Archive for the ‘Lakes’ Category

Fishlake National Forest … Wikimedia Photo

Sometime back in the early 1970s, when I was exploring Utah’s backroads as part of research for a story about Utah State University’s rural extension programs, I found myself in Fishlake National Forest. Named after Fish Lake, the largest mountain lake in Utah, the forest covers 1.5 million acres and is home to an abundance of wildlife and birds.

          I thought about my long ago drive through that peaceful forest this morning as I listened to and read about Pando in an Atlas Obscura article. Podcast: Pando the Trembling Giant – Atlas Obscura

Pando, which was discovered by researchers Jerry Kemperman and Burton Barnes in 1976 –just a year or two after I first discovered the forest – is a clonal quaking aspen stand. Aspens grow from a connected root system, with each tree being a genetic replicate of all the others. 

          In 1992, the huge Fishlake quaking aspen stand was re-examined by other scientific researchers who named it Pando, Latin for I spread, and who claimed it was the world’s largest organism. It is spread out over 106 acres and weighs an estimated 13 million pounds, and consists of about 40,000 trunks.

Wow! That’s the word that went through my mind as I read that Pando was also 80,000 years old – the stand, not the individual trees, which rarely live longer than 150 years.

I’ve long-loved aspen trees, especially in the fall when their leaves turn golden and shimmer in sunlight, as they were beginning to do near the summit of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, where I saw them just this past week. I’ve rarely seen aspen trees below an elevation of 8,000 feet.

In 2015, I took a road trip to Grand Canyon’s north rim just to see these awesome trees. But on last week’s drive through, I saw many more aspens than earlier, probably because a fire had moved through the area and the aspens were the first trees to grow back. Their root systems survived the fire. In their fall colors, the young aspens, which grow about two feet annually, also stood out more prominently than other foliage.

My feet are now itching to revisit Fishlake National Forest. But since that’s not on any nearby agenda, perhaps I’ll just do a return trip up to the top of Mount Lemmon, where I saw aspens a few weeks ago. Those hadn’t yet assumed their fall colors, and maybe they have by now.

I know that if you look for it, beauty can be found in your own backyard just as easily as anywhere, like the broad-billed hummingbird that visited my nectar feeder this morning. The secret is simply to look with an observant eye and a heart attuned to nature’s wonders.

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

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Lake Moraine in Banff National Park — Wikimedia photo

          Lake Louise is one of the more popular sites in Canada’s Banff National Park. I visited it in 2001 and was quite impressed, more so perhaps because it was here that I saw my first Clark’s Nutcracker. It was during my early days of birdwatching and I remember being quite excited to add this bird to my life list.

          But while Lake Louise merely impressed me, my next stop in the park was one of those soul-touching moments that made me vow to return. It was the smaller, nearby Lake Moraine, around the edge of which sat a few cabins that looked out over the water. I could see myself sitting for a week or more in one of them watching as the light changed the mood of the view hour by hour.

          My vow to return, however, wasn’t a realistic one, given the distance, the time and the cost involved, not to mention how many other places to visit are still on my bucket list.

          And Lake Louise wasn’t the first place I’ve vowed to revisit. There was the Top of the World Highway, which started with a ferry trip across the Yukon River in Dawson City, Canada, and traveled on a mostly unpaved road to Tok, Alaska; Then there was Acadia National Park in Maine, where I stood on top of Cadillac Mountain and was the first person in the United States to feel the sun on my face that early morning; And the Galapagos Islands, which I sailed around and where a blue-footed booby danced with me; And Farragut State Park in Idaho, where I was a camp volunteer one summer; And Flume Gorge State Park in New Hampshire, where I enjoyed a solo hike that I still treasure – just to name a few of those vows.

