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Archive for the ‘Lonely Planet Pathfinder’ Category

 

            “The most beautiful gift of nature is that it gives one pleasure to look around and try to comprehend what we see.” – Albert Einstein

Antelope Island as I remembered it. Today, much of the water shown in this reflective photograph taken from the causeway no longer exists. — Photo by Pat Bean.

Antelope Island

            Day 9: My friend Kim, whom Jean and I were staying with, had family plans for the day, a special event for a granddaughter, and so we were left on our own to explore. There were many things I wanted to show my Tucson friend about the Ogden area that I loved:

We only saw one live buffalo this hot day. But Jean was intrigued by the buffalo statues that dot the island, each with a unique paint theme. — Photo by Jean Gowen

Devil’s Slide in Weber Canyon; Snowbasin, where the 2002 Winter Olympics downhill ski events were held, and where I learned to ski at the age of 40;  Ogden’s 25th Street that once thrived on vice and prostitution but is now a quaint two-block showcase of boutiques, a historic train station, pubs and restaurants; Willard Bay State Park, habitat of winter bald eagles; Bear River Migratory Birding Refuge, which was destroyed in the 1980s when the Great Salt Lake rose to historic levels, and which I watched come back to its lushness; Ogden Mountain’s bench hiking trails that were my peaceful escape after a chaotic day as a newspaper reporter or editor; and Pineview Reservoir up Ogden Canyon, which I had ridden around on my bicycle in my younger days – just to name a few. .

But the day was hot and we would have our two doggies Dusty and Scamp with us, So,

we settled on a trip to Antelope Island. The place was special to me because I visited it almost every week for two years after I became addicted to birding in 1999. While I learned much on field trips with experienced birders, of which Ogden has many, the island was my Birding 101 Lab where I had to try and identify species on my own.

We didn’t see the island’s antelope either. This is a photo I took of these island residents in 2007. — Photo by Pat Bean

Today’s visit to the Great Salt Lake island, however, shocked me. The six-mile causeway was almost unnecessary as the water level was so low it barely came into view before we reached the island. I still remembered those early 1980s’ years when the water level had been so high that it had completely washed out the former causeway so that it had to be rebuilt – as had a goodly portion of Interstate 80 that we had traveled the day before.

I especially missed all the flocks of ducks, sandpipers and other shore birds that came into view when I first drove onto the causeway. No matter what time of year, there were always one species or another dining on the lake’s brine flies or brine shrimp eggs. The lake is a major refueling stop for birds on migration.

Jean, who lives in the same apartment complex here in Tucson as I do, said she “loved” our visit to Antelope Island.  “It was awesome. Well except I was hungry, and we couldn’t get anything to eat on the island.”

I had promised her buffalo burgers when we got to the top of Lookout Point. The island is home to a herd of buffalo that is managed to keep its numbers in check. Each year an annual roundup is held to check the animals’ health and to reduce the herd as necessary.

Mount Ogden as viewed from Ogden’s 25th Street. — Photo by Pat Bean

The hilltop Point provided a great view of the event, which was conducted mostly by four-wheelers instead of horses. One year, I watched a magnificent, large bull outwit the herders for over an hour before they gave up the chase. The animal would stand still and let the herders surround it with their vehicles, then it would suddenly dash through one of the holes in the circle.

By the end of the herders’ efforts, onlookers were cheering for the buffalo.

I wonder if the herders were as disappointed as Jean was this day when we discovered that the Lookout Point food shack no long existed – only the 360-degree panoramic view of the lake and surrounding landscape was available.

It was magnificent, and after shelving my expectations, I finally began to enjoy what the island had to offer.  If there is anything that I have learned in my eight decades on this planet, it’s that yearning for the past can make one miss the present.

Bean Pat: Strictly for laughs today https://tom8pie.com/2019/08/12/i-had-a-pet-frog-named-infinitum-but-he-croaked-this-poem-is-dedicated-to-him/  A post by one of my favorite nature photographers.

