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Looking out over the Badlands in South Dakota. — Photo by Pat Bean

“History is a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley

And Touching History

I have sat in the Old North Church in Boston, a landmark of the American Revolution. I have stood where Americans shed blood fighting each other over the issue of slavery. I have floated down the Mississippi River in a steamboat in the wake of Mark Twain. I have shed tears while standing in front of the black Lincoln in which JFK was riding when he was fatally shot. And I have walked on an Atlantic Beach near where The Virginia Company made its first landing in the New World.

In other words, I have traveled.

The Mark Twain Bridge over the Mississippi River at Hannibal, Missouri — Photo by Pat Bean

But it’s only now that I am coming to realize just how much history I was touching during the nine years I crisscrossed this country in a small RV – from ocean to ocean and border to border. Back then I was more interested in finding birds, camping beside a lake, admiring Mother Nature’s art, and exploring new hiking trails. Learning about history was never foremost in my mind.

My reasons for taking to the road, after retiring from my 37-year journalism career, were to satisfy my lifelong wanderlust and to see America’s wondrous landscapes – from gawking at a sunset over the Pacific from a cliff-top campground in Oregon, to wandering through the South Dakota badlands on a day so windy that my RV did a rock-and-roll dance.  Satisfying my late-blooming bird-watching addiction was an unexpected surprise bonus.

Yet looking back now, I realize that the history of the sites I visited almost always prompted additional research that ended up being what I wrote about in my blogs and in my book, Travels with Maggie.

I came to realize early on that travel is as much about discovering oneself as it is about seeing new vistas and meeting new people. So, it seems strange that I am only just now realizing how much traveling is also like taking a ride in a time machine through the pages of history.

Bean Pat: Don’t take life too seriously https://bebloggerofficial.com/2018/05/11/dont-take-life-too-seriously/  Good advice, especially these days.

Pat Bean: is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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 “Maybe you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but like every American, you carry a deed to 635 million acres of public lands.”  — John Garamend

Dragon Mouth Spring in Yellowstone. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

For over 20 years I lived just five hours away from Yellowstone. I’ve visited this national treasure over 25 times, long enough to see Mother Nature redecorate and remodel her landscape.

Black Dragon Caldron, which can also be seen along the Mud Volcano Trail. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

The changes have been many, but one that has been personal to me are the changes that took place at Dragon Mouth’s Spring. I first saw this steam-spurting, hissing feature in the late 1960s. It is located along the Mud Volcano Trail, a 2/3-mile loop through a varied landscape of mud pots and geysers.

It was easy for me, the first time I saw this sight, to imagine a dragon huffing and puffing as steam and water sloshed out from the entrance to a small cavern. But each time I revisited, which I always did when in Yellowstone, the dragon seemed mellower than the time before. And the dark green boiling water of the spring, which was easily envisioned as acidic dragon slime, began turning a bubbling light gray, the color of my hair today.

Interpretive sign along Mud Volcano Trail. — Photo by Pat Bean

Scientists reported the changes, but weren’t exactly sure why the dragon had stopped huffing and puffing so strenuously

As I watched the dragon settle, I began to imagine it as an old broad like me, no longer always on the run, but settling into contentment with no need to continually prove one’s worth — and with time to simply enjoy life.

So, it was that each time I hiked the Mud Volcano Trail, I took more and more time to enjoy the sights along the remainder of the trail, and not just the more memorable dragon. Each hike seemed to offer a new surprise: a fox lazing beneath a tree barely visible through my binoculars, a Clark’s nutcracker flying between hillside trees, the yellow hues of rocks painted by the minerals whose aroma taints the air with rotten eggs.

I can’t imagine visiting Yellowstone without revisiting the Mud Volcano Trail. While not as colorful as the Fountain Paint Pot Trail, or as spectacular as the geyser-dotted trail to Morning Glory Pool – which of course I can’t miss either – there be a dragon that calls to me.

Bean Pat: Boondocking https://nomadadvocate.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/boondocking-love-it-or-hate-it/   I boondocked at Lone Rock at Lake Powell the very first night I spent in my RV. What a wonderful time. And this blog brought back all those good memories.

Pat Bean: is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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Leon Dormido, also know as Kicker Rock. — Wikimedia photo

The Galapagos Islands provide a window on time. In a geologic sense, they are young, yet they appear ancient.” – Frans Lanting

Pages From My Travel Journal

Shortly after boarding the Archipell II, a 16- passenger catamaran in which I would spend the next eight days sailing around the Galapagos Islands, we motored around Kicker Rock, which is actually two volcanic rocks split apart.

Pages from my journal.

The English name refers to the rocks’ resemblance to a boot when viewed from one angle. Our guide, Luiz, called it Lion Rock, or Leon Dormido in Spanish, however, because viewed from another angle, the 400-feet tall rock towers look like a sleeping lion.

