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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.” – Mary Oliver

Red-foted booby — Wikimedia photo

And Yellow Feet, Too

            Nothing makes me feel more content than being out in nature. I want to be able to put a name to every wildflower, every tree, every bug, every rock formation and since living in the desert, every cactus that sits along the paths I walk or drive. Did you know there are over 1,500 species of cacti? Finally, I settled on learning to identify and name birds. North America only has about a 1,000 of them. Of course, that’s only about a tenth of the species world-wide.

A dancing blue-footed booby. — Wikimedia photo

I’ve managed, since 1999, which includes nine years of full-time travel across this country, to see a bit over half of them. And a bit of travel to distant lands has added about 200 more to my life list of birds.

The boobies, which are among the latter, are some of my favorite birds. And seeing them for the first time was magical.

The red-footed beauties came first. There were hundreds of them, and I gasped in delight as I watched them, from a walkway above a sheer cliff, circling in flight as they headed out to fish in the Pacific Ocean.

I was at a bird sanctuary on Rota Island, just 35 miles north of Guam, where I was visiting my daughter, Trish. She had treated me to a flight to the island after I had been so disappointed about the lack of birds on Guam. The birds there had been decimated by the brown tree snake, a non-native invader. On Rota, where there were none of these nasty snakes, birds were everywhere.

From my high perch, and lower down on the cliff than the red-footed nests, I spied a few brown boobies, whose feet are yellow. It was a grand day to remember.

Just as grand was the day I danced with a blue-footed booby, my favorite of the three boobies.

I saw hundreds of these birds when I cruised the Galapagos Islands in a 16-passenger catamaran. We had along an official guide, which let us visit places where larger groups were not allowed. It was a birder’s paradise, as here the birds had never experienced human predation, and so weren’t afraid of us.

A hooded mockingbird landed on my shoe one day.  And on another I was kissed by a baby seal as I stepped off a small raft and onto the island, The touch made me feel special, unlike the next lady onto the island. That same small seal decided to see if she tasted good.

The rule for us humans was we couldn’t touch the animals, but there was no rule about them touching us.

My dance with the blue-footed booby happened when I came across the large bird blocking my way along a narrow path. He lifted one-foot and then the other to show off his blue feet, which how the male boobies court females. I lifted one foot and then the other in response. We both repeated the motion several times until our guide came around the corner. Stop teasing the booby,” he said.

I skirted around the bird, and when I looked back he lifted one foot , and then the other and our eyes locked. I imagined that he was saying, “Thanks for the Dance.

Bean Pat: A Woman of Worth  https://tinyurl.com/y825f58s   Telling HerStories: The Broad View is sponsored by Story Circle Network, which is an organization that supports female writers. I’m a member and it is the best support I’ve ever had as a writer.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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On Travel Writing

“A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi

I took this photo last year when wanderlust had me driving to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon just to see the aspen trees in their autumn colors. — Photo by Pat Bean

Observe, Observe, Observe!

While I was a journalist for 37 years of my life, I now think of myself as a travel writer. The fact that I wrote a travel blog for American Profile magazine for a couple of years, have freelanced a few travel articles, blogged frequently about travel, and recently published a travel book, entitles me, I’ve decided, to the title.

Actually, this decision was easier than finally calling myself a writer, which I’ve discovered is often hard for writers to do. But whether one is a journalist, or a writer, these titles have made me a better observer.

Good travel writers don’t just write about a place. The best travel writers know that travel stories are also about the people, the landscape, the weather, the flora and fauna, a place’s history, its politics and culture, and its legends. The magic ingredient that pulls it all together is what a travel writer makes of what he sees, feels, hears, tastes and smells. And trying to pull all this together has educated me way beyond what I was ever taught in classrooms.

Traveling is also as much about discovering oneself as it is about seeing new places. I believe what Saint Augustine wrote over 1,000 years ago. “The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page.”

But I also believe that one’s own backyard, if looked at with new eyes, can also be a way of traveling. I realized this on meeting people in my travels who, often I discovered, hadn’t traveled 10 miles to see a site that people from all around the world came to see.

Meanwhile, while far away wandering to see new places has become less often these days, I hope I will never stop trying to see familiar places with new eyes. Which, I believe, allows me to continue being a wondering-wanderer – and a travel writer.

            Bean Pat: Contractors Contractions http://tinyurl.com/y9lwdsbl If you’re as old as I am, you already know the language. But Diane gave me some laughs, but only because I live in an apartment complex, whose managers have their own language, and no longer am a home owner.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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Mockingbirds

Northern mockingbird — Wikimedia photo

I don’t ask for the meaning of the song of a bird or the rising of the sun on a misty morning. There they are, and they are beautiful.” — Pete Hamill

I Brake for Birds

Galapagos mockingbird … Wikimedia photo

I was sitting outside with two friends in a small fenced-in park Sunday, drinking coffee and watching our three dogs have a play date. As usual, I was keeping my eye out for birds. Before 1999, when I got bit by the birding bug, I rarely noticed the winged creatures that share the outdoors with us. Today, I can’t not notice birds.