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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If you think adventures are dangerous, try routine: It’s lethal.: — Paul Coelho

Mount Ogden reflection on the new Standard-Examiner newspaper building back in 2000. Sadly, the newspaper has shrunk since I left, as have most newspapers all across the county. But the mountain is as majestic as ever, still having snow on it during my July visit because of good winter snows. — Photo by Pat Bean

Awesome Mountains, Nasty Traffic and Friendship 

Day 8 Continued: We made good time for the first 300 miles of this day’s 350-mile journey from Battle Mountain, Nevada, to Ogden, Utah, coming into Salt Lake City about 3 p.m.

As usual, I got a bit misty-eyed on first seeing the string of Wasatch Mountains that dominate this eastern Utah landscape for 160 miles.

Personally, I think these mountains, which form the western edge of the Rockies, are among the most beautiful in the world. I worked and played in their shadow for 25 years, and climbed and hiked many of them during that time. While I left them 15 years ago, they are still in my heart.

I-15 traffic near Salt Lake City. — Salt Lake Tribune photo

But just as happy as I was to see these mountains once again, their appearance came with a dark side – Interstate 15. Our up-to-this-point pleasant drive changed moods when it intersected with this freeway. Construction and mind-blowing, horrendous traffic often slowed our progress north to less than 10 mph. It took nearly two hours to drive the less than 50 miles between Salt Lake and Ogden.

I had never enjoyed driving I-15 when I lived in the area, but traffic on it seems only to get worse with every passing year, especially between Ogden and Provo – what is known as the Wasatch Front where the vast majority of Utahns live. It was 5 p.m. when Jean and I and our two doggies, Dusty and Scamp, finally reached Kim’s home.

Kim and I hamming it up at a photo booth at her son’s wedding reception.

My best-friend-forever Kim and I have known each other now for 40 years. We’ve worked together, cried together, hiked and rafted together, went on an African safari together, climbed to the top of Zion’s Angel’s Landing together in all kinds of weather, gotten drunk together … well, this list could go on and on. Needless to say, there was a big hug awaiting me when I finally arrived – and a hug for my friend Jean, too, and welcoming pats for our canine friends as well. Like me, Kim is an animal lover.

The three of us lazed around for the rest of the evening, sitting outside in Kim’s fenced backyard where Scamp and Dusty got to stretch their legs once again. We spent the hours catching up on each other’s lives and drinking Jack and Cokes — Kim, who knows me well had stocked up on my favorite adult beverage.

Being able to once again spend time with a good friend, while lingering outside to watch the sun cast its rays on Mount Ogden and Mount Ben Lomond was well worth any traffic hassle I had to overcome to get here.

In my book, the day was as perfect as any day could be.

Bean Pat: Hootie Bird’s Art Journal https://hootiebirdsartjournal.wordpress.com/2019/08/08/this-is-why-i-am-not-a-portrait-artist/  I love this.

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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Looking out over the Badlands in South Dakota. — Photo by Pat Bean

“History is a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley

And Touching History

I have sat in the Old North Church in Boston, a landmark of the American Revolution. I have stood where Americans shed blood fighting each other over the issue of slavery. I have floated down the Mississippi River in a steamboat in the wake of Mark Twain. I have shed tears while standing in front of the black Lincoln in which JFK was riding when he was fatally shot. And I have walked on an Atlantic Beach near where The Virginia Company made its first landing in the New World.

In other words, I have traveled.

The Mark Twain Bridge over the Mississippi River at Hannibal, Missouri — Photo by Pat Bean

But it’s only now that I am coming to realize just how much history I was touching during the nine years I crisscrossed this country in a small RV – from ocean to ocean and border to border. Back then I was more interested in finding birds, camping beside a lake, admiring Mother Nature’s art, and exploring new hiking trails. Learning about history was never foremost in my mind.

