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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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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“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was 43 years old when I experienced my first white water adventure. Within the next week, I had bought my own raft, and for the next 20 years running rapids was my passion. The river taught me much about myself.

I was 43 years old when I experienced my first white water adventure. Within the next week, I had bought my own raft, and for the next 20 years running rapids was my passion. The river taught me much about myself.

A Long Swim

Being a writer and journal keeper, the artifacts of my life are found in words, like those that popped up yesterday when I was going through a box of photographs. Among the pictures was a faded proof of a story I wrote as a personal newspaper column back in 1988.

Who knows what is going to pop up when you're going through artifacts of your life? == Photo by Pat Bean

Who knows what is going to pop up when you’re going through artifacts of your life? == Photo by Pat Bean

While the story is about an incident that will forever be hazily embedded in my brain, the words I had written, when the details were fresh and new, brought back the memory in vivid, living color. I just love being a writer.

Here’s what I wrote over a quarter of a century ago – with a bit of judicious editing because I’m a better writer, if not a better rafter, these days.

            PIECE-OF-CAKE RAPID, SALMON, RIVER, IDAHO – I knew before it happened that it was going to happen. I was going swimming. Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy swimming. But I didn’t have the slightest yen to take a dip in a fast-flowing, bubbling, chilly rapid.

            The last piece of advice given me by White Otter River guide, Randy Hess, as I stepped for the very first time into a one-person, inflatable kayak, was “Just keep it straight. These babies are steady and designed so they slice nicely through the water.”

            Somehow he forgot to say: “But don’t let the kayak get turned broadside to the rapid or it will flip.”

            Actually I already knew that. I had even been down this stretch of the Salmon River before, only in a large paddle raft with six people to keep the rubber boat pointed downstream.          

An eagle on shore spotted during one of my annual floats down the Snake River below Jackson Wyoming. -- Photo by Pat Bean

An eagle on shore spotted during one of my annual floats down the Snake River below Jackson Wyoming. — Photo by Pat Bean

   Today, however, I quickly realized that I didn’t have the hang of maneuvering my wobbly (Randy lied. It wasn’t steady) craft, or the skill to easily use the two-bladed paddle, which was also a first for me.

            I might have had a chance to overcome the learning curve if the first rapid, Piece-of-Cake, named I’m sure by some maniacal jokester, hadn’t been within sight of the launch point.

            “Stay to the left,” I heard Randy, who was nearby in his hard-body kayak, yell at me.

            I was able do that, but I didn’t have enough control to swing the raft around to meet the oncoming second wave – and so I flipped.

            “Sh-ee-it!” I uttered as I flew out of the boat just a couple of minutes after getting into it. As the water drowned my exclamation, I told myself to just go with the flow, and almost immediately I bounced off the river bottom and back up to where the air was less thick to breathe – until a mean wave reburied me beneath the water again.

            But finally I managed to get my life-jacketed, and thankfully wet-suited body above the waves, and then quickly pointed my feet downstream, so they, and not my head, would hit any rock obstacle in the way. This wasn’t my first time being dumped in fast-flowing water.

            The current, however, stramded me in a patch of tricky backwash.  Sh-ee-it! I managed to get my favorite “I’m-gonna-die” word out this time before another kayaker came up beside me.

            “Grab on,” she said. I didn’t have to be asked twice. But with my weight hanging on to her hard-shelled kayak, she couldn’t escape the backwash, and although my kayak was just on the other side of her, I couldn’t get to it.

            Finally the expert, Randy, comes in to save the day, maneuvering his kayak so I can grab hold of it. I breathe a sigh of relief, figuring I’m now in capable hands.   

            The feeling was short-lived. In a rare, slow-motion moment, Randy’s kayak flips When I realize I still have hold of the boat, and am hindering Randy’s attempts to roll up, I let go. The rapid immediately takes me to the middle of the river, shoving more water down my throat until the waves subsist and I’m floating in calm water. Exhausted now, I wait to be rescued.

            I ride in the group’s raft with the lunch supplies for a while, but then get back in that dang inflatable kayak and spend the rest of the day without mishap.

            The kayakers later congratulate me for dumping Randy, a “pretty sight” they say they had never seen before. An abashed Randy then gives me “The Salmon River Swimming Championship Award,”

            “I think the river,” he said, “was a bit high today.” And then he grins.  –30

A few years later, when the water wasn’t quite so high, I got back in another dang inflatable kayak and with a granddaughter by my side in a second inflatable kayak, stayed in the boat through Piece-of-Cake Rapid and the rest of the day’s float trip. No rewards for me this day, only a deeply felt satisfaction in my soul.          

