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Archive for the ‘African Safari’ Category

Alone or Lonely

      “We are all sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins, for life.” Tennessee Williams

That's my canine companion Pepper on the right playing tug of war with her best forever girlfriend Dusty. -- Photo by Pat Bean

That’s my canine companion Pepper on the right playing tug of war with her best forever girlfriend Dusty. — Photo by Pat Bean

Shared Touch and Thoughts

I’m a single woman who lives alone, and sleeps with her canine companion. I’m not the least bit lonely, but the shared warmth of another creature curled up against my back gives me great comfort, I thought about this as I awoke this morning, and felt Pepper’s small body snug against mine.

And here they are sharing a spot of sun. I think I would be lonely without my Pepper, and perhaps she would be lonely too if she didn't see Dusty almost every day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And here they are sharing a spot of sun. I think I would be lonely without my Pepper, and perhaps she would be lonely too,  if she didn’t see Dusty almost every day. — Photo by Pat Bean

As usual, the second I stirred, my canine companion Pepper became animated, insisting that we go for a walk right this minute! I obliged, taking only as long as it took me to slip on some clothes and smooth down my nest of night hair. Back in my apartment, I put the coffee on, gave Pepper her morning treat, and straightened the kitchen as I waited for the caffeine to brew.

Once settled with a cup of cream-laced java, I wrote in my journal for a bit then picked up a book to read for a bit before getting to one of the things on my always-too-long daily to-do list. The book was Lots of Candles Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen, whose essays remind me a lot of Ellen Goodman, who is 11 years younger than Anna and of my generation.

I recently came across a column about turning 40 written by Ellen that I had saved in my journal. Anna’s essay, which I was reading this morning, was also about aging, but written from the prospective of a woman in her 50s; so I guess it’s really true. Fifty is the new 40.

As one who was a journalist for 37 years, I’m drawn to the writing of these two women, who are both Pulitzer-Prize winning columnists. Reading their thoughts, which in many instances mirror my own, gives me as much companionship as does my Pepper.

I’m thankful I have family and friends who are there for me, both for companionship and for when I need them, but I’m also thankful for all the time I have to be alone. I’ve considered myself an extrovert for most of my life, and that is indeed a part of who I am, but as I look back on my busy, chaotic life, I realized I was always looking for a spare minute just to be with myself.

These days I have that time — but I don’t think it would be nearly as enjoyable as it is without a canine companion, good books, and friends and family out there when you need them. But then perhaps that’s not being alone at all.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: In the Paw Prints of Lions http://tinyurl.com/z7zhjrh Watching lions in Africa was one of the highlights of my African safari to Kenya and Tanzania – and I liked this blog because of the good memories it leaked into my head. But our guide always made us stay in the Land Rover.

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Oh and yet another reason I like watching Survivor is its settings, like Africa. And the scenes often show birds, like this hammerkop at the foot of the zebras. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Oh and yet another reason I like watching Survivor is its settings, like Africa. And the scenes often show birds, like this hammerkop at the foot of the zebras. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” — Paul Tillich

Gen Xers vs. Millennials

I’m not sure I’ve shared one of my secret vices. I’m an avid Survivor fan who hasn’t missed a single one of its 33 seasons. This year it’s Generation Xers (those born between the mid-1960’s and the early 1980’s ) versus the Millennials, those young whippersnappers now between the ages of 18 and 33

And Survivor provides this wandering-wonderer with some nice armchair travels. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

And Survivor provides this wandering-wonderer with some nice armchair travels. — Photo by Kim Perrin

Being very competitive myself, the competitions are my favorite parts of the show. After that, it’s seeing how people react and relate to one another in stressful situations. Although I didn’t quite understand it during the first few seasons, because I was still of the mentality that the strongest should win, I now appreciate that it takes a combination of skills – strength, intelligence, sociability, staying power and will power to get to the end.

In this year’s competition, Survivor host Jeff Probst asked a question that showed the difference between the two competing age groups , and I found the answers intriguing.

How do you spell the word you when you text? Jeff asked.

“Y.O.U” answered the Gen Xers. “Just U” said the Millennials, and said the other way was “behind the times and old-style.” “But there’s a grace to the language,” said the Xers.

