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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

            I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself. – D. H. Lawrence

 Think Again

I suspect even a big old moose could feel sorry for itself if another male won its girl from him. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I suspect even a big old moose could feel sorry for itself if another male won its girl from him. — Photo by Pat Bean

            While I’ve always accepted, as fact, that animals have feelings and thoughts and can grieve, I might once have seen the above quote as simply inspirational. I mean I agree with its philosophy that we shouldn’t feel sorry for ourselves.

Pepper curls up into a ball, eyes drooping, giving every indication that she feels sorry for herself when she knows she's being left behind. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper curls up into a ball, eyes drooping, giving every indication that she feels sorry for herself when she knows she’s being left behind. — Photo by Pat Bean

But time, and my love and observation of animals, have convinced me that animals can, and do, sometimes feel sorry for themselves. Why not? They are, after all, intelligent beings, who clearly display emotions of joy and sadness.

I once had a dog that showed clear signs of depression after my cat, which had been her long-time companion, died. And my current canine companion, Pepper, clearly shows signs of feeling sorry for herself every time she knows she’s going to be left alone at home. As I go out the door, she slinks into a corner, droops her head, and stares, with her velvet brown eyes, accusingly at me.

Thankfully, she’s a dog and holds no grudges — which is more of a cat trait — and greets me with uninhibited joy when I return.

While I don’t know what Pepper does to console herself when she’s in a Pity-Pepper mode, I do know what I do when a Pity-Pat mood strikes me. I simply think of all the people in the world who would gladly trade places with me – and I realize just how many millions that would be.

Sometimes we simply need to rethink things – like D.H. Lawrence’s popular quote.            

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

  Bean Pat:  Janaline’s World Journey http://tinyurl.com/pskalcm I loved this delightful arm chair journey to visit the Temple of Ta Prohm, and now want to go back and watch Tomb Raider so I can view the scenes in which it was featured, just as I revisited the movie, Master and Commander, after visiting, in actuality, one of its filming sites in the Galapagos Islands. Since the world is so big, and my travels are limited by time and money, I’m thankful for being able to view some of them from my comfortable home. Thank you Janaline.

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             “Building a better you is the first step to building a better America.” –Zig Ziglar

There's not much more American than Route 66. -- Photo by Pat Bean

There’s not much more American than Route 66. — Photo by Pat Bean

My Country – For Better and For Worse

Celebrating America -- Photo by Pat Bean

Celebrating America — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m not much for patriotism. It’s been the cause of too many wars. But almost every day, I wake up, and realize how thankful I am that I was born in this great country.

I weep, often and openly, for women born in countries where they are denied the same freedoms, the same opportunities, the same respect, as men. Not that many men in any country actually think women are their equals, but at least in this country we have the opportunity for careers of our choice, the right to vote, the right to hold public office and the right to go anywhere we dare alone.

It’s not always easy, and life is not always fair, but at least we have a chance. But that’s the same whatever the gender. But I cringe, thinking of what my great life today would be like if I had as few choices as some of my other-country sisters.

Thank you America. I love your purple mountains’ majesty and your amber waves of grain. And because I was free to travel this country as a lone female, I know your bounteous beauty.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Happy Fourth of July http://tinyurl.com/ly35ypq  Even if you’re a raccoon. Just a birdy way to get you to smile.

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“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.” — Edward P. Morgan

“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” — James Bryce

Seeing lions in Africa might have been the very first thing I put on my bucket list, thanks to reading Osa Johnson's lion watching stories. And in 2007, I crossed it off what over the years grew to hundreds of things I wanted to do. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Seeing lions in Africa might have been the very first thing I put on my bucket list, thanks to reading Osa Johnson’s lion watching stories. And in 2007, I crossed it off what over the years grew to hundreds of things I wanted to do. — Photo by Pat Bean

The First 10 Books That Popped Into My Head

I’m always coming across best book lists. While they often have many of the same books on them, they also can differ tremendously depending on the genre of the list or the compilers.