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

  Bean Pat: A new mindset http://tinyurl.com/ovy7yh9 Ditto what this blogger wrote.

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“The sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with bass notes, or dark lake with the treble.” – Wassily Kandinsky

We watched what looked like was going to be a dud of a sunset. Even when the sun slipped below the horizon, the sky barely glowed yellow. And then suddenly, as if someone finally remembered to turn on the painted gels, the sunset sky exceeded even our expectations. -- Photo by Pat Bean

We watched what looked like was going to be a dud of a sunset. Even when the sun slipped below the horizon, the sky barely glowed yellow. And then suddenly, as if someone finally remembered to turn on the painted gels, the sunset sky exceeded even our expectations. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “I’m an old-fashioned guy … I want to be an old man with a beer belly sitting on a porch, looking at a lake or something.” – Johnny Depp

Point of Interest

            I consider my trip last week – in which my friend Jean and I and our two loveable dogs, Pepper and Dusty, camped overnight beside Theodore Roosevelt Lake — as part of my current lifestyle as a non-wandering wanderer.

Roosevelt Lake Bridge is the longest two-lane, single span, steel arch bridge in North America.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Roosevelt Lake Bridge is the longest two-lane, single span, steel arch bridge in North America. — Photo by Pat Bean

I intend not to be one of those people I met during my travels who never saw the landscape marvels or points of interest in their own backyards.

And since Roosevelt Lake is only a leisurely three-hour, scenic drive from Tucson, I figured it close enough to at least be situated in the South 40 of my rented estate.

The western sky about 10 minutes before it burst into color.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

The western sky about 10 minutes before it burst into color. — Photo by Pat Bean

The lake, located north of Globe alongside Highway 188, was created when the Theodore Roosevelt Dam was erected on the Salt River in 1911.

With a length of 22 miles, a maximum width of two miles, and a maximum depth of almost 350 feet, the lake is Arizona’s largest. That is if you don’t count Lake Mead which sits partially in Nevada and Lake Powell which sits partially in Utah.

One of the best parts of spending the night at a campground is the opportunity to watch the sun go down, and then to sit around a campfire. Somehow tales are taller, and the world’s problems more solvable when you’re dodging smoke by continually moving your lawn chair a bit to the right or left.

Better yet, when the wind’s blowing the smoke away from you, as it was surprisingly doing for us this night as we sat around the fire with the dogs at our feet.

Sometimes life is just damn good.

Jean and I, and I suspect Pepper and Dusty, too, are already looking forward to our next campout. I hope it’s soon.

Bean Pat: A Mixed Bag http://tinyurl.com/padl2g3 When you find yourself in a hole.

 

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     “Travel is like a giant blank canvas, and the painting on the canvas is only limited by one’s imagination.” — Ross Morley

Gypsy Lee at sunrise at Cholla Campground in the Tonto Basin about 35 miles north of Globe, Arizona.

Gypsy Lee at sunrise at Cholla Campground in the Tonto Basin, with Roosevelt Lake in the background, about 35 miles north of Globe, Arizona. — Photo by Pat Bean

Tonto Basin and Roosevelt Lake

            “Let’s take Gypsy Lee, Dusty and Pepper and go to Eisenhower Lake,” said my friend Jean, whose dog, Dusty, I pet sit during the week while she’s at work. Gypsy Lee is the small RV I lived in for almost nine years while traveling this country full-time, and Pepper, of course, is my own spoiled dog.

My three traveling companions. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My three traveling companions. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Where’s Eisenhower Lake?” I asked between sips of Jack and Coke during a Friday happy hour, when we were sitting out on my bedroom balcony watching the sun go down.

“You know. Up by Globe (Arizona).”

“In the Tonto Basin?”

“Is that by Globe?” She asked.

“Yes. And I’ve been there. It’s a beautiful area and lake. Let me show you the photos I took of the area some years back.” And I did, and she responded with just the right amount of oohs and aahs.

Those of you who are familiar with the Tonto Basin area are probably by now exclaiming: “What in the Sam Hill are those two old broads talking about? There’s no Eisenhower Lake in Arizona.” While others might be thinking: “Are they stupid? The only Eisenhower Lake I know about is in Rhode Island.”

Of course we soon discovered that the lake near Globe is named Roosevelt. We just got our presidents mixed up.  But just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, so Roosevelt Lake would be just as awesome.           

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Choosing gratitude and joy.  http://tinyurl.com/k68qur5  Good advice for all those who find themselves stuck on the road. There are a lot worse situations in life in which you can find yourself.

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Fresh Eyes

             “The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time.” – Bill Bryson

Some days I look out from my bedroom window and see a Cooper's hawk or a great horned owl sitting on a branch in a nearby tree. Or I look down and see a black cat peering up at me from an apartment across the way. Each viewing in a first for the moment.

