“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Sign Post Forest at Watson Lake alongside the Alaskan Highway. -- Wikimedia photo

The Sign Post Forest at Watson Lake alongside the Alaskan Highway. — Wikimedia photo

2001 Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer

          It was going to be a long day’s drive, and so I was on the road at 5 a.m., sharing it with a pumpkin orange and lavender sunrise that breathed joy into my pores.

My drive took me past Muncho Lake Provincial Park. The lake, which I followed for a bit, was just one of several clean, clear blue bodies of water along the way. The biggest one was Teslin Lake, which I noted in my journal, had an average depth of 184 feet.

At Liard Hot Springs, at Mile Marker 496, I stopped for a short hike to the springs and the marsh’s hanging gardens, which consisted of a jumble of rocks with plants hanging down the sides while a series of small falls trickled past. The place had a pungent, sulphur odor that tickled my sense of smell, and encouraged me not to linger overly long..

Alpha Pool in Liard River Hot Springs along the Alaskan Highway in British Columbia. -- Wikimedia photo

Alpha Pool in Liard River Hot Springs along the Alaskan Highway in British Columbia. — Wikimedia photo

At Watson Lake, Mile Marker 635, I refueled and gawked at the famous Sign Post Forest, which now has about 100,000 signs. “Sort of icky,” I wrote in my journal, noting that nature got my juices flowing better.

The fake forest began in 1942 when Pvt. Carl Lindley was ordered to repair a simple sign post noting the distances to various points along the road when it was being built. He personalized the sign by adding his home town of Danville, Illinois, 2,835 miles away.

Meanwhile, the warning signs of moose and caribou on the road, which had been lying to me,:told the truth this day. I saw several of each, plus deer, too, as my winding drive took me across the British Columbia-Yukon border seven times.

After a long day’s drive of nearly 600 miles, with several sightseeing stops along the way, it was almost 10 p.m., but still light, when I finally pulled into Whitehorse, where my room at the High Country Inn had been upgraded. I had my own Jacuzzi, and I took advantage of it.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Two Photographs: http://tinyurl.com/hylkuth Unusual shots of a peregrine falcon, one of my favorite birds. I usually saw them when they flew below me on my hike up to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. This is a bird we humans have helped save from extinction.

  ” I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” — Henry David Thoreau

I'm grateful that this Cooper's hawk didn't fly off before I could take this photo. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I’m grateful that this Cooper’s hawk didn’t fly off before I could take this photo. — Photo by Pat Bean

Happy Thanksgiving All     

This is my annual blog to celebrate my blessings. The list of 100 things, in no particular order, is only the beginning. I hope your list is lengthy, too.