Gypsy Lee was my version of Charles Kuralt's "On the Road" RV, which now sits in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

Gypsy Lee was my version of Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road” RV, which now sits in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. — Photo by Pat Bean.

So on reading one of these lists recently, I decided to put together my own list of “10 Books that Influenced my Life.” I came up with the list in just a couple of minutes, and afterwards I could probably have listed another 10 books.

But here is the list of the first thoughts that scrambled through my little grey cells.

“I Married Adventure,” by Osa Johnson. This was the first travel book I ever read, and it gave me my first inkling that I was born with wanderlust in my soul. I checked the book out of the library, from the adult section, when I was about nine years old.

“Forever Amber,” by Kathleen Winsor. I found this book in the bookcase of my grandfather’s book cabinet, the same place I found the works of Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Fennimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, and many more of the classic writers, all of which I read at quite a young age. “Forever Amber” sticks out in my mind because when I reached junior high school,, I overheard a group of girls calling it a “dirty book.” I didn’t know what they meant so I went back and reread it – and still didn’t know what they meant. I was a late bloomer. The book, by the way, would almost get a G rating in today’s world. It was this book, however, that prompted me to never censor books my children read.

And reading about Tim Cahill's outdoor adventures encourage me to seek out my own adventure trails. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And reading about Tim Cahill’s outdoor adventures encourage me to seek out my own adventure trails. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Gone with the Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell. I so loved this book that I read it three times in the same year. Each read gave me a different meaning to the ending. It was this book that taught me that readers put their own interpretations to writing, and that there is more than one interpretation – and not always the one the author visualized.

“Blue Highways,” by William Least Heat Moon, the second most influential travel book I read. It was this author’s van travel that started my own travel dream, which I fulfilled when I spent 9 years living and traveling full-time in my small RV, Gypsy Lee.

“Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand, Wayne Dyer’s “Your Erroneous Zones,” and “The Women’s Room” by Marilyn French were read at a crucial turning point in my life. From one I learned that there was more than one way of looking at life, and came to the conclusion that the one and just about only true evil was to harm another person. From another, I realized that only I was responsible for my life and what I allowed in it, and from the third I accepted my strong feminine self that social expectations had dampened. As far as forming the core of my being, these three books are significantly responsible.

“The Snow Leopard,” by Peter Matthiessen. This is one of the books that fed my passion for the outdoors, travel and the natural world. It turned me on to environmentalism and gave me a new way of looking at things.

And “On the Road with Charles Kuralt,” and “Road Fever” by Tim Cahill helped define my travel writing style. I wanted to capture both the simplicity and joy of life that Kuralt brought to his writing and TV segments, and I identified with Cahill’s love of the outdoors and adventure and understood his understated sense of humor. I wanted to write like Cahilll, but with a feminine voice and eyes.

Just off the top of your head, what 10 books most influenced your life?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Where’s My Backpack, http://tinyurl.com/lkxupke and Incidentally http://tinyurl.com/oyjp95f These two blogs let readers travel from their armchairs, a pastime I indulge in frequently when I’m not actually on the road. The first blog takes you on a walk through Rome, and the other lets you enjoy the beauty of stained class art if you are in the vicinity of Chicago.

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“No one knows what causes an outer landscape to become an inner one.” – Margaret Atwood

The drive between Dallas and Austin is filled with roadside bluebonnets right now. Get out and go see them. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The drive between Dallas and Austin is filled with roadside bluebonnets right now. Get out and go see them. — Photo by Pat Bean

Catch ‘em While You Can

I drove from Dallas to Austin this past Thursday to attend the Story Circle Network’s Stories from the Heart memoir conference. The bluebonnets alongside the road on my I-35 and toll road 130 route were magnificent.

 

Up close and personal with Texas' state flower.

Up close and personal with Texas’ state flower.

On Sunday, after a fantastic few days of association with like-minded writer women, I made the return trip — and the bluebonnets were even more abundant and just as magnificent.

How could anyone not like bluebonnets?

They were named bluebonnets because someone thought they looked like the bonnets worn by pioneer women.

