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Archive for the ‘Travels With Maggie’ Category

“A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.” — Ernest Hemingway

Great Horned Owl — Painting by Pat Bean

What Big Beautiful Eyes You Have

Back when I was a normal person and still a working journalist, I found myself eagerly accepting assignments that involved birds, which is how one day I found myself traveling in a van through the Bonneville Salt Flats on Highway 80 between Salt Lake City and Wendover, Nevada, with seven members of HawkWatch International, an organization that monitors raptors as an indicator of the ecosystem’s health.

My goal was to monitor and report on the HawkWatchers.

Eves of a great horned owl. — Wikimedia photo

The first notes I made were about all the birds these seven guys were seeing, mostly turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks. I had driven this route before and had never seen a bird while doing so. That was the day I learned the difference that separates a birdwatcher and a normal person.

Then, after we had entered Nevada and left the interstate and civilization behind, and were driving on an unpaved backroad, one of the guys yelled “Stop! There’s an owl in that cottonwood tree.”

The driver stopped, and all of the guys oohed over the owl, which they had quickly identified as a great-horned. Even after one of the men pointed out to me where the bird was sitting, it took me a couple of minutes to actually see it. But when I did, its giant yellow eyes popped open and it stared straight at me. “Wow” was all I could think as we piled back in the van.

I was well on my way to losing my status as a normal person and becoming one of those crazy birdwatchers

Bean Pat: FrogDiva Thoughts http://tinyurl.com/y7ttlp6q Just do right. A message for these times from my hero, Maya Angelou.

Travels with Maggie, is now available on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y9gjlc7r Or for an autographed copy, email me at patbean@msn.com

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The bridge stand-off at Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, one of the many places I visited during my RV-ing adventures. — Photo by Pat Bean.

“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” — Paulo Coelho

Tell Me Your Stories

Now that Travels with Maggie has finally been released to the world, the next step, my friend Debra tell me, you have to market the book. And one of the things you need to do is put together a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation so you can give talks.

A trail at Laura S. Walker State Park in Georgia, one of the many trails I hiked after the age of 65. Halfway along this two-mile trail, I came across a sign that said Beware of Bears. Needless to say the second leg of the hike was done in record time. — Photo by Pat Bean

“I have dozens of photographs from the journey, but I’ve never put together a PowerPoint presentation,” I told her. But that problem was quickly solved when I mentioned this to my youngest daughter, T.C., here in Tucson. She said she uses PowerPoint almost daily at work, and that she would put a presentation together for me on my computer, which already has all the necessary tech ingredients.

One problem solved. The next, I realized, was that I needed a script. But after a night of lost sleep, pondering what to talk about, I came up with a theme: Never Too Late. It was a no-brainer.

My wanderlust began when I was 10 years old, after reading Osa Johnson’s book I Married Adventure, which was about photographing and documenting lions in Africa. The book was the best non-fiction seller of 1940, the year after I was born. Traveling across America full-time became a specific dream after I read William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways in 1983.

By this time, I had become addicted to reading travel books, but 1983 was also when I was in the midst of my 37-year journalism career, and was struggling to keep the wolf from the door. It wasn’t until 2004, at the age of 65, that I was finally free to pursue my dream.

I sold my home, bought an RV and spent the next nine years wandering this beautiful country we live in, fulfilling a dream that spanned over half a century of dreams. It truly never is too late.

I would love to hear the stories of my readers about how they finally fulfilled longtime dreams. Please share them with me. I am sure they will help inspire me in writing the script so my friend, Debra Winegarten, whose book, There’s Jews in Texas, won the 2011 Poetica Magazine National Contest and who is the founder of Sociosights Press, and whom I adore, will stop nagging me.

Bean Pat: Joy Loves Travel http://tinyurl.com/ycjqq3dc An epic tale of England, a great armchair viewing of an outdoor spectacle.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y You can contact Bean 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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The Seasons

  “Winter is an etching spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all.” – Stanley Horowitz

The view of autumn painting a mosaic landscape on the far side of Lake Claiborne was a vivid image from the rear window of my RV at Isaac Creek Campground in Alabama. -- Photo by Pat Beean

This double-image view of an autumn landscape on the far side of Lake Claiborne was a vivid image from the rear window of my RV at Isaac Creek Campground in Alabama. — Photo by Pat Bean

Two Autumns

My yearly routine, when I was living in an RV and traveling across America’s landscapes of purple mountains, blue lakes, tall corn fields, golden waves of grain, saguaro deserts, sandy beaches and green forests beneath an ever-changing sky, found me heading toward Texas at the first sign of winter.

