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Archive for the ‘road trip’ Category

“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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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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Road Trip: June 21 – July 6, 2002

“The real voyage of discovery consists in not seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

A page from my Journal.

After spending way too much time driving to the end of the road in Canyonlands National Park, I knew most of the rest of the day’s explorations would have to come through the windshield of my vehicle. That was OK because I was traveling through familiar territory that I had been through many times.

My Journal

While I often tried to drive new roads and see new sights on my trips to Texas to visit family once or twice a year, the one I was traveling this time was the shortest and the most used. Shortly after leaving Canyonlands, I stopped in Moab, one of my favorite towns, to gas up and get snacks for the road. Cheetos and a Coke, I suspect, as this is my usual travel fare.

But even in my hurry to get down the road, I did stop for about 10 minutes at Wilson Arch to take a few pictures.  Wilson Arch is about 25 miles south of Moab and quite visible from the road (Highway 191). There is also a half-mile trail leading up to and around it.

The first time I spotted the 46-foot-high by 91-foot-wide arch,, I had been amazed. It simply stood there without fanfare.

Today there are turnouts and interpretive signs noting that Wilson Arch was named after Joe Wilson, a local pioneer who had a cabin nearby. Additionally, the signs say the rock formation is entrada sandstone and that the arch was formed when ice-filled cracks formed and caused parts of the rock to break off. At least that’s my interpretation of the more scientific data.

Whale Rock in Canyonlands National Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

On the same page of my journal that I noted my stop at Wilson Arch this day, I also listed the birds I saw, a habit I followed each day of my journey and one I continued in my book, Travels with Maggie about my later RV-ing years. And yes, the same Maggie who made this trip with me is the same one in the book.

The birds this day included American robin, European starling, California gull, magpie, raven, violet-green swallow, Say’s phoebe and pinyon jay, the latter being a species I saw for the first time and which I added to my then-growing life list.

Bean Pat: All about the Everglades https://earthstonestation.com/2019/03/06/two-people-that-saved-the-everglades-earnest-coe-marjory-stoneman-douglas/  Great blog for nature lovers like me.

Now 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 abandoned cement mixer that’s been turned into and abandoned space capsule by an artist. The oddity sits eats of Phoenix near the Casa Grade exit on the south side of the road.

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

Between Phoenix and Tucson

I was heading home to Tucson from Phoenix on Interstate 10 with my friend Jean when I saw a strange object in a barren farm field off the road to my right. It kind of looked like part of a rocket, was my immediate thought,

The cement tree that sits off Interstate 80 between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Wendover, Nevada.

“What’s that?” I asked Jean.

Truly a woman of the times, Jean said she didn’t know but she would find out.

“I doubt you’ll find that on your smartphone,” I said as she began tapping its keypad.

“Wanna bet?” she replied. Fortunately, I didn’t because a few minutes later she

Told me exactly what we had passed. It was an abandoned cement mixer from an old truck that artist Jack Milliard had painted to look like a downed space capsule. The abandoned mixer had sat in the field for 30 years before that.

Weird, I thought. Then my mind went to the cement tree that sits in the middle of the Bountiful Salt

The two-story outhouse in Gays, Illinois. — Photo by Pat Bean

Flats between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Wendover, Nevada. As a journalist, I had written about this 83-foot-tall structure that was built to withstand desert winds gusting at over 130 miles an hour, and earthquakes in the order of 7.5 on the Richter scale.

According to the local Highway Patrol, and Wikipedia, more than two million cars travel past the tree annually, and five to seven an hour of these cars stop for a more thorough look. When Utah pumped water out of Great Salt Lake onto the West Desert to avoid the lake from flooding in the 1980s, the joke was that the state was doing so to water the cement tree.

Then I remembered the Two-Story Outhouse in Gays, Illinois. I did a short travel blog for American Profile magazine on this roadside oddity.

Such surprising sights are what make road trips so delightful. Do you have a favorite roadside oddity?  I hope you do. I’d love to hear about it.

Bean Pat Frog Diva thoughts https://frogdivathoughts.com/2018/12/03/all-i-want-is-a-hippopotamus-for-christmas/#like-8863 Do you remember this? I do.

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

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“There’s always failure. And there’s always disappointment. And there’s always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums.”  –Michael J. Fox

Me with my granddaughter Shanna and grandson David, who is my oldest grandchild, at Sue Ellen’s for my book signing party.

Sh-ee-it Happens Among the Good Times

After spending a few days with my two sons and their families in West Columbia and Lake Jackson, and having a delightful fish dinner on the beach, I was off again, this time to Dallas, to visit my daughter, Deborah, and other family members.

Three generations of women:: My daughter Deborah with her daughter Shanna and me.

Having lived on the coast for 15 years during the ’50s, ‘60s and “70s, with parents living in Dallas, I didn’t need a map for the 300-mile journey, which would take me straight through the middle of downtown Houston during the morning rush hour. Even after I had moved away, I ended up still having friends and family on the Gulf Coast and family in Dallas, so it’s a drive I’ve made almost yearly since I left home at the age of 16.

In earlier years, the trip was made on Highway 75, which was under constant construction, and which was eventually eaten up by Interstate 45, just as the old Route 66 was eaten up by Interstate 40, which now winds its way between California and North Carolina.

In recent years, getting through Houston has always given me a sense of satisfaction that I could still make the drive while remaining cool and calm in the midst of multiple lanes, which oft times were full of idiotic drivers out to get me – as it was this particular morning.

