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Road Tripping

If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would never start out at all.” – Dan Rather

Nothing beats a lonesome scenic backroad for a peaceful drive. This scene is just west of the Navajo Bridge on Highway 89A, — Photo by Pat Bean

The Last 500 Miles

            Day 12: Jean and I were on the road by 7 a.m. After being together almost constantly for 12 days our attitudes were both a bit crusty. We are not anything alike. And with so much time spent in each other’s company, our individual trifling quirks had become major annoyances.

Jacob Lake Campground: Peaceful and soothing.

So it was that the 10-hour scenic drive home was made with little conversation. This was OK for both of us, I think. I enjoy driving in silence, preferring not even to listen to music, and Jean could peacefully enjoy some awesome scenery she had never seen before.

After leaving St. George, we would head to nearby Hurricane, Utah, where we would hook up with Highway 59 that would turn into Highway 389 when we hit the Arizona border near the infamous Colorado City. The town was formerly called Short Creek and had been founded by polygamists when the Mormon Church abandoned the practice.

We didn’t make the turn off to the town, but back in the early ‘70s, I had driven through it – and it had been creepy. My car was followed until it was well past the town limits.

Our drive then took us through the Kaibab Indian Reservation almost all the way into Fredonia, where we would hook up with Highway 89A. This scenic backroad is one of my favorites.

Navaho Bridge

We stopped for a break to walk our dogs, Scamp and Dusty, in Kaibab National Forest’s Jacob Lake Campground located near the turnoff to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon I had stayed here a couple of times during my RV-ing years, and found it pretty much as I remembered  it: Peaceful and uncrowded with the scent from the Ponderosa pines that towered above soothing my soul.

Back on the road, we would cross over the Navaho Bridge that sits high above the Colorado River. I had floated beneath this magnificent 44-foot wide, 447-feet high bridge twice during the first days of my two 16-day rafting trips on the river through the Grand Canyon. I had also driven across the older 18-foot wide bridge before the new one was built. That one is now a footbridge across the river.

This section of today’s drive was filling my brain with vivid memories, and they continued as we passed the Vermillion Cliffs, where the first California condors born in captivity had been released. As a reporter, I wrote several stories on the recovery of this magnificent bird, whose population went from 27 in the 1980s to over 500 today, including 300 that are once again flying free in the wild.

Scamp and Dusty were eager to get home too. — Photo by Jean Gowen

While today’s drive may have been the longest of the trip, it didn’t seem that way. Soon we were on Highway 17, that would take us into Flagstaff, and then into Phoenix, where we picked up heavy traffic again, and finally onto Interstate 10 that took us into Tucson.

There is no place like home.

As for the uncomfortable tension and any unresolved issues between Jean and I, we got over them. About two weeks later, we had a good talk, and our friendship is even stronger now than it was before. This was the trip’s silver lining – the one I’m always trying to find.

Bean Pat: Living Life Graciously https://imissmetoo.me/2019/08/22/your-table-is-ready/ My kind of dining room table.

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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Ben Lomond, which dominates Ogden’s northern view.: The creator of Paramount’s mountain logo once lived in Ogden, and Ben Lomond is said to have been his inspiration for the design. I discovered this piece of trivia while writing a story about the mountain for the newspaper in the 1990s. 

            “With age comes wisdom. With travel comes understanding.” – Sandra Lake

The Wasatch Mountains in my Rearview Mirror            

Day 11: Jean and I left Ogden early in the morning heading south on Interstate 15.  We were heading home, a journey of about 830 miles that would take us two days since I don’t drive at night.

Bentley, shown here sitting in Robert and Karla’s boat, became Scamp’s playmate while we were in St. George. 

Today would be a scenic, pleasant day’s drive – after the first 80 miles.

As we neared Provo, where we would leave the Wasatch Front’s traffic jam behind, I pointed out Timpanogos to our east.  At 11,753 feet, it is the second tallest mountain in the Wasatch Range. If you kind of squint your eyes, you can imagine the profile of the Indian maiden Utahna sleeping on its peaks.

According to legend, Utahna threw herself off the mountain after her beloved was killed by a rival for her hand. There are several versions of the legend, but inside a cave in the mountain, reached by a steep mile and a half hike, lies her heart. Actually, it’s a large heart-shaped stalactite, which was lit from behind by a red light every time I saw it. The hike to the cave was one of my favorites – when I was a bit younger.

After passing Provo, our drive took us in view of Mount Nebo, which at 11,933 feet is the tallest in the range. At 9,763 feet, Ben Lomond, which stares down at Ogden, is the range’s ninth tallest.

My first meeting with Scamp took place in St. George at Robert and Karla’s home. He was all over me the second I sat down.

I guess you can tell that my thoughts at this juncture of our journey were on the fact that I was once again leaving the mountains I had so come to love. I now live in the shadow of the Catalina Mountains, which although different are still impressive — and one of the reasons I was content to settle in Tucson after my RV-ing years.

