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“Every journey is personal. Every journey is spiritual. You can’t compare them, can’t replace, can’t repeat. You can bring back the memories but they only bring tears to your eyes.” — Diana Ambarsari

While I’ll never accomplish such a feat as walking the entire distance of the Nile River, I have had adventures, like going on Safari to Kenya and Tanzania. Above, me at the Amboseli Airport in Kenya. — Photo by Kim Perrin.

Found at the Library

I talk often about my wanderlust being fueled by such travel writers as Tim Cahill, William Least Heat Moon, Osa Johnson, Charles Kuralt, John Steinbeck, Freya Stark and Paul

Theroux. I felt as if I were following in their footsteps when my book, Travels with Maggie, was finally published.

Now, a book I checked out at the library has given me a new idol, Levison Wood, a British Army officer and explorer who is best known for his walking expeditions in Africa, Asia and Central America. But I had never heard of him until I picked up his book, Walking the Nile, from the travel section of my small branch library.

I was only a few pages into the book before I added Wood to my travel writer hero list. The start of his adventure, in December of 2013, at the tiny spring which is acknowledged as one of the sources of the Nile so long sought by 19th century explorers, hooked me.

Wrote Levison, about why he walked the 4,250-mile length of the Nile, “…I wanted to follow in a great tradition, to achieve something unusual and inspire in others the thirst to do the same. Much of my motivation was selfish, of course – to go on the greatest adventure of my life, to see what people can only dream about, and test myself to the limits. But ultimately, it came down to one thing. The Nile was there, and I wanted to walk it.”

Levison inspired me. While my body is no longer up to long expeditions or strenuous adventures, surely there are still small ones in my future, like walking the 10-mile path beside the Rillito River (It’s really only a river when it rains hard) here in Tucson. As an old broad, I’ve come to the conclusion that what counts is not the distance, or the speed, but that you just keep moving.

Meanwhile, I’m thankful for books, such as Wood’s Walking the Nile, which with just a little bit of imagination, can take me and my wanderlust anywhere in the world we want to go.

Bean Pat: Oh, the places we’ll see … http://tinyurl.com/y8aels9d Maine’s orange sunsets. I liked this because it took me back to my visit to Maine.

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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Ravens

A rare photo of a Chihuahuan raven with its white neck feathers showing. It must be a windy day.

 

“But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only, That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour. Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered – Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before – On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’ Then the bird said, ‘Nevermore.” –Edgar Allan Poe.

The Chihuahuan Species

Shortly after I became an addicted bird watcher, which meant going from one who didn’t notice birds to one who couldn’t not notice them, I found myself staring at a raven sitting on a saguaro. I was returning to Utah from my annual trip to Texas, taking a longer route as I always did to appease my wanderlust. This time I was following Highway 80 near Arizona’s border with Mexico, just outside of Douglas and headed to historic Bisbee where I intended to spend the night.

I had spent a good bit of time learning how to tell a crow from a raven – while crows are smaller than ravens, it is often hard to judge size and so I use the tail as my field identification key. A raven’s is wedge shaped. Anyway, I thought I was simple looking at a common raven until I noticed white feathers, ruffling in the wind, on the raven’s neck.

I pulled my car over to the side, and reached for my National Geographic Field Guide of the Birds of North America – and learned I was looking at a Chihuahuan raven. I was ecstatic. It was a new bird for my life list.

What I didn’t realize was how rare my sighting was. Not because I was looking at a Chihuahuan raven, but that I saw the white feathers. Normally, except for it being just a bit smaller – common ravens average about 24 inches in size and Chihuahuans only about 19 inches – it’s almost impossible to distinguish the two ravens apart.

I’m sure, living where I do in the Sonoran Desert, which is the heart of the Chihuahuan raven’s territory in North America, that I’ve seen many a Chihuahuan raven – but I’ve never again seen the white neck feathers.

Bean Pat: Six Word Saturday http://tinyurl.com/y8wbcjvm Something to always keep in mind.

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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Art for front and back cover of Travels with Maggie by Sherry Wachter

            “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”– St. Augustine– Saint Augustine

Finishing Up Loose Ends

I put everything in life on hold the past few days to finish up proofing, writing an author bio, writing a back of the book blurb, and putting together a table of contents for my book Travels with Maggie.  And then I let it go.

Natural Falls, which was one of the stopping points in Travels with Maggie. — Photo by Pat Bean

As a newspaper journalist for 37 years, I turned out almost daily copy that was read by thousands of people. I always wrote my stories the best I could, and won quite a few awards over the years as my writing improved. But there was always a deadline, and on reaching it, whatever I had written had to be put out to the world. Since, my book had no deadline, I’ve been piddling with it for years, afraid to let it go because it might not be perfect,

Finally, I told myself, enough is enough.