          Thankfully, I’ve been wise enough to realize that some things only happen once in your life, so I’ve tried hard not to miss anything, and to store up the good memories. Those at least are vows that can be kept.  Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on

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Battle Mountain, Nevada — Wikimedia photo 

            “Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” – Matsuo Basho

Cruising I-80 in Nevada and Utah

            Day 7: The next morning found us back on Interstate 80 for a scenic, peaceful day’s drive to Battle Mountain, Nevada, 350 miles away.

The Bonneville Salt Flats as viewed near the Nevada-Utah border. Wikimedia photo

            In my research to discover what battle had been fought here, I learned there hadn’t been any battle, but I did learn that in December 2001, the Washington Post published an article that called the town the “Armpit of America.”  And that Battle Mountain then used the title as a publicity opportunity, hosting an annual “Armpit Festival” from 2002–2005. The event was sponsored by Old Spice.

I saw Battle Mountain as just one of America’s small towns past its prime after a  familiar history of copper, silver and gold mining and accessibility to a railroad to bring miners to the area and transport the ores elsewhere. The city’s economy today is gold mining, gambling and a plethora of motels because it sits in the middle of nowhere.

It was simply a convenient place for Jean, me and our doggies to spend the night, order take out from a nearby steak house, and then start the next day at the town’s excellent dog park before continuing our journey. The pleasant dog park made me discount the armpit title.

Day 8: Back on Interstate 80, our goal for the day was Ogden, Utah, where I had lived and worked as a reporter, columnist and

Utah Tree of Life, a cement structure that sits beside Insterdate 80 between Wendover, Nevada and Salt Lake City, Utah.

editor for 25 years. I was eager to once again be in sight of its magnificent Wasatch Mountain backdrop. I was also eager to see friends I had left behind when I retired in 2004 and took to the roaming RV life for eight years before nesting in Tucson seven years ago.

But before that could happen, there were 350 miles ahead of us, the first 300 continuing on Interstate 80 through a mostly unsettled landscape that was sometimes awesome and-sometimes barren. The most interesting sight along the way – one that Jean, a former chef and now a high school culinary arts teacher was eager to see for the first time – came just after we crossed into Utah after passing through Wendover, Nevada, where Northern Utahns come to gamble.

It was the Bonneville Salt Flats, a remnant of Lake Bonneville that once stretched across portions of Utah, Nevada and Idaho until it broke through Red Rock Pass in Idaho about 15,000 years ago.  I knew the area’s history well because during my days as an environmental reporter I often wrote about the flats and the Great Salt Lake, which I had watched go from a historic low in 1963 to a historic high in 1983. Today, the ever-fluctuating lake is once again reaching historic low levels.  

We stopped for a short break at a viewing tower overlooking the salt flats shortly after crossing over the border into Utah. Jean, curious about its texture, walked out onto the salt.

 As we drove on, I noted that the area we were passing through was called the West Desert and that in addition to containing the salt flats, it also contained an Air Force bombing range and was home to Dugway Proving Grounds, where chemical weapons are tested. In addition, I said, there are several landfills, including one for hazardous waste, which I had also visited and wrote about as a reporter.

This portion of the day’s drive was full of memories for me and new territory for Jean.

To be continued:

Bean Pat: Worth reading for writers is today’s Jane Friedman’s column. Check it out at https://www.janefriedman.com/metaphor-and-imagery/   

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.

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“I see my path but don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

A view of Wolf Creek Pass from Highway 160 — Wikimedia photo

Road Trip: June 21 – July 6, 2002

The drive on Highway 160 between Cortez and Pagosa Springs, Colorado, is one of my favorites. The most scenic section is Wolf Creek Pass, a high mountain drive that takes travelers across the Continental Divide through the San Juan Mountains. I first drove this route in the 1970s when it was a simple two-lane highway, which, of course, it no longer is.

Wolf Creek Pass tunnel that was completed in 2006.

Thankfully, I never had to drive it in the winter, a trip that  C.W. McCall sings about in his song “Wolf Creek Pass.” He calls the drive “37 miles of hell.” I call it a road trip not to be missed.

