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Kluane National Park in the Yukon. -- Wikimedia photo

Kluane National Park in the Yukon. — Wikimedia photo

2001 Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer

Lakes, forests and mountains dominated the day’s drive, and sight-seeing stops – and it would take all the synonyms for beauty in a thesaurus to describe the day. Travel writers are cautioned not to use the overused word beautiful.

Mount St. Elias -- Wikimedia photo

Mount St. Elias — Wikimedia photo

My route followed the edges of the Wrangell-St Elias National Park in Alaska, and Kluane Wildlife Sanctuary and Kluane National Park in the Yukon Territory. The latter is home to Mount Logan, which at 19,551 feet is Canada’s highest mountain.

 

Among the wildlife I saw along the way were coyotes beside the road, northern shovelers on one of the lakes, and lesser scaups, which was not just a new trip bird but a lifer, a species that I was seeing for the very first time.

Haines Junction welcome,

Haines Junction welcome,

Haines Junction, a rustic town with only a population of 500, was created in 1942 during the construction of the Alaska Highway. It was evidently a stopping-off place because it had quite a few hotels for a village with a population of 600. Although small, it is a major administrative center for the First Nations people.

I stayed at a place called the Gateway Lodge, which may no longer exist because I couldn’t find it on the Internet when I went looking this morning. For my night-time entertainment, I did laundry, ate at a restaurant called the Cozy Corner and went to bed early. I had driven a bit over 300 miles this day and was pooped.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Slice of Life http://tinyurl.com/jnpcuwa A wonderful day. What a great feeling to have on awakening in the morning.

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Denali National Park ... Wikimedia Photo

Denali National Park … Wikimedia Photo

            “When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon

2006 Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer

After spending the night in the Red Room of a bed and breakfast, I shared the morning meal with a California couple whose daughter was attending school in Alaska to get a master’s degree in raptors. After that, on their recommendation, I toured the university’s Alaska Museum.

Many things at the museum impressed me, but I specially loved the photos by Michio Hoshino of polar bears and other Alaskan wildlife. My enjoyment, however, was diminished when I read that this magnificent wildlife photographer was killed in 1996 by a grizzly bear.

Coming Home -- Photo by Michio Hoshino

Coming Home — Photo by Michio Hoshino

The death of Hoshino,while doing what he loved, tickled through my little grey cells as I left Fairbanks and headed toward Denali on this bright sunny day. Hoshino was certainly not the first to be penalized for following his dreams, I knew. And while I mourned his death, I knew that I believed a well-lived life was one better based more on quality than on quantity.

It was the same thought I had in the 1990s when I made two trips paddling through the Grand Canyon and faced the tall and wild rapids of Lava Falls on the Colorado River.

At this point, in life, however, I have enjoyed both quality and quantity. And being privileged to visit Denali National Park, and to spend three nights in the park’s lodge during its last year of operation inside the park, covered both of those. Don’t you think?

Anyway, I checked into the Denali Lodge while there was plenty of light, which left me plenty of time to take a guided hike, and watch a slide show on wolves. What a great day?

Bean Pat: Anyway the wind blows http://tinyurl.com/zsctpad This is a blog by Pete Scully about sketching and is one of my favorite blogs.

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Alaska: Day 11 … Top of the World Highway

            “Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well … The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” — Jack London

The Yukon River near Dawson City. -- Wikimedia photo

The Yukon River near Dawson City. — Wikimedia photo

2001 Memories of a Non-Wandering Wonderer

It was a good thing that I was in a part of the world where summer days were long, because I had nearly 400 miles to drive today – and lots of things I wanted to see along the way.

img_3934But before I got on the road, I took time to drive around Dawson City — which didn’t take much time at all. It was a small town, and the only thing I discovered of interest was Jack London’s cabin.

But for a writer, and avid reader, that was thrill enough. London’s Call of the Wild and White Fang had been two of my favorite books growing up. A bit later, I was thrilled even more when I drove onto a small ferry to cross the Yukon River. All the romance of adventure from London’s books crept into my day, making me feel glad to be alive and on a road I had never traveled before.

And what a road it was. I took the little-traveled and only partially paved Top of the Road Highway out of Dawson City, which would take me on a side trip loop through the tiny town of Chicken, population of 25 nice people and one old grouch – according to a roadside billboard.

