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Archive for the ‘Travel’ 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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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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Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle.” – James Russell Lowell

I well remember my day on Espanola Island with my new sea lion friends. 

A Journal Page from a Non-Wandering Wanderer

As I’m reading my journal from 2005, when I was more active as a wanderer, I came across an entry of a day I had forgotten. It came at the end of an 11-day trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, and while these days of wondrous sights are still etched in my brain, this last day slipped by without leaving much of an imprint.

Here is what I wrote about it in my journal the next day:

And I will never forget the blue-footed boobies. — Photo by Pat Bean

Yesterday was “interesting.” It took us from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to make a short flight from San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands to Quito, Ecuador. Our plane was hit by lighting, and when we finally landed, our luggage was placed on the top of the van that drove us to our hotel.

A sudden heavy rain drenched everything in my luggage, and that of the other passengers as well.  Luckily a pair of my clean underwear dried out overnight.

And what a night it was. About 1 a.m. the hotel shook and I was almost tossed out of bed. A 6.1 earthquake had hit near Quito. Then at 4 a.m., without much more sleep, I got up and got dressed for the early morning flight back to Houston.

As I said, and “interesting” day.

I can’t help but wonder if I might have had a bit more to say about that July 13, 2005, day I I wasn’t still enjoying my memories of the Galapagos Islands.

Bean Pat: https://cheerstotraveling.com/2018/03/28/add-westman-islands-to-iceland-itinerary/  More Islands to visit. And Heimeay, too, just to see the colorful puffin statue if for no other reason.

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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The Corkscrew Boardwalk … Wikimedia photo

Lie on the bridge and watch the water flowing past. Or run, or wade through the swamp in your red boots. Or roll yourself up and listen to the rain falling on the roof. It’s very easy to enjoy yourself.” — Tove Jansson

Home of Wood Storks, Air Flowers and Cypress Trees

In 2008, I spent a month on Pine Island just across the water from Cape Coral, Florida. The location allowed me to explore the west side of the Everglades at my leisure. One place I visited twice was Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, home to the largest old growth bald cypress forest in North America and a favorite habitat of endangered wood storks. .

The Ghost Orchid

Both times I took over five hours to hike the 2.25-mile loop boardwalk that meandered through the sanctuary’s awesome and varied landscape. It seemed as if Mother Nature had a different spectacle for me to watch and observe every 100 feet or so.

While my goal for visiting was to bird watch, that often took a back seat to my gawking at the cypress trees that stood tall and wide. with moss-draped limbs and sometimes unrelated flowers that grew among the branches. I even got a glimpse – thanks to my birding binoculars – of the swamp’s famous ghost orchid, discovered just a year before I visited.

I was told where to look for it at the visitor center or I would have just thought it was one of the bromeliads that had attached their roots to tall branches in

Little blue heron up a tree. — Photo by Pat Bean

the trees. These plants, which seemed to grow on nothing but air, fascinated me. But then so did the swamp’s birds, marsh prairies, otters (I saw two) and all the other wonders of a place that miraculously was saved when Florida’s cypress forests were being leveled for timber in the mid-1900s.

The National Audubon Society, recognizing the swamp’s value, worked to save the land and its inhabitants for future generations to enjoy.  Today, Corkscrew Sanctuary, is both a designated Wetland of International Importance and an Important Bird Area. I hope it will still be there when my grandchildren’s children, and their children, want to visit, like my six-year-old great-grandson Kaiden, whose mother and my granddaughter Keri spent a week touring the Everglades with me in 2008.

Bean Pat:  In the Forest https://forestgardenblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/06/blossom-xxxv-in-the-forest/ A perfect blog to accompany mine. They’re both about the beauty of a place.

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 river is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you’ll wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don’t let anyone deter you from that.” — Eartha Kitt

The entrance to South Llano River State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean


Turkeys, Wildflowers and Dark Skies

A pair of Rio Grande wild turkeys.

It was one of those days when my canine companion Maggie and I took off down the road in our small RV with no destination in mind. We were simply exploring Texas’ Hill Country. I was confident that I would come across the perfect place for us to camp before night overtook us.

As I recall, it was well before noon when I came upon South Llano River State Park, and on seeing the abundance of lavender wildflowers dominating the lawn in front of the small building near the entrance, I figured we had found the place. I brake for wildflowers the same as I do for birds.

The South Llano River, a spring-fed tributary of the 105-mile Llano River that flows through Texas’ Hill Country.

And on checking into the park, I learned that here there were both. The park’s 500 plus acres of Hill Country river bottomlands, are home to the Rio Grande turkey, as well as habitat for wood ducks, white-tailed deer, squirrels, jackrabbits, javelinas, foxes, beavers, bobcats, cottontails and armadillos. It would be nice to see an armadillo walking around, I thought, recalling the roadkill one I had passed earlier in the day.

The park also had 18 miles of hiking trails, a few miles of which I explored, and modern campsites with electricity and water to feed my RV. I stayed for several nights, one of which I stayed up late watching a sky full of twinkling stars, a bonus of the park being a designated Dark Sky site.

Wildflowers, birds and stars – life doesn’t get much better for this fan of Mother Nature.

Bean Pat: You Gotta Live:  https://theenchantedoutlook.com/2018/02/20/you-gotta-live/ T0 this great post, I add my own mantra. Live so that when you die, you’ll know the difference.

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 that she is tentatively calling Bird Droppings. It is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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Candy-striped rocks in Badlands National Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Landscape is a piece that is emotional and psychological.” – Jim Hodges

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Remnants of an ancient jungle can be seen in the Badlands. — Photo by Pat Bean

Alone on a Windy Day

In the neighborhood of a million or more people from all over the world annually visit Badlands National Park, a rugged, colorful, wind scoured, sun-bleached, South Dakota landscape that took my mind back through endless eras of time. It felt magical, and the windy autumn day I drove, and hiked a bit, through it seemed as if I had the park’s entire quarter-million acres of rock and prairie to myself.

         I had spent the night at a small campground in Interior, a city of less than 100 residents that sits just outside the park. It is home to the Horseshoe Bar, whose sign out front said: “All Bikes Must Stop,” and a gas station, where I had to go inside to pay. The friendly clerk there old me to drop by for a hot meal later. I bypassed the bar, and did just that.

South Dakota is known as one of this country’s windiest states, and it was living up to the reputation when I awoke the next morning after a night of rocking and rolling in my over-the-cab bed. The smart thing to do was to stay put for the day. But the Badlands, which I had never visited before, was calling me.

My canine companion Maggie and I answered the invitation. We did get bounced around a bit in our undersized, 21-foot class C home on wheels. But, oh was it worth it! As more and more people seek relief from the world’s chaos in nature’s wild places, it is becoming rare to have time alone with Mother Nature. Well, unless you are a backpacker able to truly go into the backcountry, and age has put me at a point where that kind of adventure is behind me.

Besides the kaleidoscope of candy-striped boulders, remnants of an ancient jungle, and fossils of animals, like the saber-toothed tiger that no longer exist, I saw bison, prairie dogs, antelope, rock wrens and prairie falcons.

But the day’s furious winds, which calmed down for a bit every now and then, evidently kept other visitors away. I saw fewer than a dozen cars on the Badlands Highway 240 Loop Road, and only three other people during my several short hikes.

It rained shortly after I arrived back at the Interior campground, and I spent another night rocking and rolling as my RV danced with the wind. Then it was off for another day of exploring the “good” Badlands.

Bean Pat: An invitation https://natureontheedge.com/2018/01/27/ The adventure begins Feb. 16. Sounds like fun and a good cause.

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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