Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Road Tripping

            Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

Scamp and Dusty in the car vying for a good look of the road.

First Four Days

            I’ve just returned from a 12-day road trip with my good friend Jean and our two dogs. WOW!

Selfie of the two travelers. I was the driver for the trip and Jean took the photos.

            Day 1: We got out of Tucson at 7:30 a.m., our spirits thrilled with the freedom of the open road. We stopped at a great dog park in Yuma, where we ate lunch while the dogs briefly roamed before coming to sit beside us in the shade hoping for a bite of our sandwiches. As we left, Jean told me there was a man in some nearby bushes shooting up drugs near an abandoned building across the road. You just never know what sights you’ll see along the road.

We got into San Diego during the afternoon rush hour but made it safely to our dog-friendly Red Roof Hotel, close to the beach as advertised but located between two auto dealerships. We looked for a dog park but didn’t like what we found. So, we got burgers and went back to the hotel. The dogs loved being able to jump from one bed to the other in the small room, an unending activity when there was an opportunity all during the trip.

It looks nicer than it was, but for $200 a night with two dogs in San Diego, this was what we got. Oh, and we had busy auto dealers on both sides.

Day 2:  First stop was a PetSmart so I could buy a sturdy harness for Scamp, who was so excited about new things to investigate that I was afraid he would break his neck pulling so hard on the leash, or that the leash would break free and he would dash into traffic and be smashed flat. We then went to meet Jean’s new sister, one she didn’t know she had until recent DNA test results. We then spent five hours visiting with the new sister and one of Jean’s cousins. We sat outside in a splendid courtyard, with our dogs by our sides, at their much nicer hotel. It was a great visit that no one wanted to end.  Of course, I got sunburned.

Day 3: Jean was getting antsy about not having beach time, but the one dog-friendly beach we found this morning was crowded, with absolutely no parking.

So, we drove North on Highway 1 toward Morro Bay. Traffic around Los Angeles was horrid, and we finally gave up Highway

Western gulls in Morro Bay.

1 and took Highway 101, that provided us occasional views of the Ocean. It was a long day of driving. But finally, we made it to our dog-friendly hotel, a bit on the shabby side but with a view of the ocean across the way. We ate sandwiches, walked the dogs and crashed early, with the dogs jumping back and forth between our beds for a long time.  

Day 4: We only had about 150 miles to drive today — and we planned to do it leisurely on Highway 1 all the way into Monterey.  The first order of the day was ice for the cooler and snacks for the road, and then it was beach time just a few miles up the road. Scamp wanted to first eat a dead gull – yuck! And then he was into everything and running all over the place, while Dusty was happy to run in and out of the waves with her happy owner. Scamp ran with Dusty for a bit, then got distracted by another dog. He has yet to meet a dog he

Elephant seals on the beach in San Simeon.

doesn’t want to play with. I eventually had to put him back on the leash. I couldn’t help but think how much more fun beach time would have been with Pepper, my canine companion who died in March. The trip was originally planned with her and Dusty in mind. Pepper would have been the good dog, and Dusty the “scamp.”  Pepper wouldn’t get more than about 25 feet away from me. Now I had the true “Scamp.” But we still had fun.

 A bit farther up the road, we stopped at Elephant Seal Rookery in San Simeon. You can see seals at the beach here all year round, up to 17,000 during the peak seasons. Not nearly that many this time of year, but there were still quite enough – young, mature and old – seals hanging around for good viewing.

This day’s drive was the most scenic and relaxing of all, especially since we seemed to have left most of the traffic on the southern side of Morro Bay.

To Be Continued:

Bean Pat: Dressed by a legend https://johawkthewriter.com/2019/07/12/dressed-by-a-legend-thursday-threads/

*Available on Amazon, 

A writing practice and a tribute.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

“When the man walked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.” — Barbara Kingsolver.

I knew it had gotten too quiet. — Photo by Pat Bean

It’s morning. My coffee is brewing. I am sitting at my computer checking email while waiting for it to be ready. It is quiet. I look down.

The scene is easily described in two words: New Puppy.

And now you know why I renamed him Scamp.

*Available on Amazon, 

Bean Pat: Reading with a dog. http://lindahoye.com/readingunwanted/

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

 

And Maiden to Crone

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued is always just beyond your grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly may alight upon you.” — Nathaniel Hawthorne

Bald cypress trees along the Frio River at Texas’ Garner State Park. — Wikimedia photo by John Bonzo

I was camping at Garner State Park, back in my full-time RV-ing days, looking for birds when I came upon one of nature’s many surprises.

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly — Photo by Pat Bean

Chomping down on tiny ground plants hidden among the short grass were a dozen or so pipevine swallowtail larvae. That morning, I had seen, and photographed, the end result of all this chomping and transformation business, an awesome pipevine swallowtail butterfly.
To become that beautiful butterfly, it had to first give up being a caterpillar.

