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Archive for the ‘Journeys’ Category

“Stop waiting for the perfect day, or the perfect moment … Take this day, this moment and lead it to perfection. – Steve Maraboli

Red-headed woodpecker. — Wikimedia photo

A Page From my May 2005 Journal 

            I was sitting on a bluff above the Oauchita River in Camden, Arkansas, listening to bird song. Low clouds still carried the pink glow of the rising sun, and I watched as the airy cotton-like puffs transformed, first to golden and then to the blue tinge of the morning sky. It was cool and a gentle breeze ruffled tree leaves. All around me were clumps of wisteria, a vigorous tree-climbing vine with drooping lilac-hued blossoms that scented the morning air. Here and there, small dogwood trees with their dainty white flowers added to the enchantment of the landscape. .

Morning sky beside the Oauchita River in Arkansas. — Photo by Pat Bean

I was sitting where once stood a Confederate fort, aptly named Lookout because it provided the perfect spot to keep an eye on the river below.  It was also this very same bluff that had been visited in 1541 by the Spanish explorer, Hernando De Soto. I thought about all this as I surveyed the landscape from my blanketed, cocooned perch in a lawn chair. All troubles, politics and wars of the world were put on hold….

Then I heard a tap-tap-tap coming from a grove of trees. I had seen northern flickers and downy woodpeckers in the area and assumed it was one of them. Instead, I got a nice surprise. I found myself looking at a red-headed woodpecker. Because there is no gender field mark in this species, as there are in many birds, it could have been either a male or female.

The bird was in a typical woodpecker stance, with its strong opposing talons gripping the tree trunk while it leaned back on its stiff tail. It’s head and throat were a brilliant shade of red, in stark contrast to the bluish-black and white feathers that covered the rest of its body.

I watched until the woodpecker flew off across the river, after turning an ordinary morning into an extraordinary one, a perfect start for the day. From their hiding places, a host of other birds chattered, whistled, twittered and sang in agreement.

Bean Pat: The planning fallacy https://tierneycreates.com/2018/05/15/the-planning-fallacy/?wref=pil This made me laugh because it’s so true of my own planning in whatever endeavor.

Blog pick of the day.

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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“Writing is an exploration. You start with nothing and learn as you go.”  — E.L. Doctorow

 

 

 

Some days when the butt doesn’t want to sit in the chair,, I doodle around with art while standing in front of a tall table. Art by Pat Bean 

The First Rule of Writing

I’ve sat in front of a typewriter, or a computer, almost every day now for over half a century. Sometimes my fingers fly across the keyboard in an effort to keep up with words bursting with eagerness to get out of my brain. Other times, the words come at the rate of a dying clock.

As long as the words keep coming, I feel good. It’s the days when I forget the first rule of writing that leaves me in the dumps.  A writer needs to write, so that first rule of writing is simple Butt in Chair.

But some days I have to trick myself into getting it there. So, I tell myself to simply write one sentence, and then go walk the dog. Then, write a second sentence and water the plants. Usually by the third or fourth sentence my butt actually stays in the chair for a few more sentences, and the essay, blog or book review that is my current work in progress eventually gets done.

Thank gawd!

Bean Pat: Flamingos in Bolivia https://bellaremyphotography.com/2018/05/14/flamingos-in-bolivia/#like-15644 A great arm-chair travel treat.

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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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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“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” – James Thurber

A page from one of my journals. — Sketch by Pat Bean

Northern Cardinal? Or Hepatic Tanager?

“I just saw a brilliant red cardinal on my way over,” my friend, Jean, said, a couple of days ago.

Hepatic tanager. — Wikimedia photo

“What color was its beak?” I asked, since I had earlier in the day identified a hepatic tanager flying about. Both the cardinal and the hepatic, well at least the males, are a dazzling red.

“Don’t confuse me! It was a cardinal. Its beak was black … now I don’t want to talk about birds,” she said, and continued on with her idea of a more interesting conversation. And I must admit, my friend is an interesting conversationalist – and chatterbox.

