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Archive for the ‘Favorite Places’ Category

James Bond Island == Wikimedia photo

James Bond Island == Wikimedia photo

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

James Bond Island

            I was scanning through photos of what someone described as the most beautiful places on earth – dreaming over pictures of exotic places has been something I do frequently ever since I stopped wandering full time – when I came across one titled James Bond Island.

I recognized the place immediately as one of the settings for the James Bond movie, “The Man with the Golden Gun.” I had read Ian Flemming’s Bond books before JFK made them popular by saying they were his favorite books, and have seen every James Bond movie, even though most had little to do with the books.

But I had no idea where the actual island used in the film was located. So I did some research on the Internet, which provided a quick answer to this non-wandering wanderer’s curious mind.

Bartolemeo Island in the Galapagas with its its Pinnacle Rock near the center of this photo. If you watch Master and Commander, you can see the scene again. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Bartolomeo Island in the Galapagos with its Pinnacle Rock near the center of this photo. If you watch “Master and Commander,” you can see the scene again. — Photo by Pat Bean

The island, until the release of the movie in the mid’70s was unknown as Khao Phing Kau, in Thailand. It became a tourist attraction following the movie, and is most recognizable because of a 66-foot tall islet called Ko Taou that sits just 130 feet away from shore.

In 1981, the island became part of the newly established Ao Phang Nga Marine National Park. I wished I had seen it in person, but armchair travel is the next best thing.

Meanwhile, the morning’s at-home expedition brought to mind another movie, “Master and Commander,” which contained a setting I had visited. It was Bartolomeo Island in the Galapagos. And I took the photo on the left when I was there.

I would also classify it as one of the most beautiful places on earth. But then if I made such a list, it would probably be long enough to encircle the earth. And that brings me to one of my favorite travel quotes:

“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

            Bean Pat: A wee bee http://tinyurl.com/hyx5mp5 I love these photos, and they remind me of how important bees are to the environment.

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A snowy egret at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Northern Utah. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A snowy egret at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Northern Utah. — Photo by Pat Bean

        “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” — Henry David Thoreau

Some of my Favorite Places

There are 59 national parks, and in my lifetime I’ve been to 44 of them, mostly missing the ones in Alaska. They are some of my favorite places in the world.

This pond captured images of the Wasatch Mountains and the clouds above them. I love it. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This pond captured images of the Wasatch Mountains and the clouds above them. I love it. — Photo by Pat Bean

On the other hand, there are over 550 national wildlife refuges. And they are also some of my favorite places – even though I haven’t kept track of the ones I’ve visited. During my nine years of traveling this awesome country, I stopped at any refuge in my vicinity, mostly to bird watch. .

Among the more memorable ones that would be on my list of the refuges I’ve explored, if I had such a list, would be Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, located 15 minutes from my son Lewis’ Texas Gulf Coast home, and where I turned him into a birding addict like me. This refuge has added 16 birds to my life list of 710 species.

But that pales with the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge that has given me 31 of my life birds. This refuge is very special to me because the first time I visited it was in the 1970s, when it was lush and green – and long before bird watching became one of my passions.

In the 1980s, I watched as the now 80,000-acre refuge was inundated by Great Salt Lake flood waters, whose salty content pretty much destroyed everything, including an almost new visitor’s center. I then regularly watched as the refuge, less than an hour’s drive from my Ogden, Utah, home for 25 years, made its comeback.

Pickleweed. I remember how thrilled I was when I saw the tiny beginning of this plant in a place desolate of greenery.

Pickleweed. I remember how thrilled I was when I saw the tiny beginning of this plant in a place desolate of greenery.

It started with pickleweed, one of the first plants to come back and one that helped eliminate the salt in the landscape. This was all explained to me during a tour of the damaged refuge for a newspaper story I was writing. Have I ever told you how much I loved my journalism career?

I was already retired, and traveling, but I made it to the grand opening of the refuge’s new visitor’s center in 2006. This time the center was located a good ways away from the flood zone, and next to Interstate 15 near Brigham City. The site offers visitors a convenient and quick view of a bit of what the refuge has to offer without the 10-mile drive on a rutted, unpaved road to the main refuge area.

