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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

            “Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” — Kahhil Gibran

Looking up through the redwoods. -- Photo by scrubhiker/flickr/cc

Looking up through the redwoods. — Photo by scrubhiker/flickr/cc

Fallen Memories

I remember driving across Route 66 in the early 1950s in a brand new Oldsmobile that my uncle pushed to go 100 mph across the little-traveled desert scenery. I was along for the ride – from Texas to California – as baby-sitter for my baby cousin. I was about 12, and it was my first road trip.

Sequoria Tunnel Tree

sequoia Tunnel Tree

The trip expanded my wanderlust from a dream to a passion that is still pricking at my footsteps. The destination for that long ago journey was Sequoia National Park, and when we reached it, one of the things we did was drive through the Sequoia Tunnel Tree. It was an awesome experience, although I later learned that someday such carnage against the tree would shorten its life span.

And it did.

That huge old Sequoia, which fascinated me over 60 years ago, was toppled Sunday during a storm. The tree was estimated to have been about 1,000 years old when the tunnel was carved through it 130 years ago, an action taken to attract tourists. And, while the tree lasted longer than expected after it was wounded, the life span of a redwood can top 3,000 years.

On reading about the Tunnel Tree’s downfall, I felt as if I, and the world, had lost a part of its soul, but my mind’s eye suddenly focused on all the redwoods I’ve encountered in my lifetime. My insatiable wanderlust has taken me among these California monuments to Mother Nature many times, each time making me more thankful for life.

And the aftermath.

And the aftermath.

The linking of the redwoods’ roots, which spread out instead of going deep, speak to me of community, of support for one another that we humans should emulate.

I’m not sure I have ever felt more peaceful than when I hiked among the redwoods.. I feel grieved about the death of the Sequoia Tunnel Tree, but at the same time thankful that the downfall brought memories of my walks among the redwoods to mind. I especially remember the day, when I couldn’t get a good photo of the trees because they were too large. Instead, I simply lay down on the forest floor and looked up through the canopy of about a dozen of Mother Nature’s giants.

I felt small, but connected to the planet. It’s a good memory.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Forest Garden http://tinyurl.com/z9egrkv Following the winter sun.

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Of all the marvelous sights I saw this day, Moraine Lake touched my soul the most. -- Wikimedia photo

Of all the marvelous sights I saw this day, Moraine Lake touched my soul the most. — Wikimedia photo

But the beauty of Lake Louise, with its grand hotel and ski runs visible in the background, was still appreciated. -- Wikimedia photo

But the beauty of Lake Louise, with its grand hotel and ski runs visible in the background, was still appreciated. — Wikimedia photo

   “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle

            “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein

2001 Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer

It was a day of lakes, glaciers, waterfalls, glades of scarlet fireweed, birds – and beauty that stirred the soul everywhere.

Page from my jouranl. noting my bald eagle sighting. .

Page from my journal noting my bald eagle sighting. .

`           The first stop of the day was the Vermillion Lakes just outside of Banff, where the first bird of the day was a bald eagle. It doesn’t get much better for a birder – but it did. I got a lifer, a common loon. I was excited at seeing this bird for the first time, but later learned I didn’t have to go so far away from home to see them. Common loons could be seen in winter on Causey Lake in Ogden Valley, Utah, just minutes away from my home.

Also on the lakes were mallards with baby chicks, always a treat to see, as were the darting killdeer that were running around near the shorelines.

A red-breasted nuthatch showed itself at Cascade Pond; barn swallows swarmed around a bridge; lots of prairie dogs stood sentry along the route; and at Two-Jack Lake, I got another lifer, a red-breasted merganser.

I added the feather of a Clark's nutcracker to one of my journal pages.

I added the feather of a Clark’s nutcracker to one of my journal pages.

And the day was just getting started.