Near Pagosa Springs, I took a four-mile detour off Highway 160 to visit Echo Canyon Lake State Wildlife Area. The small, but about 50-foot deep reservoir that sits above 7,000 feet in elevation, is surrounded by scenic mountains,, It is mostly used by fishermen, but is also listed as a “hot birding spot” and is one of the sites on Colorado’s birding trail maps. The latter is what brought it to my attention.

Coots at Echo Canyon Lake. — photo by Pat Bean

While I didn’t have long to explore the area, I felt well-rewarded for taking the time to visit. There was not another soul around. I had the place to myself and could drink in its peaceful scenery, and the birds, in wonderful solitude. That doesn’t happen too often these days.

Birds at the reservoir included coots with babies, yellow-headed blackbird, red-winged blackbird, redhead duck, cinnamon teal and brown-headed cowbird.

On the way back to the highway, I spotted a Lewis woodpecker, a Brewer’s blackbird and a rough-winged swallow all on the same power pole. I thought that was kind of neat. In addition to these, the other birds seen this day included house sparrow, turkey vulture, western wood peewee (my lifer at Mesa Verde), a wild turkey with two chicks, Clark’s nutcracker, kestrel, violet-green swallow, raven and magpie.  … to be continued.

Now available on Amazon

Bean Pat: A simple way to travel https://simpletravelourway.woodpress.com/2019/03/13/car-camping-our-way/   This was my way of traveling for many years.

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

*You can listen to McCall sing “Wolf Creek Pass “on YouTube 

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“I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore … I hear it in the deep heart’s core.”  – William Butler Yates.

A tree full of double-crested cormorants at Lake End Campground. — Photo by Pat Bean  

Water and Birds for Double the Pleasure

A walk among the moss-dripping trees. — Photo by Pat Bean

One of my favorite things to do when I traveled across this country in my RV was to spend the night parked where I could be lulled to sleep at night by the sounds of water gurgling, lapping and laughing. It was better than any sleeping pill, assuring me a good night’s sleep, and a morning eager to take a walk by the water.

It didn’t hurt either that lakes and ponds and oceans were also the stomping grounds of birds to feed my birdwatching passion.

Great Blue Heron at Lake End Campground, Louisiana. — Photo by Pat Bean

So, it was that I found myself spending a few nights on the western edge of Louisiana’s Lake Palourde at Lake End Campground, sharing it with an abundance of double-crested cormorants and great blue herons. An additional bonus was its scenic walking trail.

Palourde is an 11,250-acre lake near Morgan City, Louisiana. It was originally called Lac Palourde by early French settlers, which means Lake Clam. The name came because of the abundance of clams that once lined the shore.

I didn’t see any clams, but I did see lots of birds – and I slept well.

Bean Pat:  Living outside the lines https://tinyurl.com/y9ho6t7r Be sure and listen to the music. I really loved this blog

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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“People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.” – Salma Hayek

Secret, also know as Cecret, Lake in Albion Basin at the top of Cottonwood Canyon in Utah. — Wikimedia photo

A Day to Remember

I’m organizing photos that I removed from albums and put in a box when I got rid of or condensed everything so all my belongings would fit into a small RV back in 2004. Lately, I’ve been rummaging through that box.

Kim and me looking out over Secret Lake. I’m not sure who took the photo, most likely Cory, Kim’s son.

Of the many photos, my favorites are the ones of me enjoying Mother Nature’s outdoor wonders. My long-time friend Kim is there with me in many of these memories, like the one recaptured by the photograph on the right, which was taken at Secret, or Cecret as some people call it, Lake at the top of Albion Basin up Cottonwood Canyon in Utah.

As I recall it was an early July day, which is when spring wakes up in this high country, Notice the snow still visible in the background of the photo. I recall that the meadow at the trailhead, where Kim and I started our hike, as being saturated with wildflowers, Indian paintbrush, columbine, lupine, Jacob’s ladder, beard’s tongue, and elephant’s head (my favorite), just to name a few.