Texas’ singing cowboy “Pappy” O’Daniel, who became governor of the state when I was 2 years old, sang: “you may be on the plains or the mountains or down where the sea breezes blow, but bluebonnets are one of the prime factors that make the state the most beautiful land that we know.”

The Indian paintbrush blossoms along side Texas highways aren't too shabby either. --  Photo by Pat Bean

The Indian paintbrush blossoms along side Texas highways aren’t too shabby either. — Photo by Pat Bean

Did you catch that Texas pride there? I have to admit it’s something I share.

If you were a native Texan, like me, and saw the fields of bluebonnets I’ve seen this past week, you would understand. .

This is a really good year for bluebonnets, which require special conditions of rain, sun and cold, to bloom at their best. But the fields of blue are short-lived.

So if you can, catch them soon.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Not Yet There http://tinyurl.com/k243py5 This is one of my favorite bloggers, and this month Red Jim is writing poetry daily because it’s National Poetry Month.

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            “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso

From a distance, these looked like plants. Instead they are the welcoming art of Dale Chihuly the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. -- Photo by Pat Bean

From a distance, these looked like plants. Instead they are the welcoming art of Dale Chihuly to the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. — Photo by Pat Bean

And Realizing I’m not Like Him

I recently caught an exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s glass art at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. One word says it all. Fantastic!

Nor was this a celebratory stack of balloons. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Nor was this a celebratory stack of balloons. — Photo by Pat Bean

It was the second time I had seen Chihuly’s colorful glass creations in a foliage setting. The first was in 2006, when I was living and traveling full time in my small RV, Gypsy Lee. The setting then was the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, where Chihuly’s work represented everything from reeds and Mexican hats to herons and meteorite-looking balls plopped down among a bounty of foliage and brilliantly hued flowers.

When I later looked at the photos, I found I had mingled Chihuly’s art with the creations of nature so well that I sometimes had to stop and ask myself which was which.

That night, as I lay in bed awake, I pondered how a genius like Chihuly came to be – and the answer suddenly hit me: Single-minded focus and dedication, which I knew was something I lacked.

For almost as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a “great” writer, yet I was always finding excuses for not writing. I knew I lacked the focus of a Chihuly, or a Van Gogh, or even an old boyfriend who religiously practiced his guitar four hours a day, seven days a week.

Don't you just love the color yellow.

Don’t you just love the color yellow.

While in my youth, I flagellated myself for this lack, today I’m thankful for it.

My life has been richer for the fact that I didn’t give up riding roller coasters with my grandkids, arguing politics with my friends, discovering who my grownup children had become, exploring new hiking trails, white-water rafting with my river-rat buddies, mindlessly watching the sun rise and set, piddling with my watercolors, reading Harry Potter final book the day it came out, and sniffing every flower in life I came across.

Writing is a part of my life, and will always be, but it will never be my whole life.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: The Why About This http://tinyurl.com/p7w7bll As an Old Broad who evolved from a barefoot and pregnant southern girl to an associate editor position at a 65,000 circulation newspaper, this blog has special meaning to me. And to this day, Helen Reddy’s first time out as a song writer continues to inspire me. I listen to it regularly, but loved this chance to see her perform it in person. I hope you will, too

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“The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” — George Carlin

I can identify birds but not too many butterflies, so if you know what species this is, please tell me.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

I can identify birds but not too many butterflies, so if you know what species this is, please tell me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Flying Flowers 

I’m always chasing butterflies, trying to capture their image with my camera. But chasing wasn’t necessary during my recent visit to the Desert Bontanical Gardens’ Butterfly Pavilion in Phoenix this past week.

Photo by Pat Bean

Photo by Pat Bean

I hope you enjoy these delicate creatures as much as I did.