I thought about this as one of those lessons Mother Nature shows us if we look to her for advice. Just as the landscape and wildlife change from season to season – the land from green to white between summer and winter, and birds molt their feathers for drabber ones and foxes change their fur color, so we

Pipevine larva

are changing with the years.
There are even names for the female cycle, maiden, mother and crone. I’m definitely in the latter cycle right now, although I prefer the term old broad to crone. I’m the butterfly to the caterpillar. I like thinking of myself that way. While time may have left me a bit worn and tattered, happiness has alighted upon my shoulder with the quietness and beauty of a butterfly.

And now this wandering-wondering old broad wonders if the butterfly enjoys its final cycle as much as I am enjoying mine.

Bean Pat: Nature has No Boss https://naturehasnoboss.com/2019/06/12/luminous/#like-12113 Yellow is my favorite color

The Book

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

 

Mornings with Scamp

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” — J.B. Priestley 

Morning coming over the desert behind my apartment complex in the Cataline Foothills in Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

Sunshine and Doves

I’m a morning person, most often up before the sun peeks above the horizon. At the first upward flick of an eyelid, I’m ready and eager to bounce out of bed. It’s as if I can’t wait to discover what surprises the day will bring. It probably helps that I an optimist who usually thinks all glasses are half full and not half empty.

Scamp, with his head cocked in curiosity. — Photo by Shanna Lee

“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a frsh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” — J.B. Priestley

This early morning exuberance has not helped me win friends over the years, especially among coworkers who only came to life just before quitting time. It might have helped if I hadn’t always been so verbosely cheerful, but the bratty kid in me was usually in charge.

My early morning enthusiasm these days, however, is greeted with equal enthusiasm from my new canine companion Scamp, who in my introductory blog https://patbean.net/2019/05/13/loss-and-joy-and-a-true-friend/  about him, I then called Harley.

He was called Smidge at the shelter when I adopted him, then Harley by me because I simply liked the name and couldn’t think of a better one – until a few days ago.  He was acting like a scamp, and I realized that he actually looked a bit like the dog Scamp in Disney’s movie “Lady and the Tramp.” This is particularly true of his silver-gray coloring and the cute way he cocks his head when looking at you.

Scamp reminds me of Scamp in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.

The name fit like a paw in wet cement — perfectly.

When I first got Smidge/Harley/Scamp on May 11, I had to walk him almost hourly as he hadn’t been house-trained, although he was eight months old.  The walk schedule is now up to about every three hours, and he is sleeping all through the night. I am very happy, wildly happy, to say Scamp was a quick learner and we haven’t had an accident in over a week. Now if I could just teach him the meaning of the word NO!

But when he and I wake up, we are both ready to get outdoors and watch the sun come up. Well, I like to watch the sunrise, Scamp likes to chase the mourning doves that are still snoozing on the ground. The important thing is mornings make both of us happy.

Life is good.

Bean Pat:  Badlands National Park https://anotefromabroad.com/2019/06/10/south-dakota-badlands-national-park/  One of my favorite places.

Blog pick of the day.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

             “Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” – Wassily Kandinsky

Painted bunting — Wikimedia photo

The Bunting Came with a Bonus

Back in my early birding days, I spent some time at Texas’ Cedar Hill State Park near Dallas in search of a painted

Female painted bunting. — Wikimedia photo

bunting. It took three days of breaking spider webs on trails in the early mornings, and one day of slogging through the mud after a night of rain, but I eventually found one of these clownish-colored birds.

When in the open, you can’t miss the adult male.  He has a bright blue head, a scarlet breast, a green back, and a red rump. The female and first-year males are more subdued, dressed in shades of green, with the breast leaning toward yellow on the color wheel. These birds, however, feel more comfortable when ensconced in thick foliage, thus my difficulty in finding one.

The colorful bird I finally found on my fourth day of looking was an easily identifiable adult male perched in a tree near a small pond.  The painted bunting became bird species No. 383 on my life list (which now numbers 710). The painted bunting is nicknamed nonpareil (without equal) in French and mariposa pintado (painted butterfly) in Spanish because of its spectacular appearance.

Appropriately, a group of painted buntings is called a mural or a palette.

Green heron — Wikimedia photo

Sad to say, the bird’s beauty made it a popular caged bird until its capture and captivity became illegal in the United States. It is still, however, a hot item with the international pet trade, and the birds are particularly popular as pets in Asia and Europe, which may be one of the reasons its numbers are dwindling.

Meanwhile, as I was enjoying my front-row view of the Cedar Hill painted bunting years ago, it was suddenly displaced on the limb by another bird. I would have been upset, except this bird was a green heron – bird species No. 384.

Some days, life is really good.

Bean Pat: Traveling with dogs. https://jamieandthedogs.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/yep-just-me-and-four-dogs-heading-east/  This reminds me of my years on the road in my small RV, only I just had one dog.

