Archive for the ‘Lakes’ Category

“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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Up high on Highway 40 near Rabbit Ears Pass. — Photo by Pat Bean

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” – Emily Bronte

Adventures with Pepper: Day Seven  

The rock formation that gives Rabbit Ears Pass its name. — Photo by Pat Bean

          After my daily morning walk with my canine traveling companion, Pepper, I took a second walk to bird watch with the park’s nature and wildlife interpreter, Holly. It was a pleasant walk but the birds in this high, quickly cooling elevation had mostly already flown south for the winter.

Magpies, starlings, black-capped chickadees, Cassin’s finches and yellow-rumped warblers were the only birds still hanging around this morning.

So bidding farewell to Yampa River State Park, Pepper and I continued our journey east on Highway 40, stopping when we came to the town of Steamboat Springs. The ciy has no steamboats, but it does have some natural hot springs. I had visited this ski town in the early 1980s when it was a minor dot on the landscape.

This day its bustling crowds, even though snow hadn’t fallen yet, reminded me of in tourist places like Park City, Utah, and Jackson, Wyoming. It was a much bigger dot now.

I found a parking spot, and telling Pepper to guard the castle, I went in search of breakfast.

I found it at Johnny B. Goods bar and diner, where I took a seat at the bar rather than wait for a table. Johnny, himself, waited on me. I had the special Johnny B. Goods breakfast, which was excellent, and enjoyed the lively chatter going on in the place. Eating alone, with my Kindle in hand, always gives me a great opportunity to eavesdrop, which I love to do.

Highway 34 passes three lakes on the way up to Rocky Mountain Park, Lake Granby, Grand Lake and Green Mountain Reservoir, which is shown above. — Photo by Pat Bean

I didn’t learn anything worthy of a story this day, just that everyone around me seemed to be having a grand old-time. So, carrying half of my breakfast in a to-go box, I made my way back to Gypsy Lee and Pepper to continue the day’s journey.

The drive took me up and over 9,426-foot Rabbit Ears Pass, and through a landscape already touched by the Midas finger of autumn.

After the pass, we passed through Hot Sulphur Springs, which used to be so rowdy on the last day of the month, which was pay-day, that the town celebrated Halloween a day early. While the town is not quite so rowdy these days, the early Halloween tradition is still observed.

At Granby, we turned north onto Highway 34, and followed it to Elk Creek Village just outside the southwest entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

What a great day!

            Book Report: Grumble, grumble growl. I spent a half hour working on Travels with Maggie this morning, then a second half hour recovering what the computer ate when I hit a couple of wrong buttons. I’m not exactly sure what I did, but the control Z recovery didn’t work. 51,902 words.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: 12 Things My Grandmother Told Me http://tinyurl.com/bmymnuo These are almost as good as some of my grandmother’s saying’s to me, like “You’re going to hell in a hand basket,” when I got into mischief; or “The devil’s beating his wife,” if it was raining while the sun was shining. Did your grandmother tell you these kind of things?

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If travel is like love, it is in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” – Pico Iyer, “Why We Travel.”

A view of Steinaker Reservoir through the trees on an early morning hike. — Photo by Pat Bean

Adventures with Pepper: Day Five

            Today’s drive down Highway 40 from Jordanelle State Park to Vernal was one I’d driven quite a few times before. The fact is there are very few roads in Utah that I haven’t driven.

As usual, Pepper is waiting for me to catch up with her. My daily walks with my now nine-month old Scotty-mix puppy help keep this wondering/wandering old broad healthy.

I lived in the state for 25 years, and many were the times an itchy foot would attack me early on a Saturday morning. I would throw a few things in my car, gather up my canine traveling companion, and take off for the weekend. The road was always calling to me as far back as I can remember. After a divorce and after my children had fled the nest, I started answering it back every chance I could.

Highway 40 might haven taken me to Heber, where I might ride the Heber Creeper to Bridal Veil Falls; or to Rockport State Park, where I might set up my tent for the weekend; or to Flaming Gorge, where if I had timed it right, I might watch ospreys feed their chicks.

Highway 40 held the key to many of my memories. There was the tiny town of Myton, which recalled my float trips down the Green River and the rough, unpaved road trip back from the Sand Wash take out to Myton, where civilization began again.

Just past Roosevelt, I thought of the fancy Bottle Hollow Lodge, which I discovered no longer existed. The tourist attraction was a joint business project in the 1970s between the Ute Indians and Utah State University’s Extension Services.

I was working as a writer for USU at the time, and wrote about the venture as part of a marketing campaign. I recalled sleeping one night in the huge round beds that were the standard in the motel’s unique round rooms.

Up the road from where Bottle Hollow had been, there was a neon-lit motel, a bare step above a Motel 6, that now provided passersby overnight accommodations. I was glad I wasn’t stopping there.

I ended my day instead at Steinaker State Park, located just seven miles up Highway 191 from Vernal. It was my virgin visit to the park – and it was awesome.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie, 49,387 words.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day. Bean’s Pat: 23 Thorns http://23thorns.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/frog/ Ribbit. A long blog, but I loved it. I was hooked when the writer began to explain why his family wasn’t like other families.

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            “Coexistence: What the farmer does with the turkey – until Thanksgiving”

The view of Lake Jordanelle out my RV window. — Photo by Pat Bean

Adventures with Pepper: Day Four Continued

The zoom lens on my new Canon Power Shot was a plus in capturing this view of wild turkeys at Lake Jordanelle. — Photo by Pat Bean

             I only drove 77 miles today, but then I only have to drive 75 miles a day to meet my goal of getting back to Texas in time for Thanksgiving.