Mourning and white-winged doves were the most prolific this day, along with a flock of rock pigeons that flew together and landed on a utility line. But it was the lone gray bird with white flashing on its wings as it flew past that grabbed my attention.

“Look,” I said “A northern mockingbird.”

Hood mockingbird, which species I saw in the Galapagos, where birds are not afraid of humans. One landed on my foot and tried to get  at my water bottle. — Wikimedia photo

“Umhuh,” said one of the women, while the other one didn’t seem to hear me. They kept on talking, but my mind stayed on the bird, and flashed back to a Christmas Bird Count in 2003, when I was with a group of Audubon birders and we saw the first-ever northern mockingbird spotted in Ogden, Utah, on a Christmas bird count.

The expert birder who was leading the group asked for my confirmation of the ID, doing so because he knew I was a native Texan, and the northern mockingbird is Texas’ state bird. Since I was the newbie birder in the group, I felt honored.

The mockingbird was one of only about three birds I could identify growing up, and then only because all school children were taught about it being the state bird. The first mockingbird on my life list of birds, which I started keeping 18 years ago, was one I saw in Killeen, Texas, in 2001.

I added the hood and Galapagos mockingbirds to my life list in 2005, after seeing them during a trip to the Galapagos Islands in June of 2005, and the Bahama mockingbird was added to my list in 2008 during a visit to the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.

Shortly after I began watching and listing birds, my kids kidded me that I was better at remembering when and where I had seen a specific bird than I was at remembering family birthdays. I think they were right.

      Bean Pat: mybeautifulthings http://tinyurl.com/ya86h9e7 Simple daily things and a poem for lovers of words, like me.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” –Matsuo Basho

A view of Texas Canyon on the South side of Highway 10 — Photo by Pat Bean

Coming and Going

Since moving to Tucson in 2013, I’ve made annual trips to visit my native Texas, where the majority of my children and grandchildren live. Since I can’t take Pepper, my canine companion on a plane with me, and also because I want to watch the passing landscape, I drive.

I divide the journey into two days, stopping overnight in Van Horn, Texas, because it’s close to the halfway point of my drive, and because there’s not much else 100 miles in either direction.

          Since my dog needs potty breaks, and this old-broad body needs them, too — and leg-stretching breaks as well, I rarely pass up a rest stop – even if it’s only about 60 miles from where I started the journey or 60 miles from home on the return to Tucson.

I mention that distance because that’s the location of the Texas Canyon picturesque rest stop on Highway 10 in the Dragoon Mountains, which are known for their giant granite boulders.

Curious about why there is a Texas Canyon, I did some quick research. The explanation I found on Wikipedia was: “In the mid to late 1880s David A. Adams arrived from Texas, soon to be followed by other family members. The family became the namesake of Texas Canyon, as word begin going around that there were ‘a bunch of damned Texans up there.’ Descendants still live and raise cattle on the old family ranch.”

There are rest stops on both the north and south sides of the highway, and every time I stop at them, the landscape always impresses me. The rocks that dominate the landscape are definitely Texas-sized.

Bean Pat :Best Bird of the Week http://tinyurl.com/ybhpy34z A Lincoln sparrow. I, too, like to keep track of the best bird of the week. Mine was a magpie, my favorite bird, which I saw on the roof of my friend Kim’s house in Ogden, Utah. It was the first magpie for me this year.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y You can contact Bean at patbean@msn.com

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The bridge stand-off at Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, one of the many places I visited during my RV-ing adventures. — Photo by Pat Bean.

“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” — Paulo Coelho

Tell Me Your Stories

Now that Travels with Maggie has finally been released to the world, the next step, my friend Debra tell me, you have to market the book. And one of the things you need to do is put together a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation so you can give talks.

A trail at Laura S. Walker State Park in Georgia, one of the many trails I hiked after the age of 65. Halfway along this two-mile trail, I came across a sign that said Beware of Bears. Needless to say the second leg of the hike was done in record time. — Photo by Pat Bean

“I have dozens of photographs from the journey, but I’ve never put together a PowerPoint presentation,” I told her. But that problem was quickly solved when I mentioned this to my youngest daughter, T.C., here in Tucson. She said she uses PowerPoint almost daily at work, and that she would put a presentation together for me on my computer, which already has all the necessary tech ingredients.

One problem solved. The next, I realized, was that I needed a script. But after a night of lost sleep, pondering what to talk about, I came up with a theme: Never Too Late. It was a no-brainer.

My wanderlust began when I was 10 years old, after reading Osa Johnson’s book I Married Adventure, which was about photographing and documenting lions in Africa. The book was the best non-fiction seller of 1940, the year after I was born. Traveling across America full-time became a specific dream after I read William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways in 1983.

By this time, I had become addicted to reading travel books, but 1983 was also when I was in the midst of my 37-year journalism career, and was struggling to keep the wolf from the door. It wasn’t until 2004, at the age of 65, that I was finally free to pursue my dream.

