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Watching the World Go By

            “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

If you traveled Route 66, before it was replaced by Interstate 40, you might have seen these rock faces along side the road. The rocks are in Arizona's Painted Desert, which old Route 66 passed through. Interstate 40 bypasses the scenic landscape.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

If you traveled Route 66, before it was replaced by Interstate 40, you might have seen these rock faces alongside the road. The rocks are in Arizona’s Painted Desert, which old Route 66 passed through. Interstate 40 bypasses the scenic landscape. — Photo by Pat Bean

How Do You Travel

I was 13 when I went on my first road trip, an adventure on Route 66 when it was in its prime. My uncle drove his new 1952 Oldsmobile 100 mph across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona into California, my aunt by his side and me in the back seat with my 18-month-old cousin Barbara. I got invited on the trip, my first time out of Texas, to babysit.

I had lunch in a diner on Route 66, just across from this sign, which stands along of the bits and pieces of the old Mother Road that still exists. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I had lunch in a diner on Route 66, just across from this sign, which stands along of the bits and pieces of the old Mother Road that still exists. — Photo by Pat Bean

It was a long, two-day drive there, and two days back, but I was never bored. Nor did I do anything to entertain myself but to stare out the window. Watching the world go by out the window is still what I do when I’m in a car, either as driver or passenger. The passing sights, be they strange, new and scenic or familiar, decaying and nondescript, continually fascinate me. I’m always expecting to see something wonderful.

That wasn’t the case with my children, who read comic books or slept on long drives; or my grandchildren, who watch videos or play games on their phones constantly when they are in the car.

So now I ask myself, is the world different, or kids different. Or does the wanderlust in my soul make me different? How do you travel?

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Best Super Bowl blog of them all http://tinyurl.com/on6kcmb

“Then I beheld the river … journeying out of the grey past into the green future.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Then I beheld the river … journeying out of the grey past into the green future.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson — Photo by Pat Bean

“Come, let us not be an appendage to Alexander, Charles V., or any of history’s heroes. Dead men all! For me, the earth is new today, and the sun is raining light.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Thoughts from the Past

            I have 50 years of journals stashed away in bins, most of which, once finished, have never been opened again. The early years of my journaling were a haphazard kind of thing, cheap steno pads, sometimes with only a few pages filled and more dates missing than captured.

Sometime in the 1980s, I switched to fancy journals, and filled them more faithfully. By the 1990s, journaling had become almost a daily routine. Recently I decided I should try reading my past thoughts, and so I randomly chose a journal in which to begin.

Me and Peaches on one of many hikes. She loved hiking as much as she loved tennis balls. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

Me and Peaches on one of many hikes. She loved hiking as much as she loved tennis balls. — Photo by Kim Perrin

The journal I picked chronicled the end of 1998 and the beginning of 1999. It was a time when my canine companion was a golden cocker spaniel named Peaches, who was addicted to tennis balls.

Dec. 19, 1998. It’s snowing outside, steady, tiny flakes that stuck to Peaches fur.… I feel as if I would like to sit here all day, curled up in the comfy, warm quilt Cindi (my daughter-in-law) gave me, and simply watch the snow fall. No such luck. Instead, I’ll read a few pages of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Journal, throw a few tennis balls for Peaches, then go to work.”

In various forms, the above was pretty much the gist of what I wrote again and again for the next few days, always mentioning the tennis ball routine with Peaches, and the snowy weather in Northern Utah.

I also recorded numerous RWE quotes into my journal from his journal. Here are a few:

If Milton, if Burns, if Bryant, is in the world, we have more tolerance, and more love for the changing sky, the mist, the rain, the bleak, overcast day, the indescribable sunrise and the immortal stars. If we believed no poet survived on the planet, nature would be tedious.”

            “There is creative reading as well as creative writing.”

            “My life is a May game. I will live as I like. I defy your strait-laced, weary, social ways and modes. Blue is the sky, green the fields and groves, fresh the springs, glad the rivers, hospitable the splendor of sun and star. I will play my game out.”

            “Some books leave us free and some books make us free.”

            “The gates of thought – how slow and late they discover themselves. Yet when they appear, we see that they were always there, always open.”

I was amazed, reading Emerson, how alike were so many of my own thoughts, especially the one that would find its way onto my resolution list for 1999: “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”

And through all this journaling, Peaches was there with me, sometimes sharing my chair, but mostly standing before me with a tennis ball in her mouth that she wanted me to throw for her to fetch. I am so blessed to have had her in my life, and for Ralph Waldo Emerson, too.

Bean Pat: Express yourself http://tinyurl.com/q93e2pn I like this blog because it encourages me to express myself more with my words. I hope it encourages you to be more expressive in your own way, too.

Two Travel Books

             “The best travel is a leap in the dark. If the destination were familiar and friendly, what would be the point of going there?” – Paul Theroux

Recent art: Just as writers see through different eyes, so do artists. I call this recent pieces, with it wrong-way leaning trees, Runoff. The scene reminds me of the mountain backdrop in my former Ogden, Utah, home.