I can’t remember ever seeing so many different wildflowers crowed into one place as I did this day. I do remember trying, unsuccessfully, to name them all. The profusion of wildflowers accompanied Kim and I all the way up to Secret Lake, where we sat for a while enjoying the warm sun.

I’m not sure when this photo was taken, but since I don’t recall bird watching on the hike, I’m pretty sure it was before 1999. That’s when I got addicted to birds, and from that time forward, I was always looking for them. In fact, after that year, I couldn’t not see birds.

Bean Pat: A Slice of Life http://tinyurl.com/kjyblf8 The beauty of a garden, and one magnificent radish

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“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.” – Albert Einstein

A male Baltimore oriole. — Wikimedia photo

My 477th Bird

Back in 2006, when I was still a full-time RV-er traveling across America, I found myself camped beside Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees at Bernice State Park in Oklahoma. On my second day there, I was up by 6 a.m., and after a quick cup of cream-laced coffee and a short walk with my canine traveling companion Maggie, I took off alone to explore the park’s nature trail. It was summer-hot and humid, and Maggie had seemed quite agreeable to be left behind to sit in her favorite perch in front of the air conditioner.

View of Grand Lake that I had through the window of my RV at Bernice State Park in Oklahoma. — Photo by Pat Bean

Several bird feeders set out near the trailhead were bustling with Carolina chickadees and American goldfinches, and as I watched, a nearby downy, North America’s most common and smallest woodpecker, drummed its own attention-getting beat. It was going to be a good day, I decided.

As I continued on down the path, I took plenty of time to breathe in the simple beauty around me: a yellow patch of wall flowers, the artistic composition of a small dead tree reclaimed by vines, and an occasional peek of a glistening, sun-speckled lake through thick foliage

I’ve often wondered how people who don’t take nature breaks stay sane in today’s fast-paced world? I suspect that the angry psychopaths who do evil and harm are among the deprived.

My thoughts were interrupted when a doe and her freckled fawn came into sight around a curve in the path. I froze, as did the two deer. We all stared intently. When I finally took a step forward, mom stepped into the woods. Her baby gave me one last look of interest then quickly followed. It amazes me how fast wildlife can disappear from sight.

A male Bullock’s oriole — Wikimedia photo

My thoughts were still on the deer when a flash of orange drew my attention. With eyes glued to my binoculars, I followed the color through the tree branches, and realized I was most likely looking at a Baltimore oriole. While common in the East, these orioles don’t visit the West, where I had lived when I took up birdwatching.

Out West, the Baltimore’s look-alike cousin is the Bullock oriole. I had seen hundreds of Bullocks, but this was my first Baltimore. It was what we birders call a lifer. While I rejoiced, I lamented the too brief view I had before the bird disappeared amongst the trees. I had identified the bird more because of its color and location than because of specific field marks.

Later in the day, as I was sitting at my table writing, the omission was rectified. A Baltimore oriole flew right outside my RV window, and then lingered in the area. It was a breeding male with a black head atop a bright orange body that had thin white streaks on black wings. A Bullock wears only a black cap atop its head and its black wings have prominent white patches on them.

After the oriole flew away, I got out my world bird list and added the Baltimore oriole to it. It was bird 477. I had been hesitant to put it on the list earlier because of the poor sighting. Life is good, I thought, as I added the date and place of its sighting beside the bird’s name.

As I had suspected, it turned out to be a very good day.

Bean Pat: Houston Art Car Parade http://tinyurl.com/mqug4ef For people watchers, too. As a writer, these photos are good examples of interesting characters.

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 Goosey goosey gander, Whither shall I wander? Upstairs and downstairs And in my lady’s chamber. There I met an old man Who wouldn’t say his prayers.

So I took him by his left leg And threw him down the stairs.

The stairs went crack, He nearly broke his back. And all the little ducks went, “Quack, quack, quack”

I've taken many a goose photo, but this one taking off ahead of a boat I was in on Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve taken many a goose photo, but this one taking off ahead of a boat I was in on Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho is one of my favorites.