Putting my thoughts back on the drive, I let myself enjoy the passing scenery. One mountain or another seemed always to be in view, even if on the far horizon. The goal for today was St. George, where Kim’s brother and his wife lived.

I had originally planned to travel a bit farther because stopping here meant traveling only about 330 miles this day, leaving 500 miles to cover tomorrow. I also hated to impose our two dogs on the couple, who had an English bulldog named Bentley that hadn’t been too friendly to my new canine companion Scamp when they first met. My friend Kim had adopted Scamp from an Ogden shelter for me, and I had met her in St. George at her brother’s home to pick him up in early May.

I eventually decided, we had to spend the night in St. George, coming to this conclusion after Robert and Karla, who had heard we would be passing through the area, called and asked when we would be there. I got the impression these dear friends of mine would be hurt if we bypassed them.

The St. George stop included a home-cooked dinner as well as a night’s lodging, a treat to our shoestring travel budget. Most important, however, was the companionable conversation and feeling of being loved that came with the visit. And my fears about the dogs getting along were for nothing.

Bentley and Scamp joyfully played together this time, while Dusty kept her distance from their rambunctious enthusiasm. That the two dogs got along greatly pleased me. It bodes well for future visits.  Karla and Robert, meanwhile, were quite surprised by the interaction.

“He’s never played with any dog,” Robert said.

Jean retired early this night, and Robert went off to help a son with a stalled car, leaving Karla and I time for a companionable chat. The next morning, I was up in time to have coffee with Robert before we would hit the road again.

I am extremely glad Jean and I had stopped in St. George.

Check out Travels with Maggie on Amazon.

Bean Pat: True, and funny https://kathywaller1.com/2019/08/18/which-would-you-rather/ But I guess will keep blogging because I simply enjoy doing it.

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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            “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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             “Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” – Wassily Kandinsky

Painted bunting — Wikimedia photo

The Bunting Came with a Bonus

Back in my early birding days, I spent some time at Texas’ Cedar Hill State Park near Dallas in search of a painted

Female painted bunting. — Wikimedia photo

bunting. It took three days of breaking spider webs on trails in the early mornings, and one day of slogging through the mud after a night of rain, but I eventually found one of these clownish-colored birds.

When in the open, you can’t miss the adult male.  He has a bright blue head, a scarlet breast, a green back, and a red rump. The female and first-year males are more subdued, dressed in shades of green, with the breast leaning toward yellow on the color wheel. These birds, however, feel more comfortable when ensconced in thick foliage, thus my difficulty in finding one.

The colorful bird I finally found on my fourth day of looking was an easily identifiable adult male perched in a tree near a small pond.  The painted bunting became bird species No. 383 on my life list (which now numbers 710). The painted bunting is nicknamed nonpareil (without equal) in French and mariposa pintado (painted butterfly) in Spanish because of its spectacular appearance.

Appropriately, a group of painted buntings is called a mural or a palette.

Green heron — Wikimedia photo

Sad to say, the bird’s beauty made it a popular caged bird until its capture and captivity became illegal in the United States. It is still, however, a hot item with the international pet trade, and the birds are particularly popular as pets in Asia and Europe, which may be one of the reasons its numbers are dwindling.

Meanwhile, as I was enjoying my front-row view of the Cedar Hill painted bunting years ago, it was suddenly displaced on the limb by another bird. I would have been upset, except this bird was a green heron – bird species No. 384.

Some days, life is really good.

Bean Pat: Traveling with dogs. https://jamieandthedogs.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/yep-just-me-and-four-dogs-heading-east/  This reminds me of my years on the road in my small RV, only I just had one dog.

*Available on Amazon, Travels with Maggie features a list of birds saw each leg of the journey.

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. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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The bluebonnet is “a kind of floral trademark almost as well known to outsiders as Cowboy boots and the Stetson hat,” —  Texas historian Jack Maguire.

Texas bluebonnets. — Photo by Pat Bean

Road Trip: June 21 – July 26, 2002

My next journal entry takes me into Texas, my home state where the majority of my family still lives. Today, that includes three of my five children, 11 of my 15 grandchildren, and five of my seven great-grandchildren.

In 2002, however, the numbers were fewer and I only had to visit Dallas, Fort Hood, and Lake Jackson to see them all. This coming Thursday, I’m flying home to Dallas, where I was born, and then will rent a car for trips to San Antonio, Lake Jackson, and West Columbia to see all my Texas family, except one granddaughter who will be on a delayed honeymoon to Disneyland in Florida.

I’m excited to be going at this time because this is prime bluebonnet season. However, I noted in my 2002 road trip journal that one of the first things I saw when I crossed the border from New Mexico into Texas were bluebonnets, even though it was then late June.