I used to hate that rough ride – but I loved it, too. It kept the crowds away. Sometimes it seemed as if I had the whole refuge to myself, and if not, the other visitors were most likely to be nature lovers who, like me, thought the birds, animals and scenery were worth the bumpy drive.

If you’re one of us, along with visiting a national park during this year celebrating the system’s 100th birthday, you might want to also check out a national wildlife refuge. Most likely there is one not too far from where you live. https://www.fws.gov/refuges/

And if you’re interested in a good book, check out Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams. It’s much about the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Living Life Almost Gracefully http://tinyurl.com/h97kl2v Chasing the Sun

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Looking down from one of the many overlooks on the Sky Island Scenic Byway. I stopped at almost every overlook. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Looking down from one of the many overlooks on the Sky Island Scenic Byway. I stopped at almost every overlook. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Wanderings of a Nested Wanderer

Sky islands are isolated mountains surrounded by radically different landscapes. My wondering-wandering curiosity had me looking up the term after I drove the Sky Island Scenic Byway to the top of Mount Lemon as a day road trip to pacify my wanderlust. We left before the sun came up and my canine companion, Pepper, and I didn’t get back home from the 60-mile round trip until mid-afternoon.

Hoodoos, like this, were plentiful along the way. I love the word hoodoo -- and the most colorful ones can be found in Southern Utah. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Hoodoos, like this, were plentiful along the way. I love the word hoodoo — and the most colorful ones can be found in Southern Utah. — Photo by Pat Bean

It was a great, soul cleansing day.

I hadn’t really heard the tern sky island until I settled in Tucson three years ago, and then it seemed to be frequently popping up. That’s because, the Catalina, Santa Rita and the Chiricahua mountain ranges that surround Tucson are all perfect examples of sky islands.

I live in the 3-000-foot shadow of the 9,159-foot tall Mount Lemmon, meaning my road trip took me from an arid desert landscape to a much cooler landscape 6,000 feet higher. It was the perfect escape on a hot day. A gazillion bicyclists thought so too. Next time, perhaps, I’ll take the drive on a weekday instead of a weekend.

Real soon, I decided.

I called this one spaceship rock. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I called this one spaceship rock. — Photo by Pat Bean

Bean Pat: Raspberry Sunset http://tinyurl.com/j68j4cf Great Yellowstone wildlife capture with a camera. I love this blog.

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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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“Fame is like a shaved pig with a greased tail, and it is only after it has slipped through the hands of thousands, that some fellow, by mere chance, holds on to it!” – Davy Crockett

Lake Jackson, where I lived for 15 years and where I still have family, is called the City of Enchantment. Being able to see great egrets -- this one was photographed at the city's Sea Center but you can also see them in drainage ditches all over town -- is enchanting. Don't you think?

Lake Jackson, where I lived for 15 years and where I still have family, is called the City of Enchantment. Being able to see great egrets — this one was photographed at the city’s Sea Center, but you can also see them in drainage ditches all over town — is enchanting. Don’t you think? — Photo by Pat Bean

Travel is so Enlightening

On road trips, when I’m driving the back roads that take me through the middle of small towns, I look for the one thing that makes one place stand out from another.

For instance, did you know that Venice, Florida, calls itself the Shark Tooth Capital of the World? People actually visit this quaint, snowbird town to find them, which isn’t hard to do as the tide and waves are constantly bringing shark’s teeth and other fossils up onto the city’s beaches.

Ypsilanti's Dick Brick, errrr Water Tower. -- Wikimedia photo

Ypsilanti’s Dick Brick. Oops,  I mean Water Tower. — Wikimedia photo

Sharks, which have an abundance of teeth to begin with, are continually replacing any that are lost – and a tiger shark, for instance, can produce as many as 24,000 teeth during its lifetime. That’s according to the web site of Sharky’s Shop, an online store where you can buy shark’s teeth if you don’t want to go beach surfing.