Some days I look out from my bedroom window and see a Cooper’s hawk or a great horned owl sitting on a branch in a nearby tree. Or I look down and see a black cat peering up at me from an apartment across the way. Each viewing in a first for the moment.

Seeing Things in a Different Light When I travel, I look at things differently. I think it’s because I expect to see something new that I’ve never seen before. The world always seems more interesting when I’m on the road.

Sunlight streams into my apartment on only a few winter days. But each day it flows in, the patterns are slightly different in the view I have from my kitchen. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sunlight streams into my apartment on only a few winter days. But each day it flows in, the patterns are slightly different in the view I have from my kitchen. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m coming to realize, however, that travel is not a requirement for this to happen. Do the Catalina Mountains, which  currently provide the backdrop to my days, look different to a traveler seeing them for the first time? Would the crisp white blossoms of a saguaro cactus spell-mind the eyes of a traveler more impressively than they do my own eyes that have now been among them for two seasons? While travelers may only see the mountain range on a sunny day, or a misty day, or a rainy day, the joy of first sight can’t help but pump the adrenalin through the veins of any nature enthusiast. I envy those who are seeing these mountains for the first time, as I recall my first view of the Catalinas. . But now I’ve now been blessed to see this mountain range in its many moods.  I’ve watched the rocky mammoths as the morning sun crowned its peaks in a golden light, I’ve seen it as the evening sun has turned its rocky cliffs a glimmering rose hue, and I’ve seen it frosted with the sugary granules of snow. I’ve watched as globules of bright green atop a saguaro plant have opened into a disk of white petals with a pale ochre center. A traveler passing through the saguaro’s Arizona home in March might only see an awesome, statuesque cactus with arms stretching skyward, and might not know that such a beauty is likely to be 100 years old, or that it wears a headdress of white blooms in late May and early June. There are as many advantages to watching the passing landscape while rooted as there are in catching glimpses of Mother Nature’s wonders on the fly. One only has to retain that sense of awe so easily achieved at first sight. I suspect that in this late-blooming season of my life, there are still roads out there I will travel.  But in the meantime, I plan to follow Bill Bryson’s advice and try to look at the world around me be as if for the first time. I don’t think I will be disappointed.           

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Monica Devine http://tinyurl.com/ot8bqdb This blogger has an eye for seeing things in a new and exciting

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“Not all is doom and gloom. We are beginning to understand the natural world and are gaining a reverence for life – all life.” – Roger Tory Peterson

            “We will need action and vigilance in the years to come, and Wild America’s defenders will have their work cut out for them. But the despoilers should not gloat, for history is against them. If you doubt that, just look back a few decades.” – Scott Weidensaul  

Some of my favorite parts of Wild America was reading James Fisher's comments about America's many wonders, including his awe at his first sight of the Grand Canyon. Actually, I'm awed every time I stand on its rim. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Some of my favorite parts of Wild America was reading James Fisher’s comments about America’s many wonders, including his awe at his first sight of the Grand Canyon. Actually, I’m awed every time I stand on its rim. — Photo by Pat Bean

Bookish Wednesday

            I just finished rereading Scott Weidensaul’s “Return to Wild America,” after rereading Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher’s “Wild America,” which was first published in 1955, and continues to be a popular classic today.

 

If I had to name one bird that I saw everywhere there was a wetlands area during my own journeys around North America, it would be the great blue heron. While I never saw more than one or two at a time, they did seem to be everywhere there was water. -- Photo by Pat Bean

re If I had to name one bird that I saw everywhere there was a wetlands area during my own journeys around North America, it would be the great blue heron. While I never saw more than one or two at a time, they did seem to be everywhere there was water. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Wild America” is about Roger and James’ 100-day, 30,000 mile, journey across the continent, mostly in search of birds. Scott’s book, published 50 years later in 2005, is a year-long retracing of the two naturalist’s journey, which was arranged by Roger for his English birding colleague, James.

I reread these books slowly, over the period of two months, just a few pages at a time, so I could fully comprehend and enjoy seeing the birds and the landscapes through these men’s eyes. I highly recommend these books for anyone who loves this beautiful country of ours as much as I do.

The half-century contrasts between the two book are part doom and gloom, but also part joy and cheer. In some ways the wildlife and land are healthier and in some ways not.

Rereading the books was awesome, and well worth my time.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Green Herons at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge  http://tinyurl.com/ms8fkdx I love watching these birds; and since I couldn’t make up my mind today a Bean Pat also to Shroom Shroom http://tinyurl.com/m5pl4aj Tolkien and mushrooms

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