Recent art: Just as writers see through different eyes, so do artists. I call this recent piece, with it wrong-way leaning trees, Runoff. The scene reminds me of the mountain backdrop in my former Ogden, Utah, home.

            “There are still too many places to go, too many people to meet, too many good stories to hear, and they all tug at my imagination. Home and away, I see now, are the yin and yang of travel. Both are part of the same journey.” – Catherine Watson One is Not Like the Other I’m not sure how it came to be, because while I’m always reading five or more books at the same time, only one of them is usually a travel book. However, there are currently two in this genre on my reading table, “Dark Star Safari” by Paul Theroux, and “Home on the Road,” by Catherine Watson. Theroux, whom I once heard speak at a writer’s conference, has written over 35 books, his best known being “The Great Railway Bazaar first published in 1975. It’s about a 1973 four-month journey by train from London through Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and a return trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway. It is considered a classic in the travel-writing genre.

I had this scrap of good art paper, 6X11 inches, and decided to do a quick watercolor of some flowers from a photo I posted a week or so ago.  I added the cat  as s surprise.

I had this scrap of good art paper, 6X11 inches, and decided to do a quick watercolor of some flowers from a photo I posted a week or so ago. I added the cat as s surprise.

“Home on the Road” is just Watson’s second book, her first being ”The Road Less Traveled,” which was first published in 2005 –  during the second of my nine years traveling full-time across country in my RV. I’m not sure where I was when I bought the book, but I did so without a second thought. Its title perfectly matched my goal of traveling only backroads and avoiding interstates and freeways as if their paths were flowing lava. Theroux’s writing constantly sends me to an atlas, a dictionary or Wikipedia. I love it, because I’m always learning something new. But the reading is slow; I’m sure the deliciously exotic “Dark Star Safari” will be stuck on my reading table long after “Home on the Road”  is back on my bookshelf or passed along to another reader. Watson’s writing, meanwhile, has a quite familiar flavor to it. Not only are the author and I of the same gender – there is no doubt in my mind but that men and women see and think differently – we also share journalism backgrounds. We’ve learned to seldom use a word readers don’t understand, and we both have the knack of letting a reader stand beside us and see what we are seeing. It’s easy reading — even when the setting is foreign. Both authors are writing award winners, and reading them together and having a prime opportunity to compare their writing styles, is a fantastic writer’s dinner. Like most things in life, it is not that one writing style, or book, is better than the other, just different. I Bean Pat: Gray plovers and ruddy turnstones http://tinyurl.com/ovtg3m9 This blog and photos remind me of the wonderful walks I take with my son Lewis when I visit the Texas Gulf Coast and we walk out on the Quintana Jetty. It is where I saw my first purple sandpiper, plus lots of ruddy turnstones.

Words for the Wise

   “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” —  Socrates

There is no better way to start a day than by watching the sun rise up over the horizon. -- Photo by Pat Bean

There is no better way to start a day than by watching the sun rise up over the horizon. — Photo by Pat Bean

10 Lessons Life Has Taught Me

  1. To think before acting.
  2. Life is not fair
  3. Give without expectations of receiving – or don’t give.
  4. Don’t take it personally, because it usually isn’t meant that way. And if it is, you’ll annoy the other person more by ignoring the slight than reacting to it.
  5. Every person sees things differently.
  6. What I say, or what others say, is not always what is heard.
  7. Only I am responsible for my actions, and even my non-actions.
  8. Fear of rejection is the greatest fear of all.
  9. Be true to yourself.
  10. And if I don’t plant my damn butt in the chair, the book is never going to get finished.

Bean Pat: Live to Write – Write to Live http://tinyurl.com/jwyy449 I agree with this blog, as writing my own blog has been a great help in me finding my own voice.

A Simple Question

“Writing something (or doing something) you want to write is never a waste of time.” – Tracey Barnes Priestley

Playing around with art is one way I get a sense of achievement even when I feel what I have created is not very good. And that happens quite often.

Playing around with art is one way I get a sense of achievement even when I feel what I have created is not very good. And that happens quite often.

What Do You Really, Really, Really Want?

            I came across the above question this morning, and it stopped me in my tracks. While I have goals as a writer — the No. 1 current priority being to get my book, “Travels with Maggie,” published – I knew that wasn’t the answer.

After only a few minutes of contemplation, I wrote:

I want to live out my days with lots of laughter, love, creativity and a daily sense of achievement. I think this answer may change how I look at life in the coming days.

So what do you really, really, really want?