  1. At 77, I’m thankful that I still wake up each morning eager for the day ahead of me – and that I’m not yet just thankful for waking up. I’m also thankful for:
  2. Being born on a planet that contains beauty almost everywhere I look. All I have to do is slow down and see it.
  3. My five children, each of whom has his or her own peculiarities, talents, personalities, strengths and weaknesses – just like their mom, from whom they somehow survived.
  4. That I’m a writer, and get to experience life a second time around when I snatch it from the wings of butterflies as they float by. .
  5. Air conditioning, which let me live through Tucson’s summer of 100-degree-pluses in comfort this past summer.
  6. Sunrises and sunsets to color my dawns and evenings with joy.
  7. Road trips, with the expectation of something new and exciting around every bend of the highway.
  8. Books that make me think, and cry, and laugh, and which take me away from the chaos of this world for a while.
  9. A good haircut for my thinning, graying hair.
  10. Pepper, my canine companion, whose antics bring smiles daily to my face. Walking her from my third-floor walk-up apartment, five times a day, also helps keep this old broad’ body moving and more healthy. She’s my fitness gym.
  11. Hot baths. To me this is the most luxurious thing I can think of, especially after spending nine years living full-time in a motorhome and having to make do with showers.
  12. My morning cup of cream-laced coffee. No sugar, please.
  13. Learning something new every day.
  14. Smiles from loved ones, friends and strangers.
  15. National Parks, State Parks, City Parks and landscaped lawn and flowers gardens that I don’t have to maintain.
  16. My grandchildren and great-grandchildren, my reward for having children.
  17. My late-blooming passion for bird-watching – and of course the birds..
  18. A comfortable bed, and soft, warm blankets
  19. Story Circle Network, and its amazing women who have become my writing supporters.
  20. The Sonoran Desert, which has amazed me with its wonder for the past four years.
  21. Pink and purple sunrises and orange and red sunsets, and all the other colors of the sky that welcome and end each day.
  22. Butterflies.
  23. Ibuprofen that eases the aging aches of this old broad.
  24. Short, easy hiking trails that I can still manage.
  25. Chocolate ice cream.
  26. Kind, peace-loving men and women.
  27. My monthly Social Security check.
  28. Reading glasses.
  29. Rainbows.
  30. Comfortable shoes and clothing.
  31. Journals – blank ones and filled ones.
  32. My computer and the Internet.
  33. Telephone calls from loved ones.
  34. A good pen.
  35. Spirit Players, a group here in Tucson that meets once a month to read plays, with everyone taking a role to read.
  36. That I can still drive, and have a car to drive.
  37. The smell of sagebrush
  38. Competitive board games with good sports and lots of laughter.
  39. That wolves and whooping cranes are still of this world.
  40. Dreams that I don’t want to end instead of nightmares.
  41. Wind chimes on a windy day.
  42. My friends, both old and new.
  43. A dark and stormy day and a good book, of which I always have one handy.
  44. The twisty, curvy, long branches of live oak trees.
  45. The $100 I won for winning a flash fiction contest this year.
  46. The art of Emil Nolde.
  47. Jack Daniels .
  48. My nine years traveling this country in an RV.
  49. The stars on a dark, clear night and nights when the moon is full .
  50. My third-floor patio balcony that looks out on the Catalina Mountains.
  51. Truthful, factual news reports.
  52. The lush rubber tree plant that came back to me after 10 years living elsewhere, and my friend who kept it growing.
  53. Beach walks, when I visit family on the Texas Gulf Coast.
  54. The two tie-dye T-shirts a daughter-in-law sent me this year. At heart, I’m a flower child.
  55. Pepper’s best friend Dusty, because when the two of they play together I can’t help but smile and laugh.
  56. That I got to bird watch in the Galapagos and Africa.
  57. Wildflowers.
  58. My chicken and rice dish that my grandkids love.
  59. My wrinkles, because I earned them.
  60. Edward Abbey, whose fantastic book Desert Solitaire I just reread.
  61. The art of Emil Nolde.
  62. Modern appliances, especially washers and dryers
  63. Black ravens on the red tile roof visible from my desk window.
  64. My great-granddaughter’s sweet laugh.
  65. The old typewriter on which I taught myself to type – and write.
  66. Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, where I want my ashes scattered.
  67. That I can still afford, just barely, good health insurance.
  68. Living alone and never feeling lonely.
  69. Followers of my blog, which now number over 1,000.
  70. Morning walks with my canine companion, Pepper.
  71. My pocket digital camera.
  72. Acceptance instead of rejection slips. I do get a few of the former to go with the tall stack of the latter.
  73. Achievements of my children.
  74. Watercolors.
  75. My memories of floating the Colorado through the Grand Canyon – twice.
  76. Ponds moisturizing cream.
  77. Warm, soft pajamas on a cold day.
  78. My favorite pan, the one I cook 75 percent of my meals in.
  79. Libraries.
  80. My 37-year journalism career when newspapers weren’t considered archaic..
  81. Non-partisan politicians with only the country’s best interests at heart – one can only hope there are some.
  82. People who tell me I don’t act my age.
  83. The strong women I’m descended from, and the women before me who fought for the rights I have today.
  84. The color red, like my living room couch.
  85. My curiosity.
  86. Chili and tamales.
  87. Oinkees for Pepper, because she loves them so much.
  88. Aspen leaves in the fall.
  89. Hugs.
  90. Bookstores and Amazon.
  91. The TV series Survivor and sharing its results weekly with a far-away son.
  92. Antibiotics and vaccinations.
  93. Surprises, the good kind.
  94. Country music.
  95. Maps.
  96. Scented candles.
  97. S’mores around a campfire.
  98. The good report from my doctor after my annual exam.
  99. Tennis balls that Pepper chases
  100. And that I’m posting this a day early because I’m about to set off on a five-day road trip to spend Thanksgiving with friends.


“A newspaper is lumber made malleable. It is ink made into words and pictures. It is conceived, born, grows up and dies of old age in a day.” — Jim Bishop

Newspaper Rock, Utah. I don't want to go back in time, I just want truth to once again become possible.

Newspaper Rock, Utah. I don’t want to go back in time, I just want truth to once again become possible.

          “A newspaper is a circulating library with high blood pressure.” — Arthur Baer

My Heart is Breaking

It was my usual morning. I walked Pepper, came back and fixed myself a cup of cream-lace coffee, and settled down with a book to read while I drank. And suddenly there were tears in my eyes, tears that are still falling, which is why I am writing this blog.

I need to tell someone, besides Pepper, why my face is wet.

The book I’m reading is a simple book by Ari L. Goldman called The Late Starters Orchestra. It’s about the author’s efforts to play the cello. Ari is a former New York Times reporter, and now a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Toward the end of his book Ari achieves his goal of playing in public at his 60th birthday party.

He then writes “…I would die a happy man. I was a musician. Maybe that wouldn’t be the first thing that the newspapers would write in my obituary (if there are still newspapers) … “It was those last five words that opened the floodgates in my eyes.

