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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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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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Female spotted towhee — Wikimedia photo

“The accent of one’s birthplace remains in the mind and in the heart as in one’s speech.” — Francois de La Rochefoucauld

A Southern Accent, Perhaps

            Towhee … towhee!

The sound was coming from a bird hidden in a tree about halfway up Negro Bill Canyon near Moab, Utah.

Male spotted towhee

Drink ur tea … drink your tea, a reply echoed from farther up the canyon.

The sounds stopped me in my tracks. I had no intention of hiking on until I had spotted the two birds with my binoculars. I was sure I would see two different species, based on the different bird sounds they were making.

Although tucked among some small branches, I easily spotted the first bird, a male spotted towhee that gets its name from its voice. With a black head and back, rusty sides, and black wings speckled with white spots, it was an easy identification, even without the binoculars. But this basic bird-watching tool let me get a closeup look at the towhee’s bird’s brilliant red eye. Such details always delight me.

After the second bird sang out drink ur tea … drink ur tea a second time, I found it sitting in another tree. Except that its head appeared to be more of a rich brown than black, the two birds were identical. According to my field guide, this was a female spotted towhee.

Towhees, I had read, learn their songs when young, and pick up different inflections, even copy the songs of other species if they hear them frequently.

Perhaps one of these birds had a southern accent, like this native Texan. It was a fanciful thought, but it might even have been true.

Bean Pat: Brevity: Stripper Girl  https://brevity.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/stripper-girl/  Always one of my favorite blogs, and this one is an example of how the world’s language  changes.

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 Blue Bench — painted by Pat Bean

“Truly the bench is a boon to idlers. Whoever first came up with the idea is a genius: free public resting places where you can take time out from the bustle and brouhaha of the city, and simply watch and reflect.” – Tom Hodgkinson

Sitting, Watching and Listening

Dock benches at Tom’s Cove Campground on Chincoteague Island in Virginia. — Photo by Pat Bean

When I was a beginning birdwatcher, I thought patience was only an activity for couch potatoes. This non-activity simply wasn’t part of my vocabulary – or my life. But the birds I wanted to see didn’t always, in fact seldom, showed up in a timely fashion.

“Learn to sit quietly for half an hour and you won’t be disappointed,” a birding mentor told me. But 10 minutes was all I could manage for the first couple of years. I had to work up to it, but finally I caught on.

A bench at the Amherstburg Navy Yard in Ontario, Canada.

 

And once I did that, I began looking for places with interesting views to sit. And lo and behold I discovered the joy of benches. The blue one above, which I painted from a photograph (below left),

was located at Lake Walcott State Park in Southern Idaho. It looked out over a meadow filled with tall, grassy reeds where yellow-headed blackbirds could frequently be found.

The benches on the top left were located on a dock on Chincoteague Island in Virginia, where I spent a week. Gulls and boat-tail grackles liked to gather here.

And the photo on the right above was taken in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, where I watched a blue-winged teal swim about in the harbor and house sparrows pecking about in flowerbeds.

Sitting on a bench, in a delectable nature setting, has now become one of my “activities.”

It is much better any day than sitting meditation, which so far, I haven’t managed to do for more than five minutes at a time. My busy brain just won’t turn off when Mother Nature, and birds, aren’t around to keep my attention focused.

I guess you can now call me a bench potato.

Bean Pat: The Page Turner http://tinyurl.com/y9b2y3z3 Enjoy the photography of John Macdonald. I did.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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A great egret fishing the Poteau River below the Lake Wister Dam near Poteau, Oklahoma. — Photo by Pat Bean

Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!” – William Butler Yeats  

Making a Mountain out of a Hill 

           For the nine years in which my home was on the road in a small RV with my canine companion, Maggie, I called myself a wondering-wanderer. It’s because as I drove across North America, through its golden fields of grain and mind-boggling redwood forests, and often went to sleep beside a gurgling body of water, my mind was always asking questions.

Cavanal: World’s Tallest Hill in Poteau, Oklahoma

A week spent at Lake Wister State Park near Poteau, Oklahoma, got me thinking about the difference between a mountain and a hill. That’s because Poteau’s Chamber of Commerce promotes the city as home of the world’s tallest hill, but that hill is officially called Cavanal Mountain.