As someone who led the Baby Boomers in to this world, I cheered that rebuttal. I always spell out the word you – and all other words besides. I find it difficult when tweeting to even use the & sign when forced because of the limited number of letters.

Not that there is anything wrong with “U,” but simply because I enjoy the proper use of language that I was taught as a youngster. Change doesn’t come easy.

So how do you spell the word you when texting?

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Wandering Cows http://tinyurl.com/hewo3na Take an armchair trip on a Jacobite Steam Train in Scotland.

 

 

 

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             “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” Jawaharial Nehru

Great gray owl in flight. -- Wikimedia photo, Arne List.

Great gray owl in flight. — Wikimedia photo, Arne List.

Feeding my Wanderlust

            I’ve had wanderlust in my soul since reading “I Married Adventure” by Osa Johnson when I was 10 years old. Going on an African Safari in 2007, and finally seeing the wildlife she so vividly describes in her book, was the fulfillment of a life-long dream, as was traveling the United States from border-to-border and coast-to-coast for nine years in a small RV.

Great gray owl, Ontario, Canada. -- Wikimedia photo

North America’s largest owl, the great gray owl in Ontario, Canada. — Wikimedia photo

While my traveling days are not over, they are currently put on hold because of age and lack of deep pockets. I compensate by reading travel blogs and books. I also read a lot about birds, as birding is a late-blooming passion that addicted me at exactly the right time in my life.

Both birding and my wanderlust came together when I picked up Neil Hayward’s book Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year. The passage I was reading this morning was Neil’s account of chasing a Connecticut warbler in Sax Zim Bog. The name stopped me cold, tickling and delighting my wanderlust the same as hearing the names of places like Timbuctoo, Shangri-La and Zanzibar.

So of course I had to find my atlas, and then explore the Internet to learn more about the bog. The exotic sounding place is about 300 square miles of not just bog, but also aspen uplands, rivers, lakes, meadows, farms and a couple of towns in Northern Minnesota. Neil, doused liberally with mosquito repellant, visited a quite boggy patch of Sax Zim to successfully find his target bird, allowing me to follow him along in my armchair without getting bitten.

My bonus for taking the journey with Neil, followed by my online research, was to discover a You Tube video of a great gray owl sighting in Sax Zim Bog. It was so beautiful I almost cried. Sadly this bird is not on my life list of over 700 birds. But who knows what the future may hold?

Bean Pat: Great gray owl sighting at Sax Zim Bog http://tinyurl.com/gopkqt7 I hope this video thrills you as much as it did me.

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“This idea that being youthful is the only thing that’s beautiful or attractive simply isn’t true. I don’t want to be an ‘ageless beauty.’ I want to be a woman who is the best I can be at my age. ” –Sharon Stone

Photo by Pat Bean

The fossilized rock tree, araucarioxylon arizonicum, known as Old Faithful, can be found in  Petrified Forest National Park — Photo by Pat Bean

An Old Tree 

Araucarioxylon arizonicum: I can’t pronounce it, but I did learn that it was one of the most common trees found in a 225 million year old forest that once thrived in what is now Arizona.

A more lively sight near the fossilized tree. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A more lively sight near the fossilized tree. — Photo by Pat Bean

The petrified remains of these trees, which are now extinct, can be seen along old Route 66 as it winds through Petrified  Forest National Park between Interstate 40 and Highway 18 in Arizona. It’s one of those great travel adventures that are so readily available when you exit the freeways.

These great conifers were buried by mud, silt and volcanic ash in ancient days, then at some point were exposed to silica-laden water that transformed organic tissues into quartz.

That, at least, is the abbreviated version of the science behind the stone trees. If you want more details, you’ll have to do your own research. It could be fun.

I tried to picture the forest as it once was, with dinosaurs roaming through it, as I stood in front of 225-million-year-old “Old Faithful,” the oldest petrified araucarioxylon arizonicum tree trunk in the park. It is located along a short hike behind the Rainbow Forest Museum near the south entrance to the park.

Araucarioxylon arizonicum, by the way, is Arizona’s state fossil.