Jean, meanwhile, isn’t the only one I sometimes annoy with my obsession about identifying birds. I have sometimes annoyed other friends … and sometimes my kids … and probably strangers, as well. But this time, since I didn’t want to further annoy Jean, I didn’t continue on and tell her that if the bird had a black beak it wasn’t a cardinal. They have orange bills.

I thought of this brief interchange this morning when I sat on my balcony and saw a bright flash of red whiz past and land in a tree behind a fresh crop of spring-green leaves. I never did see its beak.

Now I’m going to annoy myself all day wondering if the bird was a cardinal or a tanager.  What can I say? I’m a crazy birder – and I love that I am.

Now available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Howard Prairie Lake https://anotefromabroad.com/2018/05/03/howard-prairie-lake-southern-oregon/ My kind of day. Nature, peaceful hike and educational. I learned what a morel mushroom looks like.

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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            “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.” – Maya Angelou

Fence and blue flowers … Painting by Pat Bean

It Wasn’t Easy Finding Mine

When I wrote the first draft of Travels with Maggie, I was inflicted with 37 years of personal journalism ethics that required me to keep my opinions out of any newspaper story I wrote.  But the book I was writing was all about me, and my RV travels as a lone woman living on the road with only a small canine companion.

Now available on Amazon

I believed my writing was good, but I knew something was not quite right. Still, after the draft was completed, I entered it into a Mayborn non-fiction competition, where it came in as one of the best top 10 entries. The ranking entitled me to be part of a workshop with nine other writers who would all critique each of the book proposals. I received excellent comments from the other writers on mine — with one exception. They almost all said my proposed book lacked voice.

I immediately knew they were right. I also realized that the few times I had tried to interject voice into the writing, I had tried to deny that I was the old broad I had become, and not the sexier hiker and white-water rafter I once had been. Now I’ve discovered that being an old broad is still sexy – in a way that has nothing to do with actual sex.

Anyway, it took me four more drafts before I sufficiently found my voice. Along the way, I did a lot of soul-searching that also let me realize that the voice of an old broad, who had fully experienced life, was the much better choice for the narration of Travels with Maggie.

Bean Pat: Silence https://bebloggerofficial.com/2018/04/23/the-lost-art-of-silence/ I share this blog today because I have come to enjoy silence’s rare moments, and have learned how much those moments enrich my life.

Blog pick of the day.

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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“I now belong to a higher cult of mortals for I have seen the albatross.” – Robert Cusham Murphy,1912

Waved albatross on Espanola Island in the Galapagos. Wikimedia photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson

A Poem Come to Life

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge fascinated me when I read it for the first time when I was about 10 years old. The poem was in a literary book that was among those collected by a grandfather who died when I was still an infant.

His books were all stuffed in a chest, and my access to them was my favorite childhood treasure. I read them all, from the complete works of Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Dickens to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind and Kathleen Winsor’s Forever Amber, whose exotic raciness flitted right by my then nativity. I’m sure that back then that I also didn’t understand all the nuances of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, simply that if you killed an albatross, you would be cursed forever.

A page from my Galapagos journal. Photo by Pat Bean

I read Coleridge’s long poem out loud quite a few times, mostly because of how the words felt falling together in rhyme upon rhyme. I imagined myself upon a grand stage as I read to Blackie, my childhood canine companion.

This piece of my past jumbled its way through my mind the day I saw my first albatross in the Galapagos. I listened in awe as our guide told us that these waved albatrosses were the only one of this sea bird’s 20-plus species that visited the Galapagos.

The pair before us this day, which still are the only albatrosses I have yet seen, were courting. They were clacking their large bills together, and bowing and circling each other as if they were dancing to a medieval tune.  Like all the other birds I saw in the islands, these had little fear that they were being watched by nearby humans.

It was a rare experience for this birdwatcher, made even more so when our guide said not many people ever got to see an albatross courtship. These large-winged birds spend much of their lives out to sea.

Bean Pat: The Old Plaid Camper  https://oldplaidcamper.com/2018/04/13/to-the-lighthouse/  To the Lighthouse.

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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