Back of the Book Blurb

Travels with Maggie by Pat Bean is a book about one woman’s fulfillment of a dream that began when she was 10 years old. It chronicles a 7,000-mile RV journey, mostly on backroads, through 23 states and Canada. The odyssey begins in May of 2006 from a daughter’s home in Arkansas, and ends in time for Thanksgiving at another daughter’s home in Texas. Bean’s writing brings a much-needed feminine voice to the world of such travel writer greats as John Steinbeck, William Least Heat Moon, Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson and Charles Kuralt. Travels with Maggie is also the story of a woman’s relationship with her canine companion, and it’s a story about chasing birds across America by a fledgling birdwatcher. The book is written in such a way that readers can follow the author’s adventures on a map – or in their own vehicle. While a realist who sees the changes that have taken place across America, the author prefers to look for their silver lining. “Change is change, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but mostly a combination.” Calling herself a wondering-wanderer, Bean asks many questions as she travels. Sometimes there are no answers, but always there is enlightenment.

Gypsy Lee — Photo by Pat Bean

Table of Contents

How it all Began … Letting Go of the World’s Worries … W hat Queen Wilhelmina Missed … Yes, Virginia, There is a Silver Lining … Two More Oklahoma Parks – And a Lifer …  Childhood Memories, A Kindred Soul and Marlin Perkins  …  Heart of the Ozarks …  Roy Rogers, A Tragic Past and an Ouch … A Scenic Riverway, a German Town, and a Margarita Night … Saint Louis: Chihuly, a Birdcage, an Arch and Beer … In the Footsteps of Mark Twain … Meandering Through Illinois Where Kickapoos Once Roamed … The Prophet – And Howling with Tristan … Hotter than Hell in Indiana …  Highway 12, Cade Lake, The Brick Dick and Henry Ford … Celebrating a Summer Halloween … Traveling Beside Lake Erie … Niagara Falls and New In-Laws …The Adirondacks … Ticonderoga, Norman Rockwell and Rainy Vermont … The Stone Man … Good-Bye White Mountains, Hello Maine  …  A Week on Desert Island … Strong Women and Paul Bunyan … It’s a Log … Or a Moose …  Scarborough Marsh, Bad Vibes and Boston … Help! My RV’s Lost at the Airport … An Embarrassing Moment and a Hug from a Granddaughter  … Hawk Mountain and the Big Apple … Sitting out a Storm in a Wal-Mart Parking Lot … Lost and Found in Philadelphia …  All Dressed up for Pony Watching … Crossing Chesapeake Bay and a Sick Dog … Dismal Swamp, Roanoke Rapids and Simple Things …  The Carolinas – Books, Tobacco and Art …  Georgia on my Mind …  Alabama: Home of the Bible Belt and a Boll Weevil Monument … Mississippi Bird Encounters and a Historic Trail … Know When to Hold ‘Em and Know When to Fold ‘Em …  Memories of a Dear Friend …   Epilogue

So, would you buy and read this book?

Bean Pat: Rumpy Dog http://tinyurl.com/y8wdudr4 Polls to ponder for the 4th of July.

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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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A view of the Ajo Mountains across from the Organ Pipe Cactus Visitor Center. — Photo by Pat Bean

Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” – John Muir

An organ pipe cactus as part of the Kris Eggle memorial at the Visitor Center that was named in his honor. Eggle was a park ranger killed near the U.S.-Mexico border. — Photo by Pat Bean

And a Lifer and the Ajo Mountains

            My wanderlust, these days, is sustained by day trips around Tucson. So it was that I decided to visit Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The next day, as I was reading To See Every Bird on Earth by Dan Koeppel, which is about the author’s bird-chasing father, I came across a tidbit about the monument.

The Ajo Mountains’ double arch. — Photo by Pat Bean

Koeppel remembered a trip the family had made across country in which his father birded Organ Pipe, and had identified several new species. As a birder, I immediately looked up a list of common birds at the monument. It appeared that I had seen them all.

So it was with much surprise and delight when I identified a dusky-capped flycatcher at the monument, a bird I had never seen before. The sighting came at the very end of the visit, providing an extra layer of icing to a chocolate-cake day that was already well frosted. The bird was a lifer, my 710th species.

Earlier, my off-the-beaten-path heart sang when the day’s activities took me, my canine companion Pepper, and my brother Robert, who came along for the ride, off the pavement on a 21-mile loop drive that took us part-way up into the Ajo Mountains.

Roadside cactus blossoms

The tall candles on the landscape were the saguaro and organ pipe cacti that brightened the landscape around ever twist and turn, of which there were many. Yet another surprise of the trip was coming around a bend and seeing an arch, and then discovering that there were actual two arches. A tiny arch sat atop the larger one.

I’m not sure how the day could have been much better, well worth the 325 miles the round-trip covered.

My brother asked where we were going next, when I dropped him off at the end of the day. The question delighted me because not all of the people I know enjoy long, bumpy off-the-beaten path and into the desert kind of trips.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: New England Nomad http://tinyurl.com/ks56pvc Another blogger exploring their world. Since I can’t travel everywhere, I also enjoy seeing some of it from my armchair.

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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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