Downtown Chicken

Downtown Chicken

I refueled, bought postcards, and then continued on to Tok, where I rejoined the Alaskan Highway. From Tok, it was yet another 200 miles to Fairbanks. If I had to pick out my favorite driving day on this 30-day trip (the longest vacation I had ever taken away from my job) this day would be it. I loved driving for long minutes without another vehicle in sight – and the landscape truly did make me feel as if I were on top of the world.

Bean Pat: A New Year’s Tradition  http://tinyurl.com/hzxlk4n  I like this one. I once did a similar thing by walking down a steep ridge and dropping things I didn’t want in my life, and then picking up things I did want on the way back up.

 

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“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” — John Steinbeck

Dawson City -- Wikimedia Photo by Michael Edwards.

Dawson City, which sits on the Yukon River, which I crossed on a kind of raft ferry. — Wikimedia Photo by Michael Edwards.

2001 Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer

In 2001, when I make my Alaskan Highway road trip, I didn’t yet have a digital camera, and I took very few photos, most of which turned out badly. So I decided to purchase post cards along the way of the sights I saw – and only those.

My Alaska postcard journal.

My Alaska postcard journal.

So in Skagway, I bought a card depicting the White Pass-Yukon Train. On the return trip back, I noted that our conductor was the same one pictured on my card. What fun I thought, and I let myself enjoy the scenery outside the train. It’s always different looking at landscapes from a different angle, but everything was just as spectacular.

The Klondike Gold Rush took place over 115 years ago, but evidence of its activities are still isible on the Alaskan Highway between Whitehorse and Dawson City. .. A page from my 2001 journal.

The Klondike Gold Rush took place over 115 years ago, but evidence of its activities are still visible on the Alaskan Highway between Whitehorse and Dawson City. .. A page from my 2001 journal.

Once back in Whitehorse, I quickly retrieved my car and took off for Dawson City, some 300-plus miles away. It was going to be a long day. But the scenery along the drive kept me energized.

The highway mostly followed the same route used during the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush, and evidence of the prospectors’ hopes and dreams were often seen scattered beside the road. And driving into Dawson City on its unpaved roads was like stepping back in time.

My lodging was the Eldorado Hotel, which could have been used in any John Wayne western movie without a bit of extra staging. The clerk, who checked me in, was clearly drunk, but the waitress in the hotel’s café was friendly – and my Jack and Coke to end my long day was healthy.

Funky was the word I used to describe Dawson City. But then I like funky.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Janaline’s Art Journey http://tinyurl.com/zy2qcgs I love the creativity of her pieces.

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I didn't capture the rainbow in Jasper National Park, but I did manage to get one on another road trip when I visited South Dakota. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I didn’t capture the rainbow in Jasper National Park, but I did manage to get one on another road trip when I visited South Dakota. — Photo by Pat Bean

2001 Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer

I left Jasper at sunrise, and with a magnificent rainbow welcoming in the day. The first part of the drive took me through Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Elk, longhorn sheep, deer and Stone Mountain sheep (which I hope stayed in the park because these cousins of Dall sheep are popular with trophy hunters made themselves visible on the road between Jasper, Grand Cache and Grand Prairie.

Alberta’s Grand Prairie, aptly named and then nicknamed the Swan City, adopted the trumpeter swan as its symbol because of its proximity to the bird’s migration route and its summer nesting grounds. The trumpeter is North America’s largest water bird. It can weigh up to 25 pounds, almost double the weight of the tundra swan that was a familiar sight in Northern Utah where I lived back then.

Of course I hoped to see a trumpeter this day. But I didn’t. Drat it!

Dawson Creek and the Mile 0 Post that represents the start of the Alaskan Highway. -- Wikimedia photo

Dawson Creek and the Mile 0 Post that represents the start of the Alaskan Highway. — Wikimedia photo

I made it to Dawson Creek in time for lunch, even though it was a 325-mile drive from Jasper. Three hundred miles was usually the goal I set for myself most of the days on the month-long adventure.

Dawson Creek, named after the creek that runs through it, which was named after George Mercer Dawson, a member of his land survey team that passed through the area in 1879. The small town’s primary claim to fame is that it is where the Alaskan Highway begins. The town’s population was larger when the highway was being constructed during World War II. The highway, at first unpaved and with almost too many bridges to count, was built to connect the United States with its Alaskan Territory through Canada. Alaska didn’t become a state until 1959.