Once on the north side of the huge metroplex, I breathed a sigh of relief, and stopped at a Flying J and its Denny’s for breakfast. Although I had promised myself when I first started the trip that I would write in my journal daily, this was the first time I had pulled it out since I had left Tucson. I tried to recapture all the events that had happened while I waited for the eggs Benedict I had ordered.

The breakfast was excellent, but soon I was back on the road heading to Dallas.

I was going to stay at my daughter’s, but my son Michael made an unexpected trip to visit his sister, and so I ended up staying at my granddaughter’s so everyone could have a comfortable bed. It all worked out well, and I was delighted to get to spend a bit of time with my youngest son as well as my oldest daughter, her husband Neal, and their two children, my granddaughter, Shanna, and my grandson, David.  We played board games and laughed a lot.

Shanna and her wife, Dawn, and I played numerous games of Frustration in the evenings, and the two held a book signing party for me at Sue Ellen’s, where I sold a few copies of Travels with Maggie to their friends.

The day before I left, I finally found a few minutes again to catch up on my journal. Sadly, when I couldn’t find it, I realized I had left it at the Denny’s in Houston, 250 miles in the opposite direction from where I was next headed.

It was a sad loss, and a logistics problem that I have not yet been able to solve.  Sometimes, even in the best of times, sh-ee-it happens!

Now available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Theodore Roosevelt National Park https://naturehasnoboss.com/2018/08/13/room-to-roam-2/?wref=pil  Enjoy the views.

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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Candy-striped rocks in Badlands National Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Landscape is a piece that is emotional and psychological.” – Jim Hodges

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Remnants of an ancient jungle can be seen in the Badlands. — Photo by Pat Bean

Alone on a Windy Day

In the neighborhood of a million or more people from all over the world annually visit Badlands National Park, a rugged, colorful, wind scoured, sun-bleached, South Dakota landscape that took my mind back through endless eras of time. It felt magical, and the windy autumn day I drove, and hiked a bit, through it seemed as if I had the park’s entire quarter-million acres of rock and prairie to myself.

         I had spent the night at a small campground in Interior, a city of less than 100 residents that sits just outside the park. It is home to the Horseshoe Bar, whose sign out front said: “All Bikes Must Stop,” and a gas station, where I had to go inside to pay. The friendly clerk there old me to drop by for a hot meal later. I bypassed the bar, and did just that.

South Dakota is known as one of this country’s windiest states, and it was living up to the reputation when I awoke the next morning after a night of rocking and rolling in my over-the-cab bed. The smart thing to do was to stay put for the day. But the Badlands, which I had never visited before, was calling me.

My canine companion Maggie and I answered the invitation. We did get bounced around a bit in our undersized, 21-foot class C home on wheels. But, oh was it worth it! As more and more people seek relief from the world’s chaos in nature’s wild places, it is becoming rare to have time alone with Mother Nature. Well, unless you are a backpacker able to truly go into the backcountry, and age has put me at a point where that kind of adventure is behind me.

Besides the kaleidoscope of candy-striped boulders, remnants of an ancient jungle, and fossils of animals, like the saber-toothed tiger that no longer exist, I saw bison, prairie dogs, antelope, rock wrens and prairie falcons.

But the day’s furious winds, which calmed down for a bit every now and then, evidently kept other visitors away. I saw fewer than a dozen cars on the Badlands Highway 240 Loop Road, and only three other people during my several short hikes.

It rained shortly after I arrived back at the Interior campground, and I spent another night rocking and rolling as my RV danced with the wind. Then it was off for another day of exploring the “good” Badlands.

Bean Pat: An invitation https://natureontheedge.com/2018/01/27/ The adventure begins Feb. 16. Sounds like fun and a good cause.

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 ferry from Aransas Pass to Port Aransas on Mustang Island on the Texas Gulf Coast. — Wikimedia photo

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” — Jimmy Dean

And a Journey to Mustang Island

As one who loves road trips, and one who believes the journey is even more important than the destination, I was in high spirits as I drove Gypsy Lee, my 21-foot home on wheels, down Texas’ Highway 35 on a late February day. It was 2009, and my first sojourn after spending the nastier days of winter hanging out in my children’s driveways.

A great egret sat by a small pond near the entrance to Mustang Island State Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

The sun was shining brightly but the day was quite windy. Through my windshield, I could see turkey vultures wobbling in flight and kestrels swaying on roadside wires. Have you ever noticed that these high-wire-loving falcons always seem to face the road and not away from it?

The gray feathers of a mockingbird, the only other bird that seemed to be defying the wind this day, were blown up like a skirt, exposing white feathers as if they were a petticoat. As this Texas state bird winged its way inch by inch into the howling wind. I felt like I was watching a slow-motion vignette.

I sympathized, as I had to keep my hands tightly placed on Gypsy Lee’s steering wheel to keep sudden gusts of winds from blowing her sideways. I gave myself a break from driving by stopping for a bit at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, where I got a distant look at a couple of whooping cranes. I would see these endangered birds up much closer later in the week when, I took a tour boat out of Port Aransas.

A brown pelican and a laughing gull near Port Aransas. Photo by Pat Bean

Back on the road, the wind was still singing loudly, but soon, although many mind musings later, I found myself in Aransas Pass, where I would catch a ferry to take me across to Mustang Island. The ferry docked in Port Aransas, which sits on the northern end of this narrow stretch of water-enclosed land. My destination for the day was Mustang Island State Park on the southern end of the island.

Once hooked up, I enjoyed the remains of the windy Texas day, ending it with a sunset stroll on the beach beneath cackling laughing gulls, and beside white-capped waves rolling up beneath my sandaled feet.

Bean Pat: A slice of life http://tinyurl.com/y9rq4uxv This blog makes me feel gratitude for still being able to enjoy the little things in life.

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