That gives me plenty of time to start my day by writing, taking a hike with Pepper and then dawdling along the way, stopping to enjoy things like Devil’s Slide up Weber Canyon, the fall colors in the mountains and, of course the birds.

It was a good day for bird-watching. I saw ravens, crows, turkey vultures, a red-breasted nuthatch, magpies, house sparrow, belted kingfishers, great blue heron, a western tanager, kestrels, European starlings, barn swallows and house finches.

It was also a plus that my canine traveling companion, Pepper, was distracted elsewhere when I spotted the turkeys. — Photo by Pat Bean

I even got to see some wild turkeys at Lake Jornanelle State Park, where Pepper and I spent the night. Thankfully, I saw them while Pepper was sniffing a hole in the other direction and was able to snap off a couple of photos before we got closer.

The turkeys disappeared into the bushes as soon as they saw us.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie is now up to 48,803 words. I had time to do more but smelling the flowers got in the way. I no longer flagellate myself for letting that happen. Perhaps it’s because I know that I have more life behind me than ahead of me, and while writing is important to me, it’s not the only thing in my life.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day

Bean’s Pat:  Wales’ Castles http://tinyurl.com/8exuruo From the era of King Edward, An armchair-traveler’s special.

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            “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” George Santayana

            The above quote fit my blog, but the one below made me laugh.  I couldn’t decide which one to post with my column, so I’m sharing both.

            “A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and the lawn mower is broken.”—James Dent.

The sage brush in an area adjacent to the Lake Walcott campground is beginning to think it’s already autumn. — Photo by .Pat Bean

Summer Comes, Summer Goes

The brown-headed cowbirds that earlier thronged my bird feeders have already migrated elsewhere — Sketch by Pat Bean

            I can’t believe my summer at Lake Walcott State Park in Southern Idaho is coming to an end. But then they do say time flies when you’re having fun.This green, manicured park that sits beside the lake and the Snake River is an oasis in a dry high desert region that this year has been plagued by wildfires. While it was a hotter summer here than last, it was still heaven compared to central and south Texas weather, where I usually spend the winters. There, they not only have the heat but high humidity as well.

I have three children in those regions who frequently remind me how lucky I am not to be there.

But the house sparrows, as noted from the ones feeding beneath my bird feeder just this morning, are still sticking around. — Photo by Pat Bean

Last year when I arrived at the park, it was still winter and the trees were bare. This year, on the exact same day, May 15th, it was 90 degrees when I arrived and the trees were already full of leaves. It cooled off, however, and it was almost July before I had to start using my RV’s air conditioner daily.

Now, I’m seeing signs of fall creep into the park. Many of the park’s birds, like the colorful Bullock’s orioles and the American goldfinch are already migrating south. Most robins, as well. Instead of seeing dozens of these birds on my walks through the park, I’m now lucky to see one.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie, 41,820 re-edited words. Not much progress but I’m hoping to spend all afternoon working on the book. I decided to blog earlier today and clear my decks. A young blogger asked today what was the best writing advice his readers had ever received. I told him, it’s “Write! Write! Write!”  

The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

          Bean’s Pat: Lifescapes: The Texas Hill Country http://dld.bz/bJNbr The sounds of summer. This is a blog for nature lovers written by Susan Wittig Albert, author of the China Bayles mystery series written for herb and plant lovers. .

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“Memory … is the diary we all carry around with us.” – Oscar Wilde

Everyone was off watching the Revolutionary War reenactment so I had the beach to myself when I visited Hamblin Beach State Park on Lake Ontario in upper New York. — Photo by Pat Bean

One Brought Memories, One Created Them

Once upon a time, I pictured the state of New York as being one Big Apple. That picture changed the day I drove the parkway that runs along the south shore of Lake Ontario. Upper New York, I discovered this region is quite rural – with fantastic parks.

The board game, Krull, which my young grandson and I played often during his six-month stay with me.

I passed at least a half-dozen of them during the 75 mile drive from Niagara Falls to Hamblin Beach State Park,” a day that is remembered in the travel book I’m writing.

One of these awesome public recreation areas, the Joseph Davis State Park that sits on the Niagara River near its mouth with Lake Ontario, was the setting for the end of the 2005 Amazing Race. I didn’t know it at the time, however, and so didn’t stop. The Amazing Race is my all-time favorite Television Show.

I also didn’t stop at Krull Park, which came in second in Coca Cola’s search for America’s Favorite State Park. But just passing by this park and seeing its name brought back pleasant memories that had nothing to do with parks.


A poster from the 1983 movie, Krull. — Wikipedia photo

During the 1980s, my young grandson, David, lived with me for six months. We played endless games of Krull, a popular board game created from the movie “Krull,” which we went to see together. There’s now a video version of Krull out, while the original board game is selling for up to $75 on eBay.

While the name of Krull Park sparked pleasant memories from the past, Hamblin Beach State Park, where I camped for the night, created new memories for my brain bank. These included a walk along the beach and taking in a Revolutionary War reenactment that was taking place at the time.

Pat Conroy explains this side benefit of travel best: “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends.”

            Book Report: I took a day off from all writing yesterday and did nothing but read. I think this is something I simply have to do every once in a while. A stormy day is best, but a hot day, as it was here at Lake Walcott, worked well, too, as I read in air-conditioned comfort. But I was back at work this morning and “Travels with Maggie” is now up to 40,322 words, some of which describe my visit to upper New York.

The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Writing in the Water http://tinyurl.com/9334rbwThe case of the “you shoulds.” Perhaps you shouldn’t. A blog for writers.

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