The small town of Woodstock, Vermont, which I passed through one rainy day, as were all the days I spent in this Green Mountain State, doubled up on its privileges to fame. It claimed: to be the only town in America with four Paul Revere bells, to be the site of the first ski tow, to be the birthplace of Hiram Powers, the sculptor of “Greek Slave” for which Elizabeth Barrett Browning created a sonnet, and to be the home of railroad empire builder Frederick Billings.

Perhaps the most outrageous claim to fame by a town I’ve visited, however, is the one made by Ypsilanti, where I spent a few days. This Michigan’s town’s brag is that it is home to the “World’s Most Phallic Structure.” That title was won by the city’s 147-foot limestone water tower during Cabinet magazine’s 2003 contest to find the building most resembling a human phallus.

One look at the tower – built in 1890 by someone either with a macho bent or a sense of humor – and I could see why it must have easily won the contest. Locals call it the “Dick Brick.” It’s said that if an Eastern Michigan University student graduates while still a virgin the tower will fall down. Travel is so enlightening.

Then there’s:

Hico, Texas: Where Everybody is Somebody.

Hico, Texas: Where Everybody is Somebody.

Hico, Texas: Where Everybody is Somebody.

Camden, Arkansas: Home of the Grapette.

Hatch, New Mexico: Chili Pepper Capital of the World.

Green River Utah: Watermelon Capital of the World.

Louisville, Kentucky: City of Beautiful Churches.

Aberdeen, Washington: Port of Missing Men

Rumney, New Hampshire: Crutch Capital of the World

Abbeville, Georgia: Wild Hog Capital of Georgia

Belle Glade, Florida: Muck City

St. John, North Dakota: City at the End of the Rainbow. I’ll stop here, but if you are interested in more town nickname trivia check out: http://tinyurl.com/z9odvg6

So what’s your town’s claim to fame?

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Have Bag, Will Travel http://tinyurl.com/zodt2r4  This blog appealed to me because I’m always visiting odd museums when I travel. This blog about a visit to one such museum made me laugh.

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Turtle Rock at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah.

Turtle Rock at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah.

            “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir

 

A Turtle and a Lizard

One Saturday morning back in January of 1999, I woke up at o-dark-hundred feeling lazy and bored after a heavy-duty work week. My first inclination, as I noted in my journal that morning and reread for the first time this morning, was to turn over and go back to sleep. That, however, was quickly followed by the words “road trip” jumbling around in my brain.

Lizard petroglyph at ; Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

Lizard petroglyph at ; Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

Knowing which of those two thoughts would reinvigorate me more, my then canine companion Peaches and I set out on a day trip to Dinosaur National Monument, a mere 250 miles away from my Ogden, Utah, home. .

We left in time to see what I think is the most magical moment of the day, those seconds between night and dawn when the world is all gray and silvery and the world recatches its breath – and so do I. But we missed it because of the bright street lights on Harrison Boulevard as we exited the city. I was disappointed, but I consoled myself by knowing the day was young and there were still magical moments ahead that I wouldn’t miss. It’s the same feeling I have at the start of any road trip – and I’ve never been disappointed.

Among the sights I recorded on the drive to the dinosaur quarry were a farmer feeding his cows, snow in Echo Canyon and ice fishermen out on Strawberry Reservoir. I stopped in Heber for breakfast, where I was waited on by a grandmotherly woman who sweetly called me honey. Her words took me back to my Southern-raised origins.

There was more snow after Heber, but the road was mostly a sandy slush as the snowplows had already been out. I passed a guy rubbing snow on his car’s windshield to clear it, and was thankful my wipers and windshield fluid were keeping mine clean. The windshied fluid, however, ran out just as I was coming into Duchesne, where thankfully I stopped at a gas station and replaced it so I could see clearly again.