Hmmm. I wonder if I can learn to speak the name of the tree as easily as I learned to say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: About Elephants http://tinyurl.com/htk8jt9 This blog is really about the baobab tree, which was one of my favorite trees to see during my African safari. I loved learning more about them.

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        “It’s always better when you give a damn!” – John D. MacDonald

Kim and I with our Tusker's beer after a long, dusty day.

Kim and I with our Tusker’s beer after a long, dusty day.

Theroux Recaptures an African Night

I’m slowly reading Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux. I emphasize slowly because Theroux’s writing cannot be fully appreciated any other way. In the book, he has just crossed into Kenya from Ethiopia, having been shot at by bandits during his journey as a $3 paying passenger aboard a cattle truck whose normal speed is 10 mph because of the pot-holed, boulder-dotted, deep-rutted road.

Our tent in Pornini Camp in Kenya. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Our tent in Pornini Camp in Kenya. — Photo by Pat Bean

When the truck stops for the night in the town of Marsabit, he writes: “I walked around and found a place to stay, the Jey Jey … another three-dollar room. I had a shower in the communal washhouse, then walked to the market, drank a Tusker beer, and talked to some locals, boasting, ‘I got shot at.’ No one was surprised or impressed…”

Reading this flooded my little gray cells with memories. While I wasn’t shot at during my two weeks in Africa, I had experienced Africa’s rough roads (in a Land Rover with English-speaking native guides) and had stayed overnight in Africa (in isolated, but usually luxurious accommodations). But it wasn’t these things that ensnared my brain’s neurons, it was the mention of Tusker Beer.

The sundowner sunset. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The sundowner sunset. — Photo by Pat Bean

After a full day of travel that included crossing the border from Tanzania into Kenya, on roads as rough as Theroux described, I and my traveling companion Kim finally arrived at our tent camp near Amboseli National Park. We were just in time for a Sundowner, a late safari to a scenic spot to watch the sun go down. Still dusty from our day’s drive, we found a spot to park our weary bodies, and were handed a Tusker beer.

It was the perfect ending to an already perfect, if tiring, day. Thanks for the memories Paul. They made thus current non-wandering wanderer smile.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: A Birdy Lunch http://tinyurl.com/n8wmaup This blog makes me want to pack up and head to Costa Rico.

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            “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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“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener

The horizon is always calling to me, whether it lies beyond the ocean or just past a Texas cotton field.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

The horizon is always calling to me, whether it lies beyond the ocean or just past a Texas cotton field. — Photo by Pat Bean

From a Passionate Nomad

            Never do I feel more at home than when I am on the road. Whether it be driving past a cotton field dotted with oil rigs in my native Texas, or maneuvering the steep and twisting coastal roads in Oregon, it always feels that’s exactly where I belong.

My itchy feet took me to Africa, where I pretended I was John Wayne in Hatari at the Amboseli National Park Airport in Kenya. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

My itchy feet took me to Africa, where I pretended I was John Wayne in Hatari at the Amboseli National Park Airport in Kenya. — Photo by Kim Perrin

Freya Stark, who was the first person to beat Phileas Fogg’s around the world in 90 days’ record, must have felt the same.

When I embarked on my nine-year U.S. cross-country adventure in a small RV I called Gypsy Lee, I had only one rule: No whining.

Freya had seven rules, which she wrote about in a letter to her mother. I laughed when I read them last night. She called them the seven cardinal virtues of a traveler. They were:

1. To admit standards that are not one’s own standards and discriminate the values that are not one’s own values.

2. To know how to use stupid men and inadequate tools with equanimity.

3.  To be able to disassociate oneself from one’s bodily sensations.

4. To be able to take rest and nourishment as and when they come.

5.  To love not only nature but human nature also.

6.  To have an unpreoccupied, observant and uncensorious mind – in other words to be unselfish.

7.  To be as commonly good-tempered at the end of the day as at the beginning.

I think Freya, who died in 1993 at the age of 100 and who during her lifetime wrote over two dozen travel books, was simply wordier than me. What do you think?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Where’s My Backpack http://tinyurl.com/k3k5so6  Great travel blog, and today great horizons.

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