Archive for the ‘Lakes’ Category

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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            “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon


I Discovered it was Everything and Nothing

            In the midst of one of the most unhappy periods of my life, I realized I was a happy person. Not the delightful, delirious, delicious tickling of the inner self when all is right with the world, but the knowledge that a kind of happiness lived within me that no amount of outside sorrow could touch.

cranes 2

This pair of sandhill cranes made my birding passion happy. — Photo by Pat Bean

            Although I struggled for weeks to get through the day, I still awoke each morning with a hope, verging on knowledge, that my days would get better. I also realized I still had a zest for life that made me glad to see and appreciate the sunrise and the little details of the day that so often go unnoticed, like the smile of a child or the tiny drop of dew on a yellow rose.

            While lingering effects from that difficult period over 30 years ago still occasionally touch my life, and those of people I love, the happiness within, along with my zest for life, have not dulled. In fact, they have only grown.

            I wonder sometimes if I’m singularly blessed, or if others also have an inner happiness that cannot be destroyed? As a writer, I’m always observing people, and I have come to a conclusion that while I’m not alone in having this trait, I might be among the minority.

            I awake each day with gratefulness in my heart for being so blessed.

            Bean’s Pat: I gotta pee http://tinyurl.com/coobdul As a person who tent-camped until she was 65 and bought her RV, Gypsy Lee, this was a blog that brought back many memories and had me laughing out loud.

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“A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. ”  ~John Muir


Tree Partnerships

During the three summers I spent at Lake Walcott, I never got tired of looking at the park’s many trees. My favorites were the willows, Russian olives and the cottonwoods. The cottonwoods, thanks to Snake River irrigation water, were huge, the willows graceful and the frosty color of the Russian olives, which also grew larger than any I had seen elsewhere, gave the park’s greenness a vibrant texture.

Arms entwined in a naked embrace. Bell-lughing now. How about you? -- Photo by Pat Bean

Arms entwined in a naked embrace. Belly-laughing  now. How about you? — Photo by Pat Bean

What amazed me was how many of them seemed to have grown up in pairs.

And like John Muir, I saw the trees in their many moods: From their naked branches, whose forms sometimes made me think of an Escher painting, to their passionate dance when a wind storm blew across the park, to their quiet summer verdancy when they issued an invitation for me to sit beneath them and partake of their shaded coolness.  

And when I saw this week’s photo theme, the trees were the first thing that popped into my mind. if trees could make love, would their foreplay begin with kissing leaves? What do you think?

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            “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines … It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers, and criminals.” – Charles Kuralt

A lone great egret on Lincoln Trail Lake —  Photo by Pat Bean

Adventures with Pepper: Day 18-19

            I got it all figured out on the map, just exactly the best way to get to Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield. But in the end, I decided I’d rather spend my day traveling down Illinois’ backroads.

A young deer in the sunlight while the mom stays more hidden in the shadows. The park was full of deer. A staff worker said they had fawned late this year. — Photo by Pat Bean

So, with a cheat sheet of right and left turns to compensate for my lack of directional sense, I set out to drive from Chatham to Lincoln Trail State Park.

You guessed it. I got turned around numerous times. It seems my map and reality were  two different things. Too often sign markers were missing, and once even turned around the wrong way.

But it was a beautiful drive and I eventually found my way over numerous state and county roads to Lincoln Trail State Park, which was awesome.

I camped on a high lookout point with stairs leading down to the small lake that was painted by the colors of fall.

I had breakfast at the park’s marina restaurant before I left. The food was ho-hum, but the view was magnificent. — Photo by Pat Bean — Photo by Pat Bean

The large park is just west of the 1,000-mile Lincoln Heritage Trail, which marks Lincoln’s passage from Kentucky, through Indiana to Illinois.Heavily forested, the park is home to beech, oak, maple, hickory, sweet gum and sassafras trees. among many others. The air was clean and fresh, the days warm and sunny, and the nights cold and crisp, just perfect for snuggling beneath the covers with my canine traveling companion Pepper, and having pleasant dreams.

            Book Report: Travels with Maggie is now at 55,212 words. Not much time to write with traveling and other commitments, but I’m trying to at least keep it moving forward every day.    

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

        Bean’s Pat: Focus on the Eyes http://tinyurl.com/8rd5zjr Good advice for picture taking. I never thought of this very helpful hint. Perhaps other amateur photographers haven’t either.

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“A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.”  — Franz Kafka

Adventures with Pepper: Day 14

Canada geese on one of the two small lakes at Mark Twain Landing near Morgan City, Missouri. — Photo by Pat Bean

It was a long drive today, 275 miles from Seneca, Kansas, to Morgan City, Missouri — through the kind of country that I had been passing for the past couple of days.

I used it as a sort of sabbatical for my brain and eyes, which had been going full blast ever since I had left Lake Walcott State Park in Southern Idaho some 1,500 miles ago.

For the first time since starting the trip, I occupied my mind with something other than the passing sights. I listened to an audible book, Brandon Sanderson’s first book of his trilogy, “The Way of Kings.”

Sunset on the second of the resort’s two lakes. — Photo by Pat Bean

I loved his “Mistborn,” trilogy and was finally getting into this one.  Sanderson, who finished up the epic “Wheel of Time” is not a fast read, but he gives one plenty of things to ponder.