At Lake Louise, the next stop of the day, I did a bit of hiking, ate lunch, and marveled at a flock of Clark’s Nutcrackers, another lifer, and one that seemed to be everywhere around the lake. Although not nearly as crowded as the town of Banff, the lake resort, and its Chateau Lake Louis, are also quite popular Canadian attractions.

The turquoise/emerald color of Lake Louise, which pleasantly aroused my sense of sight, is the result of rock flour carried into it by glacier melt. The lake was named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, daughter of Queen Victoria and the wife of the marquess of Lorne, who was the governor-general of Canada from 1878 to 1883.

It was a wondrous day and I captured a mere bit of it in my ournal

It was a wondrous day and I captured a mere bit of it in my journal.

But as awesome as Lake Louise was to my sight-seeing day, it was the nearby smaller Lake Moraine that stole my heart. The isolation and serenity of the scene before me stirred a longing in me to visit again n the future — when I could stay awhile. Doing so is still on my bucket list.

My day ended in Jasper, where I found a place to do laundry and ate a steak dinner. It was the last day of July – and Alaska still lay ahead. .

Bean Pat: 20 Minutes a Day http://tinyurl.com/z9vcrwq Comfort food. Len is a dear friend, one who teaches writers, and whose major thesis is that all writers should write for at least 20 minutes a day. I adhere to her philosophy. She and I are in the same Story Circle Network online writing group. SCN is the best writing support I’ve had in my life. It’s helped me find the personal voice I needed to replace the journalism voice I used for 37 years. The circle is for women only. If you’re interested, check it out at: http://www.storycircle.org/frmjoinscn.php (more…)

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The Big Hole River accompanied me on my drive this day...

The Big Hole River accompanied me on my drive this day…

            “It is better to travel well, than to arrive.” Buddha

And I stopped at the Nez Perce Battle Ground -- and noted all the signs along the drive that announced "Mushroom Buyer." ... A Page from my journal

And I stopped at the Nez Perce Battle Ground — and noted all the signs along the drive that announced “Mushroom Buyer.” … A Page from my journal

Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer

            Today’s drive found me driving beside the Big Hole River, a 153 mile-long Montana waterway that is famed for its fly-fishing opportunities, with trout being the best catch of the day. But humans aren’t the only ones to fish the stream.

A successful catch by this female belted kingfisher. The males don't have the rust-colored belly band. -- Wikimedia photo

A successful catch by this female belted kingfisher. The males don’t have the rust-colored belly band. — Wikimedia photo

I noticed a bird sitting on a limb hanging over the water, and stopped to investigate. My heart leaped into my throat when I identified it as a belted kingfisher, the first of its species for my life bird list. I’ve seen hundreds of these kingfishers since that day, but this one will always be a vivid image in my mind.

It was a good day for birds. In addition to my lifer, I also saw cliff, barn and bank swallows, a peregrine falcon, common mergansers, Brewer’s blackbirds and ospreys with babies.

The birds might have been attracted by all the grasshoppers swarming about. At one point, I drove through a cloud of them , many of which left their bodies embedded on my windshield, and everything else as well. I had to find a car wash in the first available town before I could continue my journey in peace.

The day also came with a visit to the Big Hole Nez Perce Battle Field, where on Aug. 9, 1877, U.S. Army soldiers attacked a sleeping Indian Village. It was a big loss for both sides. The soldiers lost 29 men with 40 wounded, while 89 Nez Perce were found dead, mostly women and children. I could almost feel the anguish as I walked the grounds.

In Kalispell, I spent the night at the historic Grande Hotel. It had been a busy day, and I slept soundly.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: The Iris and the Lily http://tinyurl.com/h6tc8b8 I’m a sucker for butterflies.

 

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  There are grander and more sublime landscapes – to me. There are more compelling cultures. But what appeals to me about central Montana is that the combination of landscape and lifestyle is the most compelling I’ve seen on this earth. Small mountain ranges and open prairie, and different weather, different light, all within a 360-degree view. Sam Abell

Page 1 of my Alaska trip journal.

