahhing almost continually.

But we have trees in Tucson, I said.

“Not like these, or this many,” he replied

He was right. While my apartment complex does have a few, out-of-habitat and bedraggled evergreens, and a few black olive trees, most of the ones I see around Tucson are short mesquites and leafless, green-trunked palo verdes. .

Growing tall and regal between Ramsey’s Canyon walls were maples and sycamores. The towering and mottled-white limbs of the sycamores were enchanting, as were the autumn leaves of the maple trees, sights I don’t normally see in Tucson proper.

Located in the Huachuca Mountains, the canyon is renowned for its scenic beauty, its diversity of plants, and the birds that visit it in the spring and summer. The one other time I visited it, about eight years ago on an April day, I went for the birds – and was not disappointed. While I only saw a few birds this trip, I was still not disappointed.

Painted redstart.

Painted redstart.

The Ramsey Canyon hike is only a mile up and back, although hikers can add some length to the trail by continuing on to the top of a ridge, which Lewis did. I chose to hike back down canyon slowly, taking time to breathe in Mother Nature’s beauty and to take some photographs.

As I crossed a bridge near a splash and play area, I was rewarded with the sight of a pair of painted redstarts. I felt that Lewis, also an avid birder, would be put out that he hadn’t seen them. Thankfully the bird wouldn’t be a lifer for him. And when I told him about the redstart, he was too happy he had seen an Arizona woodpecker, which was a lifer, to envy my sighting.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat A Window into the Woods http://tinyurl.com/k2wrq5a Now that my son, Lewis, is back home in Texas, these are birds he can see every day.

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Tombstone

Downtown Tombstone -- Photo by Pat Bean

Downtown Tombstone — Photo by Pat Bean

“…writers inevitably notice similar things from slightly different angles. How could it be otherwise.” – Frank Conroy

With My Son

My son, Lewis, in Boot Hill  -- Photo by Pat Bean

My son, Lewis, in Boot Hill — Photo by Pat Bean

            I’ve been to Tombstone, Arizona, which sits 75 miles southeast of my Tucson apartment three times. I barely remember the first, which I think was sometime in the early 70s. The second time was about 10 years ago during my full-time RV travels. The third time was just last Monday with my middle child, Lewis, who came to check up on his mom and have, as he called it, “his midlife road trip.”

My son taking a picture of a spoon player, who takes advantage of the Tombstone crowd to earn a few bucks. Lewis texted the photo to his wife, who replied: "I thought you were in Tombstone and not New Orleans. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My son taking a picture of a spoon player, who takes advantage of the Tombstone crowd to earn a few bucks. Lewis texted the photo to his wife, who replied: “I thought you were in Tombstone and not New Orleans. — Photo by Pat Bean

At least that’s what he called it when he showed up at my Tucson apartment, driving a brand new Jeep Wrangler and wearing a scruffy beard and long hair. I laughed when I saw him, and again after hearing that his wife told him the hair had to go when he got back home.

Lewis is an avid birdwatcher like his mom, from whom he caught the addiction. And Tucson is a great birding place – April through September. Sadly, the birding is dismal in November. So I looked for other options to entertain Lewis, and together we decided a visit to Tombstone might be fun.

Lewis said his wife, Karen, “had a thing about Wyatt Earp.”

It was a beautiful day, and with Lewis’s Jeep open to the air and sky, it was an adventurous, if windy ride. I thoroughly enjoyed it. As I did our exploration of Tombstone, which had evolved into a more touristy place since my last visit — when I watched a free re-enactment of the “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.”

I'm not sure what the Texas longhorn was doing in Arizona, either. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I’m not sure what the Texas longhorn was doing in Arizona, either. — Photo by Pat Bean

Today, the re-enactment is performed inside a fenced-off area with stadium seating for the audience. Tickets to the show, which also include a reprinted copy of the Epitaph newspaper the day after the shooting, and entrance to a movie and diorama history presentation about the history of the old silver mining town, are now $10 per person.

Just about everything else, from stage coach rides to visits to old brothels, museums and haunted buildings, some of which were also free last time I visited, now come with a sticker price.

While my Lewis' wife has a thing about Wyatt Earp, my other daughter-in-law and I share a fondness for John Wayne, especially his performance in Hatari. It's one of our favorite movies. -- Photo by Pat Bean

While my Lewis’ wife has a thing about Wyatt Earp, my other daughter-in-law and I share a fondness for John Wayne, especially his performance in Hatari. It’s one of our favorite movies. — Photo by Pat Bean

I treated for the shoot-out, but we bypassed most of the other attractions. We did, however, take a walk through boot hill, which is now well tended and organized, unlike how I remembered it from my last visit. Then, if I remember correctly, it was just an old graveyard with a few interesting headstones, my favorite being “Here lies Les Moore. Four slugs from a 44. No Les, no Moore. I couldn’t find that particular tombstone this time, however.

Tombstone, whose history is truly fascinating, is “more” today than it was on my earlier visit. Of course it was probably “more” when the town was booming than it is today.

The best thing about Tombstone this day was that I got to spend it with a son whom I seldom see, and he also enjoyed the day (and bought a Wyatt Earp T-shirt for his wife).

We ended the day’s adventure wiith a  prime rib dinner (he treated)  at a steakhouse in the tiny town of Sonorita, which we drove through on the scenic, backroad drive back to Tucson.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Redtails over Sweetwater http://tinyurl.com/lytvas2 An artist’s blog, and a painting I love.

 

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The Color Blue

Blue morning glories. -- Art by Pat Bean

Blue morning glories. — Art by Pat Bean

“Sun-bleached bones were most wonderful against the blue – that blue that will always be there as it is now after all man’s destruction is finished.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

A Color of Many Hues – and Meanings

If you were to describe the color blue, you could call it azure, robin’s egg, cerulean, cobalt, beryl, slate, indigo, baby, cyan, sky, royal, midnight, navy, lapis lazuli, sapphire, Prussian, steel or sky. Can you think of any more?

Pelvis and blue sky by Georgia O'Keeffe

Pelvis and blue sky by Georgia O’Keeffe

If you want to describe someone who is down in the dumps, you could say they are feeling blue.

If something surprises you, it might have come from out of the blue.

If you’re loyal, you might be called true blue. Or if you’re royal, you’re a blueblood and probably listed in the Bluebook. .

But if you cuss, your language is what’s blue.

Blue is the color of ribbons given to first place winners, and a Blue Book will tell you the value of your old car.      So why not just sing the blues.

Does any of this matter if you just happen to like the color blue?          

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

  Bean Pat: My beautiful things http://tinyurl.com/nwdygpc The ordinary things of everyday life can be beautiful. This blog reminded me to simply enjoy the moment and hope for peace.

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