Bean Pat: Talk to the Animals: http://tinyurl.com/ndxgtj2 If you like Louis Armstrong and animals, you’ll love this. I smiled through the whole video

 

The books that help you most are those which make you think the most. The hardest way of learning is that of easy reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty.” – Pablo Neruda

I'm addicted to books like butterflies are addicted to flowers ... -- Photo by Pat Bean

I’m addicted to books like butterflies are addicted to flowers … — Photo by Pat Bean

Books are like a Road Trip for this Non-Wandering Wanderer

            I’m addicted to books. But then you probably already know that if you read my blog even infrequently.  I should have an “I Brake for Bookstores” sticker on my vehicle’s bumper – because I do.

Walking up and down aisles filled with the work of beloved authors, smelling the crispness of paper and ink, and reading first pages of books with exotic titles, gives me a John Denver high without the Rocky Mountains.  My purse is always lighter after such an experience. While I allow myself the luxury of buying one book each time I visit a bookstore, the plan doesn’t always work.

... and lizards are addicted to rocks. -- Photo by Pat Bean

… and lizards are addicted to rocks. — Photo by Pat Bean

On one recent visit, the treasures I couldn’t live without included “The Creative License,” an art instruction book by Danny Greggory that I found on a sale rack; “Living on the Wind,” a book about bird migration by Scott Weidensaul; and a mystery by Sara Peretsky, whose heroine V. I. Warshawski brings Chicago alive to the reader better than most travel writers.

When I later tried to balance my limited budget, I chastised myself and promised I would go to the public Library more. It’s easier to do now that I’m not wandering the countryside in my RV, Gypsy Lee, on a daily basis. But not foolproof, as my Amazon purchases can attest. .

I use Amazon – couldn’t live without my Kindle – for any specific book I simply must have within the next 60 seconds.

A better plan, when I can wait a few days, is to put the book I want on an online Pima County Library request list. My branch library then notifies me when they have the book ready for me to pick up.

It’s a marvelous service.

But I also like to lazily browse the library bookshelves when I have the time, and pick out a few books I wouldn’t otherwise read. I usually always leave with a fantasy, a mystery, a travel book and an art book.

I also like to begin at the first shelf in a library room and peruse it down the line until I come across a book that looks interesting. On the next visit, I pick up where I left off and repeat.

It’s a fascinating trick that helps me learn something new each day.

My library habits, however, pale to those of Ray Bradbury, who spent three days a week for 10 years reading every book in a library. He said it was better than any college education he could have received.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Writers will understand http://tinyurl.com/lusjka6 This blog gave me my first laugh of the day.

     “Sometimes you have got to look at things really positively – without putting your head in the sand, you have got to manage the negatives and keep putting a positive slant on it. Keep trying to find answers.” – Brian McDermot

I just got a glimpse of these white sand dunes as I passed by them just outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico. -- Wikimedia photo

I just got a glimpse of these white sand dunes as I passed by them just outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico. — Wikimedia photo

White Sands: Beauty and Missiles  

            When you think of White Sands in New Mexico, what’s the first thought that pops up in your brain? Monument or Missiles?

White Sands National Monument, whose dunes of glistening gypsum sands I passed on the final leg of my trip home after three weeks in Texas, is a place of both. I didn’t stop this day, but have taken the time to explore the 275 square miles of glistening white sand on past road trips.

But I did stop long enough in Texas Canyon, 50 miles east of Tucson, to snap a few pictures of the area's rocky landscape. == Photo by Pat Bean

But I did stop long enough in Texas Canyon, 50 miles east of Tucson, to snap a few pictures of the area’s rocky landscape. == Photo by Pat Bean

The National Park Service claims that this is the world’s largest gypsum dune field, and that its rising  from the heart of the desert in the Tularosa Basin is like no place else on earth. The Park Service also notes that occasionally the monument is closed to the public because of testing events at the nearby White Sands Missile Range, which Wikipedia claims is the largest military installation in the United States.

The seemingly oxymoron of beauty and missiles crossed my mind, sending me back in time to when my youngest daughter served on a destroyer tender during the Gulf War. Her ship was the USS Acadia, named after Acadia National Park in Maine.

Whose bright idea was it to name military ships after National Parks, I wondered at the time?

Such thoughts occupied my mine again during the next hundred miles or so driven beneath low-hanging clouds. I hit the rain at Texas Canyon in Arizona, with its own unique landscape of giant granite boulders. Although eager to get home, which was just 50 miles away, Pepper and I took a brief, damp break at the canyon rest stop.

By the time we did reach home, the drizzling rain that accompanied our last leg of the journey had turned into a downpour. I took it as a sign that Mother Nature was welcoming us back to Tucson.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Blood-Red Pencil: Breaking up is good to do http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/ I like this writing advice, probably because I still have a journalistic habit of short paragraphs. Some editors like it, and some don’t. It just goes to show that writing is never like math. Two and two are never four when it comes to words. What one editor thinks is wrong, another editor loves.  So sometimes you have to choose between pleasing yourself, and pleasing the editor who wants to publish your writing. At various times in my life I’ve done both.

“You can’t sit around thinking. You have to sit around writing.” – David Long

 

 

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