I sold my home, bought an RV and spent the next nine years wandering this beautiful country we live in, fulfilling a dream that spanned over half a century of dreams. It truly never is too late.

I would love to hear the stories of my readers about how they finally fulfilled longtime dreams. Please share them with me. I am sure they will help inspire me in writing the script so my friend, Debra Winegarten, whose book, There’s Jews in Texas, won the 2011 Poetica Magazine National Contest and who is the founder of Sociosights Press, and whom I adore, will stop nagging me.

Bean Pat: Joy Loves Travel http://tinyurl.com/ycjqq3dc An epic tale of England, a great armchair viewing of an outdoor spectacle.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y You can contact Bean at patbean@msn.com

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This photograph represents a magical moment in time that I relived when I came across this picture earlier today. — Photo by Pat Bean

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” – J.B. Priestly

Reliving a Magical Moment

Bridge to an island in the lake at Frank Jackson State Park in Alabama. — Photo by Pat Bean

There are magical moments in your life that you hold dear, and always want to remember. For me, those memories include the feeling I had when I held each of my five children for the first time, moments of watching them grow up and achieve, my own sense of achievements during my 37 years as a journalist, and the feeling I get at the end of any day in which I feel I accomplished something good.

Beyond this stuff of everyday life, however, there are the moments of joy and wonder that I’ve experienced in nature, experiences that I have had, and still do have, that keep me sane in a chaotic world that does not always make sense.

There are hundreds of such moments, but the one I will tell you about today took place at Frank Jackson State Park in Alabama.

My camping site at the park. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Wow,” I wrote in my journal when I came across this place. While southern state parks usually impressed me when I came across them while traveling this country in a small RV with my canine companion, Maggie, this one outdid itself. I had a tree-shaded site with full hookups that backed up to the 1,000-acre W. F. Jackson Lake – and a cable TV outlet, a first for me at a public park.

The one night I had planned to stay turned into three, during which I took daily hikes across a wooden walkway to an island in the middle of the lake. One day I hiked it twice, first to catch the reflecting pink and soft orange glow over the lake as a sunrise welcomed the day, and a second to see bolder orange and red rays of the sunset that ended it.

A photograph I snapped at the perfect moment, after the sun had set and the glow had faded, captured a couple of fisherman silhouetted in a small boat floating on a lavender lake beneath a darkening sky.

This was the magical moment I relived this morning when I was looking through

my photos. Looking at the peaceful scene left me feeling as if I had captured a whole life time of living and reduced it to a single memory.

Bean Pat: The Path of the Spirit http://tinyurl.com/htrh8e5 Unweeded Edges

Frank Jackson State Park: 100 Jerry Adams Drive, Opp, Alabama (334) 493-6988. A 2,050-acre park with a 1,000-acre lake and three plus miles of trails. Entrance fee: $2-$4, Camping fee: $19 to $36 nightly, cabins $85 and up. Activities include boating ($4 launch fee), hiking, birdwatching, fishing. For more information go to: http://alapark.com/frank-jackson-state-park

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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George Archibald took this photo of me at the end of our tour to see whooping cranes on the Texas Gulf Coast. I’m smiling because I saw these awesome endangered cranes. — Photo by George Archibald

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. John Burroughs

The Man Who Danced with One

A page from my journal with a cutout of George Archibald in his whooping crane outfit.

I just finished reading To See Every Bird on Earth by Dan Koeppel. In it he mentioned George Archibald, a conservationist and co-creator of the International Crane Foundation. A day later, I read another mention about George, this time from one of my own journals. I had met George during a birding festival in Port Aransas in 2009, at which time he talked about the endangered whooping cranes that winter on the Texas Gulf Coast near Port Aransas.

In the 1940s, there were fewer than 25 whooping cranes left in the wild, and only a couple of these giant birds in captivity. Today, because of the efforts of Archibald and others like him, over 300 whoopers are now flying free, migrating between Canada and the lower U.S each year.

Whooping crame on Matagorda Island. — Photo by Pat Bean

During a workshop talk, George put on his crane costume and demonstrated how he danced with an orphan whooping crane chick as a way to teach it to dance the way whooping cranes do to attract and bond with a mate. Whooping cranes have to be taught this, as well as their migration paths, by their parents. Mom and Dad make their first winter migration flight with them.

I took pictures of George in his crane suit, and put some of them in my journal. Then the next day, I took the whooping crane tour aboard the Wharf Cat out to Matagorda Island to see the real whooping cranes. George was aboard and we had a nice long chat about the whoopers, and the work he and others are doing to save the cranes. It was a fascinating couple of days, and I’m glad both the book I was reading and my journals let me relive it.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Interesting Literature http://tinyurl.com/y8casam5 Edward Allan Poe’s The Raven. I first read this when I was nine or 10 years old. Although it was another 15 years before I knew I wanted to be a writer, this poem certainly helped me fall in love with the sound of words, even though I didn’t know what they all meant at the time.

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