Page 1 of my Alaska trip journal.

Non-Wandering Wanderer Memories

Yesterday I came across the journal I kept during my 30-day journey from Ogden to Alaska, most of which was driven on the Alaskan Highway. I thought I would blog about the trip this November as my time is precious – I’ve signed up to do NANO – that is write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I’m writing a bird memoir, and when I did the Alaska trip, I was just beginning my late-blooming bird-watching passion.

A white-faced ibis was the first bird on my Alaska trip birding list.

A white-faced ibis was the first bird on my Alaska trip birding list.

On the first day of my 2001 Alaskan adventure, I drove from Ogden, Utah, to Dillon Montana. It was July 27.

Like Ogden, where my journey began, Dillon is a railroad town. It was founded in 1880 by Union Pacific Railroad President Sydney Dillon, hence its name. Its location was selected because of its close location to gold mines then in the area, the first of which was discovered in 1862. And because of its large sheep-ranching community, Dillon, which was incorporated in 1884 and has a current population of about 4,000, was once the largest exporter of sheep wool in Montana.

The odd fact I still recall, because of research I had done prior to my journey, is that a circus elephant named Old Pitt was struck by lightning in the town in 1943, and was buried at the fairgrounds.

While I don’t remember too much else about the town, where I slept that first day on the road, I still have memories of my excitement about the coming month. And of course the birds I was going to see along the way.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Pit’s Fritztown News http://tinyurl.com/z64x46l One of my favorite bloggers, who writes from Fredericksburg, Texas. Today he’s talking about Day Zero of a road trip that appealed to me, and seemed to go with my Day 1 of my trip to Alaska, which of course started with my own Day Zero.

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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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             “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

Great gray owl in flight. -- Wikimedia photo, Arne List.

Great gray owl in flight. — Wikimedia photo, Arne List.

Feeding my Wanderlust

            I’ve had wanderlust in my soul since reading “I Married Adventure” by Osa Johnson when I was 10 years old. Going on an African Safari in 2007, and finally seeing the wildlife she so vividly describes in her book, was the fulfillment of a life-long dream, as was traveling the United States from border-to-border and coast-to-coast for nine years in a small RV.

Great gray owl, Ontario, Canada. -- Wikimedia photo

North America’s largest owl, the great gray owl in Ontario, Canada. — Wikimedia photo

While my traveling days are not over, they are currently put on hold because of age and lack of deep pockets. I compensate by reading travel blogs and books. I also read a lot about birds, as birding is a late-blooming passion that addicted me at exactly the right time in my life.

Both birding and my wanderlust came together when I picked up Neil Hayward’s book Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year. The passage I was reading this morning was Neil’s account of chasing a Connecticut warbler in Sax Zim Bog. The name stopped me cold, tickling and delighting my wanderlust the same as hearing the names of places like Timbuctoo, Shangri-La and Zanzibar.

So of course I had to find my atlas, and then explore the Internet to learn more about the bog. The exotic sounding place is about 300 square miles of not just bog, but also aspen uplands, rivers, lakes, meadows, farms and a couple of towns in Northern Minnesota. Neil, doused liberally with mosquito repellant, visited a quite boggy patch of Sax Zim to successfully find his target bird, allowing me to follow him along in my armchair without getting bitten.

My bonus for taking the journey with Neil, followed by my online research, was to discover a You Tube video of a great gray owl sighting in Sax Zim Bog. It was so beautiful I almost cried. Sadly this bird is not on my life list of over 700 birds. But who knows what the future may hold?

Bean Pat: Great gray owl sighting at Sax Zim Bog http://tinyurl.com/gopkqt7 I hope this video thrills you as much as it did me.

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Photo Challenge

A small patch of bank beside the Gunnison River in Colorado. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A small patch of bank beside the Gunnison River in Colorado. — Photo by Pat Bean

Details

Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another. Ernest Hemingway

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