I was a journalist for 37 years. I worked for honorable newspapers that did not slant the news, which was most of them during my career era. I tried, as did my reporter colleagues, to give the people what they needed to know in as objective a manner as possible. One of the newspapers I worked for has folded. The others are dying, or hollow publications of what they once were.

As a city editor at a 65,000 circulation daily, I had 21 reporters covering local beats. The last time I visited the paper, the city editor had seven reporters covering the same beats.

In the past few days, I’ve been reading stories, proudly told, about how fake online news impacted the recent election. And I’ve heard newspapers referred to as archaic. Shouldn’t we all be crying?

I love the Internet, the connection it gives me to loved ones, and the ease it gives me to have the answer to almost every question I have at my fingertips. But I also know not to believe everything I read. That has always been true, even when newspapers were in their prime. But it is especially true these days when anyone can write anything they want without regard to truth.

You can’t be a journalist and not believe in, and support, freedom of speech. And I do.

So where do we go from here? I don’t know. And that’s another reason my heart is breaking.

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. “– Maya Angelou

An autumn scene along the Peace River, not exactly the view I saw during my trip but I certainly saw river-side landscapes that were just as awesome. -- Wikimedia photo

An autumn scene along the Peace River, not exactly the view I saw during my trip but I certainly saw river-side landscapes that were just as awesome. — Wikimedia photo

2001 Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer

          I compared my first day of driving the Alaska Highway through Canada to a day of riding steep roller coasters. The route crossed many creeks and rivers, and most of the driving was done in the rain.

A page from my 2001 Alaska Trip journal.

A page from my 2001 Alaska Trip journal.

My guide for the Alaska Highway was the 2001, 53rd edition of The Milepost, which listed all the sights of the route in milepost numbers. As much as my interests, and time, demanded, I took short detours to see them, including one off road adventure to find Peace River Park, supposedly on an island across a causeway. I noted in my journal that the causeway was dinky.

The only animals I saw this day were brilliant blue Steller jays (visit my September 24 blog for a picture of a Steller jay) at a dump, lots of ravens, one llama, two hawks I couldn’t identify, and one deer. Signs along the way frequently claimed “moose and caribou on road” – but they lied.

I ended the day in Fort Nelson at Mile 300. The small town was named in honor of British naval hero, Horatio Nelson. It was established by The Northwest Trading Company in 1805 to accommodate fur traders. Because of fires, floods, and feuds, according to one history source, Fort Nelson is currently situated in its fifth location.

While in town, I visited the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum, an interesting step back in time that included exhibits of a “Hardly Davidson” scooter, and the first curling stones on the Alaskan Highway.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: A funny comics blog http://tinyurl.com/jy9sqhn This is so me!

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?

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 Continue Reading »

Alaska: Day 4 … Canada


Banff, a tiny town nestled in Banff National Park's eye-dropping-mouth-opening-wow! landscapes. -- Wikimedia photo

Banff, a tiny town nestled in Banff National Park’s eye-dropping-mouth-opening-wow! landscapes. — Wikimedia photo

Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer 

Golden eagle -- Wikimedia photo by Martin_Mecnarowski

Golden eagle — Wikimedia photo by Martin_Mecnarowski

Shortly after leaving Kalispell, Montana, and my two-night-stay at the historic Grande Hotel, I crossed into Canada and entered Kootenay National Park at about the same time a golden eagle soared overhead. It was a joyful sight, and I drank in the day like cold champagne.   While Benjamin Franklin thought our national bird should have been the turkey, I thought I would favor the magnificent golden eagle. It was the second time I had this thought. The first was the day I watched a pair of golden eagles harass a pair of bald eagles until the white-headed birds of prey flew away.


A page from my journal

A page from my journal

Today’s drive lived up to its spectacular welcome to Canada from the golden eagle. The day was sunny and clear, the scent of evergreens heightened the senses of the forest landscapes, and there were birds to see and impressive mountains to view.

And then, suddenly, there were people, crowds and crowds and crowds of them as I made slowly maneuvered my way down a narrow Banff street in search of a parking place somewhere near my room lodging. Located in the splendor of Banff National Park, Banff is one of Canada’s busiest tourist towns – and today to say it was over-crowded would have been an under-exaggeration.

I finally found a parking spot and escaped to my small room for air in which to breathe freely for a few minutes. I then took in a few of the popular sights, such as the Banff hot springs. But after standing in a long-line to get food, I retired back to room, and went to bed early. I only breathed easier after I had left the thick wall of people behind the next morning.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Overcoming fear http://tinyurl.com/zmoye84 Caution X-rated language. That doesn’t bother me, but it might you. I especially loved the laughter this blog gave me at a time when I’m fearing what’s now going to happen to our world. I’m really trying to think positive — and laughter helps.