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Archive for the ‘Favorite Places’ Category

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

 

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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

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“I chose the road less traveled. And now I’m lost.” — Darynda Jones

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Carlsbad, New Mexico

Road Trip June 21 — July 6, 2002

If you’re in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the No. 1 place to visit is Carlsbad Caverns National Park. But since I had already done this, I decided to forgo the cave tour and instead visit the city’s Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. It was a good choice as I added three new bird species to my life list — and got an educational experience about the landscape, plants, and animals of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Barn owl. — Wikimedia photo

It was late afternoon when I arrived, giving me only a couple of hours to walk the 1.3 loop trail around the park’s variety of desert habitats that included sandhills, marsh areas and arroyos. But it was a good time to see daytime birds getting ready to nest for the night, or nighttime birds coming awake for their night of activity.

The first stop was an aviary near the visitor center that featured native birds of prey including golden and bald eagles. While these were fun to see, it was the birds that flew free around the avian-friendly park that interested me more. One of these, a barn owl flew right in front of me as I rounded a curve in the trail, which I seemed to have all to myself. A little farther on, a couple of scaled quail scurried off when they saw me coming, but not before I had a satisfying look at them.

Because back then I was still new to birding, both of these species were lifers for my growing bird list. So were the common nighthawks skimming the water at Waterfowl Pond near the prairie dog homes. I easily identified the nighthawks, well after a quick look at my bird field guide, by the broad white stripes visible near their wing tips as they flew.

Bank swallow

Also circling around the ponds were quite a few cliff and bank swallows. I had seen quite a few of these birds during trips to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Northern Utah. On one outing there had been a huge flock of five species of swallows circling around and under a small bridge. I had spent hours learning how to tell them apart. The bank and swift swallows, I had decided were the easiest to identify.

The bank swallow has a gray, necklace-like stripe on its white breast, which I came to think of as a banker’s bow tie. The mature cliff swallow, meanwhile, has a prominent white spot on its bluish-black head that flashes when its flying toward you. 

Other birds I saw as I followed the winding trail through the desert landscape included a Harris hawk, burrowing owls, black-chinned hummingbirds and an Eastern kingbird. It was a delightful late afternoon that ended far too quickly.

According to my journal notes, I paid a $4 entrance fee to be admitted to the park. I certainly got my money’s worth, and I noted that the admission fee today is only $1 more. A bargain I would say.

Available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Seaman https://sarah-angleton.com/2019/04/11/a-classy-post-about-a-loyal-dog-with-an-unfortunate-name. A dog story and a travel story in one, and it made me smile.

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 is also currently looking for a new canine companion. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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I got a good belly laugh when I saw a sign for eye exams on a Wal-Mart front in Roswell, New Mexico — and right above it a space. — Photo by Pat Bean

“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

Road Trip: June 21 – July 6, 2002

From Santa Fe, I took Interstate 25 south to Carlsbad, New Mexico, which took me through the strange city of Roswell. Home to about 50,000 residents, Roswell sits on the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains.

Mexican free-tailed bats exiting Carlsbad Caverns at sunset. — Wikimedia photo

The city’s weirdness factor, meanwhile, is based on a reported UFO crash near the city in 1947.  The alternative story is that it was actually a weather balloon that crashed and not an alien ship. The taller tale, expanded by UFO fans, claims that aliens were recovered from the crash and that the incident became a military cover up, a story that spawned the television series “Roswell” and been exploited by movies, such as “Independence Day.”

Roswell entrepreneurs have also exploited the UFO story to attract tourists.  Alien-themed businesses and museums abound, even Wal-Mart got into the act, as you can see from the above photo. I couldn’t help but have a good belly laugh when I saw a sign advertising an eye exam with a spaceship painted on the wall above it.

But since I’m not really into the UFO conspiracy, after a stop to refuel and have lunch, I drove on to Carlsbad, my stopping place for the night.

Scissor-tailed flycatcher, an awesome bird that’s common in Texas but can’t be found in Utah. — Wikimedia photo

While I wasn’t taking the time to visit Carlsbad Caverns, for which the city is famous, I did want to get into to town in time to watch the Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from the cave at dusk. Some believe millions of these bats once inhabited the cave, but the latest rough count of these flying mammals was slightly less than 800,000, which is still enough to make for a spectacular show.

The day’s drive also increased my birding life list. Added to the list were scissor-tailed flycatcher, Couch’s kingbird, red-shoulder hawk and common and great-tailed grackles. All these birds were not normally seen in Utah, where most of my birding had been done since I had started seeing and listing birds.

Other birds seen on this day’s journey included house sparrow, rock pigeon, raven, red-winged blackbird, western meadowlark, turkey vulture, Lewis woodpecker, Swainson’s hawk, crow, mourning dove, northern mockingbird and cliff swallow.

Bean Pat: Oregon’s Painted Hills https://roadsbeltravelled.com/2018/09/08/born-to-wander-these-painted-hills/ I, too, traveled this road alone – as an old broad during my RV-ing days. Good times.