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Photo by Pat Bean

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing

Just a bit of fun. -- Photo by Kris Gutnecht

Just a bit of fun. — Photo by Kris Gutnecht

 

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.
~Robert Frost, “Blue-Butterfly Day”

 

 

 

 

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“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” – Gilda Radner

Me, Pepper and Cayenne. -- Photo by T.C. Ornelas

Me, Pepper and Cayenne. — Photo by T.C. Ornelas

Hello Cayenne

            Ten years ago I sold my home and traded in my car for a new RV, which I named Gypsy Lee, in honor of my wanderlust and a grandfather I never knew but from whom my mother claimed I inherited my rootless ways.

Me and Gypsy Lee in 2004, 140,000 miles ago.

Me and Gypsy Lee in 2004, 140,000 miles ago.

I lived on the road for nine years before settling in a Tucson apartment a year ago, during which time Gypsy Lee, a 21-foot motor home continued to be my only means of transportation.

This past weekend, I parked Gypsy Lee at my daughter’s house and drove away in a bright, red new car that I named Cayenne. I thought it was a fitting name to go with my canine companion, Pepper, and this flower child who still loves to wear tie-dye.

Over the past few months, I came to understand that driving an RV in a crowded city was holding me back from doing things, like attending a play where there was no parking or driving on city streets at night. There was also Gypsy’s gas guzzling stomach to consider, which meant I mostly only drove her for errands once a week because of the cost of keeping her fed.

My beloved Maggie, who spent the first eight years with me in Gypsy Lee. She is still missed

My beloved Maggie, who spent the first eight years with me in Gypsy Lee. She is still missed

I knew I was going to eventually have to give her up, but sensibly had decided to keep her one more year for financial reasons.

Then it finally dawned on me that while I’m, thankfully, healthy and physically active now, I’m going to be 75 this year. Now is not the time for me to slow down. I need to keep running as fast as I can, as far as I can, and as hard as I can for as long as I can.

So on Saturday it was good-bye Gypsy Lee. We had an awesome 10 years together. I will always treasure the memories we made during our 140,000 miles on the road.

And hello, Cayenne. You’ve got a lot to live up to in sharing your life with me and Pepper.

Oh, and the first place I visited yesterday, after waiting a year to do so, was Tucson’s downtown main library, where Gypsy Lee couldn’t go because there was no parking space for her.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: You gotta do what you gotta do to survive http://tinyurl.com/k8tor9v This is a story that made me feel blessed for everything I have – and for the power of starting over, which I once had to do in life. Although my situation wasn’t as drastic as this story, I did have to borrow money to pay rent for a while.

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The Palo Verde tree and Mission Cactus growing in Tucson's Tono Chul Park have made a connection. Without the support of the tree, the cactus could never have grown so large, while the large pads of the cactus help capture rain water that gives the tree extra moisture. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The Palo Verde tree and Mission Cactus growing in Tucson’s Tono Chul Park have made a connection. Without the support of the tree, the cactus could never have grown so large, while the large pads of the cactus help capture rain water that gives the tree extra moisture. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “When you feel a connection, a gut connection, a heart connection, it’s a very special thing.” Alfre Woodard

Looking in all the Right Places

            There is something special, as Alfre said, about making a connection. She was talking about that love/lust thing, which thankfully I’ve experienced a few times in my life. While these have all bloomed and faded, they’ve left behind memories, both good, and bad, that put under the microscope help me define who I am.

One tree, or two trees? Either way, there is a connection between them. I do love trees. -- Photo by Pat Bean

One tree, or two trees? Either way, there is a connection between them. I do love trees. — Photo by Pat Bean

Now, in my seventh decade, I find connections that define who I am in different ways. Mostly they come through travel, books and family relationships, the latter of which, when I think hard enough about them, leave me understanding that I was at times better than I gave myself credit for, but also sometimes not as good as I thought I was.

It’s a complicated thing, and sometimes I simply decide to give up thinking about whether I was a good, strong mother, or a weak, spineless one. .

It’s much more rewarding and fascinating to come across things in my travels that connect to my life, like a Chinaberry tree that reminded me of the many hours I spent up in one in  my grandmother’s back yard – until the day I discovered  a rattlesnake sunning on the rock I used to boost myself up into the branches. The snake scurried away as fast as I did. It was probably as afraid of me as I was of it, but I never climbed that tree again.