When completed in 1942, the highway was 1,700 miles long. Today it’s about 300 miles less because of constant straightening and restoration work. When I drove the highway in 2001, it was said to be paved the entire distance – Not true, I discovered.

Bean Pat: This one is for writers who receive rejections: https://millieschmidt.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/ And isn’t that all of us?

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  “A woman’s mind is cleaner than a man’s. She changes it more often.” – Oliver Herford

            “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

The story of how the magpie became my animal totem would make a good first chapter  for my bird book. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The story of how the magpie became my animal totem would make a good first chapter for my bird book. — Photo by Pat Bean

It’s OK to Change One’s Mind

I’m not sure where I got it in my head that once I made a decision I had to follow through on it, but it got me in trouble in my earlier years. Young minds don’t always make the right choices.

Old minds don’t either.

But more often than not, the choices and decisions we make in life, especially those we make on a daily basis, have nothing to do with right or wrong. They are simply choices, like the one I made recently to do NANO in November, which is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

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And I can write about my experience of seeing California condors flying free  over Zion National Park, and all the times I wrote about them when I was a reporter. -- Wikimedia phoot by Phil Armitage.

And I can write about my experience of seeing California condors flying free over Zion National Park, and all the times I wrote about them when I was a reporter. — Wikimedia photo by Phil Armitage.

Along with making that choice, I also made a decision to make my proposed book a mystery, and dedicated yesterday to working on an outline for it. Instead, I kept putting the task off and spent most of the day reading. The truth was I couldn’t come up with a good plot.

Then this morning I got to thinking. I have three completed (not sure how many uncompleted) first drafts of mysteries in my writing files, which I have no inclination to take to polished completion. I don’t think I need another.

Meanwhile, for the past year I have been outlining a book about my bird-watching experiences. I have numerous anecdotes about this late-blooming passion of mine. Why not, I thought, write my bird book for my NANO project?

The decision felt right. And suddenly I was more enthusiastic about my November writing marathon. Of course, I could change my mind again.

Learning to be comfortable with not having one’s decisions written in cement, even for life-changing choices, has made life a lot easier and more pleasant for me. Perhaps that’s because I make a lot of hummingbird-wing-quick decisions without thinking everything out fully first.

Patience simply isn’t a virtue in my mind. And while I believe, unlike Oliver Herford whose quote began this blog, that men change their minds as often as woman, I do believe I have a very clean mind.

Bean Pat: Hanging out: in Puerto Iguazu http://tinyurl.com/h6rg4vm A nice and easy day of armchair travel

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Oh and yet another reason I like watching Survivor is its settings, like Africa. And the scenes often show birds, like this hammerkop at the foot of the zebras. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Oh and yet another reason I like watching Survivor is its settings, like Africa. And the scenes often show birds, like this hammerkop at the foot of the zebras. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” — Paul Tillich

Gen Xers vs. Millennials

I’m not sure I’ve shared one of my secret vices. I’m an avid Survivor fan who hasn’t missed a single one of its 33 seasons. This year it’s Generation Xers (those born between the mid-1960’s and the early 1980’s ) versus the Millennials, those young whippersnappers now between the ages of 18 and 33

And Survivor provides this wandering-wonderer with some nice armchair travels. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

And Survivor provides this wandering-wonderer with some nice armchair travels. — Photo by Kim Perrin

Being very competitive myself, the competitions are my favorite parts of the show. After that, it’s seeing how people react and relate to one another in stressful situations. Although I didn’t quite understand it during the first few seasons, because I was still of the mentality that the strongest should win, I now appreciate that it takes a combination of skills – strength, intelligence, sociability, staying power and will power to get to the end.

In this year’s competition, Survivor host Jeff Probst asked a question that showed the difference between the two competing age groups , and I found the answers intriguing.

How do you spell the word you when you text? Jeff asked.

“Y.O.U” answered the Gen Xers. “Just U” said the Millennials, and said the other way was “behind the times and old-style.” “But there’s a grace to the language,” said the Xers.

As someone who led the Baby Boomers in to this world, I cheered that rebuttal. I always spell out the word you – and all other words besides. I find it difficult when tweeting to even use the & sign when forced because of the limited number of letters.

Not that there is anything wrong with “U,” but simply because I enjoy the proper use of language that I was taught as a youngster. Change doesn’t come easy.

So how do you spell the word you when texting?

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Wandering Cows http://tinyurl.com/hewo3na Take an armchair trip on a Jacobite Steam Train in Scotland.

 

 

 

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