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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The Passing Years

“Youth is the gift of nature, but age is the work of art.” – Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Chicago, from the top of the Hancock Building. Jan Morris wrote about the city, as have I.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Chicago, from the top of the Hancock Building. Jan Morris wrote about the city, as have I. — Photo by Pat Bean

Through the Eyes of Jan Morris

I picked up The World, a travel book by Jan Morris, at the library last week and am fascinated by it.  The book contains a collection of the writer’s work, beginning with the story of the 1953 summiting of Everest for the first time, and ending with an article on Britain’s relinquishment of Hong Kong in 1997.

Jan Morris, who is now 88 to my 76. -- Wikimedia photo

Jan Morris, who is now 88 to my 76. — Wikimedia photo

I was 14 years old in 1953, seeing world happenings through my own eyes – well at least when I was aware of what going on around me – and thus, as I said, fascinated by seeing events and places a second time through both mine and Morris’ eyes and thoughts, veiled in the gauzy haze of half a century.

I had, over the years, read many magazine travel articles by Morris, but none of the writer’s many books, of which the most noted is his history of the British Empire trilogy, Pax Britannica. I knew little, however, about Morris’ personal life. And for some strange reason, or so I thought, I truly didn’t know if the writer was male or female, perhaps because. I knew people of both sexes called Jan.

I laughed when I discovered the answer in The World’s prologue written by Morris. Jan began life as James, completing an eight-year sex transition in 1972. So he wrote over time as both genders.  I guess my instincts were right on target.

Meanwhile, I’m simply enjoying his writing, and traveling back in time to the many eras Jan and this old wondering-wanderer broad have lived through. Morris, in his prologue, could have been speaking for me, when he sums up his feelings about the world over the years.

“I was twenty-four years old at the start of the 1950s, seventy-four at the end of the 1990s, so the passage of the globe described in this book is the passage of a life, too, from the twilight of adolescent to the dawn of senility, all its judgments, unreliable in any case, are colored by the grand change of life from youth to old age … Few of us are consistent in our opinions and values for fifty years, and we are affected not only by experience and maturation, but by moods, fickle tastes, boredom and personal circumstance.”

            Ain’t it the truth!

Bean Pat Morning song http://tinyurl.com/pzn3qla If you love to be woken by bird twitter, you’ll like this house wren’s salute to the day.

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Another thing that travel writer Catherine Watson share is that we've both visited the Galapagos and were fascinated by the wildlife, like this tortoise I watched on Santa Cruz Island. == Photo by Pat Bean

Another thing that travel writer Catherine Watson and I share is that we’ve both visited the Galapagos and were fascinated by the wildlife, like this tortoise I watched on Santa Cruz Island. == Photo by Pat Bean

            “What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.”—Maya Angelou

The Colors of Fear

            I just read the last chapter in Catherine Watson’s travel book, “Home on the Road.”  I understood the title perfectly as the road is where I, too, feel most at home. Catherine and I are both addicted wanderers. The travel bug bit her when she read the Tarzan books. It hit me when I read Osa Johnson’s “I Married Adventure.” Both of us at the time were still a few years away from being teenagers.  Both of us went on to become journalists – and. being of a similar age, both of us were taught as children how to hide beneath our school desks, cover our heads and close our eyes in case of a nuclear bomb attack by our arch-enemy, Russia.

And visited Ecuador, where I (I don't know where she stayed) stayed at this hotel in Guayaquil. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And we have both visited Ecuador, where I (I don’t know where Catherine  stayed) stayed at this hotel in Guayaquil. — Photo by Pat Bean

The last chapter in “Home on the Road” talks about those Cold War days, and how Catherine’s fears of being nuked negatively impacted her life. Looking back on my own life, I now wonder if that’s when I first begin sticking my head in the sand to block out bad stuff happening around me so I could pretend all was right with my world.

I suspect, having overcome our fears, is why Catherine and I can both fearlessly travel alone to unknown places, and why we’re not obsessively fearful of terrorist alerts, that after 9-11 varied in degree by designated  color – with blue being the lowest danger alert and red being the highest danger.

I can no longer stick my head in the sand and say the danger isn’t real, and even more dangerous than our Cold War fears. But I choose not to live my life in fear.

Catherine’s last story in her travel book related the fears she had as a child to what she was seeing when she took a 1979 Trans-Siberian Railroad trip across the then Soviet Union to get a “first-hand look at the country I’d spent my childhood being afraid of, The truth hit me hardest in Irkutsk…. Half the population was living in log cabins without indoor plumbing…. I watched old people wearing heavy clothes against the cold, carrying buckets and trudging slowly along dirt streets to get to the neighborhood water pipe, and suddenly I was flooded with anger.

“For this? ‘I thought,’ For this I gave up my childhood?”

She went on to say that this time around she refused to be afraid. I guess one time was enough for me, too. But I wonder what negative impacts young children today are suffering because our primary colors have become symbols of danger?