The perfect setting for making a connection with another human, I thought when I saw these chairs sitting in a Flagstaff, Arizona, RV park.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

The perfect setting for making a connection with another human, I thought when I saw these chairs sitting in a Flagstaff, Arizona, RV park. — Photo by Pat Bean

All this came back to as I watched a white-breasted nuthatch in a Chinaberry tree growing next to where I was camping in my RV, Gypsy Lee. Time, I realized, had taught me to fear the snake when it was where I would place my foot, but not to fear it when it wasn’t there. It was a well-learned lesson that gave me many years of freedom in the outdoors and the courage to face the unknown unafraid.

Books, meanwhile, let me know that I’m not alone in my odd ways of thinking. I delight when I come across a person in a memoir, or a character in a novel, who sees the world as I do, which is through rose-colored glasses despite accepting the reality that the world is chaotic and often unfair.

These are the kinds of connections I never had time to make when I was younger. I was too busy simply living life. But suddenly I find them fascinating. These connections to my life happen often these days, and they enrich my days. So I have come to search for them – in all the right places.

Bean’s Pat: The Gift of Time http://tinyurl.com/lskfbh4 Tosty Mae makes me laugh. And I loved this blog about unwelcome “connections.”

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Resolutions are popular because everyone feels they could use a little improvement.” Marilu Henner

This glorious desert sunset welcomed me home to Tucson

This glorious desert sunset welcomed me home to Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s 5:15 a.m., and the morning after I arrived back home to Tucson from attending my granddaughter’s  Texas A&M graduation — and the first time since I left on the spur-of-the-minute trip that I feel I have a few minutes of time completely to myself.

Me and my granddaughter, Pacee.

Me and my granddaughter, Pacee.

It was as perfect a trip as a trip with my strong personalities-family could be. By that I mean that I had a fantastic time, the hiccups were few, and my granddaughter’s surprised and pleased face when she saw me made all the hassles to get there worthwhile.

I even enjoyed the two-day long drive coming and going, even though on this trip the destination was more important than the journey. I still, as always, love sitting behind the steering wheel of a vehicle and watching the landscape flow by. The road has always felt like home to me.

I got back to Tucson in time to share birthday cake with my son-in-law, Joe, and then I spent the night here at my daughter’s house, choosing to sleep in my RV, Gypsy Lee, which I left behind for the trip. This morning I will return the rental car I drove, and then Gypsy Lee, Pepper and I will drive back to our small apartment home, where I can once again watch, from my bedroom balcony, the Catalina Mountains come to life with the morning sun as I drink my cream-laced coffee

My granddaughter was one of 4,980 students who graduated from Texas A&M on December 13. She's sitting on the front row on the left, fifth from right.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

My granddaughter was one of 4,980 students who graduated from Texas A&M on December 13. She’s sitting on the front row on the left, fifth from right. — Photo by Pat Bean

Waking up while everyone else is asleep is a thing I do often. It’s almost always the best time of any day. This morning, I lay in Gypsy Lee’s bed thinking about the fast approaching New Year. It’s a time when I always make a long list of resolutions – and yes they are usually all broken before the New Year is a week old.

As I thought about the things I want to put on this year’s list, because while I break my resolutions they do stay in my head and I do keep them occasionally, I realized that last year’s resolutions were still good to go – with just a little tweaking.

And that’s the same for my life. This old broad loves her life and could only think of a few tweaks to make it better.

Does this mean I’ve achieved all my goals, or have just relaxed enough to accept myself for who I am?

Well of course I haven’t achieved all my goals, but I do give myself a pat on the back for putting a big dent in them. And yes, I no longer beat up on myself when I’m not constantly in achievement mode.  So I guess it’s a little bit of both.