We had set sail for our adventure from the harbor at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island, where sea lions seemed to be everywhere. One group of sea lions had even commandeered a small boat tied to a larger boat, and one, a young juvenile lying near where our group boarded a panga for the ride out to the Archipell, sniffed my leg when I passed it.

Sea Lion in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. — Wikimedia photo

It was a bit chilling, but I was thrilled to have such an experience. My friend, Shirley Lee, who was behind me, was less thrilled. The sea lion nipped her instead of just sniffing. While we had dutifully been instructed not to touch the animals, someone forgot to pass the message on to the islands’ wildlife, which had absolutely no fear of humans.

By the time we got to Kicker Rock, I had seen dozens of birds, many that would go onto my life list, such as great frigatebirds, a striated heron, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, and several of what are known as the Darwin finches, a group of about 15 birds studied by Darwin because of diversity in beak form and function.

And this was only day one. What fun it is to relive this great adventure. I’ll write more about it next week.

Bean Pat: Spring Equinox https://marinakanavaki.com/2018/03/20/spring-equinox-2018/?wref=pil An artist’s rendition.

Pat Bean: is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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A flock of roseate spoonbills won the color award of the day when I visited Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. — Wikimedia photo

“I want my children and my grandchildren to live in a world with clean air, pure drinking water, and an abundance of wildlife, so I’ve chosen to dedicate my life to wildlife conservation so I can make the world just a little bit better.” – Bindi Irwin

Cormorants and turtles were also plentiful on the island sanctuary. — Photo by Pat Bean

Favorite Places: Ding Dong, I Thought

The name Ding Darling for a national wildlife refuge fascinated my wandering-wondering brain. So. of course I had to research its origin while visiting Florida’s Sanibel Island sanctuary in 2008.

D’ing Darling in 1918. — Wikimedia photo

The refuge, which is home to a mangrove forest, submerged sea-grass beds and a multitude of birds and other wildlife, was simply named after the island on which it is located when it was created in 1945. It wasn’t until 1987 that the refuge was renamed after Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling, who used a contraction of his last name — D’ing — to sign his work. The name stuck.

D’ing, as everyone called him, got involved with the refuge when he worked to help keep developers from taking over some environmentally valuable land on Sanibel Island. He also penned conservation cartoons, initiated the Federal Duck Stamp, which supports wildlife habitation, and designed its first stamp. In addition, he was instrumental in founding the National Wildlife Federation in 1936. Lake Darling, a 9,600-acre lake in the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa is also named in his in honor.

All of which makes me a bit embarrassed that my first thought of the refuge was that it must be a “ding dong” place to visit.

The first Duck Stamp, designed by D’ing Darling.

One had to take a ferry to get to the refuge before a causeway was built to the island in 1963. But that old bridge was replaced in 2007, just a year before I visited, with a flyover span tall enough for sailboats to pass beneath. The scenic view from the top was awesome.

I remember the refuge as a place where I got two birds for my life list, a prairie warbler, and a Bahama mockingbird, which at first, I thought, was simply a familiar northern mockingbird. I could have seen the warbler is many other places in the southeastern United States, but the Bahama mockingbird is a rare vagrant that only occasionally can be seen is southern Florida.

But it was the roseate spoonbill flock that impressed me most. I’m a fan of color.

Bean Pat: Daily Echo https://scvincent.com/2018/03/13/wishes-flashfiction/?wref=pil Flash fiction in 99 words.

Pat Bean: is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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The Corkscrew Boardwalk … Wikimedia photo

Lie on the bridge and watch the water flowing past. Or run, or wade through the swamp in your red boots. Or roll yourself up and listen to the rain falling on the roof. It’s very easy to enjoy yourself.” — Tove Jansson

Home of Wood Storks, Air Flowers and Cypress Trees

In 2008, I spent a month on Pine Island just across the water from Cape Coral, Florida. The location allowed me to explore the west side of the Everglades at my leisure. One place I visited twice was Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, home to the largest old growth bald cypress forest in North America and a favorite habitat of endangered wood storks. .

The Ghost Orchid

Both times I took over five hours to hike the 2.25-mile loop boardwalk that meandered through the sanctuary’s awesome and varied landscape. It seemed as if Mother Nature had a different spectacle for me to watch and observe every 100 feet or so.

While my goal for visiting was to bird watch, that often took a back seat to my gawking at the cypress trees that stood tall and wide. with moss-draped limbs and sometimes unrelated flowers that grew among the branches. I even got a glimpse – thanks to my birding binoculars – of the swamp’s famous ghost orchid, discovered just a year before I visited.