Are You Good, or Are You Bad?

            You can goose someone, go on a wild goose chase, get goose bumps, or call someone a silly goose.

Canada geese on Lake Walcott in Idaho. Photo by Pat Bean

Canada geese on Lake Walcott in Idaho. Photo by Pat Bean

My brain focused on these goose oddities one delightful morning not too long ago when I watched and listened to a flock of geese, flying their V-wedge formation overhead. While such sights and sounds cleanse my soul of the world’s chaos, it can just as easily send questions pulsing through my brain.

It’s always been such, but these days more of those questions get answered by the magic of the internet.

I didn’t have time to search that particular morning, but I added the word “goose” to my lengthy list of blog ideas. I came across  it again this morning when I was wondering what to post. My 15 minutes of scanning the internet turned up the “Goosey, Goosey Gander” nursery rhyme —  which makes you wonder at the cruelty of nursery rhymes.

More interesting were the goose proverbs I found, like “What is good for the goose is good for the gander,” from America; “ A wild goose never reared a tame gosling,” from Ireland; and “When the goose honk high, fair weather; when the goose honk low, foul weather,” from who knows where.

But my favorite quote, most certainly because I am a writer, was Tom Robbins’ quote: “When I sit down to write, I just let the goose out of the bottle.” – Tom Robbins

So what does the word goose bring to your mind?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Time Travel Portal http://tinyurl.com/kpb9jkq I once came across my own time travel portal. It was at the Garr Ranch on Antelope Island in Utah. I stepped out a stable door into an orchard that seemed to have nothing to do with the rest of the desert, Great Salt Lake landscape. It was magical.

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Bookish Wednesday

            “A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.” Caroline Gordon

The dark mirror in the book of the same name is a dark lake. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The dark mirror in the book of the same name is a dark lake. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Dark Mirror by Juliet Marillier

Yup! I may be an old broad, but I still haven’t lost my ability to stay awake when I’m in the middle of a good book.

And the woods and rocks of the landscape are integral to the story. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And the woods and rocks of the landscape are integral to the story. — Photo by Pat Bean

But I must admit that it’s been a long time since I stayed awake reading – actually I was listening to an audible book – until 4:53 a.m. That was the time on the clock in my kitchen – I don’t have one in the bedroom – when I finally looked.

I had known it was late, but not that late.

The book was “The Dark Mirror: Bridei Trilogy, Book One,” by Juliet Marillier.

I  knew it was getting late last night, and I kept saying I was going to put the book down as soon as I found out what was happening next, but by the time I did that, there was something else going on that kept me reading. And so it went all through the night.

“The Dark Mirror” was the first Juliet Marillier book I’ve read. I was delighted to know she’s published many more.  This first, published in 2004, is an epic fantasy with tangled plots, characters with depth and good writing.

I just downloaded the second audible book in the trilogy onto my Kindle. It is 23 hours long. Let’s hope it keeps me as intrigued about what’s going to happen next as book one.

I predict many more sleepless nights ahead of me.

“O frabjous  day! Callooh! Callay!” – and who knows what this is from?

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: The Blood-Red Pencil http://tinyurl.com/lbxm4nv The woman, who is proofing and editing by book, “Travels with Maggie,” and I differ over the use of commas, which is probably why I enjoyed this blog so much.   Perhaps my writer-readers will enjoy it, too

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Walks by the Water

Water and birds often go together, just one more reason I like walking beside water. I found this great egret at the Sea Center in Lake Jackson, Texas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Water and birds often go together, just one more reason I like walking beside water. I found this great egret at the Sea Center in Lake Jackson, Texas. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” – John Lubbock

Wet Your Eyes and Drink in the Ripples

I’ve been told that a monsoon is coming to Tucson soon. It’s hard to imagine as I pass by dry gullies and creek beds — and even rivers with nary a drop of water to be seen.


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