My reasons for taking to the road, after retiring from my 37-year journalism career, were to satisfy my lifelong wanderlust and to see America’s wondrous landscapes – from gawking at a sunset over the Pacific from a cliff-top campground in Oregon, to wandering through the South Dakota badlands on a day so windy that my RV did a rock-and-roll dance.  Satisfying my late-blooming bird-watching addiction was an unexpected surprise bonus.

Yet looking back now, I realize that the history of the sites I visited almost always prompted additional research that ended up being what I wrote about in my blogs and in my book, Travels with Maggie.

I came to realize early on that travel is as much about discovering oneself as it is about seeing new vistas and meeting new people. So, it seems strange that I am only just now realizing how much traveling is also like taking a ride in a time machine through the pages of history.

Bean Pat: Don’t take life too seriously https://bebloggerofficial.com/2018/05/11/dont-take-life-too-seriously/  Good advice, especially these days.

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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Leon Dormido, also know as Kicker Rock. — Wikimedia photo

The Galapagos Islands provide a window on time. In a geologic sense, they are young, yet they appear ancient.” – Frans Lanting

Pages From My Travel Journal

Shortly after boarding the Archipell II, a 16- passenger catamaran in which I would spend the next eight days sailing around the Galapagos Islands, we motored around Kicker Rock, which is actually two volcanic rocks split apart.

Pages from my journal.

The English name refers to the rocks’ resemblance to a boot when viewed from one angle. Our guide, Luiz, called it Lion Rock, or Leon Dormido in Spanish, however, because viewed from another angle, the 400-feet tall rock towers look like a sleeping lion.

We had set sail for our adventure from the harbor at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island, where sea lions seemed to be everywhere. One group of sea lions had even commandeered a small boat tied to a larger boat, and one, a young juvenile lying near where our group boarded a panga for the ride out to the Archipell, sniffed my leg when I passed it.

Sea Lion in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. — Wikimedia photo

It was a bit chilling, but I was thrilled to have such an experience. My friend, Shirley Lee, who was behind me, was less thrilled. The sea lion nipped her instead of just sniffing. While we had dutifully been instructed not to touch the animals, someone forgot to pass the message on to the islands’ wildlife, which had absolutely no fear of humans.

By the time we got to Kicker Rock, I had seen dozens of birds, many that would go onto my life list, such as great frigatebirds, a striated heron, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, and several of what are known as the Darwin finches, a group of about 15 birds studied by Darwin because of diversity in beak form and function.

And this was only day one. What fun it is to relive this great adventure. I’ll write more about it next week.

Bean Pat: Spring Equinox https://marinakanavaki.com/2018/03/20/spring-equinox-2018/?wref=pil An artist’s rendition.

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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Female spotted towhee — Wikimedia photo

“The accent of one’s birthplace remains in the mind and in the heart as in one’s speech.” — Francois de La Rochefoucauld

A Southern Accent, Perhaps

            Towhee … towhee!

The sound was coming from a bird hidden in a tree about halfway up Negro Bill Canyon near Moab, Utah.

Male spotted towhee

Drink ur tea … drink your tea, a reply echoed from farther up the canyon.

The sounds stopped me in my tracks. I had no intention of hiking on until I had spotted the two birds with my binoculars. I was sure I would see two different species, based on the different bird sounds they were making.

Although tucked among some small branches, I easily spotted the first bird, a male spotted towhee that gets its name from its voice. With a black head and back, rusty sides, and black wings speckled with white spots, it was an easy identification, even without the binoculars. But this basic bird-watching tool let me get a closeup look at the towhee’s bird’s brilliant red eye. Such details always delight me.

After the second bird sang out drink ur tea … drink ur tea a second time, I found it sitting in another tree. Except that its head appeared to be more of a rich brown than black, the two birds were identical. According to my field guide, this was a female spotted towhee.

Towhees, I had read, learn their songs when young, and pick up different inflections, even copy the songs of other species if they hear them frequently.