And when I got to my chosen campground for the night, the Mark Twain Landing, I continued my slow day by taking a walk with Pepper. Later, I sat outside with her and a Jack and Coke to watch the sun go down over a small lake. It was if my body signed with relief.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie is now up to 54,615 words. It really is true, at least for me,  that the more I have to do the more I get done. Perhaps I became too accustomed to having to find time to fit my personal writing in between work for too many years.         

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Do Vampire Writers Write at Night? http://tinyurl.com/8qldry5 This one’s for my writer readers, who find themselves wondering instead of writing.

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Entrance to Prairie Dog State Park, Kansas — Photo by Mike Blair

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” – Aristotle

Adventures with Pepper: Day 12   

Prairie Dog at Lake Arrowhead State Park in Texas. The Kansas prairie dogs were too quick for my camera. — Photo by Pat Bean

         Kansas’ Prairie Dog State Park was indeed a great place to spend the night, so I spent two.

Pepper and I had a peaceful camp site that offered a tree-framed view of Keith Sebelius Reservoir out Gypsy Lee’s rear window. While I saw several of the critters for which the park was named on the drive in, birds were the only wildlife I saw in the camping area.

These included an osprey that hung out in a tree overlooking the lake, killdeer near its shore, a lone great blue heron that sat on a rock in the water about a hundred feet from shore and turkey vultures frequently hovering overhead.

Black-tailed ferret, a cute little thing but deadly to prairie dogs, which make up about 90 percent of the ferret’s diet. — Wikipedia photo

But it was the sighting of the black-tailed prairie dogs roaming free in this high plains grass prairie that delighted me most.

That’s because I once participated in an endangered wildlife project that didn’t bode well for a pack of these prairie dogs that roamed the Utah-Colorado border.

The project involved transplanting endangered black-footed ferrets, thought to be extinct until a pack of about a dozen of them were discovered in 1981, into their midst. Prairie dogs are the black-footed ferrets favorite food, even though the two species are near the same size.

The discovered ferrets were captured and entered into a breeding program and some of the offspring began being transplanted back into the wild. Today there are slightly over 1,000 ferrets once again inhabiting North America.

If the number of prairie dogs I’ve seen in my travels are any indication, they are surviving quite nicely – thankfully.

Book Report: 54,312 words. The number is better than it sounds because I cut almost as much as I edited.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat:  I Can’t Afford It http://tinyurl.com/8vnkbw8 I’m pretty thrifty but it’s good to be reminded every now and then that it’s OK to say no to things we want but may not need.  

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            Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge: Abraham Joshua Heshel

Adventures with Pepper: Day 1

Ring-billed gulls and a couple of coots at Swanson Reservoir State Recreation Area. — Photo by Pat Bean

         I started my day in Wray, Colorado heading south on Highway 34, and soon crossed into Nebraska where I was greeted with a sign that welcomed me to “The Good Life.”

It was a ho-hum kind of drive. Except for a few passing empty cattle trucks and an occasional vehicle, I had the highway to myself. The kind of drive where my mind is free to ask itself important questions: like what’s the difference between a creek and a river?

That thought popped into my mind when I crossed over the Republican River, named for a branch of the Pawnees and not the political party, just in case you’re interested. The river was dry, unlike a full creek I had recently crossed over.

Monument to the Massacre Canyon Battle, where 69 Pawnee were killed by Sioux warriors. The site is just off Highway 34 between Swanson Lake and Trenton, Nebraska. I passed the historical marker denoting the turnoff and, belatedly, wish I had made a u-turn to go back and check it out. — Wikipedia photo

It was a question that stayed with me, so I later tried to find the answer.            Yahoo’s best answer was:  “A river is bigger, but the measurement is subjective. There is no standard, so it is really a matter of local opinion. The people who name it decide whether to call it a creek or river. As has been noted, a creek is usually a branch of a river, and doesn’t have branches of its own. But that is not a strict standard either.”

Too bad my question hadn’t been how much are two and two.

Plan A, meanwhile, was for me to stop at Swanson Reservoir State Recreation Area in Nebraska for the night. It was a nice place, but the campground was far from the lake and isolated. So I decided to go with Plan B, which was to plop down to Highway 36 to Kansas and check out Prairie Dog State Park.

Thankfully, it was a great place to spend the night.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie is now up to 54,116 words. It should be more, but I had two days of no internet to double-check facts.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: The Great White http://tinyurl.com/9f7rc4r Beautiful photos of an emblem of this country’s heritage. While America is far from perfect, I wake up every day feeling blessed to live in a country where this wondering, wandering old broad feels safe to explore its beauty with only my canine traveling companion, Pepper, as my security blanket.

I feel honored.

  Thank you http://transplantedtatar.wordpress.com for giving me the One Lovely Blog Award, As for seven random things about myself:  I’m an innovative cook; I love to ride rollercoasters; I have 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren; I have a son-in-law who tells everyone I’m homeless instead of a full-time RV-er; School classmates called me cootie-brain, which hurt so much I couldn’t say the words for 40 years; I’m a cockeyed optimist but with enough cynicism in my brain that everything balances out; and I’m extremely grateful that I still have a huge zest for life.

I’ll use my Bean’s Pat to play things back.

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