What I easily learned, from bit of geological research, is that a landscape feature is a mountain if it is 2,000 feet or taller, and a hill if it is less than 2,000 feet tall. Cavanal Mountain is 1,999-feet tall.

The road up to the top of Cavanal Mountain.

Once I put my wondering mind at ease, I was able to enjoy my stay on the park’s tiny Quarry Island, which was accessed by a short bridge.

I awoke each morning to the sound of a chipper mockingbird greeting the day from the top of the picnic table outside my window. Lake Wister, created when a dam on the Poteau River was completed in 1949, also greeted me every morning. It was visible out both my front and rear windows as Quarry Island was quite narrow.

Maggie and I took frequent walks around the island. It was a great week in which my wondering mind did a lot of wandering.

Bean Pat: Deep in my Bones http://tinyurl.com/yayrrvgf A lot to howl about. This reminds me of the night I howled with the wolves, which I write about in Travels with Maggie.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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Pepper and the Purple Cow. — Photo by Pat Bean

If you’re of an age like me, or even perhaps younger, you’ve probably quoted The Purple Cow Poem by Gelett Burgess. Written in 1895, one writer said it might be the most oft quoted poem of the 20th Century after The Night Before Christmas.

I never saw a purple cow

I never hope to see one;

But I can tell you, anyhow,

I’d rather see than be one!

Burgess, who published the poem in his 1895 wit and humor journal, finally grew tired of the poem. And so he wrote, in the 1897 final issue of The Lark,

Ah, yes, I wrote the “Purple Co

I’m Sorry, now, I wrote it;

But I can tell you Anyhow

I’ll Kill you if you Quote it!

Well, I’ve seen a purple cow, and so has my canine companion Pepper. She was a bit stumped by it, as you can see from the above photo. You can see it, to, if you visit The Waynesboro N. 340 Campground in Waynesboro, Virginia.

Bean Pat: The Shame of It. http://tinyurl.com/ydgd3gu4 This blog is long, and aimed at writers and ends with something to sell. In other words, it’s the kind of blog, well except for being aimed at writers, that I never give a shout out. But there is so much to ponder in it that I broke my own rules. I love this blog.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com 

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The desert landscape from my daughter’s Marana home on the southwest outskirts of Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Just sometimes every damned thing goes right? – Yhprum’s Law

Yup! It’s Monsoon Season in the Sonoran Desert

The ocotillos are lush-leafed and the saguaros are pumped. That’s what happens when you get a week or so of heavy downpours.

An ocotillo in bloom at Catalina State Park north of Tucson. I took this photo while I was still traveling full-time in my RV, and before I ever dreamed I would end up living in Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

These two cacti abound in Tucson, whose human development, especially in the Catalina foothills where I live, is tucked between and above the washes and arroyos that have been allowed to remain undeveloped so as to carry the falling water away quickly. The fact that there’s a bit of wildness remaining in the city, some of which is just seconds away from my apartment complex, is one of the reasons I’ve come to love Tucson.

I also enjoy the mountain ranges that encircle the city: The Tucson Mountains to the west. the Rincon Mountains to the east, the Santa Rita Mountains to the south, and the Catalina Mountains that are my backyard to the northeast. The sides of these mountains are now tinged a verdant green because of all the rain. It’s a cool view, especially after the 115 plus temperatures that plagued Southeastern Arizona for weeks.

I’ll enjoy it while I can, as soon the ocotillos will lose their green leaves to conserve the little water they’ll get in the coming months. They will become simply brown, tall thorny stems sticking up from the ground. The saguaros, meanwhile, will grow skinnier again, using the rain water they inhaled to maintain themselves through the waterless desert months.

Watching the changes that take place in the landscape around me, from day-to-day and season to season, gives me great pleasure. It connects me to Mother Earth.

Bean Pat: So Much Yarn https://theeternaltraveller.wordpress.com/2017/07/19 Take an armchair tour of England’s Yorkshire Market.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

 

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