The red leaves of this tree at the Paul Bunyan Campground in Bangor Maine, that hung over Gypsy Lee were redder every morning during the week I stayed there. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The red leaves of this tree at the Paul Bunyan Campground in Bangor Maine, that hung over Gypsy Lee were redder every morning during the week I stayed there. — Photo by Pat Bean

Once there, I would spend the cold months bouncing between my children’s homes, all of which had hookup connections for my RV and me to sit until the danger of traveling icy roads had passed.

The year I traveled to Maine, autumn arrived early. And so did winter. I found cold winds and storms barking at my heels in early September, while at the same time, according to my children’s emails, summer still had a firm grip on Texas.

Maine’s fast approaching winter, and closed-down RV parks, had me joining the migration of birds and quickly heading south. But when I reached Delaware, I found that autumn hadn’t even begun to paint the first leaves. My travels turned leisurely again, and when I reached Alabama, in mid-November, I was treated to my second autumn. I watched it blossom into that mosaic Stanley Horowitz described as I sat beside Lake Claiborne at Isaac Creek Campground.

Since autumn is my favorite season, I considered myself a lucky old broad to have gotten two in one year.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Screen Crud http://tinyurl.com/hh2hqdv This blog made me laugh because non-existent periods on my computer page happen to me a lot.

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The starting point of discovering who you are, your gifts, your talents, your dreams is being comfortable with yourself. Spend time alone. Write a journal. Take long walks in the woods.” – Robin Sharma

The Mark Twain Lighthouse in Hannibal Missouri, which I wrote about climbing up to see in 2006, when I was traveling the country full time with my canine companion Maggie in a small RV. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The Mark Twain Lighthouse in Hannibal Missouri, which I wrote about climbing up to see in 2006, when I was traveling the country full-time with my canine companion Maggie in a small RV. — Photo by Pat Bean

A Half Century of Memories

            I began keeping journals when I was 25, when, like a bolt of lightning on a clear day, I discovered I wanted to be a writer. For the next 15 years, my journals were cheap spiral notebooks that never got completed. I might write for a week, and then the next entry wouldn’t happen for three months, and sometimes the journal got lost in the between times.

I say lost because I never threw one away, and I think I eventually found most of them. A few years ago, I recopied the scant early journaling pages into one volume.

Pages from my journal  written when I was in Hannibal, Missouri, and took a paddleboat cruise on the Mississippi River.

Pages from my journal, written when I was in Hannibal, Missouri, in 2006, and took a paddle boat cruise on the Mississippi River.

My first journals were written when I was a working mother of five with no help, and the journal contents were too often filled with my beating up on myself because I never completed a day’s to-do list. What amazed me in the rereading, however, were all the things I did accomplish, and never gave myself credit for doing. Today, I honestly don’t know how I did all I did back then.

Around the age of 40, I decided to buy decent journals – one of my favorite being a Gibson that has thick enough paper to write on both sides and a spiral binding for ease in writing. I also began journaling more regularly. As time passed, the journals filled more quickly, until the present when I complete about two a year with a record of my days and thoughts. My journals, even the early ones, are also packed with quotes that have meaning to me.

Until recently, I had never read most of my journals, a task that now finds its way on my daily to-do lists. Unlike many of my journal writing friends, who told me they wrote more when times were bad, I’ve discovered that most of my entries are about the good times. While that means there are big gaps, especially in my earlier journals, and makes for an incomplete recording of my life, I’m discovering a treasure trove of memories that are delightful to relive.

And the thoughts I did record are enough for me to see how I’ve changed over the years – from a goodie-two-shoes who beat up on herself to an imperfect human who makes mistakes and is not usually sorry for them – and into someone who actually likes herself.

And that’s enough for me.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: 10 Forgotten Books http://tinyurl.com/hs5qh7n This dang blog cost me money. As an avid reader of travel books, I had to have The Illustrated Journeys of Celia Fiennes, 1685-c.1712, which was on the list. But thankfully I found one for 97 cents (plus $3.99 shipping) instead of having to buy a new one for the listed price of $59.