But mostly I think it is simply because I have come to not just accept, but to love, all my imperfections. So now I just have to decide what tweaks will make 2014 even better.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Oh Christmas Tree http://tinyurl.com/mqujzxy I don’t have a Christmas tree this year, although I have put up a few holiday decorations around my apartment. I gave away my huge collection of ornaments when I took to the road in Gypsy Lee. They now hang on my youngest daughter’s tree, and since I’m spending Christmas with her I’ll get to enjoy the memories again this holiday. A lot of the ornaments are travel souvenirs, but my favorites are  simply a few plastic poinsettia blooms, which hung on my first Christmas tree. Money was tight back then, and so that tree was decorated with nothing more than the plastic flowers that I had  separated from a dime-store  bouquet. There have been over 50 Christmases since that day, and the red flowers have seen them all. Meanwhile, enjoy the trees on this blog. I did

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“Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?” Rose Kennedy

This alligator was shot from the viewing platform in Wolfweed Wetlands and was more than a football field away. -- Photo by PatBean

This alligator was shot from the viewing platform in Wolfweed Wetlands and was more than a football field away. — Photo by PatBean

And a Hissing Alligator

It was a busy day for my son, who had chores, errands and Community Theater rehearsal – He’s playing Marley in an upcoming production of “A Christmas Carol.” But he chose to play hooky from them for a couple of hours on the last day of my visit with his Texas Gulf Coast family.

The magical path leading into Bpbcat Woods at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The magical path leading into Bpbcat Woods at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. — Photo by Pat Bean

We two passionate birders stuck out of the house early to continue our birding adventures, which had been rudely interrupted the day before by a heavily weeping storm. This day, which shone bright and clear with bird song echoing from the trees, the two of us headed to San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.

The birds were out in good numbers this morning, we noted, as their musical tweets came through the open windows of our vehicle. On the drive we saw a field of cattle egrets, which like yesterday’s scissor-tailed flycatchers were late in migrating south for the winter.

A great blue heron stood as still as a statue near a pond that we passed, and a magnificent broad-winged hawk atop a tall pole stayed in place as my son stopped and backed up the car so we could get a better look at it through our binoculars.

The hissing alligator. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The hissing alligator. — Photo by Pat Bean

I had only seen one other broad-winged hawk before so I was especially thrilled at this sighting. Our drive also turned up a flock of red-winged blackbirds and a few kestrels, which were just migrating back into the area for the winder.

At the refuge, we walked the refuge’s Bobcat Woods boardwalk, where we saw cardinals, ruby-crowned kinglets, eastern phoebes, red-bellied woodpeckers and yellow-bellied sapsuckers.

The plants, tree leaves and moss were thick along the boardwalk, letting us hear more than we saw. I surprised myself, however, that by sound I identified an orange-crowned warbler, whose sweet, single note call is so different from that of the single call of a yellow-rumped warbler.

Also identified by sound was a red-shouldered hawk, whose high-pitched keah, keah  screeches cannot be mistaken for anything else. We both spotted, at the same time, a cute belted-kingfisher flying low above a small stream. We both pointed and uttered the word “Look” at the same time, then we simply grinned at each other.

It was also a day for butterflies. You just never know what beauty will turn up in just a couple of stolen hours. -- Photo by Pa Bean

It was also a day for butterflies. You just never know what beauty will turn up in just a couple of stolen hours. — Photo by Pa Bean

It was when we had left the boardwalk, headed toward the viewing platform of the Wolfweed Wetlands that we were startled by a strange sound. I at first thought it might be a sudden gust of wind that had stirred the foliage.

Lewis, walking toward the sound to investigate, suddenly jumped back. It’s an alligator and it’s hissing at us. It certainly was, I saw, as I stepped closer to the small pond so I could take its picture. It wasn’t a big alligator; still we didn’t long in the area.

“I’ve never before been hissed at by an alligator,” Lewis said.

A little bit later, in another area of the refuge, Lewis was looking for rails in a reed-filled pond when he heard something popping into the water. He thought at first it was turtles, but on closer examination saw that it was baby alligators.

He left that area pretty quickly, perhaps because from the viewing platform that had looked out over a huge wetlands area we had spotted a second alligator – and it wasn’t small at all.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Jamaica Bay Shorebirds http://tinyurl.com/l83rlso A great birding photo blog

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