Perhaps one of these birds had a southern accent, like this native Texan. It was a fanciful thought, but it might even have been true.

Bean Pat: Brevity: Stripper Girl  https://brevity.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/stripper-girl/  Always one of my favorite blogs, and this one is an example of how the world’s language  changes.

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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The Blue Bench — painted by Pat Bean

“Truly the bench is a boon to idlers. Whoever first came up with the idea is a genius: free public resting places where you can take time out from the bustle and brouhaha of the city, and simply watch and reflect.” – Tom Hodgkinson

Sitting, Watching and Listening

Dock benches at Tom’s Cove Campground on Chincoteague Island in Virginia. — Photo by Pat Bean

When I was a beginning birdwatcher, I thought patience was only an activity for couch potatoes. This non-activity simply wasn’t part of my vocabulary – or my life. But the birds I wanted to see didn’t always, in fact seldom, showed up in a timely fashion.

“Learn to sit quietly for half an hour and you won’t be disappointed,” a birding mentor told me. But 10 minutes was all I could manage for the first couple of years. I had to work up to it, but finally I caught on.

A bench at the Amherstburg Navy Yard in Ontario, Canada.

 

And once I did that, I began looking for places with interesting views to sit. And lo and behold I discovered the joy of benches. The blue one above, which I painted from a photograph (below left),

was located at Lake Walcott State Park in Southern Idaho. It looked out over a meadow filled with tall, grassy reeds where yellow-headed blackbirds could frequently be found.

The benches on the top left were located on a dock on Chincoteague Island in Virginia, where I spent a week. Gulls and boat-tail grackles liked to gather here.

And the photo on the right above was taken in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, where I watched a blue-winged teal swim about in the harbor and house sparrows pecking about in flowerbeds.

Sitting on a bench, in a delectable nature setting, has now become one of my “activities.”

It is much better any day than sitting meditation, which so far, I haven’t managed to do for more than five minutes at a time. My busy brain just won’t turn off when Mother Nature, and birds, aren’t around to keep my attention focused.

I guess you can now call me a bench potato.

Bean Pat: The Page Turner http://tinyurl.com/y9b2y3z3 Enjoy the photography of John Macdonald. I did.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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A great egret fishing the Poteau River below the Lake Wister Dam near Poteau, Oklahoma. — Photo by Pat Bean

Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!” – William Butler Yeats  

Making a Mountain out of a Hill 

           For the nine years in which my home was on the road in a small RV with my canine companion, Maggie, I called myself a wondering-wanderer. It’s because as I drove across North America, through its golden fields of grain and mind-boggling redwood forests, and often went to sleep beside a gurgling body of water, my mind was always asking questions.

Cavanal: World’s Tallest Hill in Poteau, Oklahoma

A week spent at Lake Wister State Park near Poteau, Oklahoma, got me thinking about the difference between a mountain and a hill. That’s because Poteau’s Chamber of Commerce promotes the city as home of the world’s tallest hill, but that hill is officially called Cavanal Mountain.

What I easily learned, from bit of geological research, is that a landscape feature is a mountain if it is 2,000 feet or taller, and a hill if it is less than 2,000 feet tall. Cavanal Mountain is 1,999-feet tall.

The road up to the top of Cavanal Mountain.

Once I put my wondering mind at ease, I was able to enjoy my stay on the park’s tiny Quarry Island, which was accessed by a short bridge.

I awoke each morning to the sound of a chipper mockingbird greeting the day from the top of the picnic table outside my window. Lake Wister, created when a dam on the Poteau River was completed in 1949, also greeted me every morning. It was visible out both my front and rear windows as Quarry Island was quite narrow.

Maggie and I took frequent walks around the island. It was a great week in which my wondering mind did a lot of wandering.

Bean Pat: Deep in my Bones http://tinyurl.com/yayrrvgf A lot to howl about. This reminds me of the night I howled with the wolves, which I write about in Travels with Maggie.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is soon to be released. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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