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Dale Chihuly in the garden. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Dale Chihuly in the garden. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” Swami Vivekananda

Is It Worth It?

I spent this morning editing a chapter in Travels with Maggie, the book I’ve written about my journeys in my RV with my canine companion, Maggie. The chapter includes an account of my visit to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, where Dale Chihuly’s glass art was mingled with tropical plants in the garden’s geodesic greenhouse.

Chihuly flowers

Chihuly flowers — Photo by Pat Bean

I was awed by the exhibit, and lay in bed that night, with Maggie by side above the RV’s cabin, pondering how a genius like Chihuly came to be. But I already knew the answer: Single-minded focus and dedication.

For almost as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a “great” writer, yet I’m always finding excuses for not writing. I lack the focus of a Chihuly, or a Van Gogh, or even an old boyfriend who religiously practiced his guitar four hours a day, seven days a week. I’m always getting distracted, and it used to be that when the writing went undone, I flagellated myself.

Beside a waterfall. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Beside a waterfall. — Photo by Pat Bean

Such abuse went on for years, until I finally realized that giving up riding roller coasters with my grandkids, arguing politics with my friends, discovering who my grownup children had become, exploring new hiking trails, white-water rafting with my river-rat buddies, mindlessly watching the sun rise and set, piddling with my watercolors, reading Harry Potter the day it came out, and sniffing every flower in life I came across, were more important to me than being a great writer.

Writing is a part of my life, and will always be, but it will never be my whole life. Knowing this, accepting this, and now content with this, I lay silently that night in bed, content and listening to Maggie gently snoring at my feet before I let the waves of sleep take me.

That was several years ago, and time has only made me more content with that decision.

Swami Vivekananda, whom I quoted at the beginning of this blog has it exactly right,  But I’ve chosen another path, the one Albert Schweitzer recommended when he described what it takes to be successful.

“Success,” he said, “is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

I did and I do.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Hunting Butterflies http://tinyurl.com/qxckzg5 Living in the moment. Good advice

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“A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair.” – Katrina Mayer

Yosemite's Half Dome, which Nevada Barr wrote about in "High Country."

Yosemite’s Half Dome, which Nevada Barr wrote about in “High Country.” — Photo by Pat Bean

When a Travel Book is Not about Travel

As a person with wanderlust in her soul, I find that on any list – and there are many – of the best travel books, I’ve read almost every one. And if I haven’t, give me a year and I usually will have.

Sara Peretsky's Chicago. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sara Peretsky’s Chicago. — Photo by Pat Bean

But this avid traveler has also discovered that a travel book isn’t always found on the travel book shelves. Two of my favorite authors, Nevada Barr and Sara Peretsky, write mysteries, which I love to read as much as I do travel books.

Barr’s character, Anna Pigeon, is a park ranger; and each of this author’s books increases my knowledge of one national park or another. Since I visit national parks as often as I can, reading Barr’s books has let me look at such parks as Yosemite, Guadalupe Mountains, Big Bend and Isle Royal through more knowledgeable eyes.

Peretsky’s character, V. I. Warshawski, meanwhile, gives me an insider’s look at Chicago.  What Sara has written about Chicago makes other travel books about the Windy City seem dull in comparison. Thankfully I get to visit Chicago more often than not because I have a son who lives there.

Isn’t it great when you can find two passions, like mine of reading mystery books and traveling,  that fit together so perfectly?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Canoe Communications http://tinyurl.com/n9wvdx6  I loved this blog quote because it reminded me how connected we are to every living thing on this planet.

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            “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” — Cicero, 106-43 BC

Maggie, sadly, has left this world. I couldn't, however, have had a better companion to explore this country with than this spoiled brat -- and I say that lovingly, and all who knew her would agree with the description. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Maggie, sadly, has left this world. I couldn’t, however, have had a better companion to explore this country with than this spoiled brat — and I say that lovingly, and all who knew her would agree with the description. — Photo by Pat Bean

Step by Step

I laughed out loud when I read the above quote, which started off a recent Blood Red Pencil blog http://tinyurl.com/m33au3r  that I often read because it usually has a lot of good advice about writing.