Texas late singing governor W. Lee O’Daniel (1939-41), sang; “You may be on the plains or the mountains or down where the sea breezes blow, but bluebonnets are one of the prime factors that make the state the most beautiful in the land that we know.”

Indian paintbrush is often seen blooming with bluebonnets. — Photo by Pat Bean

The bluebonnet, all five varieties of them, are Texas’ state flower. And thanks to former First Lady Ladybird Johnson, the roadsides are abundant with them. She encouraged Texans to toss flower seeds all across the state – and they did. But how all five bluebonnets became the state flower makes for a good Texas tall tale.

According to the Aggie Horticulture web site, the story goes like this:

In the spring of 1901, the Texas Legislature got down to the serious business of selecting a state flower, and the ensuing battle was hot and heavy. One legislator spoke emotionally in favor of the cotton boll, since cotton was king in Texas in those days. Another, a young man from Uvalde, extolled the virtues of the cactus so eloquently that he earned the nickname of “Cactus Jack,” which stuck with him for the rest of his life. He was John Nance Garner who later became vice president of the United States.

But the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in Texas won the day. Their choice was Lupinus subcarnosus, generally known as buffalo clover or bluebonnet. And that’s when the polite bluebonnet war was started.

While you’re looking for bluebonnets, don’t miss the butterflies, like this swallowtail at Brazos Bend State Park.

Lupinus subcarnosus is a dainty little plant which paints the sandy, rolling hills of coastal and southern Texas with sheets of royal-blue in the early spring. But some folks thought it was the least attractive of the Texas bluebonnets. They wanted Lupinus texensis, the showier, bolder bluebonnet. So, off and on for 70 years, the Legislature was encouraged to correct its oversight. But the solons weren’t about to get caught in another botanical trap, nor did they want to offend the supporters of Lupinus subcarnosus. They finally solved the problem with typical political maneuvering.

In 1971, the Legislature added the two species together, plus any other variety of bluebonnet not heretofore recorded, and lumped them all into one state flower. What the many things the Legislature did not know then was that Texas is home to three other species of lupines and the umbrella clause makes all five of them the state flower.

A bit of interesting history that I only learned when doing some research for this blog. It adds a bit of pondering to my upcoming bluebonnet viewing.

Bean Pat: Sunrise at Bryce Canyon http://www.trailsunblazed.com/sunrise-at-bryce-canyon/ One of my favorite places.

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. She is also currently looking for a new canine companion. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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“I chose the road less traveled. And now I’m lost.” — Darynda Jones

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Carlsbad, New Mexico

Road Trip June 21 — July 6, 2002

If you’re in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the No. 1 place to visit is Carlsbad Caverns National Park. But since I had already done this, I decided to forgo the cave tour and instead visit the city’s Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. It was a good choice as I added three new bird species to my life list — and got an educational experience about the landscape, plants, and animals of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Barn owl. — Wikimedia photo

It was late afternoon when I arrived, giving me only a couple of hours to walk the 1.3 loop trail around the park’s variety of desert habitats that included sandhills, marsh areas and arroyos. But it was a good time to see daytime birds getting ready to nest for the night, or nighttime birds coming awake for their night of activity.

The first stop was an aviary near the visitor center that featured native birds of prey including golden and bald eagles. While these were fun to see, it was the birds that flew free around the avian-friendly park that interested me more. One of these, a barn owl flew right in front of me as I rounded a curve in the trail, which I seemed to have all to myself. A little farther on, a couple of scaled quail scurried off when they saw me coming, but not before I had a satisfying look at them.

Because back then I was still new to birding, both of these species were lifers for my growing bird list. So were the common nighthawks skimming the water at Waterfowl Pond near the prairie dog homes. I easily identified the nighthawks, well after a quick look at my bird field guide, by the broad white stripes visible near their wing tips as they flew.

Bank swallow

Also circling around the ponds were quite a few cliff and bank swallows. I had seen quite a few of these birds during trips to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Northern Utah. On one outing there had been a huge flock of five species of swallows circling around and under a small bridge. I had spent hours learning how to tell them apart. The bank and swift swallows, I had decided were the easiest to identify.

The bank swallow has a gray, necklace-like stripe on its white breast, which I came to think of as a banker’s bow tie. The mature cliff swallow, meanwhile, has a prominent white spot on its bluish-black head that flashes when its flying toward you. 

Other birds I saw as I followed the winding trail through the desert landscape included a Harris hawk, burrowing owls, black-chinned hummingbirds and an Eastern kingbird. It was a delightful late afternoon that ended far too quickly.

According to my journal notes, I paid a $4 entrance fee to be admitted to the park. I certainly got my money’s worth, and I noted that the admission fee today is only $1 more. A bargain I would say.

Available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Seaman https://sarah-angleton.com/2019/04/11/a-classy-post-about-a-loyal-dog-with-an-unfortunate-name. A dog story and a travel story in one, and it made me smile.

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. She is also currently looking for a new canine companion. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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