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat:  Bella Remy’s photos  http://tinyurl.com/n4rpcp2  Great photos of a pair of hoodies, also known as hooded mergansers. Looking at them makes up for the fact I was too slow to photograph the gila woodpecker that stood on my balcony rail this morning. Life is good.

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            “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

If you traveled Route 66, before it was replaced by Interstate 40, you might have seen these rock faces along side the road. The rocks are in Arizona's Painted Desert, which old Route 66 passed through. Interstate 40 bypasses the scenic landscape.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

If you traveled Route 66, before it was replaced by Interstate 40, you might have seen these rock faces alongside the road. The rocks are in Arizona’s Painted Desert, which old Route 66 passed through. Interstate 40 bypasses the scenic landscape. — Photo by Pat Bean

How Do You Travel

I was 13 when I went on my first road trip, an adventure on Route 66 when it was in its prime. My uncle drove his new 1952 Oldsmobile 100 mph across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona into California, my aunt by his side and me in the back seat with my 18-month-old cousin Barbara. I got invited on the trip, my first time out of Texas, to babysit.

I had lunch in a diner on Route 66, just across from this sign, which stands along of the bits and pieces of the old Mother Road that still exists. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I had lunch in a diner on Route 66, just across from this sign, which stands along of the bits and pieces of the old Mother Road that still exists. — Photo by Pat Bean

It was a long, two-day drive there, and two days back, but I was never bored. Nor did I do anything to entertain myself but to stare out the window. Watching the world go by out the window is still what I do when I’m in a car, either as driver or passenger. The passing sights, be they strange, new and scenic or familiar, decaying and nondescript, continually fascinate me. I’m always expecting to see something wonderful.

That wasn’t the case with my children, who read comic books or slept on long drives; or my grandchildren, who watch videos or play games on their phones constantly when they are in the car.

So now I ask myself, is the world different, or kids different. Or does the wanderlust in my soul make me different? How do you travel?

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Best Super Bowl blog of them all http://tinyurl.com/on6kcmb

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The tumbleweeds blew across cotton fields... -- Photo by Pat Bean

The tumbleweeds blew across cotton fields… — Photo by Pat Bean

“On day one of the drive, I saw my first dome sky. The world was so flat that I could see the level horizon all around me and the sky looked like a dome. Skies like that will give you perspective when nothing else will. The second day, a tumbleweed blew across the interstate. I’m in a western movie, I said to myself, laughing.” — Kimberly Novosel

Tumbleweeds and Bilbo Baggins

By definition, a tumbleweed is any plant which habitually breaks away from its roots and is driven by the wind. If you’ve ever driven across West Texas, I’m sure you’ve seen them. This day, an army of them pursued me as I began my journey home.

and past oil rigs this Texas day. The lowest price I paid for gas on the trip, just fyi, was $1.84 a gallon. I never thought I would see gas so low ever again. It was up to $4 a gallon when I quit traveling full time. -- Photo by  Pat Bean

and past oil rigs this Texas day. The lowest price I paid for gas on the trip, just fyi, was $1.84 a gallon. I never thought I would see gas so low ever again. It was up to $4 a gallon when I quit traveling full time. — Photo by Pat Bean

When I left Lubbock at 9 a.m., it was a chilly 28 degrees with a wind speed of 30 mph, which made it hellishly cold when you factor in the wind chill. But no sooner had Pepper and I gotten warm and comfy in Cheyenne (my bright red car) when the tumbleweeds started to attack.

They mostly blew across Highway 82, but occasionally they put on a frontal attack. I missed most of them, but not all. One, however, was a monster. It was as if a two-story bush had yanked up its roots and decided it had wanderlust, like me.

Fortunately the wind, which was already blowing briskly, became gusty and yanked the giant tumbleweed off the road just before contact. Whew!

As Bilbo said, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Of course that’s the best thing in my book about being on the road.

“The Road goes ever on and on, Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say”         

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

   Bean Pat: Bobby’s Photo  Blog http://tinyurl.com/k3ffnrv Comet Lovejoy. I’ve long followed Bobby Harrison because of his birding photos, and that he was involved for a while in trying to find and photo an ivory-bill woodpecker, after it was thought not to be extinct. This night sky photo, meanwhile, speaks to my soul

 

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On the Road in Texas

Junior this Christmas

Junior this Christmas

Me and Junior, my first grandchild, five years ago.

Me and Junior, my first great-grandchild, five years ago.

            “I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults.” – Molly Ivins

Time for Memories

Cattle, cotton fields, small towns with boarded up buildings, oil rigs and northern mockingbirds, along with a few hawks, dominated the passing, brown winter landscape as I drove from Dallas to Lubbock yesterday. I realized the Sonoran Desert, where I now live, has more color than this part of Texas right now.

But it  was still a pleasant drive, well, once I left the traffic cacophony of the FortWorth-Dallas Metroplex. The area is more commonly called the DFW area, but I once worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the newspaper’s stylebook always put Fort Worth first.