Available on Amazon

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. 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

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The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. — Wikimedia photo

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from a single thing I wanted to do.” – Georgia O’Keeffe 

Road Trip: June 21 – July 6, 2002

Santa Fe, the oldest state capital in the country, is a delight to visit – if you like quaint adobe buildings with an artistic flair and a town filled with old churches, art galleries and an atmosphere of enchantment. And I do,

A page from my journal with a Georgia O’Keeffe print.

The city, whose name means holy faith, was founded by Spanish colonists in 1610. I got to see quite a bit of its charming downtown area as I searched – and searched – for the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. I had an address but no map and it took me quite a while to finally come upon the humble building.

I’ve long been a fan of O’Keeffe’s art, and of her boldness in living her life her way.  Here’s a sample of her way of thinking:

“Men liked to put me down as the best woman painter. I think I’m one of the best painters.”

            “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”

Georgia wanted viewers to really see a flower.

            “I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality. I can see myself, and it has helped me to say what I want to say in paint.”
I bought a few Georgia O’Keeffe prints while in Santa Fe, intending to use them as gifts and keep one for myself. The latter didn’t happen but I made one extra family member happy when I gave the print to her.

With my morning of sight-seeing behind me, I was ready to get back on the road. I had a long way still to go before nightfall.

Bean Pat: Chicago Botanical Garden photos that might have intrigued Georgia O’Keeffe    https://sfkfsfcfef.wordpress.com/2019/03/17/coming-to-a-point-at-the-chicago-botanic-garden/

Available on Amazon

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. 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

 

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“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin

Echo Amphitheater, located 70 miles north of Sant Fe, New Mexico on Highway 285. — Photo by Pat Bean

Road Trip: June 21 – July 6, 2002

After turning off Highway 160 onto Highway 285 in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and heading south toward Santa Fe, New Mexico, the scenery changed in both color and form. I left the green lush mountain foliage color behind in my rear-view mirror and stared ahead at red rock cliffs. Each landscape, in its own way, was perfectly awesome. One had a peaceful charm and the other bold outlandish character.

Photo by Pat Bean

I wouldn’t dream of choosing a favorite. I simply enjoyed the change as bringing added variety to my road trip.

I was making this annual trip from Utah to Texas slower than usual. In earlier, younger years, I had twice driven the 1,300-mile trip from Ogden to Dallas in one long 24-hour day. Then I slowed it down to two 12-hour days of driving. This trip I was taking my time and doing it in three eight-hour days, which left me eight hours to discover new places to explore along the way and eight hours of sleep at an inexpensive motel along the way.

About 70 miles from Santa Fe, I stopped for a short hike to Echo Amphitheater, a sandstone formation just four miles from Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch, where the landscape inspired her art.

This New Mexico natural amphitheater is quite visible from the road, but made an ideal spot for Maggie and me to stretch our legs a bit. A dripping red stain on the rock at the site has created a ghoulish legend about the place. According to the tall-tales, Indians massacred a family of settlers on the rim and their blood dripped downward. Then, soldiers killed a group of Indians on the rim and their blood joined that of their earlier victims.

“Do you believe that?” I asked my canine companion Maggie. I assumed her lack of a reply indicated she didn’t. And neither did I … to be continued

Available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Nature always wins https://naturetreatnatwin.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/squirrel/   Great nature theme photo blog.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. 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

 

 

 

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National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” — Wallace Stegner. 

Cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

Road Trip: June 21 – July 6, 2002

            Today would be the fourth time I visited Mesa Verde National Park, a place that because of its beauty and its history would never bore me. But today would be the first time I had visited this park since I had become addicted to bird watching.

A page from my journal.

So along with looking at the high mesa scenery and cliff dwellings, I was always on the lookout for birds. Of the 1,000 or so bird species found in North American, about 200 of them have been sighted in the park. I didn’t see too many of them, but it was still fun looking.

I enjoyed the 45-minute drive up to the top of the 8,600-foot mesa because of the scenic views as much as I enjoyed stopping at overviews of the cliff dwellings and the hike down to one of them, the Spruce Tree House. The cliff dwellings were used by those often called the Anasazi sometime after 650 and through the end of the 12th century. The occupants used a combination of hunting, gathering, and subsistence farming of crops such as corn, beans and squash to survive.

Before hiking down to the ancient dwellings, I spent 50 cents to purchase a guide to the site, which also identified the plants along the trail. While I enjoy the historical aspects of the places I visit, the truth is I enjoy the handiwork of nature even more.

And the highlight of this morning of sightseeing on the high mesa (perhaps because this wasn’t my first sight

Western wood peewee 

of the cliff dwellings) was seeing a western wood peewee for the first time. It was my second lifer for the trip. This peewee is a rather plain grayish-brownish bird five to six inches in size. Its most distinguishing feature is a peaked crown that gives a triangular shape to the bird’s head. The peewees belong to the flycatcher family, and like them can be seen sitting up tall and then flying out to catch a spotted insect, then flying back to the same perch.

It was this action that gave me a clue to the bird’s identification, followed by a close look at my bird field guide…. To be continued.

Bean Pat: Mesa Verde  https://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm   Check out the video about the park. 

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. 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

 

 

 

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