I was told where to look for it at the visitor center or I would have just thought it was one of the bromeliads that had attached their roots to tall branches in

Little blue heron up a tree. — Photo by Pat Bean

the trees. These plants, which seemed to grow on nothing but air, fascinated me. But then so did the swamp’s birds, marsh prairies, otters (I saw two) and all the other wonders of a place that miraculously was saved when Florida’s cypress forests were being leveled for timber in the mid-1900s.

The National Audubon Society, recognizing the swamp’s value, worked to save the land and its inhabitants for future generations to enjoy.  Today, Corkscrew Sanctuary, is both a designated Wetland of International Importance and an Important Bird Area. I hope it will still be there when my grandchildren’s children, and their children, want to visit, like my six-year-old great-grandson Kaiden, whose mother and my granddaughter Keri spent a week touring the Everglades with me in 2008.

Bean Pat:  In the Forest https://forestgardenblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/06/blossom-xxxv-in-the-forest/ A perfect blog to accompany mine. They’re both about the beauty of a place.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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The river is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you’ll wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don’t let anyone deter you from that.” — Eartha Kitt

The entrance to South Llano River State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean


Turkeys, Wildflowers and Dark Skies

A pair of Rio Grande wild turkeys.

It was one of those days when my canine companion Maggie and I took off down the road in our small RV with no destination in mind. We were simply exploring Texas’ Hill Country. I was confident that I would come across the perfect place for us to camp before night overtook us.

As I recall, it was well before noon when I came upon South Llano River State Park, and on seeing the abundance of lavender wildflowers dominating the lawn in front of the small building near the entrance, I figured we had found the place. I brake for wildflowers the same as I do for birds.

The South Llano River, a spring-fed tributary of the 105-mile Llano River that flows through Texas’ Hill Country.

And on checking into the park, I learned that here there were both. The park’s 500 plus acres of Hill Country river bottomlands, are home to the Rio Grande turkey, as well as habitat for wood ducks, white-tailed deer, squirrels, jackrabbits, javelinas, foxes, beavers, bobcats, cottontails and armadillos. It would be nice to see an armadillo walking around, I thought, recalling the roadkill one I had passed earlier in the day.

The park also had 18 miles of hiking trails, a few miles of which I explored, and modern campsites with electricity and water to feed my RV. I stayed for several nights, one of which I stayed up late watching a sky full of twinkling stars, a bonus of the park being a designated Dark Sky site.

Wildflowers, birds and stars – life doesn’t get much better for this fan of Mother Nature.

Bean Pat: You Gotta Live:  https://theenchantedoutlook.com/2018/02/20/you-gotta-live/ T0 this great post, I add my own mantra. Live so that when you die, you’ll know the difference.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book that she is tentatively calling Bird Droppings. It is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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I sketched this scene while visiting Zion National Park in Utah, one of my favorite places.

      “It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” — Vita Sackville-West

Pen or Computer? Or Both?

My normal early morning routine is to get up, brush my teeth, put moisturizer on my face, dress (or simply put a coat over my pajamas) and walk my canine companion Pepper. Back in my apartment, I sit down with a cup of cream-laced coffee, write at least two pages in my journal, and read the NY Times digital version.

An old Remington typewriter, similar to the one I used to write my first mystery novel draft, which languishes somewhere in my writing files.

The journal writing ritual, I finally learned, clears my head and makes my days more productive. I begin by writing about my walk, the weather, anything significant from the day before, and perhaps my dreams, if they’re still rolling around in my head. This usually takes up a page in my journal. If writer’s block sets in, I start perusing the newspaper, letting the day’s headlines bring into focus my own thoughts on the issues,

This morning, as I was writing, I noted that I let each of the next words roll around in my brain before I scrawled my pen’s bold black ink across the page. When using the computer my thoughts often seem to be more connected to my fingers than my brain. I’m not conscious about what I’m going to write, I just do it.

This effortless means of writing means my fingers tap out thoughts that I didn’t know were in my head.  I’m usually pleased with the outcome. It’s as if my fingers subconsciously know what my brain hasn’t yet acknowledged.

Why do the writing tools affect me so differently, I asked myself this morning, posing the question in ink in my journal? The answer that popped into my brain was that I took the time to think before using my pen because I wanted to keep my journal neat and didn’t want to have to black out a word, or two.

On a computer, if my fingers get ahead of my brain, I can simply delete the wrong words with no fuss or bother – unlike in my early years of writing using a typewriter.

Occasionally, I miss that old Remington. There was a calming satisfaction that came with the act of yanking a sheet of paper out of the typewriter, crumbling it up into a ball, and tossing it into a wastebasket.

It was an action that refreshed the brain, usually for the better.

Bean Pat: Six Word Saturday https://lingeringvisions.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/  The shoe was actually a boot. My favorite piece was the top hat, until the Scottie dog was added to the monopoly pieces in the 1950s. And today I have a Scottie dog, well at least half of her. The other half might be a schnauzer.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book she calls Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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