Driving across Texas is almost always a time for reflection of earlier times and earlier trips that annually crisscrossed my life once I left the state for good. And so it was this day. But the best part of the day’s drive was when I could hug a granddaughter, grand-son-in-law, and most importantly a 5-year-old great-grandson.

It was one of the few times in my life when the destination was more important than the journey.

Bean Pat: Write to Done http://tinyurl.com/pnfkcgn Some writing blogs to check out

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     “Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile.” — Mark Twain

 

One of the highlights of my trip to Brazoria County on the Texas Gulf Coast,  where I lived for 15 years, is an opportunity to go birding with my son, Lewis. He is as avid a birder as I am. We always see great egrets on our outings. -- Photo by Pat Bean

One of the highlights of my trips to Brazoria County on the Texas Gulf Coast, where I lived for 15 years, is an opportunity to go birding with my son, Lewis. He is as avid a birder as I am, and we always see great egrets on our outings. — Photo by Pat Bean

Texas in my Soul

I arrived in Texas, my native landscape, on December 19, after leaving my current home in Tucson and traveling all the way across New Mexico. I spent the night in a two-star hotel in Van Horn before traveling on to visit a granddaughter and her husband in San Antonio.

On December 20, I drove to West Columbia, to my oldest son’s home where I celebrated Christmas with two sons, seven grandchildren, three spouses, and a brand new great-granddaughter. It’s a family of large personalities but all was peaceful – perhaps because everyone was enthralled with the sparkling personality and cheerful giggles of Savannah Kay, the youngest family member.

Sam Houston played a prominent roll in early Texas history, and so like most things in Texas, here he is -- larger than life. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sam Houston played a prominent roll in early Texas history, and so like most things in Texas, here he is — larger than life. — Photo by Pat Bean

The day after Christmas I took the half-hour drive from West Columbia into Lake Jackson, where my middle son currently lives. The city’s moss-covered trees, winding streets and green-green landscape felt familiar, perhaps because I lived in Lake Jackson for 15 years, from 1956 to 1971, when I left Texas — and never permanently came back.

A few days and another road trip away, I celebrated New Year’s Eve in the suburbs of Dallas with my oldest daughter and her husband, a granddaughter and her partner, and a niece and her husband. Dallas is where I was born and lived for the first 16 years of my life.

I remember back when Dallas, the Big D, was Texas’ largest city. Now it’s only third having been surpassed by both Houston and San Antonio.  While the Texas landscape of cotton fields, oil rigs and live oak trees still feels like home whenever I see them, Dallas never again felt like home after John F, Kennedy was killed here.

I can’t help but wonder how much of who we are is tainted by where we lived, from our accents to our way of thinking. I think of Utah, where I lived for over 30 years, as a full-blooming flower in my life; Idaho, Nevada and now Arizona are the leaves of my plant-being,  varying in intensity and color like the seasons. Texas, however, contains my roots, the first glimmering of whom I would be and the catalyst of my personality.

But it’s the still the road itself that has always been the place I felt most at home. I was born, I believe, with wanderlust in my soul.

On Monday, I’ll be on the road again, although staying in Texas just a bit longer. I have one last Texas family member to visit, a granddaughter, along with her husband and my first great-grandchild, 5-year-old Junior. They live in Lubbock.

And then it’s back to Tucson, where I’m letting the desert creep into my being.          

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

  Bean Pat: Miss Pelican’s Perch http://tinyurl.com/nmv9zeh Looking at the world in a different way.

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Soul Searching

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.” – Neil Gaiman

A scene from my past: This pier is located on Chincoteague Island in Virginia, and I sat on it in 2006 and watched birds.  --  Photo by Pat Bean

A scene from my past: This pier is located on Chincoteague Island in Virginia, and I sat on it in 2006 and watched birds. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve Become a Non-Wandering Wanderer

I started this blog when I was traveling full-time with my canine companion, Maggie, in a small RV I called Gypsy Lee. I blogged mostly about the places I visited.

Today I live in a small, third-floor walk-up apartment in Tucson that sits in the shadow of the Catalina Mountains. I have a new canine companion, Pepper, a joyful Scottie mix who helped ease my grief when Maggie went to doggie heaven.

The Present: The view looking out over Tucson from my third-floor apartment. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The Present: The view looking out over Tucson from my third-floor apartment. — Photo by Pat Bean

My feet are still itchy for the road, but I’m finding new ways to scratch them by sight-seeing closer to home, traveling via books and photographs, and reflecting more deeply about the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met. The latter is a luxury of time gifted to me for having survived in this world for three-quarters of a century. I love being an old broad.

The things that I still have great passion for include writing, Mother Nature, birds, family, learning new things daily, books, art, travel and helping make this planet a more loving and peaceful world.  And these are the things I will be writing about in my blog in 2015.

I’m looking forward to the journey, and am thankful for readers who will be traveling with me. Life is good.

Bean Pat: Soul Writings http://tinyurl.com/q88ltoz The world would be a better place if everyone lived by these 10 rules.

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