Just a few of the 1,500 or so dinosaur bones on display at the monument's enclosed quarry exhibit.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Just a few of the 1,500 or so dinosaur bones on display at the monument’s enclosed quarry exhibit. — Photo by Pat Bean

After Duchesne, it was sunny and bright all the way to the Dinosaur Monument, which was located east of Roosevelt. On arriving, I didn’t spend too much time looking at the actual bones of dinosaurs exposed by diggers in the quarry. I was more in the mood to explore the 10-mile Tilted Rocks Road, which is rife with petroglyphs and pictographs, and scenic views of Split Mountain, which a few years earlier I had rafted past on the Green River.

It was memories of a quick drive on this stretch many years earlier that had been in my mind as destination for this morning’s spur-of-the-moment road trip. And this time, as I had not earlier because someone else was in charge, I was able to leisurely enjoy the drive at my own pace. I stopped often to get closer up views of the wall paintings and landscape. I saw mule deer, rabbits and visited a shelter site that may have first been used over 9,000 years ago.

The views of Turtle Rock and the Lizard on the Rock were two of my favorite sightings. They held the magic for me that made up for missing the gray still seconds between day and night.

I didn’t pull back into my driveway until well after dark, and after encountering more snow in the mountains. It had been an invigorating road trip, and I didn’t feel lazy or bored anymore; nor did Peaches, who enjoyed a good romp in the snow on our return drive.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Glenrosa Journeys http://tinyurl.com/htmsjfj Do a bit of bird watching with Candace.

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, whn contc

The first aspens I saw were off in the distance, where their golden deliciousness stood out in contrast to the dark evergreens -- Photo by Pat Bean

The first aspens I saw were off in the distance, where their golden deliciousness stood out in contrast to the dark evergreens — Photo by Pat Bean

“Willows whiten, aspens quiver, Little breezes dusk and shiver” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Late in August the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, cut my initials in the bark of an aspen, bet bit by a mosquitos, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, get lost in the firs, hike above timberline, sunbathe on snow and eat some ice, climb the rocks and stand in the wind at the top of the world on the peak of Tukuhnikivats. – Edward Abbey            

Aspens at Last

            Jacob Lake, a tiny community that sits at the junction of Highway 89A and State Road 67 and which is the turnoff to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, sits at an elevation of 8,000 feet.   I had expected to see aspen trees by this elevation, but none came into my view, although I usually began seeing these scarred, white-trunk trees around 7,000 feet. Of course that was when I lived in Utah, and now I’m in Arizona.

The second grove of aspens was right next to the road. I stood beneath this one and let it sing to me.

The second grove of aspens was right next to the road. I stood beneath this one and let it sing to me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Still hopeful that the goal of this particular road trip, to see aspen trees in their golden autumn colors, would be met, I took the turnoff  for the Grand Canyon. There was still 44 miles to go before I reached the rim of what many people consider to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world, so there was still time for this road trip’s mission to be accomplished.

And it was – although I was closer to Grand Canyon National Park than I expected before the landscape began to be dotted with patches of yellow that challenged the color of the sun. I was delighted.

Aspen trees gown in colonies from a single seedling that sends up its children through the earth into the sunlight. If you look closely, you’ll see how similar each tree in close proximity looks like its neighbor; and how different they look from a nearby patch of aspens that also hover close together with roots and branches entangled.

 

Near the top of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Near the top of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

Until its death, only the mother tree can send up new seedlings. Then another tree takes its place. It has to do with some chemical or such that the mother tree sends out as a birth control pill to the other trees, is how it was once explained to me. While an aspen tree can live only up to about 150 years, there is one large aspen grove in Utah near Fish Lake that is 80,000 thousand years old. Just thinking about this sends shivers through by brain neurons.

As I stopped to stand beneath one of the aspen groves, I was reminded that not only are these trees pleasing to the eye, but to the ear as well. The breeze rippling through their coin-sized leaves sent a pleasing melody into the air. The aspens sang for me.

 

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Life’s Purpose   http://tinyurl.com/ocjqsok  Why limit yourself to one passion. As a person who has many passions, this blog appealed to me. Even though I know that it’s the people with only one passion who may accomplish the greatest things in life. But oh what they miss.

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