Gypsy Lee, Me and Maggie's home for eight years. Pepper was my companion for the final year of my living on the road life style. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Gypsy Lee, Me and Maggie’s home for eight years. Pepper was my companion for the final year of my living on the road life style. — Photo by Pat Bean

Today’s was especially meaningful, as I have completed my book, “Travels with Maggie,” and now want to self-publish it. I’ve not been doing anything toward this goal for the past six weeks, sort of like that person who is just one class short of earning a college degree, but then drops out of school.

Come to think of it, I have two other books I’ve written that went no farther than a first draft. “Travels with Maggie,” however, has now had three rewrites, and I feel good about the content

So I’m going to take the advice given in the Blood-Red Pencil blog to do one thing every day toward getting my book published and marketed. Actually this is a pretty good goal for any project.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: The Wanderlust Gene http://tinyurl.com/nx9qv3m  If you love trees, you’ll love this blog.

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   “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

Fall was in full progress when I arrived in Maine, and followed me on my southward return. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Fall was in full progress when I arrived in Maine, and followed me on my southward return. — Photo by Pat Bean

Is Finished

For all of you who have stuck with me for a bit, and followed the writing journey of my book, “Travels with Maggie,” I’m delighted to inform you that it is now ready to go out to the world.

Maggie claiming the driver's seat during a stop for gas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Maggie claiming the driver’s seat during a stop for gas. — Photo by Pat Bean

The 75,000-word travel book/memoir is about a six-month journey my canine companion, Maggie, and I took in 2006. The title is inspired by John Steinbeck’s  “Travels with Charlie,” and I’ve been telling prospective agents it would sit nicely on a book shelf between his book, and Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road,” with Tim Cahill’s “Road Fever” nearby, but that its uniqueness lies in the fact that it was written by an old-broad, wandering-wonderer.

I’m currently in the process of looking at ways to get it published as an e-book, and getting a cover designed for it. Next will come a printed book – I’m hoping.

The journey began in Camden, Arkansas, where my youngest daughter lived at the time, and ended in Rowlett, Texas, in time for Thanksgiving dinner at my oldest daughter’s home. It was a trip of 7,000 miles that took me to Maine and Acadia National Park that wriggled its way through 23 states and Canada.

Any advice those of you who have self-published a book is welcome. Especially helpful would be experiences any of my readers have had with Vook or Bookbaby.

Meanwhile, this is my way of yelling from the mountain top that the third rewrite of “Travels with Maggie” is now behind me.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Two short videos. Footloose and Kevin Bacon fans will enjoy this one, even if they saw it on the Jimmy Fallon show: http://tinyurl.com/oldwfxj And old broads and anyone who loves life will enjoy this one. I smiled all the way through it. http://tinyurl.com/qz8btq6

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“The thing about family disasters is that you never have to wait long before the next one puts the previous one into perspective.” — Robert Brault

It’s All about Love

Family is like this waterfall, turbulent at times but always with a rainbow in sight. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Family is like this waterfall, turbulent at times but always with a rainbow in sight. — Photo by Pat Bean

I was listening to a woman tell a group of us what a wonderful family gathering she had just come from, and was beginning to inwardly moan at yet another “perfect family” story  when she added an addendum to her first words.

“Of course the fun was in spite of the fact that everyone in our family has big personalities. It only took an hour or two before the tensions erupted.”

In a nut shell, she had just described my family, which has been fractured and thrown to the four winds time and time again. But we’re family. And that means something — even if I’m not always sure what it means.

I’m the matriarch of five children and five spouse-in-laws; 15 grandchildren plus two more by marriage, plus seven or so grand-spouse-in-laws or partners, plus several non-related young people I claim as grandchildren; and  two great-grandchildren plus two more by marriage.

I’m not even going to count the numbers, because what counts is that each and every one is family, and family matters. Not a single one of them – I dare say not even the great-grandchildren — is perfect. And they all have big personalities — and in those two things I can truthfully say they all take after me.

I feel like the luckiest, if at times the most frustrated, person in the world.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat:  So you just write the book http://tinyurl.com/ltyqwl6 As one who is struggling with the third rewrite of “Travels with Maggie,” this tickled my funny bone. Writing is darn hard work  — even if you love doing it and consider it as necessary as breathing.

 

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