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

            “The daily hummingbird assaults existence with improbability.” Ursula K. Le Guin

Male Anna’s hummingbird. — Wikimedia photo

A Constant Delight at my Nectar Feeder

            If you want to see hummingbirds in North America, then Southeastern Arizona is the best place to be. While there are over 300 species of hummingbirds that can be found in South America, only about 17 come north across the Mexican border. Of that number, at least 13 of these species can be found around Tucson, where I currently live.

Female Anna’s hummingbird — Wikimedia photo

In my home state of Texas, the only hummingbird I would likely see is the ruby-throated.  Here in Tucson, I get six species regularly visiting my third-floor balcony nectar feeder every year: broad-billed, black-chinned, Costa’s, Anna’s, broad-tailed and rufous. Although it didn’t come to my feeder, I even spotted a Lucifer hummingbird in the tree next to my balcony two years ago. That was a life bird for me, and a one-time event so far in my life.

Of the hummingbirds that visit my apartment, I may only see one or two rufous during an entire year. The other five, however, are more common, especially Anna’s. This feisty little bird doesn’t migrate so I get to see it almost daily throughout the year.

The females are dainty things, with glittering green and white feathers with perhaps a few sparkling magenta gems around their necks. The

I saw my first Costa;s hummingbird from my third-floor Tucson balcony. — Wikimedia photo

males are agile dive bombers who guard my nectar feeder against other hummers, and they have brilliant crimson-red crowns and necks that shimmer in the sunlight. I never tire of watching them.

Perhaps because Anna’s favorite food is nectar from feeders put out by humans, they have had no problem surviving loss of habitat, as so many other birds have. In the early 20th century, Anna’s could only be found on the Baja California Peninsula but they have slowly been spreading northward and inward.

The hummers were named after Anna Massena, Duchess of Rivoli. Why? This wondering-wanderer immediately asks. I didn’t find the answer. Do you know?

Bean Pat: https://naturehasnoboss.com/2019/06/04/as-the-snow-melts/  It’s time to visit Yellowstone.

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

Keeping Bird Lists 

Black-bellied whistling ducks at Brazos Bend State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

I first started keeping a list of all the bird species I saw in 1999. Sadly, that was after I had visited Hawaii and a few other hot birding places or my list might be much longer today. My world list of bird species currently totals 710.

It’s not a particularly awesome number, but it’s still growing. The list pleases me, as I suspect the list President Theodore Roosevelt put together of the birds he saw during his White House occupancy pleased him.

Spotting the pink of a lone roseate spoonbill, as Lewis and I did among a flock of white ibis, was pure delight. — Photo by Pat Bean

I only recently learned of Teddy’s list, which was printed in 1910 by Audubon’s magazine, Bird-Lore.  Of course, I had to check it out, and so can you at:  https://www.birdnote.org/blog/2014/04/president-theodore-roosevelts-bird-checklist-white-house

The White House list contains 93 birds, of which I have seen all but five. I’m still looking for a saw-whet owl, a whippoorwill, an orchard oriole, a Cape May warbler and a Kentucky warbler.

When I first started birding, I kept individual lists of the birds I saw on each field outing, later adding any new ones to my life list. Most of those lists have disappeared, making me as sad as Darwin was about not separating the bird specimens that he collected on the first two Galapagos Islands he visited. He had simply assumed the species would not differ from island to island – but they did.

Wiser now, with 20 years of birding behind me, I add field trip bird lists directly into my journals.* Such a practice let me compare my last two Texas Gulf Coast bird outings with my son, Lewis, who shares my birding addiction.

A flock of white ibis at Brazos Bend State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

The first field trip was on a very hot July 11th day in 2018, with high humidity and mosquitos, when we birded the Bay City Bird Sanctuary in a golf cart, followed by a quick drive through San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.  We saw only 19 bird species, the best sighting being that of a Cooper’s hawk circling above the wooded path we were driving on.

The most recent outing took place on May 2 this month, when we briefly explored the Elm Lake Trail at Brazos Bend State Park, drove through Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge (where Lewis and I had our first bird outing and he began his life list with a summer tanager), then watched birds as we ate lunch at Pirates Cove on Surfside Beach. This time our list numbered 47 for the morning, the final bird being a reddish egret at Christmas Bay off the coastal Blue Water Highway between Freeport and Galveston.

While this was a better birding day, it was still nowhere near the record 100 birds Lewis and I once saw in a single day birding the same area. The recordings of these more recent bird days in my journals are alike, however, in one aspect. Both contained entries that noted the best part of the day was simply getting to spend time with my son.

Bean Pat: Cadillac Ranch and Palo Duro Canyon https://anotefromabroad.com/2019/05/22/texas-cadillac-ranch-and-palo-duro-canyon/#like-108774 Two of this native Texan’s favorite places. One for laughs and the other for peace, nature and bird-watching.

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com